The pain was with me always. By my side. Pressing itself against me. I could manage a smile at times, for a child playing, looking curiously upon my white skin and breathing apparatus. But that was all. The only smiles I had left I gave to them, and then I was exhausted. My family got my pursed lips, bells ringing, straws crooked into the side of my mouth as I desperately sucked, vomit, distress, panic and various other discharges of emotion and sickness. I crept along with wheels, hating life and desperately wanting it at the same time. Sometimes I heard bells in the distance, Chinese chanting... monks perhaps. I hadn't felt my fingers in weeks. My arms just stopped somewhere between my elbow and wrist. My face was a horror store mask, twisted and melting; the hair looked fake and barely attached, it came away in fuzzy tufts.
A child I'd smiled at came up and asked me about the tubes. As I was sitting there in a wheelchair with a blanket covering my legs, I told her it was scuba gear for mermaids. She laughed, said The Little Mermaid could sing under water and above water so she must have lungs and gills. She'd obviously thought about this before. She said goodbye and went on her way. Give it a week and she'd forget I existed. Give it a week and perhaps I won't.