Indifference sauntered through the school apathetically, unimpressed. She watched with a blank face as the diverse student body filled the halls with their loud, meaningless conversations. “I just really feel blessed to have been born with such bright blue eyes, you know?” Pride said to Envy, looking at his pupils in a handheld mirror.
Envy rolled her eyes blatantly, but shot a short, longing look at Pride. Indifference watched as Affection and Lust made out in front of their lockers, engulfing themselves in each other. Lust grabbed a fistful of Affection’s hair passionately as Affection stroked Lust’s face lightly with her fingertips. One might find this inappropriate for school, but this was a daily occurrence, and, at this point, no one thought much of the girls practically smothering each other. Indifference was unamused. Indifference heard Mr. Rage, a physics teacher, roar at Worry for forgetting his homework. Worry trembled as tears began to develop in his eyes. She finally reached the end of the hall and sat in her usual spot by the door. Delight approached.
“Hey there,” Delight exclaimed, a little too loudly for Indifference’s taste.
“I like your outfit,” she proclaimed with overbearing perkiness.
Indifference looked down at her plain gray T-shirt and plain black slacks. She didn’t see what was so interesting about her ensemble. Sorrow joined the group, sulking.
“Hello,” he said quietly.
“Hi, Sorrow!” Delight said. “How are you?”
Sorrow didn’t respond. He sniffled as he sat on the ground and formed a small ball. This was what he did every morning, sitting in silence, looking at his feet, sometimes wiping away tears. Indifference made eye contact with Stress as he approached the door looking panicked, wiping away sweat. Indifference decided to greet him.
“No time,” Stress interrupted. “I have three assignments to finish. I stayed up all night finishing my other two and these are due third period.”
Indifference could hear the breathlessness in his voice. Stress sat on the ground and emptied his backpack. He began to do all three assignments at once with impressive speed. Indifference peered around the halls at her very strange classmates. These people were fascinating, captivating, and unique. Anyone would be perplexed and excited by them, yet Indifference felt nothing. This would upset her, if she was capable of that feeling.
“What?” Stress asked, looking up from his binder. Indifference shook her head quickly, bringing herself out of her thoughts and returning to reality.
“You were staring at me,” Stress explained.
“Oh, sorry. I just zoned out and—”
“Don’t worry about it. I just thought maybe you were…” he trailed off.
“What?” Indifference asked.
Stress opened his mouth to speak but seemed to have no words. He had been hiding his feelings for Indifference for nearly a year now. They had been friends since middle school, but Indifference was always too unattached and careless for romance. This had always been an underlying stressor for Stress, but he buried it under anxiety for assignments and tests. He was visibly building up courage. Indifference sat in silence. Finally, Stress reached across the binders and his backpack and brought his face close to Indifference’s. Indifference’s face was blank. Stress closed his eyes and pressed his lips onto Indifference’s.
Indifference felt nothing. She was very aware of Stress’s lips on hers, his hands around her waist, but no emotion emerged. Suddenly, she felt a bubbling feeling rise from her stomach. She felt herself sit up straighter, put her hands on Stress’s shoulders, and kiss him back. She felt…happy.
Indifference enjoyed the divine softness of Stress’s lips. She was entranced with his warm hands gripping her. Stress finished the kiss and leaned back into where he had been sitting. Indifference felt her blood rush to her head. So many thoughts ran through her head at once. “How do you feel?” Stress asked after catching his breath. He knew Indifference would say, as she always did when asked this question, “I don’t feel anything”.
Instead, Indifference had a new answer: “I feel happy. I feel confused, excited, surprised, and blissful.”
Stress looked shocked. “But you’re Indifference. How can you feel so many feelings?” Stress sounded, of course, anxious.
“Are you telling me you feel nothing but stress right now?” Indifference asked. “We label ourselves with these emotions and constrain ourselves to only feeling them. We are so much more than one feeling. We have endless sentiments!”
Her voice grew, now giving this speech to the entire hallway. She faced the school population as students stopped their conversations to listen. They were empowered. “I feel happy! I am capable of it! Emotions are fluent. They change unexpectedly.”
The student body exchanged looks and murmurs of agreement. Boredom tilted his head in curiosity and Fatigue paid attention with wide eyes. She turned her focus back to Stress. “We are thought to be polar opposites. You stress too much, and I don’t stress enough. But we have given ourselves these restraining expectations. You have emotions. I have them, too. And I feel happy!”
“I feel happy, too,” Stress said. “I feel infatuated, romantic, and, surprisingly, stress-free.”
Indifference and Stress kissed again, more passionately this time, inspired by their discovery of feelings and self-expression.
—By Madison C., 16, Florida ♦