Happiness

Silent halls are never a good sign. Halls that go silent just as you appear are far worse. General silence means something has happened, something bad enough to rattle the entire student body. It had happened the year before when the homecoming king got drunk and drove himself and the homecoming queen into the lake. But that had been too-quiet hallways and tears and memorials and grief counselors for the cheer squad and the football team. This was different. This was a directed silent, weaponized exclusion, and a splash of bright red paint to shape a single, damning word on her locker. Her shoulders slumped and she wondered if the janitor would clean it off or if she had to. She opened her locker and pulled out her books, deciding in that moment to fight back the only way she could. Sure, they could turn the social structures of high school into a weapon and turn it against her, but she was armed with the one thing they couldn’t tolerate: her own happiness.

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