Imagine a civilization where everyone was no bigger than an ant. Imagine a world where there were so many more things to experience. A society that hid in plain sight. Imagine a world beyond our own.
For Oliver, his imagination wasn’t necessary. He saw these people everywhere. From his bed he watched as they moved with incredible agility as they danced their way across the stark white counters. He’d been observing them his whole life. As long as he could remember, he had been fascinated with them. What always caught his eye was how impeccably precise their movements were. They traversed his bedroom with a gymnast’s grace, and for some reason he sometimes felt like he knew their next move.
Today, Oliver’s attention had been caught by a small platoon as they cut across his bed sheets and his legs. He never knew how they did it, but they all were in complete sync. They were all mirror images of each other as they performed intricate front flips after leaping off of Oliver’s legs. Just as he saw the squad prepare to vault themselves off of the bed, he heard a knock at the door. His eyes snapped to the door as he saw the door knob turn. His mom poked her head around the door.
“May I come in?” she asked. Oliver looked back at the edge of the mattress, but the men had disappeared. Disappointed, he mumbled for her to come in. Noticing the disheartened look on his face, she attempted to bring back the spark in his eye he always had when talking about the little ones.
What followed was a movie Oliver’s mom had seen too many times. It had almost become a tradition between them. Everyday she came in to his room, the only thing they discussed were the people living in his room. She had become tired of these conversations long ago, but she never discouraged him from explaining everything they did. So as the tradition went, she entered his room and gently shut the heavy door behind her. She strode across the tiled floor and carefully positioned herself at the edge of the bed.
She tenderly took Oliver’s hand and enveloped them into her own as he launched into a story of how he had seen the small group of men skirting across his sheets. His mom may have grown tired of these conversations long ago, but the look on his face was priceless. There is nothing in the world she would trade the joy in his eyes for. He had just completed his tale of the synchronized squadron when he caught sight of tears brimming his mother’s eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Oliver asked.
“Nothing Ollie,” she said warmly as she carefully wiped the tears forming in her eyes with her sweater, “Not a thing.” She leaned in to kiss his forehead when she heard faint footsteps approaching the door. There was a faint knock, and a woman in a nurse’s outfit appeared in the doorway after she delicately swung the door open a little.
“Carol, can I talk to you outside real quick?” the woman said.
“Yeah, of course,” Oliver’s mom replied as she gave Oliver’s hand a quick squeeze before letting go. Oliver’s attention had already been devoted to looking around the room for the little men. While walking to the door, Carol discretely wiped her eyes once more, for she didn’t want everyone to know she had been crying.
Once they were both in the hallway, the other woman carefully closed the door again. The hallway was illuminated by harsh white light and the walls all shared the same blank white color as the lights. “What did you want to talk about?” Carol questioned.
“Carol” the nurse began, “We don’t know how much longer Oliver has…” she trailed off. Seeing the devastated look on her face, the nurse tried to reword what she had just said. “No, not like that. I’m sorry I misspoke. You have a very healthy young boy in there. But, his mind is going. He’s having more trouble than ever remembering little things, and those people he speaks of have inhabited his every thought.” she said quietly. The tears in Carol’s eyes were impossible to hide now. She broke down sobbing right outside her son’s room in the hospital corridor, as the nurse tried her best to comfort Carol.
After what felt like ages to Carol, her eyes ran dry. She silently peeped open Oliver’s door to see him sitting up in his bed staring intently at what she could only assume were the tiny people he imagined. The doctor’s warnings flashed through her head. They had told her that in a couple of months he might not recognize her. But she knew that she hadn’t seen that look of pure joy on Oliver’s face enough times yet. And she also knew, that there was nothing that would make her give up on her Oliver.