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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1856693
Phoenix is challenged by the question of not being "in depth enough" about himself...
Phoenix considered the question carefully.  It was a criticism of himself and the way he chose to be.  The comment was made that he was not "in depth enough" about himself.  The remark had been made as an attempted kindness by a stranger.  Phoenix was trying to figure out what type of kindness it qualified as exactly, but the man was not mean about it.  He said it as more of a suggestion to think about - changing said aspect.  Phoenix pondered this for a while.  Where had the opinion come from?  It had come from a person who did not know Phoenix, except for his brief interaction with him on the campus that morning.  Phoenix had never seen the man before and would possibly never see him again.  The abbreviated talk had left the man with the impression that Phoenix was somehow cheating him of information about himself.  What was Phoenix to do, though?  The man was an outsider, as far as Phoenix could tell.  He was a passer-by, a wanderer who had meandered across Phoenix's path.  People do not usually tell vagrants a whole lot about themselves, Phoenix thought, so why should he have confided anything of depth in this transient figure?

More generally, however, Phoenix thought that he may have a valid point - not that he would know, but the point could be taken on several levels in Phoenix's life.  Did Phoenix withhold elements of depth from people he did know, he wondered to himself?  That was where the point could seed itself in fertile ground.  Phoenix did deny most people of anything that would be considered "personal" about himself in terms of interests, goals, dreams, activities, thoughts, and the like.  Phoenix just did not see that people would be that intrigued by such personal details.  At a deeper level, though, Phoenix had a major issue with trust.  He could not trust others.  He had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and, for reasons that he could not elaborate on to anyone but his psychiatrist of over eight years, he could not bring himself to even consider trusting anyone else without the paralyzing anxiety that they would use any information gained to torture and destroy him, causing him excruciating pain.  Phoenix had had enough of that in his life.  He left it far behind and he intended it to remain in the ancient past of the last decade and a half.  The stranger was right.  Phoenix carefully guarded himself.  Phoenix protected himself because no one else would.  Going "in depth" would threaten that security, and Phoenix was not about to jeopardize his well-being and health over that observation.  Phoenix, satisfied with his assessment of the inquiry, left the question and returned to his graduate studies that were due the next morning.
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