The Big Purple
by S. H. Mansouri
Four white walls, like porcelain drapes, met Maggie’s weary gaze in every direction. The box that housed her was semitransparent, and the only sign of life outside was the occasional shrouded shape that danced across the walls like a shadow play beneath a cotton sheet. The ceiling was open, save for row upon row of cold shimmering silver bars that shot horizontally across the sky. Translucent, brightly-colored plastic tubes were strewn throughout the inside of the box, curving along the corners like neon caterpillars.
She stretched her neck upward and breathed in a concoction of scents: acetone, formaldehyde, latex, and ethanol. The dark, empty space inside these four walls comprised the entirety of her existence. However, Maggie knew from the slightest inkling of hope that the world she truly belonged to was somehow much bigger than anything the box-shaped unit could contain.
The ground beneath her was a mixture of wooden shrapnel and cedar dust that cushioned her every step in the darkness. Groggy and languid, Maggie traversed the yard, climbed to the top of a red tube and gripped her paws around a metal nipple that hung down between the bars on the ceiling. She chugged voraciously from the water dispenser, her stomach expanding like a furry, brown balloon. Satiated, Maggie jumped down from the tube and scurried back to bed, where she burrowed comfortably next to her cellmate, Fran.