Written by Hannah Dodd
“Hachoo,” sneezed Blue, a timid young boy. His quiet show of illness went unnoticed as he was sitting alone a little ways into the blooming forest on the edge of the schoolyard. With his back turned to the playground, he immersed himself in his own world. He was unknown to all at his school but the teachers, for he never spoke unless he was spoken to. He was always last to participate in class, and he sat in the back corner in his own bubble, afraid people would find out he was sick. Being ill, he no longer knew what it felt like to have colour in his face or to fill his lungs fully without wheezing. Instead of succumbing to the depression that accompanied illness, he was always prepared: he took pills every hour on the hour, he carried a backpack teeming with remedies and medications for every type of injury or sickness you could think of. Though he would never be fully healthy, he would never allow himself to be overtaken by illness either. The forest was a sanctuary for him. He was safe from confrontation and conversation, from the germs other children would bring, and from the gaudy sounds that always seemed to spew from the playground. He had created a world for himself in which he could be happy and free from the depths of his illness. Blue was content in his quiet realm.
Screams and shouts erupted from the playground as recess began. Streams of children poured out of the front doors and onto the jungle gym, the swings, and the fields. Blue always crept out the back door and would head around the side of the building to his spot in the forest. As he daydreamed, a sudden quiet fell upon the schoolyard that Blue had never experienced. He revelled in it, enjoying the silence for a few moments before turning to see why the ruckus had come to an abrupt halt. As he slowly rose to his feet, struggling to lift his backpack, he could see a young girl, a classmate of his lying on the field, surrounded by her peers. Blue ventured closer to the edge of the forest and began to hear the children speaking rapidly in hushed tones.
“What’s wrong with her?” Whispered one.
“Why is she just lying there?” Said another. Blue drew nearer and nearer to the forest boundary until suddenly he was a foot or two outside of his territory. He slowed once he had realized where his feet were taking him, but he didn’t stop.
As Blue drew nearer to the circle of children, he picked up more of the muted conversations,
“She’s barely breathing,” breathed the boy closest to her. People were starting to notice Blue now, and although he could feel pairs of eyes following him, he still continued to make his way closer. He could see the girl more clearly now, and as he reached her feet he realized what he had to do. One child helped him remove his backpack and Blue unzipped it as fast as he could. What he was looking for was right at the top, and gasps came from the crowd as blue removed the cap and jabbed a needle deep into her leg. Within seconds you could see her breathing improve, her eyes fluttered open and she slowly began to move.
When the bell rung the next day for recess, Blue headed out the back door like usual to his forest hideaway. But instead of the serenity that the forest brought, Blue found there to be children, all there eager to learn about Blue. It seemed that everyone wanted to play with him in his little realm. Though he would have to make some adjustments to expand their space, Blue looked around, took a deep breath in and smiled for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.