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“Lose some weight! You can’t fit through the door!” shouts another funny guy. Slide forward on the pillows covering your feet, missing shoes.
They want pictures—of course, they do. Your handler, your assigned “friend,” nudges them into a line, and you extend your gloved hand, aiming high to avoid legal action.
A grid censors everything you see, window screen material, used to keep bugs out of homes and reality out of camera rolls. Anything outside your box of vision is lost. You never smile in the pictures they take of you. Who would know?
Your sensations are limited to degrees of pressure: you can identify the distinctive thud of a whole soccer team of eight-year-olds hitting your legs, but not a sympathetic pat from your handler.
You look to your handler to be a real friend, to offer that miraculous sign of eye contact, eyes to grid of gaping mouth. Pushed through the door to safety, you can speak your first words in twenty minutes. Make them count: “Damn, it’s hot.”
And, finally, lift your cage; lose your persona. You’re a regular person again, but all that weight is off your shoulders.