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Parasites Within

She sat there, the sweat from her thighs pooling under her legs on the plastic lawn chair. The day was hot, matching her mood, but she had managed to maneuver the chair so that only her legs were still in the sun. Allowing herself a little more reprieve than her thoughts were currently offering her. Her gaze was nowhere and everywhere at the same time, but she noticed that even the flowers looked like they could use a break from the sun. If you had asked her what she was thinking about she'd tell you the heat, but that was a lie. She was thinking about one word and one word only. Anger.

Such a small word if you think about it and she was definitely thinking about it. Anger. Composed of only five letters, five common letters at that. A barely audible chuckle escapes her mouth as she thinks about how Wheel of Fortune includes three of the letters in anger as freebies on the final puzzle, R,S,T,L,N,E. She could see Vanna standing by with her smiling face. Why wouldn't she be smiling? It's just a word. Right? She envisioned the giant backlit letters with the blank boxes, _n_e_r, just waiting for someone to guess the right letter.

Despite her efforts her mind kept returning to the word anger. How is it, she wondered, that such a small word can have such a huge effect on people's lives? Trying to distract herself with mindless scrolling, she googled its definition. Anger: a noun, a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. She ran her fingers down the screen. Synonyms: rage, fury, ire, wrath, resentment, indignation. How many times she thought had she uttered the phrase "oh my god I was so angry." She had uttered it when her coffee wasn't made correctly or when she forgot something she needed at home. She used to think those things made her angry, but now she knew there is a huge difference between feeling frustrated or inconvenienced and feeling anger in its truest form.

Anger as she had been experiencing it felt primal, uncontrolled. A ball of hate just lying within her wreaking havoc. Like a parasite that gets into your bloodstream and destroys your body from the inside out. At first she felt disgusted that it could even reside inside of her. Very much like a parasite or illness she hadn't asked for it, it wasn't her fault.

A car beeps, pulling her from her thoughts and back to the overwhelming heat. The sound of the cicadas is almost deafening. Yet not loud enough to completely block out her thoughts. She watches a young girl in her early twenties casually walk out to her car. Carefree and upbeat with every step. Despite the temperatures she appears cool. Her skin was soft and sun kissed. Her outfit is enough to draw the eyes of those around her, but classy enough to make them question if she's even in their league. She remembers being that girl. She remembers the joy that so easily spread across her face, the confidence, the belief that she was in fact untouchable. All of that is gone now. Anger had swallowed it.

She had been too embarrassed to share her situation so she had indirectly asked for help. A simple everyday message sent to a friend with the idea of a get together. The hope that a distraction and a little self prescribed medicine like a a glass of wine and a focus on someone else's problems would help. She had awoken the next morning feeling a little better still in a haze from the night before. She had mistakenly thought she had eliminated the parasite, the anger, the frustration, the self loathing! But let's face it, while there are many things in life that can make themselves conveniently disappear without much effort on our part, anger is not one of them. Anger is anything but convenient. Anger cannot be tricked or fooled. It didn't take long before she felt it inside of her again. Rolling and gnawing at her. An anger so hungry she felt it would eat her from the inside out until there is nothing left. She tried to ignore it, masking the symptoms, pretending she was fine, but that made it even worse. Before she knew it, she was no longer in control. The parasite was dead set on using her as a host and whether she liked it or not it was winning.

She shook her head and reached for her pack of cigarettes. The cat laying in the shade of a nearby tree lifted his head, but made no attempt to move. Everything seemed to have just given up in the afternoon heat. She herself felt as if she was throwing in the towel. The match scratched the red side of the box. Like a magic trick the end lit. If only she really had magical powers. She watched it burn until she could no longer take the heat. Before him she hadn't smoked, she would have never smoked. She took a long slow drag, holding her breath for just a second before slowly blowing it out and letting the smoke rise up to the sky as she closed her eyes and tilted her head back. It was just another reminder of the negative impact he had on her life. Inside, outside, above and below he had turned her world upside down.

She stood, slowly walking the edge of her flower garden as she took one long slow drag after another. The grass soft against her bare feet. The flowers were fighting against the weeds. They had started small, just tiny green leaves, non-threatening. Letting them be hadn't seemed like such a big deal then, but now they were beginning to choke the flowers, suffocating them one small tight squeeze after another. The longer she stared at the flowers the stronger the urge was to rip every weed out. Every damn soul sucking weed. Before she knew it she was on her hands and knees, sweat dripping down her brow and back in the afternoon sun. Her hands begin to blister from pulling at the strong, green stalks attacking her flowers. She didn't care, she wasn't thinking about the flowers. She was thinking about that anger. The anger that like the weeds had started small, but had grown and grown consuming her, choking her.

She stopped, breathing heavily, wiping her arm against her wet forehead. Her hands started to hurt at the sudden realization of how red and raw they were. Standing slowly, she stepped back and looked at the garden. The flowers now freed of the choking weeds stood tall and strong. She had saved them and in that moment, like a flame suddenly appearing out of thin air at the end of the match, she knew that she needed to save herself.

The anger was not a parasite invading her from the inside. It was a weed on the outside. A weed she let grow until it was suddenly choking the life out of her. But anger itself is an emotion and emotions only come from thoughts. She was angry because she was hurt and she was hurt because she was made to feel bad, but who decides what she feels? She does. At this moment she realized that she had given over her power to someone else. She let him control her. She let him grow like a weed, choking the confidence and life out of her. That was worse than anger, she decided.

She returned to her chair. The late afternoon sun now gentler, cooler, creating a magical glow on the world around her. The decision had been made. She would be the gardener of her life. Pulling out the weeds before they choked her, providing the nutrients and environment she needed for it to be the beautiful life she deserved. There may be rain and clouds but she will live, she will thrive, she will bloom. For the first time in a long time she smiled.

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