It has a difficult time focusing on anything at this point. Nothing it sees will focus. It tries to squint but it doesn’t have muscles to squish together and doesn’t have eyes to squish anything around. Nothing is in focus but it keeps trying, in waves. Trying constantly is difficult, so it tries for a while, then lets go, but eventually, frustrated by the lack of clarity, tries again for another while.
Sound is much the same, every bit as unfocused and taxing to try to reign in. It hears voices that it’s sure are very near but sound muffled. It hears women, men, and others. Some of the women sound kind. Some of the women sound sharp. Some barely make a sound. All of the men sound worried. Some of the men sound like they usually don’t sound worried and aren’t sure how to sound now that their wall of self confidence is breaking down.
Moving through all these recognizably human voices are others. It hears guttural chattering and growling and high-pitched screeching. The other sounds, like the voices of the women and men, are impossible to focus on, but it doesn’t try as hard because it thinks it wouldn’t understand these voices. The other voices seem to flow back and forth through the recognizably woman and man voices. Sometimes the other voices are right in front of it, sometimes farther back in the distance. Sometimes it sounds like the other voices are having a conversation with a woman or a man but it thinks this is a coincidence because the other voices are too different.
The air is thick with stimulation. So much that it’s impossible to discern a particular aroma or taste. It tries not to even pay attention to the air but sometimes it has no choice. There are traces of tastes, scents that feel familiar, but before it can place one, it’s overwhelmed with another, or a voice, or something that almost looks like something.
On a rare occasion, it manages to turn the volume down on all of this and realizes there’s nothing else. It doesn’t feel hot nor cold. It doesn’t feel anywhere in between hot and cold. It feels nothing but not the absence of something. It thinks this lack of sensation dimly familiar but knows it impossible to place. It thinks it might have thought this before. It’s frustrated for a time but tries to focus on the voices or sights again and this gives it a wholly different type of frustration. It doesn’t know how long its experience has been this.
It has a hand, sort of, and there is someone holding it. It has no idea if this is new.
A kind voice speaks clear enough to understand. “You can pick one.”
Before it stands a woman, almost middle aged. Her face has the definition of someone it thinks is “aging gracefully.” She is thin and tall and smells of food. Her hair is long and black. It notices a strand hanging in front of her face, swaying slightly. Her skin is brown and it thinks is she is quite beautiful but can’t get a read on her beyond that. It feels like it should be able to know more and tugs at the hand to continue. It becomes aware of the space around it.
It is a bright space. The floor is tiled and old but clean in a way it thinks implies regular cleaning with more vigor than concern. The walls are white and clean but it thinks that’s because no one ever touches them. Above it, there is too much brightness to see anything, so it keeps looking ahead. It has had enough of not being able to focus. The next woman has a nose like a bird and it finds this amusing.
“I have never been a bird,” it says.
“It’s not too late,” says the kind voice.
“I would like to be a proper bird if I am going to be a bird but I don’t want to be a proper bird.”
It walks, almost feeling like it has legs for the first time. It looks up after a few steps, suddenly aware of how much shorter it is than the woman before it and how much shorter it was than the last two women. It is immediately caught by this woman’s hair, a shade of orange so light the bright space almost devours it. The woman’s skin is pale with freckles that it thinks would match the hair if it weren’t so bright in this space. She is alarmingly young.
“She will need help.”
The kind voice says nothing.
“I will help her.”
“Did you want to keep looking?”
It’s vision becomes a blur again but the light is going out. There are no other voices, no murmurs, just the regular thud of something nearby growing louder. The sound is comforting. There’s a rush of warmth and fluid, such that it feels this was always there but never noticed. It’s hands and legs feel real. It is floating. There is a rush of memories it didn’t know it had. Soothing voices, shouting, the pressure of touch from beyond. The experience feels familiar, then less so, then it doesn’t know why it thought this was familiar in the first place. It’s completely dark. There is a combination of worried and calm voices exchanging. It feels pulled but it doesn’t know if up or down. It doesn’t know which way is up or which down. There’s a sliver of light above its head, then more, and the voices are clearer but their language foreign. The comforting warmth drops away. It is harshly cold and loud. The voices are so clear, like giants screaming, but nothing they say makes any sense. Pinpoints of warmth appear on the back of its head and body, which it registers only for a moment before pondering it has a head and a body. There is a blinding light and a fuzzy fabric and a liquid different than what it just knew. This liquid is not as comforting but not wholly objectionable. There is a sharp sensation. It does not like it. Without thinking, it screams, wails, and cries. There is a cold feeling on an extremity of its body. It doesn’t know why but this extremity isn’t truly part of it and now it’s gone. The fuzz is warm and all over now except on its face, which is only recognizes as having because it’s not covered. There is swaying movement. Its senses are overloaded in a completely different way. It smells sterile and bodily at the same time. It hears distressed voices turning to calm. It is warm and nice again. Before it, there is a woman. The woman is the woman it chose only moments ago. It wants to tell her “don’t worry.” It wants to tell her “I am here to help you.” It can’t. It has no idea how to move its mouth. It has no idea how to make a sound, even though it knows it screamed only moments ago. It has no idea how to do that again.
The woman is smiling and close. Her face is gigantic. It feels her hands holding its tiny body. Its body is so tiny, it thinks. It wants to tell the woman how remarkable this experience is. It wants to tell the woman that she’s gigantic and it’s small and the bright light from above almost devours her hair the way the light did when it chose her. It can’t speak. It has no idea. All of this overwhelming want to communicate fades and it looks at the woman. It loves her so much and she loves it so much. She will protect it and take care of it, it knows, and in return it will make her happier than she knows and eventually it will take care of her and protect her.