Shout out to my mom.
Shout out to my mom.

I have a sun inside my chest. As far as I can tell, it’s been there since birth. It’s grown larger over the years, expanding in fits and starts until it’s as much a part of me as bone and blood and meat.

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We recognized each other early on—the first time a boy pushed me on the playground and I split my lip. When I held out skinned knuckles in supplication to the small star hidden beside my heart, I was a grateful recipient of its warmth, not knowing just how close we’d become. We bonded over slights and slurs and strictures, each affront a small expansion inside our breast. Just the sun and me.

It has become a swollen thing against my rib cage of late, this sun. It’s long been constrained by a compulsion to obey, to maintain a facade of civility. Tethered by the need to differentiate myself from the brick-slingers and the shrill bra-burners. But the sun has watched, greedy for images of blackened eyes and plywood-covered windows. It has hungered for broken glass and bloody sputum in the street. The sun has waited, patiently.

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There was the time that girl called us a witch and the maid’s kid. That time our shithead racist teacher told us to “quit being so sensitive.” The time that man broke our heart into a thousand jagged pieces with his suggestions for our “improvement.”

The time we were told we were too exotic to be pretty. The time someone told us we’d only received a scholarship to fulfill the minority quota. The million times someone has mispronounced our name.

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The sun has been there, the sun and me.

But the sun’s time has come. It has transformed itself into something useful, something pure. No longer are we a pretty plastic diamond, all polished edges and reflected light. Today we are an inferno, stoked by every memory of a man talking over us.

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Soon, we burn.

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