We were created by an apparatus, because seven billion people could not have been made any other way, not in so short a time. Our components were all the same, perfectly machine-milled by a monstrous, furious contraption that began with nearly nothing at one end, then enhanced, augmented, and intensified us along the way until it shot each of us out its other end, crying and mewling and complaining and conniving.

The first of us were perfect images of each other, and could not be told apart, even by ourselves. But flaws began to find their way into the machine, a dent in a roller here, a slipping bolt there, and so our inner beings had various, random differences. Though small, those differences were later magnified by our lives.

Our appearances began to differ too, but only slightly. And though the inner differences didn’t match the outer ones, we convinced ourselves they did. We judged each other by hair, skin, eyes, height, elbow shape.

Hold on there, you say. We don’t discriminate according to elbow shape. Because that would be ridiculous.

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