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For the latest word-controlling proclamations
Zander and Montana are texting their friends, talking, and drinking lattes at a corner table in a freshly-renovated lounge at Alastair College.
Zander: Do you ever think about the abyss? I mean, like, space and death and stuff like that.
Montana: I hate philosophy. I went to two classes and dropped. I prefer thingness, you know--like a pebble. Something heavy in the hand. Tactile.
Zander: But just imagine being dead.
Montana: Um. No.
Zander: Or like the weeping angels got you, tossed you back in time. Use your brain!
Montana: I dunno. It's no good.
Montana (laughs): My brain, you nutcase!
Zander: Hey, shh--you'll be reported to the Ministry of Sanctioned Words.
Montana (drops her phone and fumbles around to pick it up): What Ministry of Sanctioned Words?
Zander: Shh. The Ministry. Haven't you seen the "oppressive impact" posters? At first there were only two or three around campus, but now they're like everywhere. Even in the toilets.
Montana: You're making it all up--maybe not the abyss but the Ministry of Sock-puppet Words.
Zander (lowers his voice): No, you'll get hauled off for questioning if you use words like crazy, girl, you guys, wuss, lame, retarded, gimp--
Montana (shouts): Gimp!
Zander (jerks back and looks around): Shhhh!
Montana (irritated): I'm a budding novelist. I want to write the Great American Novel. How can I do without a word like gimp? It's a really good word. I mean, it's so full of gimposity--it's like essence of gimpness. My characters need to use words with gristle and blood and muscle, not some white-bread, Wonder-loaf words. Would Herman Melville let them take away the gristle words? No, he would not! You are crazy.
Zander: I'm going to have to move to another table if you don't shut up.
Zander (leaning close and whispering): Shhh. Don't say crazy.
Montana (stares for a long time before speaking): So what do you say instead of crazy?
Zander: Like, "person with a mental health challenge" or "person with a cognitive disfunction."
Zander: What what?
Montana: You have a cognitive disfunction?
Zander: Of course not. Didn't you go to the last town hall meeting on campus? About how the culture is racist and patriarchal and even transphobic! Homophobic. Ableist. Symmetricalist. Humorlessnessist. Cellulitist. Orbist. Ageist. Heterosexist! Folliculatist. Honestly, Montana, I really like you a lot, but--
Montana interrupts, making a loud sucking noise with her straw before she crumples up her cup, smiling. She leans close to Zander, making a little twirly motion with her finger close to her ear as she speaks.