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My Bitter Laugh

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"It’s just a joke.”
I laugh nervously, smiling, looking around for somewhere to hide. She nudges my arm and shrugs a casual arm around my shoulders.
I can’t breathe. I don’t want her to touch me but I do not shrug her off. I play along and carry on walking.
“She can take a laugh, guys! I told you she didn’t mind.” I shrug, my throat feeling thick and push the tears back down into my chest, where they burn. I plaster another smile on my face and carry on walking until she withdraws her arm.
She’s perfect. I’m not. It’s not hard to see why she treats me like this. I am the underdog.
When I get far enough in front of her, I bite my lip, drawing blood. I can still hear her, still hear her look-at-me laughter.
And in my chest the tears burn.




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