When Jonathan Mitchell developed a coldsore over night, he had become the laughing stock of the school. Not a single resident at Northfield High overlooked the fact that coldsores were in fact herpes. They called him ‘Herpes Boy’ in the halls, flicked rubber bands at him in class, and never failed to point and laugh. He was treated as if his random facial display of herpes was in direct relation to a bad case of the genital kind. Funny joke, blah, blah, blah.
Fast forward an entire year, and give the hottest girl in school the exact same cluster of scabby plasma infecting her upper lip, and nobody gives two shits. Either the class of twenty-twelve had come on leaps and bounds in terms of maturity, or everyone was too busy thinking about getting in her pants. Either way, Jonathan Mitchell didn’t care. In fact, he was glad; it took the focus off his own case of HSV.
But he learned a valuable lesson in life that year, and so too did the entire graduating class of Northfield High. Despite the grotesque outward infection growing around Sarah Milton’s pie-hole, she had no trouble getting head jock and professional dick-head to play tennis with her tonsils. As you’d expect, he very quickly contracted his own case of oral herpes, and before you know it, he had broken her heart and moved on.
It was Janine Dafoe next, who literally leapt at the chance of contracting herpes from someone so cool as Danny, and she passed it to Ronny Chen. Before you know it, the entire crowd of popular imbeciles had cross contaminated each other, and it got to a stage when, really, nobody knew who had who’s herpes? But oh no, it didn’t stop there. That would have been too easy.
Remember, this was the popular crowd, which meant that near on every group of lesser popularity not only lusted after them, but wouldn’t dare turn down the opportunity to lock lips with any of them. Even Emily Estelle (your typical, but somehow popular, fat girl), had no trouble passing her herpes down to a couple of dorks from the after school maths club. Of course, nobody questioned what she was doing there… Surely she was too popular to care about numbers and education?
It wasn’t long before the entire class of twenty-twelve smelled of coldsore cream and groaned with pain each time they needed to yawn or eat. Jonathan Mitchell found it all rather amusing! Now everybody was suffering the same as he had. Unluckily for him, however, he was a chronic sufferer, and while most would rid themselves of that unsightly smudge of wannabe-pizza within a couple of weeks, he’d have to go on in fear of its return.
Still, he enjoyed the short period of time that he did have fitting in with the others. But then something happened, something that he could never had expected or planned for.
Winters firm grasp loosened, leaves and blossom appeared on the trees seemingly overnight, and Jonathan woke up without a certain pain and tightness around his mouth. He leapt out of bed and rushed to his small bathroom, where his mirrored reflection was free from herpes! Somehow, the virus had miraculously faded completely from site. He was used to it clearing up, but never before had it left him entirely.
He headed down for breakfast as bright as a button, enjoying the early morning sun more so than he ever had before. It was his day! His time to shine. More excited than you’d expect about something so trivial, he packed his bag for school and skipped to the bus, making sure he spoke to everybody on the way. While they were all suffering from herpes (in one or another) he was completely free from its hold; and he made sure they all knew about it!
School started out great, with near on everybody congratulating him on his escape and complaining about their own, until suddenly, the entire school had a revelation. While the rest of them had been kissing and spreading around the fast growing virus, Jonathan had been kiss free. He’d have to have been, to have made such a wild recovery from his own herpes.
It started out with him being called ‘frigid,’ whatever that means, then quickly developed into ‘loser’ and ‘virgin.’ It seemed that no matter what, he was doomed to be picked on. That day he left school early, claiming that he felt sick, but the only thing he was truly sick of was everybody’s shit. He couldn’t do anything right. Bullied for coldsores, bullied for clear skin, and he hadn’t been blind to the fact that they referred to their own herpes as coldsores, either. Why was it just him that got reminded about what it really was, day in day out.
It was then that he realised, while lying restlessly in bed with the sun beating in through the window, that it wasn’t him that was the bully target. It wasn’t anything personal against him, it wasn’t even really him that was bullied, it was something different. Anything out of the ordinary, anything that isn’t ‘normal’ or a part of the majority. A coldsore when no one had one, was strange, no coldsore when the entire world (as far as they’re concerned) was suffering, even stranger.
He was the epitome of different, everything that put teenagers on edge. If everybody smoked, he’d go for a jog; if they all played video games, he’d read books. When he saw the trends of the school so objectively, it didn’t seem so bad. It game him a chance to look at himself objectively too, and see that, no, he wasn’t doing so bad. He wouldn’t use girls and leave them on a whim, he didn’t harm his lungs with nicotine and tar, and he thought it important to focus on his education.
He looked at the slightly more adult versions of the school kids, the college kids, and saw that actually, he wasn’t doing too bad at all. He was on track to shine, get the girl, and get the grades. All he had to do was hang in there just a little longer. Hopefully his herpes would stay away in the meantime!