Regarding Lily

* Winner of the 2017 Story of the Year Award *

Ok, so I’m in this closet in the hospital. The vid’s kind of dark, but I don’t want to turn on the light because somebody might find me. And I have to find Lily first.

I can’t go into surgery without Lily. I won’t. Fireman Jim gave her to me in the hospital after my house burned down. I don’t go anywhere without her. Ever. You know her, she’s my purple rabbit? Yeah, she’s in all of these vlogs.

He left Lily with me, and she was there when I woke up in the hospital. All I could remember was smoke … screaming … it hurt … I was upside down over somebody’s back and out the window OMG … and then everything was black, and I felt this soft thing with one hand, and she was the only thing that didn’t hurt. That was Lily, but I didn’t know her yet.

I heard Mom and Dad talking, and I pretended I was still asleep. They were afraid I was going to die, like my little brother (Petey was dead?), and Mom whispered that I didn’t have a face anymore. My brother was dead, and it was all black, and I couldn’t see or move or talk. I couldn’t even cry. But Lily told me that she would always be there for me and I was going to get better. And that Petey didn’t hurt anymore.

The first surgery was to give me a bunch of new skin, because of the infections, and because it’s what hurt the most. I lost a lot of skin in the fire, so it’s a good thing they can print it. They just 3D print whatever parts you need, just like your old ones. Skin, and all the stuff underneath, muscles and veins and all that, and they hook it all up to what you still have. Doctor says they used to take skin from somewhere else, if you still had enough, or grow it, but that took too long, and before that, even, they took it from someone else. But that didn’t always work because people have different DNA – that’s the blueprint for life. I asked what blueprint means, and it’s a sort of GPS from the old days, for making buildings, to show where everything goes. I guess they only had blue ink, back then. If I had a GPS of me, to show them where to put everything, I’d make it a purpleprint, to match Lily. When I saw her for the first time after the bandages came off, she was my new favorite color. She’d told me the surgery would be fine, and it was. It always is, when she’s there.

I’m not coming out until they find her. I wonder if they’re looking for her.

I wonder if they’re looking for me.

I know she’s not at home. I had her when we left. Dad said lock the door, and I reached back around with my new hand, and Lily was in my old hand then. It still feels better than the new one. I mean, I can feel things better with it, because the new one’s nerves aren’t all programmed right yet. Doctor says I’m not a cyborg – that means human and robot together – that my new parts are exactly the same as the old ones, all human and all me, but I wanted to tell Petey I had a robot hand. Then I remembered he’s in heaven. I still can’t cry. But I can hold Lily in both hands … when I find her.

I’m hungry. They didn’t let me eat last night or this morning before the surgery, but I didn’t have the surgery because I lost Lily. I should’ve run to the cafeteria, but there’s always people there. And it’s all the way at the other end of the hospital, down the stairs, and I don’t have that much breath yet.

These lungs are new printed ones, because the smoke messed up my old ones. That was a really big surgery, but Lily whispered in my ear and it was ok. Doctor remembers when they had to get lungs and hearts and stuff from other people, too. Dead people. But now they just print you new ones and it’s a piece of cake, like my mom says. I wish I had cake. But even if making lungs is a piece of cake, it’s still a lot of work to put them in. Doctor says he won’t be out of a job soon.

This surgery was gonna be the best yet. I’m supposed to get a new face today! Isn’t that just the dogs? (Mom said it was amazeballs, and Grandma said it was totally awesome. They’re so silly.) Don’t tell my mom, but I asked if they could leave the freckles off, so Danny won’t tease me at school. I haven’t been back to school since the fire. But I still have homework. And they make me write about all this, like my vlogs on WorldVid aren’t good enough.

I was gonna show them how good, in fact, when I hooked Lily up with a cam and an AI Perzona so she could broadcast the surgery live. She couldn’t sit by my face this time, anyway, so she was going to sit on a shelf, and that way she could see it all. And then … and then … wait, I was on the table for the surgery … I was talking to the vid …

The nurse handed me two of the sleepy-pills, because they couldn’t use the stinky mask this time, and she said, “Remember, we practiced with these. They’re pretty big, so take them one at a time,” and I took the pills with water, and they were ginormous but I got them down. Both of them.

And then …

I was really sleepy, and it got dark. I felt the room, and it was purple. It smelled so fuzzy and soft. And someone was counting, but it was the wrong way round.

I whispered, “It’s gonna be ok, right?” And there was no answer at my ear. My voice was all squeaky, and I said, “Where’s Lily? I’m not going anywhere without Lily.” And someone laughed. And I got mad, and I ran away while they were busy counting and laughing.

Right, Lily?

© Samanda R. Primeau

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