When I was younger, I could go outdoors.
Nowadays, I've become so accustomed to living in this bubble, that I've almost forgotten what it feels like to be outside. I mean, outside of my protective bubble.
You see, I can still step out beyond the building walls, but only while I'm firmly insulated within my snug protective bubble. It's made of a metalkonium sphere with hyperceramic inlays. The only access between me and the surrounding environment is mediated by a three-layer electronic control unit. So, in a way, my whole life is virtual.
There she comes.
That's the third time I've seen her, this girl who keeps walking by the corridor. This morning she was running through the jogging aerotube. And around a week ago I watched her folding laundry.
There's something different about this girl. Most people - boys or girls, I mean - look quickly at me and then cast their glance away. But not this girl. She seems to see beyond the bubble. Into the real me.
I'm not sure if I should try talking to her. I'm afraid that if I do, she'll run away like all the others. Like I said, I've been in this bubble so long I hardly even remember what it was like to be normal.
Did she just say something to me? What's going on here?
"Excuse me, sorry to bother you," she says, surprisingly gently.
"What? No, no, it's ok." I reply, trying my best to fake being calm.
"What's it feel like to be in there?" she asks.
What? I think to myself. Did she really just say that?!
You see, I never even dreamed she would care. About me, the true me, about who I really am inside.
"It's, uh… fantastic!" I blurt out, the words tumbling through my voice transcoder before I even have time to think.
She instantly reads through my lie, and reaches her hand out to the security panel.
"No!" I yell. But before I've had a chance to launch the emergency lock-out sequence, she's athletically grabbed the red handle, and forced the panel open.
"What are you doing? I'm going to die!" I scream in panic.
Ignoring my pleas, she reaches into the panel and opens the access hatch. Without me even noticing she had put on a colink protector.
"Relax," she says. And for the first time, I do.
After all these years of living in fear, I realize that it's ok. It's ok to live in a bubble, or out there in the world. It's ok to love this girl, or any other. It's ok that not everyone feels the same way as me, and some people don't even like me.
You see, I have learned that everyone has some problems, and we're all going about our lives how we see fit. And while I've seen things in a really different manner from inside my bubble, and other people see me in a really different way - we're actually quite similar. It just takes me some extra time to maneuver in and out of places.
"Now," she says. "Tell me a little bit about yourself."