Left-handed white blood cell

Luke was lefthanded and enjoyed things that were particularly sour or bitter in taste. He was a quiet boy who did nothing to stand out, though his grades were good and he was polite enough to the other students. He didn’t really have friends as much as he had people he was friendly with, and who thought decently well of him, and during lunch he usually sat with a few other boys and listened to them talk as he dissected his sandwich into separate components of bread and cheese and deli meat (usually ham, though occasionally his mother would use roast beef instead). During recess he would play kickball with the same boys he ate lunch with, and wandered in at the bell without any grumbling or protest. Math and music were his best subjects, though he was never quite so good that he caught the attention of others as impromptu tutor. Sometimes he would deliberately wait to turn in a test until the very end, knobby elbows akimbo as he wrote each number with careful deliberation.

Once upon a time, he’d been two people, or so his grandmother told him, but something had happened and then he was only one lefthanded person.

“It means you were born under a shadow,” the old woman said, squinting her beady dark eyes from under the wide brim of a straw hat. “Whatever your life would have been, it was changed before you were born. You absorbed someone else’s destiny from them.” And she would never hug him or touch him like a grandmother was supposed to, or like they did in stories—she would just sit back in her chair and stare at him, never blinking. His mother complained about this to his father, Your mother is always telling Luke horrible things, would it kill her to just treat him like her grandson? and his father would protest, That’s just how she is, she’s my mother, like I can change her, what do you want from me?

Luke didn’t mind very much, though. He did not like very much to be touched, and avoided even hugs or hairpets from his mother, who tried her hardest to take care of him. She really did, and he thought that if anyone were to suggest otherwise at any time, he would actually fight back. He loved his mother: she had done her best.

When he was older, he would spend more time in the library than he would in the lunchroom. He would eat fast and then slip away when his companions turned the topic to girls and to cars and sports, all those glittery untouchable things for boys that were barely teenagers. He liked the dark cool quiet of the library more than the bustling noise of the lunchroom, so stuffed full with people that it was hazardous to walk if you didn’t pay attention to the movement of elbows and bodies. Luke preferred to go and sit to read, tucked in one of the hardbacked chairs and hardly minding, and he would read.

One thing he read: that a person who was lefthanded had once been a twin, but had murdered his brother or her sister in the womb, and thus was marked. He thought about that and the things his grandmother had said to him, her distrust, and he held out his left hand and looked at it, like there was something in the lines and patterns of his skin that would tell him the story of death and worse. Fratricide. Sororicide. Was there such thing? Did it count when you were still inside of your mother and were technically still part of her, could it be like white blood cells coming to cut out the infection of the bad and harmful parts of yourself? Was that what he could call himself?

Luke, the lefthanded white blood cell. It wasn’t such a bad thought.

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