"Don't listen to them! They're feeding you all lies! Lies, I tell you!"
The woman turned to her son. "Ignore him, that sort never know what they're saying."
The boy nodded. It wasn't the first time he heard such things.
"Then why do they say it?" he wondered.
His mother thought about it for a moment. "Maybe because they think they're doing us a favor."
"Mom, what if they are right?"
"Some of them are right. They just happen to make themselves look bad, then no one believes them."
"Why is that?"
"Because they don't know better. No one does."
On the bus, his eyes faced the world separated from him by a pane of glass. On one street, he saw children playing in the street. Each one wore a little gas mask with their own personalized details. With fun colors and stickers, they were free to express themselves in more ways that one. The sight caused memory to brush his shoulder. He fondly remembered decorating his first mask. As a boy, he chose to make it look like the waves of an ocean he'd never touch. It was the equivalent to breathing the air, a deathwish in the making.
One forward, the other back. Switch. The other forward, the one back. They continued like this through the water, each leg getting a turn to stretch and feel it. While his legs were soaked, his bum remained dry. He had no intent to go in further. If he did, he would wrinkle his nose at his own scent.
"Why don't you go in further? It's clean."
They warned against swimming outside but what made this water any better? It may be "clean" but our noses are rivers, our eyes are burning, and our heads are throbbing. Is that any better?