Posted: June 21, 2015 in Short Story
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When Shelly arrived at school yesterday with a blanket wrapped around her nobody thought much about it. We figured that maybe she was feeling a bit chilly due to a cold or something.  But today, she arrives with a rope tied around the blanket to hold it in place and holes for her head and arms. What is up with her anyway?

I’ve seen a few other strange things too.  Guys are walking around using their hands to cover their genitals. Some girls at lunch were eating with only one hand while covering their breasts with the other. It’s mostly just the popular kids. I heard there was a pretty epic party this past weekend, but it seems not everyone was able to sleep it off given all this strange behavior. Makes me kinda glad I wasn’t invited.

It’s a month later and things are not back to normal. At first, everyone was calling these kids “the shameful ones,” since they were covering themselves for no apparent reason, but now they’re finding more creative ways to cover up. And as they become more creative, they’ve started making fun of “no-shamers” for not covering up.  Cool kids want to be cool, but they don’t want to stand out. Instead, they make others feel like they’re the awkward ones.

Of course, parents noticed this strange behavior in their kids, so they naturally assumed drugs were involved.  It turns out they might be right.  I’ve heard rumors that kids are taking this new drug called Dameev.  It’s supposed to make you feel really enlightened.  Apparently enlightenment comes with lasting side effects.

I finally got invited to a party this weekend, but I’m not planning to go.  The cool kids are just inviting everyone so they can get them to try this stupid drug. If enlightenment means that I’m going to have to do more than put on shoes and grab my backpack to get ready for school, then thanks, but I’ll pass.

On the way to school Monday morning, I see street vendors that are taking advantage of this new phenomena. They’re selling things called “shirts” and “pants.”  The interesting thing is that it isn’t just the kids anymore. Parents are in line to buy coverings too. Apparently doing drugs is a family thing now.

At lunch, some kid points out to me that my hair’s all messed up and I’ve got something stuck in my teeth.  Who cares. For some reason, though, I reflexively stop smiling to hide my teeth with my lips. Then an announcement comes over the intercom warning us to not drink from any of the water fountains.  Turns out that I wasn’t the only one that didn’t go to the cool kids party, so they decided to take more proactive measures and spike the water supply.

I already drank from the water fountain, so I guess it’s too late. I don’t feel smarter or more “enlightened.” I don’t feel much different at all, except for an uncomfortable feeling that everyone is staring. When I wake up the next day, I don’t want to get out of bed. It isn’t because I’m tired. It’s because I don’t have anything to wear. On the way to school, mom yells at me for cutting holes in my sheets, but what other choice did I have?

When I finally get to school, I get startled not once but twice.  The first time happened because I saw myself. Apparently there are these new things called “mirrors” that the school had installed in all of the restrooms. Once I got used to that curiosity, some kid came out of one of the stalls and yelled at me for being in the wrong restroom.  Apparently certain restrooms are for boys and others are for girls, and I need to do a better job at reading signs.  Well, it wasn’t an issue last week.

It seems that normal has changed.  The new normal is staring at yourself more but covering up so that others can see less. And even though others can see less of you, you worry about the parts that they can see. I think someone confused enlightenment with being self-conscious.

How does that make you feel?

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