“This was in my mouth,” I said pulling a slip of metal out of my mouth, like the key my uncle uses to open his cans of fish, and placing it on the table. My mom and dad looked at it and asked each other where I could have picked that up. Maybe I'd gotten it out of the garbage? Maybe I'd found it on the floor? “This was in my mouth,” I said pulling another wire-shaped piece of metal out of my mouth and putting it on the table. I felt something warm slithering in the back of my mouth and pushed it forward with my tongue, grabbing it and pulling out another strip of metal. “This was in my mouth,” I said. “Tastes like worms,” I said. I was trying to tell them it was alive in my mouth, but they didn't understand. When the doctor came, the pile was just a few inches high. They stopped coming while I was in the ambulance. After the X-Ray, they came even faster. I could almost hear them. Just whispers. They came from my mouth and my butt. I didn't like them coming out of my butt. But I felt them. Black rods of metal. They came out and crawled onto my skin and held tight. My arms and legs were armored and immobile. My chest was covered. I felt them on me, felt their feet or hands or mouths grabbing my skin and refusing to let go. I could understand them now. They were protecting me. They were keeping me safe. I'd never be hungry or thirsty or sleepy again. But I couldn't move. I was a curiosity. I was analyzed. I was studied. I was healthy. But I shouldn't be. I was thriving. But they didn't know how. My blood was “thick” I remember them saying. I should not be alive. But they covered me and preserved me. Someone remarked that my hair had grown so long and so pretty and she wished she had hair like me. The metal didn't understand and thought this was a threat. They protected me. The metal lifted my right arm, like a marionette. I saw the rods on my arm stand up and point at the person who had admired my hair. I wanted to tell the metal to calm down, that it was okay. But the metal didn't hear me. The metal didn't understand me. I felt its fear, its rage. The metal rods honed themselves and fired at the woman and stung her like a swarm of needles. She ran away bleeding and screaming. The scream agitated the metal and my body was lifted up and walked out of the room, into the hallway. Metal was pushing through my pores, tearing my skin. It was angry. Many people were screaming now. It didn't know it was hurting me. I tried to cry but metal dripped out of my tear ducts, cutting my eyes. I had been safe. I had been whole. I had been complete. I am betrayed. I sob. I weep. I feel sorrow wrack my body. The metal feels it, too. I move my right arm. The metal there breaks like brittle glass, falling to the ground. I wipe the metal off my left arm and see a large open gash. Metal pistons and ball bearings work themselves inside the wound. I wonder how much of me is still me and how much has been taken. I collapse to my knees, the metal on my skin fracturing and flaking away. But knowing what is inside of me, I know I am not free. I may never be.
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