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The Phoenix

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It finally hits you in high school that you are poor when you overhear a conversation involving the possible loss of your home. It smacks you awake and suddenly the world seems much larger than it was before. The changes are subtle. You stop asking for trivial items when shopping with your mother. You start wearing makeup to hide the sleepless bags under your eyes. Stress rests itself on your shoulders but you stand strong, refusing to buckle under its weight. You can’t show weakness. Not when your mother is stuck in a low-play job that she hates, and your uncle has just lost his job, and your cousins are looking to you for strength, and when the others will be moving in with you in a month. You ask your mother to help you set up a checking account so you can get a debit card with the excuse that you don’t like carrying around cash, but secretly you are planning to start selling art online. You wait months for people to start commissioning, but they are just as poor as you.
Stress has been gorging himself and his weight is buckling your spine. You try to stay strong, but it hurts and you can feel the spider webs cracking through your resolve. You refuse to show it because there are friends who need you to stay strong. You are the happy presence. You can’t show the malice that laces itself through your veins from sleepless nights, and neighbors that are too loud, and worry, and heartache. Not when you have friends who need you to listen. The things they tell you feed the stress and he finally breaks you. Your spine bends and snaps and you are left curled into yourself, screaming into the floor. The hurt and frustration you’ve had clammed up for years now pours forth and burns you alive. But you are the phoenix and you pull yourself from the ashes, stronger than ever before.





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