i must not let them see me bleed. nor twitch. nor fumble. nor sweat. no, none of that.

instead, i smile. i smile big and bright. they smile back.

inside, my little towers crumble.

"i don't understand," he says. "why do you let them get to you?"

i don't know, i say.

i want to roar -- as in, i am woman, hear me now -- but i open my mouth and nothing comes out.

just silence.

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