I know it seems crazy that I could be so upset about hearing my origins. After all, I had always known I was a cancer cell. And I had also always been aware that being a cancer cell was not a good thing. But what can I say. Sometimes, although deep down we know something, we choose to ignore it. We pretend things are not what they are, and act as if believing a lie might actually make it true. Sure, I had always had that little voice deep down inside, reminding me that inherently, I was cancer. Usually, with an unwelcome gut-wrenching feeling too. But I was more than happy to look the other way, convincing myself that I had accepted that fact, and was now moving on. So much so that when my truth was finally confirmed, I found myself completely unprepared. For Selena, the tale of her past had been just that: a piece of history. To me however, it was a spell of black magic, where everything had suddenly become too real.
I hadn't uttered a single word to Selena since she finished her story. Thankfully, she had also kept her distance. Our conversation had somehow become too intimate, and we both needed some space. Unfortunately, letting someone have some space becomes very hard when you are stuck to your fellow cells. But Selena was nice enough not to comment on my avoiding any eye contact, and I blissfully stared into space as my mind, well, went to pieces. As if in a dream, I kept having this vivid vision of a contorted Neo cell advancing on me, and, with its face shielded by a black mask, announcing: 'X, I am your father', in between ragged breaths (which strangely sounded vaguely like a coffee-machine). My response was a strangled yell of 'Naaaaoooooooo!' into the darkness, as I’d turn to Selena, who with loving eyes would whisper: ‘And I am your sister’. As a cell, I never had enough time to follow the whole plot of Star Wars. It seemed, however, that the few details I had gained from the franchise were enough to give me nightmares. Here I was, the 'son' of the most evil cell ever created, genetically programmed to fulfil my father's destiny, and maybe, to outshine it too. And if I resisted? No matter, there were plenty more cells to fill my shoes. Resistance was futile.
I was quietly mulling this over when I suddenly realised my other-half was staring at me with a gleeful expression on her face. I proceeded to give her the 'what you staring at' expression, to which she just winked conspiratorially. What was going on? I looked around me, discretely checking if I had missed some kind of immune invasion, but everything seemed normal. I turned back to my other half, and realised she had turned away. Had I just imagined this whole exchange? I was just telling myself to take up yoga, because I was obviously getting overly stressed, when she discretely muttered: 'You too!' from the corner of her mouth. Her sudden whisper caused me to jump-up in fright, which would have been fine except that with us cells, this usually tends to have a domino effect. Being glued together, a sudden jump of one cell will cause the rest to jump up in succession… This resulted in our host’s body giving an involuntary shiver, and pulling her cardigan sleeves lower on her arms. After apologising profusely to the nearby cells, who were now glaring at me, I directed my attention to my other half, who had returned to giving me a proud look.
'Me too, what?' I asked.
'You too.' She replied solemnly, nodding in the direction of my mid-section. I quickly looked down and noticed I was starting to appear rounder… Thinking my other half was just looking for some weight-watchers comradery, I smiled bashfully and nodded.
'Ahh, terrible right? It's this whole drop in temperature thing. Makes us all gain a little weight. But don't worry, you still look fantastic!' I told her, trying to sound sincere. I then started thinking maybe instead of yoga, I should take up some better exercise...Didn't want Selena to start being put off by my bulging belly. I then noticed my other half was shaking as she laughed uncontrollably. Slightly annoyed, I mouthed: 'What?' to which she just laughed harder. When she finally recovered she explained:
'It's not weight gain, you dummy. It's our time! Finally: Interphase.'
I felt my whole world stop as I heard the dreaded word. It couldn't be. I gaped at my other half in panic, replaying her last sentence over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of what she had just told me. Interphase. Me? But I had been so careful with my nutrient intake…How could this be? I was different. I wasn’t going to proliferate. No, no, no, no! I felt a growing numbness as I shifted my gaze down to my mid-section to confirm her insinuations. And sure enough, there it was: I was bigger, growing steadily. Preparing to split into two cells.
Despair gripped me as I froze, unable to take my eyes off my now bulging belly. As interminable seconds ticked by, I circled from disbelief, to anger, to pain, to panic. I began drowning in my emotional turmoil. Like a voice lost in a raging hurricane, I heard my other half mutter on about how we would make Neo so proud, how soon it would all be ours. It was all a distant buzzing to my ears. I couldn’t escape my demons.
Eventually, Selena noted my stance. I could feel her eyes probing, trying to identify the reason behind my sudden frigidity. I looked away from my bulging membrane into the depth of her eyes, and in her innocence I saw my own evil. I became disgusted by all that I was. I heard her beautiful whisper, calling my name, and I turned away. Mustering all my motility, I shifter away from her, shielding my body with countless cancer cells, until I could no longer see her face. I could hear her angelic murmurs searching for me, unable to make sense of my behavior. I let the sound drift away with the beating of the host’s heart, allowing myself to become one with the darkness around me. In time, all was silent.