The Story of None This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 12, 2008
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During the early days of the Clinton presidency, after years of war on antipoverty programs, struggling single mothers were all too common. Somehow, some found ways to provide for the children they loved and were willing to give the world for.

Mama was one of those women.

When I was younger, there were times we had no electricity, times when we had to accept food from strangers, times when all we had was each other.

Somehow, Mama made it all work. She was willing to sacrifice anything for my brother and me. She was willing to sacrifice the world.

In the end, all she had to sacrifice was her health.

It happened when Mama switched jobs. She lost her health care, and COBRA was too expensive. In order for her to pay the heat and electricity bills and put food on the table, Mama suffered from undiagnosed, severe rheumatoid arthritis for six months.

I was eight when she lost the ability to tie her shoes, put on her seat belt, or even turn on the ignition of her car. She depended on me, a child in all senses of the word, to do these things for her.

I won’t lie. I was selfish and resentful toward my mother, the “evil witch” who disrupted my playtime because she needed my help. I was only eight, only a child. But when I remember the temper tantrums I threw when she made me carry the laundry basket, or when she wouldn’t give me an allowance, I feel a knot of guilt well up in my chest. Even now, all these years later, long after Mama has forgotten what a terrible, bratty child I was, my face still burns with shame.

Today, life is better. Life is easier.

Mama can (usually) afford to see doctors and pay for her medication. She still has bad days. Sometimes, she has to grasp a wall as she walks, hunched over. Sometimes, she bites her lip in pain. Rarely does she ­complain.

Mama’s trials have, ironically, provided me with my most valuable vantage point. I’m able to look at the world through eyes that don’t perceive everything as black or white. I know that being poor is not a mark of unworthiness. I know that everyone, regardless of income, deserves everyday necessities like health care.

People ask me why I want to enter politics. That’s when I point out that my story isn’t as unique as many people want to believe. Every day, there are parents who worry about affording groceries and others who can’t pay medical bills because it’s winter and heating is more important. When parents cannot pay for the cost of living, their children suffer too.

My story is the story of millions.

I want to make it the story of none.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 12 comments. Post your own now!

affluential This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 14, 2016 at 1:22 am
I love your ending; your goal relates to your story beautifully, and I think that's something that's extremely hard to achieve especially in writing. It's a great depiction of who you are as a person while incorporating the stories of those around you.
kevin said...
Jul. 26, 2010 at 10:22 am

You're fantastic! i love your story.

I will love to see you on TV couple years later

annexgrey This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 19, 2010 at 6:06 am
This is such a beautiful story of how you became who you are; strong. The last two lines - powerful. I love your writing and wish you the best in making sure that this story really is the story of none.
HeadshotM said...
Feb. 12, 2010 at 12:56 am
this story is awesome cough awesome cough
screenname! said...
Nov. 16, 2009 at 7:57 pm
Wow...this story is so touching and true. I love the ending. It was quite unexpected: 3>
Anonymous16 said...
Nov. 16, 2009 at 1:44 am
I really liked reading your story, and if you ever run for anything that i can vote for Jessica B i'd vote for you
tomtom said...
Oct. 25, 2009 at 5:45 pm
this article is amazing, you could have taken the typical sob story route, but you turned it around into something beautiful. good job!
MaddyB said...
Oct. 3, 2009 at 7:25 am
Jessica B, this article is amazing!So sensitive, so... beautiful. Excellent job!
foolslikeme said...
Jun. 30, 2009 at 5:47 pm
So well written, and I like how you turned a typical sounding story (to me, at least) into an ambition that caught me completely off guard. Wonderful concluding sentences as well.
JZho said...
Aug. 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm
I loved how you used so few words to write such a powerful essay. Well done!
practicerandomkindness said...
May 26, 2009 at 11:16 pm
This is so touching, and 100% true. You are a fantstic writer, and sound like a wonderful person.
kroe@pirnie said...
May 6, 2009 at 3:32 am
Jessica B: I can't possibly find any adequate words--- you are amazing ---(inadequate still)--- i am just so humbled, and so grateful that i know such an incredibly sensitive and talented young woman...i love you.
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