The bell rings and a great sigh of relief escapes the student body. A mass clamouring of limbs, all grabbing backpacks or ripping books off their desks, eventually finds itself slowly leaking into the hallway. The throng of students now moves along the hallway, all dressed differently, all trying to be individuals, all striving to be different just like everybody else. They move here, they get jammed up there. They are the blood cells in the veins of the school, constantly being swept along by the invisible current of predetermined schedules and social pressures. Little cells, being diffused across the membrane of the class threshold. Little cells, each serving a purpose. Each programmed to behave in a certain way. Each little cell a clone, thinking they are unique. Each little cell working in perfect social harmony.
Except for the cancerous one.
That canker in the maw of the Body.
That Girl with the hair that isn’t the way it should be, with the makeup that is too pale, with the clothes that don’t show off every curve and crevice of her body, with the quiet personae that spoke volumes of mystery that none could begin to solve.
That Girl whose name was Christina Morrow.
What an uncommon, un-chameleon, un-formless, uncloned name. What an ugly, rich flavoured, inquisitive, history laden name.
How dare she have that name.
How dare she be!
Doesn’t she know that being different—truly different, not just the phrase that conforming non-conformities labeled themselves with—was dangerous to the Body? The student Body, the Body of believers, the Body of the Nation. All the bodies within bodies, surrounding bodies and smothering bodies. So, so dangerous to all of the bodies that lie here and there.
All those bodies.
All of those bodies made of cell upon cell, all squeezed together in some closed system, flowing, dividing, cloning, producing, fulfilling.
All of those cells that act in perfect union and are perfect in their identical natures and are perfect in their not being imperfect.
All of those cells and the potential for conformity. The lay out for another perfect specimen. The mold set and waiting. Everything perfectly arranged for her to be as they are.
But she isn’t.
She isn’t as they are. She doesn’t flow like the others do in their concrete and linoleum veins. She doesn’t function as the others do in their synthetic and WiFi powered organs. She doesn’t behave like a good cell should.
She is a cancer.
A thinking, wondering, wandering, independent cancer.
She is toxic.
Where others are blood, where others are life-giving, where others serve their purpose and mindlessly believe what they are told. Where others are blood, Morrow is bile.
She is a disrupting acid, a sickness, a nauseating, puss-filled sore that leaves the cells around her uncomfortable.
She stands next to the pretty, happy cell, the cell happy in their belief that they are different in their similarities. She stands next to them and they know. They realize. They are struck with epiphany. They are covered in her bile. That once beautiful blood is soaked in bile, and they realize.
Different is bad.
“Each little cell working in perfect social harmony. Except for the cancerous one.”
Different is horrible. Different is lonely, dysfunctional, disruptive. Different means questions. Different means questions without answers that lead to more questions that lead to self-doubt that lead to depression that leads to guns at temples and noose neck ties.
Different is Her. And Her is cancer.
And cancer kills.
And so they kill the cancer before it kills them. The happy, everything is fine cells, the perfect cells converge on the cancer and push. They push and prod and poke and pester and punish the cancer. The anti-bodies attack the cancer, removing her from where she sits, blocking her from where she wanders.
Those perfect pretty cells protect the Body.
They attack the cancer.
They attack Morrow.
Jibes and insults. Tweets and Facebook messages. Vines. YouTube. Text messages. Posters. Rumours.
Distant things. Stones being thrown. Impersonal affronts. Faceless deterioration.
Then the punches. The slaps. The kicks. The destruction of her locker, of her clothes, of her everything.