The tweet was something about women, something about the gays, something bad.
And it was just… it was enough. I looked at my inbox, I looked at my dying desk plant, and I just…
It started small, just a punctuated “Ah!”
My desk neighbor, separated from me by the seam of our white standing desks, looked over in surprise.
I looked into her eyes and realized that I wasn’t done. I screamed again, this time longer. Staring towards her, tears forming, I grasped the edge of my desk and expressed what no number of legible characters could express.
She screamed back.
I took a breath and began again. Her tears came faster than mine.
The curious thing about the incident was that no one asked why we were screaming. Everyone seemed to just realize this was their opportunity to scream, regardless of what the catalyst for anyone else was. We all have our reasons.
No one even tweeted about it.
Once the office floor was screaming, it didn’t take long at all for it to spread. Soon, those outside had heard us, and instead of fearing catastrophe, took up the call themselves. It began with the least reserved, the homeless, the young, and ended with the most careful, the old, the hip. But soon, in eight major metropolitan areas around the continent, people were screaming in unison. Screaming in anger, in fear, in frustration, in joy, no one really cared.
The suburbs took longer, but once half a million people are screaming, the sound will travel across a lot of space. About an hour into the scream, even people in more rural areas could hear the unrest, the human unhappiness, humming around them. Many of them screamed, too, even though they didn’t know they were not screaming alone.
Because no one stopped to write it down, we have no idea how long the scream lasted or how far it went. Some people say they could hear it all the way in Canada. Some people say Mexico was already screaming, for a long time before. Everyone says they were the first one. Maybe I wasn’t, but I like to think I was.
My voice gave out after almost two hours. I coughed up blood. My head exploded in pain. When I stopped, I could finally hear the expression of a thousand hurts all around me. The noise was absent when you screamed and deafening when you stopped.
That night was the best sleep I have ever had.
There is a history, in the middle ages, that talks about a dancing plague. About people driven to dance for days, dance until they died. About the government at a loss for solutions, who simply gave in and provided a band. No one has been able to concretely figure what caused it, but there will always be speculation. And I am not going to say that I think it was the same cause, firstly because it hit a much wider population and secondly because I want to believe we are special in the scope of time. But people died because surgeons couldn’t stop screaming. It was all over in a few hours, but there were more than a thousand road fatalities in that time. I’m not saying it was the same, but maybe we’ve always been like this.
Maybe if we just danced more often. Or screamed.
Writing primarily on Twitter, Charlotte spends the rest of her time working at a tech company in San Francisco (no, not that one) and reading too many books. She has written for Shipwreck at The Booksmith, Chosen Magazine, and a lot of failed personal blogs. You can follow her @madampancake or check her out on charlottehollingsworth.com