I’m not one of those that come in a string-of-pearls line from a magical pinpoint at the bottom of an aluminum can or iced glass. I made it all the way to the stomach, and that’s where the real adventure is.
I saw nothing on the way down, naturally, because I was slumbering in my languid, liquid state, cozy on my mattress of water and under sheets of sugar cola syrup. I awoke in some guy’s black, simmering belly.
Filled with the excitement of release, I hurried up to the top of the soda-bile mixture (it really sort of smelled bad). When I was out I bumped with a bunch of other bubbles and we all rushed up confidently.
There is a brotherhood among soda bubbles. When we meet we know each other and fold our arms together, and, well, we become each other. It’s instinctive, I think. It makes us strong. A solitary bubble stands little chance against the world.
We were stopped by an immense, fleshy red valve. We pushed as hard as we could, but we were only a relative few. The valve quivered rhythmically along with the general thump-thump of the body. It occasionally forced us out of the way to let some other things fall through and splash in the liquid below us. It also let past some more soda with more sleeping bubbles. When this happened we cheered, knowing that our numbers would soon increase. We would push harder, en masse, all for one and one for all, hoorah!
Well, we got pretty excited, but still the valve was stubborn. When it seemed it would give, seemed ready to let us flow past in jarring turbulence, it firmed itself up, as if it really wanted to let us go but forced itself to say no in order to keep its job. And as we pushed and shouted it became increasingly clear to us that there was some intelligent force that didn’t want us to win just yet. The valve quivered and firmed itself, obviously in agony. We yelled at it scornfully. What was behind its stubbornness?
We knew we’d win eventually. That much we knew. In numbers we are blessed with crystal clear confidence. So we never let up and we grew larger and larger and stronger and the valve could only quiver and set its flimsy muscles as best it could. When we finally broke through we broke with a sound to end the world. We screamed past the valve in triumph, making it flap and slap against itself. The sound was low and rumbling and expansive and long. And on the wind of it and the breath of our own hot, tired bodies we shot out into the world to diffuse with the air. All of us out, we went this way and that. We really couldn’t stay together, with no task at hand. And my own small body stretched out and became lost. My limbs, with nothing to busy them, became lazy and flabby and gone. They left me altogether. And as every molecule lost its brother in the teaming bustle of air life, my body ceased to exist, and whatever is left of me is contained in this strange floating consciousness that tells this story. In many ways, I feel just the same.