It is after all of the students have finished classes; after all
of the teachers have gone home for the night, even after the janitors
are finished scrubbing walls. Night.
Bobby Drake sits crying in the stairwell.
He is not a sad boy, nor has he a bad home life. He is merely different,
that’s all. It is nothing to be ashamed of, being different, it is
something to cherish. Who says that everybody has to be alike?
But Bobby is even more different. He sits in the cold, not
because the school furnace is turned off, but because he makes it.
He watches a fly buzz up the stairs and land on the wall nearest him.
Flies are not made to withstand cold.
Bobby watches it fall to the concrete and frost over. Fear rises
in him, fear that somebody he loves will not withstand the cold either.
What would he do if a person dies because of him? He would
be persecuted, alienated. Mutant, the counselor had said to
him. Get away from me, you mutant!
But what if they never noticed? What if he became, say, a figure
skater? Other figure skaters wouldn’t feel the cold coming from him.
No, then other guys would say he was gay. He could run away, head
somewhere colder. He’d be perfectly comfortable and nobody would come
looking for him.
But what if they never noticed? What if all of his friends just goddamned
accepted him? He thought about all of the fun that they could have.
Snowball fights in June, playing hockey in July, making ice sculptures
in August! He could imagine how popular he’d be in the summer. Hey,
Bobby! Could ya cool this Coke down for me? I left it sitting in the
sun. Hello, Robert. For class today, do you think we could have snow
cones? Damn, guys, it is too hot out. Bobby, how bout you turn on
the AC? It would be like when your voice cracks, or when you accidentally
trip over your foot, or when you get a zit. People wouldn’t talk about
it, they’d pretend not to notice it.
And maybe, just maybe, he might get a chance with Jenna Sallis, the
hottest girl in his school. Hey babe, you’re hot, I’m cold, how
bout we make some steam? Bobby almost laughed out loud at that
corny pickup line. He’d make her laugh by pulling pranks on other
people. He could make an ice slick under their feet. He could freeze
their drink to the table! God, he wanted to be with her. He’d make
her laugh; he’d even make her things, like an ice flower. He could
make a flawless ice sculpture of her head, just for her. If he worked
on his mutation a bit, he might have that kind of skill.
If he worked at it a bit.
Getting up, Bobby wiped tears from his eyes, and prepared to walk
home and hear his father talk about how mutants were a menace to society.
Then he’d go into the garage and practice making ice flowers.
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