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visible from the school grounds. By that point I’d already been up for about

five hours, and may have only had some bread and milk, or more often,
nothing. I didn’t want anyone to know how poor I was, especially not a

wonderful girl named Sylvie Parker whom I adored. She brought smiles to
my face even in the midst of this nightmare.

Suddenly Sylvie was just there. She was about the same age as I,
and so beautiful. She wasn’t only lovely to look at; she was also a kind

and gentle girl, she was clever, and she didn’t judge me for being poor or

from the countryside. Sylvie was liberated from worrying about what other
people thought of her even at her young age, and it made her popular.

That sort of sweet, quiet confidence shines through, makes people
comfortable, and is attractive. However, she never let it go to her head.

Very soon I fell madly in love with Sylvie. I adored her. I was so
crazy about her that when I was with her I even forgot how hungry I was! I

really wanted her to feel the same way about me as I did about her. And

even though she was wildly popular with the other boys, city boys with
money, I didn’t need to worry. She had the understanding that personality

counts, and my drive and ambition were obvious, even though I was

destitute and starving. Sylvie and I used to kiss secretly on the school bus.
Those kisses made the journey so special. I think I’d have stayed on the

bus all day if Sylvie had been there with me. We went on school trips, and
we would get to sit next to each other and share kisses then as well.

Unfortunately, because I was poor, Sylvie’s aunt didn’t like me.
She would try to encourage Sylvie not to associate with me. It taught me

that when you’re needy, no one takes much interest in you, it becomes

harder to make friends and establish contacts, and it can be more difficult
to be accepted. If you allow it, your self-esteem and consequently your

chances to improve your situation can be affected. However, I stayed
determined and kept my ambition to make something of myself, no matter

what some people thought of me. I remained confident that I could, one
day, be prosperous.
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