'The Girl in the Bubble' by Paula Puolakka
Abbie was hugging the pot that was the home of her beloved box tree. Outside, the thick clouds of air pollution were hanging low. The rose park and the ten 40-year-old oaks next to the sidewalk had lost their feeble battle against the forces of evil. A homeless man had died under the park bench, and many more were lying dead underground. The sewer had only given the poor, the unemployed, the children, and the elderly short-term shelter. Without oxygen, there was no life.
The books of her heroes Mr. Wittgenstein and Mr. Kaczynski were lying on the table. Abbie thought: "What had been the use?" She was 44, and for the past 30 years, she had tried to make people understand that ancient trees should be nurtured and protected, and new trees should be planted because of the ever-growing population, industry, and because of the natural changes of earth’s climate. Nobody had listened to her, mainly because she was a woman, but then again, those women had been given collective appraisal who had been loud about women’s rights. Who had made their subjective emotional and mental issues seem like the core issues of every single woman on this planet. To Abbie, their agendas had felt alien. She did not hate men. She did not want to rule the world and to be a "tough bitch" if being that meant the over-exposure of your body in public, flashing cash, and crowning yourself in front of a mindless crowd of lost little girls who saw you as their queen. This when – in fact – you were as lost as they were. To Abbie, there was nothing sexy and strong in being a shallow fool.
Abbie’s love for Mr. Wittgenstein and Mr. Kaczynski had made her the professional she was today. In her mind, a true woman was the image of her grandmother. She had been a G-d-loving and a G-d-fearing farmgirl who had grown up to be a modest woman of the city by doing her job well and not boasting about her financial situation, appearance, or status. She had even kept her presidential award hidden in her bedroom instead of putting it out in the open for every guest to see.
She had treated men the way Abbie saw that men should be treated: with dignity and respect. To Abbie, the most memorable tale was how her grandmother had visited Spain with her highly-educated colleagues. They had been in a restaurant, and the food had been phenomenal. Abbie’s grandmother had asked to meet the chef, so she could thank him, but only the sous-chef had had time to pop by in the dining room since it was the busiest time of the evening. Without hesitation, Abbie’s grandmother had grabbed a big red rose from the vase on the table. She had marched into the kitchen and given the token of appreciation to the elderly man in charge. The whole kitchen staff had burst into delighted cheers and applause.
The dust and dirt had made Abbie’s throat sore. She was coughing and pulled her other babies, the 2.2 feet tall black spruce and the 2 feet tall smooth Japanese maple, closer. She was the girl in the bubble. She was the nature-child in the concrete prison. She had taken action, planted a bunch of homegrown seedlings next to the park limits, but every time the city employees had cut them down because they had been unmarked objects in their precious maps. She had taken contact with the city officials and Nature bureaus, pleading them to change the rules, but they had laughed at her, and nothing had happened.
For seven years, Abbie had been waiting for a mega earthquake and a mega-tsunami because in her mind only nature’s own forces were powerful enough to put the global insanity into a halt. The vision of Mr. Kaczynski went through her mind. How much better would the world be today if he had never been caught and if he had been able to continue his mission? To Abbie, it was incomprehensible that in the county of 327.2 million people, in the USA, only one man had acted against the insanity that was not just the madness of the Americans but everybody else’s too.
Abbie inhaled the scent of her beloved box tree. The faint smell of piss had once been ridiculed even by the gardeners as something truly awful, but to the girl, it was the greenest, the purest, and the adorable scent on the globe. Out of an impulse, Abbie opened her mouth and out came the poem she had written on the day of her bat mitzvah, a long time ago:
"At midsummer’s evening, I put the seven flowers under my pillow
to show me my true love when I fall asleep.
I have a pink shamrock, Trifolium pretense,
the symbol of protection and healing
that in the langue of the flowers’ whispers: "be mine."
I have a dandelion, Taraxacum officinale,
that will grant the maiden whatever she happens to wish for.
I have a common buttercup, Ranunculus acris,
the symbol of attractiveness and charm,
and I have a snip of creeping yellow cress, Rorippa sylvestris,
that symbols the wild spreading energies of Nature and Love.
I have a white, purple, and yellow field pansy, Viola arvensis,
to indicate my need for tenderness,
and I also have a daisy, Bellis perennis,
and a snip of pale willowherb, Epilobium roseum,
to release me from my past ordeals.
Who will I see in my dream?
The magic has been off for the past five years (or so)
but still, I believe."
Abbie’s respect towards the old traditions had not made any difference. Preceded with a muffled gulp and an abnormal spasm, Death took her away with a quick snap.