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November 11, 2012
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If you could be anything/anyone in the world, then what/who would you be?

The essay question was derivative, insipid, and clichéd. Three hours of sleep was not enough for a fourteen-year-old girl who had an essay test in English class the next day, yet that was how much sleep I received. My eyelids bowed, mouth fashioned into a small O, and pencil fell onto the desk with a soft clatter. No one noticed my sinking head.

The question repeated itself in my mind: If you could be anything/anyone in the world, then what/who would you be? I attempted to answer the question and reason intelligently, but my mind clouded with drowsiness. I dozed off while everyone scribbled nonsensical words—no doubt—onto notebook paper. The classroom slowly vanished as I entered a deep slumber; it was there that I met my responses to the question.

If I could be anything, I would be a dragon, preferably an ocean-blue one. Enemies would either bow down or be engulfed in flames; if people begged I would gift them with the warmth of a fire. The world would be shivering in fear at my bold heat, while at the same time respecting my energy and strength. No one would dare to challenge me, for whoever tried to slay me, would meet a sweltering end. Rules could never chain me to a range. I could fly wherever I wanted, whenever. I could swoop through mountains and valleys, rivers and oceans, fields and cities. Everyone would look to the sky…at me…whooshing across the sunset, painted with orange, pink, and yellow. They would gasp as I came barreling towards the ground, narrowly missing their skyscrapers. They would watch me be free and wonder how such a magnificent creature came upon this lousy earth.

If I could be anything, I would be a modest house mouse, innocuous in my corner. For safety, I would dash along the side of a room, keeping my back against the wall at all times. I would look at this enlarged world through a newfangled perspective. So many small miracles would be in my clear vision. Humans would ignore me, might even shriek in fear if they saw me, but I would simply dash away from them. I could scurry away from my problems. I could dig and hide in the smallest of holes, will my body to squeeze through the smallest of fissures. Everyone would ignore me, so I could finally absorb the peace and quiet. No I would not be spectacular, perhaps even extremely boring. But I would not mind, because I could enjoy the meek life.

If I could be anything, I would be the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. I would be the five freedoms gifted to everyone in the United States: press, religion, assembly, petition, and speech. Newspapers, tabloids, and books would roll in dough from printing up stories of weddings, crimes, achievements, and failures. I would be the cross, the crescent, the Star of David, and the Wheel of Dharma; everyone could choose to believe in their god, or choose to not choose, all thanks to me. Hundreds—no, thousands—of people would bond in order to defend opinions, express beliefs, and stand up to controlling government. Anyone could sign a petition that states teachers should be paid more; they are who guide the future leaders, work to solve problems students suffer through, and begin our children’s journey. Lastly, everyone would be allowed to say what was on their mind, what they felt in their hearts, and what their gut urged them to do. It would be because of me that people could scream at the top of their lungs, by themselves or united.

If I could be anything, I would be the Mona Lisa. Crowds of people would travel to France just to honor me as a masterpiece. They would see but a small, dull painting of a mannish woman with no eyebrows. At the same time they would see beauty in Leonardo da Vinci’s gift to the art world. All expression on my face would come from a subtle smile; tourists would wonder why I was grinning so knowingly. What secret does she know? What could she possibly tell us? But I would never tell, because secrets are what make the world go around. They are what make TV, storybooks, and fairytales. Everyone should keep their lips sealed when it comes to confidentiality, because you could regret saying aloud the few words you had sworn to secrecy. That is why I would never tell. Leonardo da Vinci’s secret would be safe with me.

If I could be anyone, I would be a Beverly Hills Beaut. No one would try to mess with me; after all, I could buy everything in their life for myself, leaving them with nothing but crumbs. My $500,000 Weitzman heels would click down the clean sidewalks of my city as my $200,000 Chanel handbag bounced against my tiny waist. The expensive blouse I bought myself for my birthday would show my fake cleavage, but it would be modest enough that no one would judge. The pencil skirt I bought to match would wrap around my perfect hips, showing off my toned legs I earned from expensive workout sessions. Poor people would judge me, and other rich people would gossip. But none of that would matter. I would not have to have a single care in the world.

If I could be anyone in the world, I would be the homeless individual that just lost every possession because they were laid off at work. I would go to soup kitchens, rummage through garbage cans, and use my feet to go from place to place. No one would pay attention to me; they might be disgusted to look at me. I would be dirty and smelly, yet inside I would be full of hopes and dreams. But one question would always linger in my soul: where did those dreams go? Did they disappear along with my savings? Were they hiding from me, taunting me? I would watch the rest of the population texting their life away, or spending their investments away, and I would feel pity for them. While they would look at me and see but a sad and helpless person, I would look at them and think the same. Where was their life going, if they had nowhere to look but at their touch screens? What would they do if they ended up in the same situation as me? Did they realize how grateful they should be, or how lucky they are? I would have to worry about everything, every little penny and every rainy night. Never would I get a break.

If I could be anything, I would be the bouquet of pale flowers my widowed sister left on her dead husband’s gravestone. I would be the white petals that cried over his name in rock, and rested to decompose in the ground above him. The widow that brought me to this dreary cemetery would weep. Her heart would wrench and stomach churn, but she would walk away, because she would have no other choice. She would have to live the rest of her life without him, while I remained in that same exact spot until I wilted away. As I grew timeworn, I would comfort the soul of her deceased loved one until I finally struggled for life as my last petal fell. Then, another bouquet of white roses would take my place.

Something inside of me stirred. My body jolted awake after an undesired nap. When did that boy’s one sentence become two pages? When did that girl finish her test and turn it in? When did the minute hand circle the entire clock to make one hour pass by? There were only three minutes left, and I had nothing but a speck of dust on my paper. Two minutes passed of me panicking, stressing. Oh, what to do!

So I wrote down what came to mind. Maybe I could get credit for a few sentences:

If I could be anyone in the world, I would be me, because that is who I am. I would be me because I am already good at playing this role. Nothing would have to change, nothing would look different. This is as good as it gets. And guess what? I can tell you that it is pretty amazing…just being me.

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