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A Bunch Of Eggs This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Yesterday, I knew there’d be whispers. I anticipated the wide eyes, the slight drop of the jaw, the feet firmly planted on the ground as the beholder, well, beheld. I knew they would stop, hesitating, not sure how to make up for their awed faces and feeling immediately awkward afterward, and then trying to say how nice I looked. Or brave. Or beautiful. It was almost hysterical, the way they would stutter over the words. And then, always, the red would rush to their cheeks and they would quickly flit away, eyes suddenly drawn to their shoelaces. A few would look back. Most didn’t. But they’d always come around my locker again.

But I expected this. Of course I did. Wouldn’t I act the same way if I’d seen a girl who, only two days ago, possessed beautiful, wavy brown locks of hair cascading down her back in a chocolate waterfall? Wouldn’t I gasp in shock at the barren emptiness?

It’s funny; bald people on television always seemed to have perfectly shaped heads. I thought I would, too. I guess I never knew my bald head would look more like a deformed egg.

But all of this happened. All of it is done. I am here now, and nothing I am seeing is making sense.

The first thing I notice as I look around my locker is the level of... shininess. Our school lights have never truly shone with all the glory they could have, if our school didn’t waste money on funding the cheerleading team instead of installing working materials. So it’s unusual for me to have to squint my eyes in the D Block, where the lights are known to be the dimmest and where I am usually trying to use the light from my phone screen to illuminate the inside of my locker.

I narrow my eyes. It’s difficult to find the source of the light, because it’s everywhere. Glints here, glints there... they surround me and yet they are always moving.

They are moving.

There is only one thing moving in this hallways. Students.

As the realization dawns, tears fill my eyes.

It is so beautiful. They are so beautiful.

A couple glance at me from time to time as they hurry to their classes. I share small smiles with strangers, enthusiastic waves with nomads, happy greetings with friends.

“Geez, Ava, what happened?” My best friend, Allison, asks as she bumps her shoulder playfully into mine.

I would bump her back if my gaze weren’t fixated on her hair. Or rather, the lack of it. Her head is shiny and bald and clean like all the rest.

“Are you high? You look, like, kinda out of it,” she says, laughing, although I can hear a trace of worry.

I just stare at her head, and then glance down into her green eyes. There’s a twinkle there, but a softness, just enough that the pressure at the back of my throat escapes through my lips in a quiet sob.

“Oh, Ava,” she says, rolling her eyes but giving me a hug. “I told you; we’ll support you no matter what. All of us.”

“Well, mostly,” says Sam. He comes up from behind her and peeks over her shoulder, smiling down at me. “My parents wouldn’t let me because, you know, they’re idiots. So I, uh, made some... alterations that would fit their standards.”

I burst out laughing even though there are tears on my face. He’s shaved a perfect line down his head; on one side, there’s a mess of soft caramel-colored hair, and on the other gleams smooth pale skin. He even shaved his eyebrow to match.

“I guess they weren’t exactly thrilled,” I say through my giggles.

He makes a face. “Not exactly.”

“Hey, Ava,” says a voice to my left. I glance at Hayden Davis and a group of his friends.

All of them have bald heads. The Varsity basketball team has all shaved their hair off. For me.

“Hey,” I say softly, not knowing what else to say and not thinking there’s anything I can say. But they just smile, and Hayden reaches out to squeeze my shoulder before continuing down the hall with his teammates. A simple gesture, yet one never made before between his group and mine. Between him and I.

It’s like something breaks. A barrier, I think, that separated all of us on the surface. But we were all entwined already, beneath the image we put up of ourselves that we are all different. Because we are. But we’re also all the same.

God, that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe having a brain tumor made me crazy, too, yet I can’t help thinking that, once again, maybe we’re all crazy.

If that’s the case, then I like being crazy. It means that even though I could end up in a mental hospital, at least my mind isn’t being shaped and molded by society.

In this moment, I know it’s not. Nothing is being influenced by society today.

I stare around, at my best friends and at the kids passing by us along the hallways. What makes the tears keep rolling down my face is the fact that not one of them has hair. Not even the teachers. I even see Mrs. Anderson gently tugging her four-year-old son behind her, who is completely bald and wearing an Avengers t-shirt. When she sees me, she smiles, and leans down to whisper something in her son’s ear. He looks up and waves a hand at me, before quickly hiding behind his mothers legs.

It’s moments like this when I realize what beauty is. That even though everyone has shaved off what makes them different we are all here, all shining in the darkness.

Their hair will all grow back eventually. And maybe, someday, mine will too.



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