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.
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.
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.
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.
Soon, we burn.