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American Dream

She doesn’t remember it anymore, and that scares her most of all.

Fifteen and with the world ahead of her, she didn’t know where she was heading, but it was somewhere. She wore miniskirts and polo shirts, played tennis and was a cheerleader. She was a straight A student headed for success. And that’s what they said.

Except she’s 24 now. And she doesn’t know a damn thing. You’d think they’d tell her. But I guess they only tell you so much, don’t they? The dream is gone. White picket fences and 2.5 kids. Who even remembers that dream anymore? Not her. She’s alone now. Nobody to love. Nobody who loves her. And that’s what they said.

She’s working 9-5 at Walmart. This can’t be the American Dream, can it? It’s not her American Dream. What was her American Dream? Not drugs. Not heroin at 2AM and a boyfriend who’s a small-time dealer, a guy she only stays with for the access to the drugs. She lights up all the time now. Remembers the first time she smoked back in high school when she was still Ms. Destined For Greatness. The coughing fit that left her friends rolling on the ground in tears. Swore she’d never do it again, but here she is outside the building, and she’s lighting up, but it’s not even the final destination, because she’s just waiting for him to come back with the drugs, and then she can forget.

The people, they pass her by. Some give her disapproving looks and pull their children a little closer to them. She almost laughs. This is her American Dream. Long blonde hair down her back, white T-shirt that’s too big, ripped jean shorts. Track marks on her elbows. Those scars where she slit herself hard as she could, tried to make the outside reflect the inside. Her phone rings then, but she doesn’t want to pick it up. Life’s knocking, but there’s nobody home. There’s a break in psychosis, a disruption in her physique, she’s cracked down the middle like a mirror. You looked at her like she used to be looked at. The girl who was going to have everything, that touch of envy that defined her, shaped her, and then she went away and nobody looks at her like that anymore, but you, you did. And I don’t know why, she doesn’t know, maybe even you don’t. You saw past the shattered glass, where everyone else, they saw nothing. Maybe this is the American Dream. Yeah, this is it. It’s all she’s going to get, but she’s grateful. You’ve saved her, only for a moment, but you’ve done it. You’ve given her back her American Dream.

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