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The Fall

Personal injuries in a failed economy.

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My ears are still ringing.

It's 1:28 a.m. I danced hard in multicolored high tops. Danced to wear down the boulder in my stomach weighing down worries. A rotting economy and I'm unemployed. How will I pay rent, buy groceries, or buy a six-pack?

Life cracks another knuckle. I try to breathe steadily. I've decided nothing. I've drawn no lines and each day I wake up to fidgeting wonder.

Twenty-four years old and freshly laid off from a secure state job, but it wasn't really state. I worked in an office processing birth-certificate requests — it was so boring.  Technically it was through a temp agency. We all knew layoffs were coming. Everyone around the office reassured each other that we'd be spared. “They need us too much,” we all said.

By 4:45 p.m. on Friday, we all got our paychecks without termination notices, and walked out of the office. We thought we were in the clear. Then, more than an hour after I left work, I got the call. If I had been sucker punched in the face it would have been less of a shock.

You'd be surprised to find out what kind of environment makes sure you receive your birth certificate so you can go on that Caribbean cruise, adopt a child or finally get the spelling of your name corrected. We had office parties all the time. Potlucks. Food galore. People brought in things like fried chicken and they'd all fold their hands in prayer while I stared at my lap, eyes wide, wiggly uncomfortable in my seat.

Them: Jesus. God. Lord. Our Father. Amen.

Me: I can't get married in this state. I'm queer. Separation of church and state.

My ankles are still buzzing. We left the club early. She wasn't feeling right. She slid the key in the ignition to bring herself quickly beneath a heating pad, stomach flipping and flopping, wrapped in covers and a paper-back. Her hair is still trussed up in Bobbi pins and hair-spray; her eyes charcoal-lined and then carefully adorned with purple and green. … or was it blue?

I'd do anything for her. I hold her close every chance since it happened. Some 32 hours ago. Like I lost a bet. Like someone plucked my five cards. … all wild … and folded.

Some 570-something state employees. Are they terrified like me? Foolishly coated in a cracking pride shell.
 
It will all work out. It always does. … every year I saunter my way to a hearty gallop, then lose my footing, greeting the ground with my unwitting cheek.
 
The fall is so much easier than the getting up.

I even make it look good. I moon walk into the fall. I smile the whole way down. No one will be the wiser to how much it hurts. 

But once I'm down, it hurts like hell, and where to go now? Panicky and wide-eyed, I don't sleep. I've got to figure this out, and I'll be damned if I ask for help. My eyes are rimmed with red from staring at my laptop screen applying for job after job. I feel desperate.

I revamp my resume with each application sent.

I wonder how far I can stretch my skills.

I'll take practically anything at this point.

With the economy crumbling into smaller and smaller pieces, the mess is getting harder to clean up. I fear I have a long way to fall, and because there's no savior who can possibly mend what the world has become, it's just me and the hand I've been dealt. The new year's just begun, so I guess I had better ante up. I may have fallen, but I won't be down long.

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