There are some questions that illustrate such vulnerability, such open tragedy on the part of the asker that we fend off tears while we come up with an appropriate answer.
Sometimes the question comes from someone who's been so steeped in struggle that they need help understanding that another possible reality exists.
Sometimes it's a question that cuts right to our own core with startling efficiency.
Whatever form it takes, it stops us in our tracks and we're likely to remember it for quite awhile after.
Curious to hear the saddest examples, Redditor julylovestory asked:
"What question has someone asked you that secretly broke your heart?"
Many Redditors responded by sharing the sad questions uttered by young children.
Kids just have the knack for cutting straight through to the essence of it all.
A Tragic Conscientiousness
"As we passed the toy aisle at the store, 'I know you don't have much money right now, but maybe when you get some we could come back and get a toy?' "
"I was not doing well financially back then and my daughter brought me to tears in the middle of the store."
Puzzled and Sad
"First day of preschool for my three year old son. The first time he would ever be away from Mom & Dad at the same time."
"I brought him to the room and expected a meltdown, but instead he confidently strutted, and I do mean strutted into the classroom."
"Three hours later, I picked him up. He was ok until we got to the car when he said, in quiet sad voice 'l thought you were coming with,' followed by an even sadder quieter 'Why did you leave me?' "
" 'Can I wish for my sister?' - A 10-year-old student of mine whose big sister died 4 years ago. We were working on an activity about dreams and aspirations for their futures."
How Bad Must It Be?
"I was like 22 and it was probably 10pm or so at a Walmart. I was on my way to a party and stopped for beer. The store was fairly empty and as I was in the beer aisle, I see this kid completely by himself."
"He was about 5 and at first I thought it was kind of funny because he was trying to pick up a case of beer. I waited like 30-60 seconds, looking around for this kid's mom/dad to come get him. A couple people walked right by him like it was normal, so then I started getting worried. I picked up my two cases of beer and walked over and kindly asked him if he lost his mom or needed help."
"The kid completely ignored the question and instead was thoroughly impressed that I was strong enough to carry two cases of beer. Eventually an employee noticed and came over as well. I told her everything I knew and she took over and told him that she was going to bring him to find his mom."
"As he was walking away he kept looking back at me and I smiled and said goodbye. The kid stopped and said 'can I just come home with you? I don't like my mom.' "
"I was caught off guard so I just laughed and told him the lady was going to help him. Now I'll never know the full story, or what happened to him but the more I think about it - that kid more than likely had a pretty shi**y childhood."
"I mean, the store wasn't busy and it was late at night on a weekday. It really makes you wonder why he was there in the first place, how he got separated from his mom and why would he ask to go with a complete stranger instead of worrying about where his mom was?"
"It still makes me sad. Hope everything worked out for the little dude."
Others talked about the times when they or somebody else realized just how tragic their own circumstances were.
"My ex asked me what I liked to do with my family growing up."
"Made me realize my family never did anything together and I literally had no answer to such a basic question."
People Share The 'Dirty Secrets' That Their Bosses Don't Want Customers To Know
Seeing Another Version
"During college, parents took a friend and I out to dinner. Very normal dinner, chit chatted about whatever. After we left and were walking back to my car, he turns to me and says 'Is that what a normal relationship is like?' "
"We talked more after that, I had met his parents a few times and they seemed strict but never seemed to have a terrible relationship. Turned out apparently his dad had cheated on his mom multiple times, dad had zero respect for any of my friends sisters and essentially expected them to do all the housework while the men did 'guy stuff.' "
"Hunting, training for sports, school, etc. Turned out his childhood was pretty fu**ed, dad was never around and he had to essentially be the father figure in the house. As the oldest child, never really saw a normal loving relationship that he could look up to."
"My friend is a really nice guy, still has some messed up views of relationships though. I never realized how 'abnormal' my very normal family/childhood was."
A Better Place
" 'You've never beaten me or told me I couldn't do something. Is that normal?'
"My first girlfriend told me that. I have never felt such a wave of anger, sadness, and heartbreak wash over me like I did when I heard that"
" 'Is this your first child/baby?' 'How many live births have you had?' My first child died in infancy. Those kill me."
"So does 'how is your daughter doing?' From people with whom i rarely speak/see. That one is the worst. My second child is currently four weeks. I'm fu**ing terrified."
And some people discussed the time a question destroyed their social confidence.
Worst Teacher Ever
"I have a stutter, when I was a kid I had to read a page of a book to the class. I stuttered, and the teacher said 'can you even read' and that fu**ing broke my 13 year old heart."
"No one takes stuttering seriously."
There's the Answer
"When I was 19, I hung out with a cute girl from my high school that I never got to hang with when we were in school. Had a great day together, and that night she asked, 'can we be like secret friends or something? I don't really hang out with people like you.' "
"Never hung out again."
Comparing and Contrasting
" 'Oh, are you the girl with the hot sister ?' " -- JustehOK
"I worked in a department with two Melissas. One day, I was sitting next to one Melissa when we overheard another coworker say to someone, 'have you seen little Melissa?' "
"The other Melissa got kind of a defeated look in her eye and said, 'oh, I'm big Melissa.' " -- EarhornJones
To Be Seen Inaccurately
"I went through some abuse that essentially stopped me from having romantic interest for a while (4 years)."
"A female friend I was very close with at the time had been told by some of her friends who didn't like me that I was probably just pretending to be her friend because I was secretly in love with her."
"She asked me if that was true. It broke my heart since if she could believe that it was like she could also believe I was lying about the abuse or the effects thereof just to get close to her, and it really hurt that she could think me capable of that."
When the Fears Keep Coming True
"A friend recently asked 'Did you not change your bed sheets?' when they visited. I have been struggling with my mental health for the past few weeks. Adopted a kitten because I thought it would help me with it and it died 4 days later."
"Everything I did within my power to make myself better/happier just seems to backfire. Yes, I did not change my bed sheets."
Slipping Through Cracks
"Variations on 'What was your name again?' Apparently, I am so forgettable that over the years, literally not one person whom I have known casually and then not seen for like 6 months or more can remember who I am."
"Good friends know me, yes. But I have lost count of the number of people whom I went to school with or lived next door to or who were friends of my friends who knew me for YEARS, if only as an acquaintance, and then cannot remember even my first name."
That Playground Cruelty
" 'Are you a boy, or a girl?' This was earnestly asked to me on the playground when I was 13. I was very chubby, and had grown out my hair (my dad had a cool ponytail, and I wanted to be like my dad). But puberty hadn't really kicked in yet, so I guess I looked pretty androgynous."
"I told the girl that asked I was a boy, and she nodded and walked away, returning to a friend who then cheered in triumph, I guess they won the bet."
"That messed with me for a while."
It's a list that's sad enough to leave one wondering about the questions they've received that struck them as particularly hopeless.
Sometimes, though, that vulnerability can be the start of accepting new realities and new possibilities.
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Books are life. Recently studies have been published that reading for fun, reading for knowledge, just interest in reading in general is down, and that is a tragedy.
We've become too obsessed with our binge watching and ADHD mindset that we've lost focus on one of life's greatest joys... literature.
There are some stories and books that should be a mandatory read for life. There should be age benchmarks that require knowledge of certain books in order to progress. I know, how "1984" of me. ;)
Redditor u/bugtanks33d wanted to hear about what literature we should all be familiar with sooner than later by asking:
What's a book everyone should read at least once in their lives?
One of my favorite books is "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." It was a key element in unlocking what I could see with my imagination. No adolescent should go beyond sixth grade without knowing it. What else?
"ANNOUNCEMENT FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE READING THIS THREAD:"
"MANY OF THE BOOKS MENTIONED HERE ARE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND IN AUDIO BOOK FORM. GO THROUGH YOUTUBE/RANDOMHOUSE/AUDIBLE/OVERDRIVE FOR ALL THE CLASSICAL GOODNESS YOU WANT."
"It almost totally eliminates the financial/time commitment that many will cite for not picking them up. I listen to books on double speed all the damn time. I am working my way through "A Tale of Two Cities" now."
Meaningwondering simon cowell GIF by X Factor GlobalGiphy
"Man's search for meaning - Viktor Frankl."
"The Phantom Tollbooth."
"Milo: "Many of the things I'm supposed to know seem so useless that I can't see the purpose of learning them at all."
"Princess of Sweet Rhyme: "...what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover the wonderful secrets of tomorrow."
"Johnny's Got His Gun. It's so intense, but it's so good. Metallica's song One is based off this book. Guy has his arms and legs blown off, goes blind and deaf, and is left to live like that. I only read it once, but it's forever engrained into my memory. It hits you like a freight train."
"Surprised I haven't seen it here already so I'll add it... The Brother's Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. In Slaughterhouse 5 Vonnegut said it could teach everything that we needed to know about life, except that wasn't enough anymore."
"If the only thing that book did was make you marvel at how people centuries and oceans removed from you in time and place, could experience the exact same emotions about life as you did, it would be worth the read. There's so much more to it, but Dostoyevsky had such a knack for digging deep into universal human experience. And it's just a hell of a good story too."
Classicsdiva read GIFGiphy
"Speaking as somebody who isn't religious, the literary value of the Bible (and the Hebrew Bible) is severely underrated."
I took a class on it in college, with a prof who'd once allegedly gotten into a bar fight over Beowulf. We would sometimes spend half a class discussing a single verse or two because there's so much stuff going on under the hood."
I know so many of those. And sadly, I'm already behind in my studies. I love books and I'm always on the path to find more to consume. Let me ready my already lengthy list.
WARWar Shockwave GIFGiphy
"All Quiet on the Western Front. Everyone should have to reckon with the reality of what war actually means."
"Night, by Elie Wiezel. It is absolutely heartwrecking , and I hated every moment of reading it, which is exactly the effect it is supposed to have."
"Came here looking for this one. I had to read it back in high school and it blew me away how moved I was by it. Stories like his need to be remembered for all time, no matter how hard it is to get through (emotionally-speaking; it's actually quite an easy and short read). I'm so grateful that my English teacher assigned it."
"The Westing Game."
"A Librarian here, such a terrific book. I have gotten so many kids to read it by hooking them with the fact that the reader can play the game and has all of the clues. And good luck as it is fiendishly clever."
All the Good Crazy
"The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Such a great book."
"Oh my god yes. I love this book for being the sex, drugs and rock and roll of the classics world. It is lengthy but has revenge, treasure, plots and schemes and drugs. There is nothing stuffy about this classic."
"The Giver- that book made my 9-10 year old mind really think about what was important in society. It was the first time the idea of "good" things having a negative consequence was presented to me. I think what makes it work is that we are learning how this whole society really works along side a character who has lived in it his whole life."
"As the facade of the utopian society begins to fall away to show devastating consequences of the "perfect life and society" the reader not only feels their shock but the main character's shock. This was a book I read in school 4 times- once in 5th grade and once in 10th for English and then in both high school and college sociology classes. This book written for 9-13 year olds made for great discussions."
Good and Bad of Liferead ford GIFGiphy
"The Grapes of Wrath and/or Of Mice and Men. Both are heartbreaking, but not for the sake of being heartbreaking - instead they provide a glimpse of how freaking hard life can be, but also how beautiful it can be."
That is a lot of good advice. And a lot of great storytelling and advice giving. Did anyone miss anything that should be there? And make sure you read anything by Harlan Coben, he's a fav.
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It's always our high school dreams, as shown by every high school teen movie ever, to marry the popular girl or the jock. But high school is high school for a reason; life does not really last outside of the walls of high school in the way it did within.
Jocks tend to fall off their athletic bandwagons. The popular girls have a hell of a time making their way in the working world when their popularity means nothing. People's lives sometimes completely freeze in place.
Or sometimes those people really do completely change, and live their lives for the better.
Here were some of those answers.
"My mom was the elite Atlanta debutante and lived a very cushy life at a budding Miami country club. Beautiful and very popular at the private school. My dad grew up on a farm in Virginia. They weren't poor but they were definitely not refined."
"Eventually my father's family made it down to Miami after selling the farm. He became the lifeguard at the country club pool where my mom spent days lounging about."
"My parents say they saw each other and that was it. The scandal was great - the debutante and the lowly lifeguard...."
"They just celebrated 54 years of marriage. My 'lowly' lifeguard father made quite the life for my mom regardless of what all those elite twats said was going to happen."
"She gladly left the country club life for him and they are still so utterly in love it's crazy. He carries a photo of her at the pool where they met. The only references she makes to being 'that girl' are that they proved everyone wrong."
"They are beautiful and I love their story."-wadinglimpkin
Just Because He's Hot Don't Mean He Can't Be Smart Too
"Not me but my mom married my dad who who was hot sh*t. They met in college when he was an absolute hellion."
"But since then he became a doctor, still a really fun dude. He's also a licensed contractor so when he was bored he built a 6000 square foot barn in our backyard over 10 years completely on his own."
"Absolutely stand up dude."-GravityMyGuy
"I married the cool girl. Super athletic, everyone was her friend. We started dating in high school."
"She's kept up everything people loved about her. Nowadays she isn't as interested in other people, and focuses on herself, her career, us and our future."
"We're planning to buy a house and have kids soon. I'm the breadwinner today but I'm not so sure if that'll be true in a few years lol"-WakeAndVape
See, not all the cool kids go on to have horrible, boring lives after. Sometimes the cool kids were cool because they deserved it.
"As it turned out, I married one of the mean girls, didn't go to her school, didn't find out she was considered that until after the divorce. That's how it turned out."
"Then I dated one of the cool chicks. Did go to her school, did know she was considered that. And she was the most amazing human being I've ever known. That one didn't work out either."
"Now I'm just retired from relationships for a bit, strike 3 would kill me right now."
"This was very therapeutic. I have friends and family that are awesome. Hopefully, I'll have more Someday. For now it's me and my kids I'm focusing on."-read110
A Tale Of Strength (On The Outside)
"My mom was the cool girl all through high school, undergrad, grad school. But life didn't go that well. For most of her life, she had to be caring for someone in the family who was ill, and that took a huge toll on her."
"First it was her dad, then it was me (I had childhood illnesses), then her in-laws in quick succession, then her dad again, and finally she had to nurse my dad until he passed away from a terminal illness."
"She was meant to be social and have fun, and instead she was forced to be around sickness and sadness for her best years."
"But she is a very happy and mentally strong person in general who made the best of things. She hosted a lot of people and events."
"My house growing up was full of people visiting and having fun. She's very charming and easy to talk to, and has a lot of fans all the time."
"Though, my siblings and I find her social side rather annoying. She isn't like that with us, and she tells us her charming side is just an act, and the real her is the lady who is constantly critical of us 'for our own good.'"
"She likes having groupies hanging around, people who are happy to take her help and be grateful to her. She has very few friends who could be considered her equals."
"She also expects a lot from other people and is constantly disappointed. She wants to be the center of everything. She doesn't know to be a guest at anything, she somehow ends up running every event she's invited to."
"She sincerely believes she's helping, but it's just disrespectful sometimes and when we tell her that, she doesn't get it."
"She likes to dominate everything and make decisions for everyone. We joke that if the prime minister was her friend, she'd somehow end up running the country for him."-sensitiveinfomax
Sometimes, Chase The Waterfalls
"My mum was the nerdy girl who got all the As and had zero social skills, and somehow managed to start dating my dad who was the popular, good-looking guy who everyone thought would peak in high school."
"She was actually advised by her family and friends that he wouldn't give her the future she was hoping for. They got married at 19, had me when they were 20, and while they were pretty broke the first few years of my life, he paid for my mum to attend law school, started his own business and 25 years later with 3 kids, they're still so in love and have a pretty cushy life."
"My dad actually met one of the loud voices who told my mum she was making a big mistake marrying him, and she had said how she always knew he would turn out well, which he found hilarious."-samknowsbest8
"Found out recently (30 M) that my dad was extremely popular in highschool from my aunt. I had no idea he was an all-star football player with lots of college offers and was prom and homecoming king."
"Never talks about it, but he's doing well. 2 kids, a dog, and a loving wife, imo he's still winning."-ZoatDGoat
And what counts as successful in high school doesn't necessarily count toward success in later life.
What Kind Of Woman?
"My brother was one of the hottest guys in high school and went on to be a model. He's still cool and hot to many but now he's a bit fat."
"He's my brother so ewww on the hot part in my opinion. But women still swoon and he's so obnoxious. Think Matt Dillon, etc…. Era."
"He got dumped by his model 17 years younger wife for a 26 year old. He has impossible standards and it's making him miserable. He's into these flashy shallow women. Overall he's doing really well and his business is thriving."-RunRevolutionary9019
Always Take The Risk
"I sat next to the popular guy every day pretty much for five years and I was so afraid of speaking to him. I'd watched him and his friends picking each other up and shoving the chosen one into lockers, or chasing each other round into a pile on and throwing their shoes at each other. Typical school sh*t."
"They were rowdy and loud and intimidating, but he was the quiet yet seriously funny one and I crushed on him HARD for years. He remembers me as the little blonde girl who didn't speak to anyone (because I was so anxious all the time)."
"He also protected his sister from some a**holes every break time and she'd come to find him for safety from bullies."
"Should have spoken to him sooner when school finished, because we have the same music taste and we get on well enough now at 26 that we have a 6 month old daughter together, my daughter from a previous relationship and we just got engaged last weekend. I adore him, he's handsome, charming and funny and I would do anything for this man as he would for me."-hospital-flowers
High School Never Ends
"I married the Student Council President/ Prom King. He jokes that he peaked in high school. Graduated 20 years ago. He dropped out of three colleges and hasn't found a career path he is passionate about."
"He hates his job, but he's actually really good at it. He's kind of trapped in it because it would be incredibly difficult for him to find a new job without a degree."
"He's a good husband. He's an amazing father. He struggles with anxiety and some depression. A lot of self-doubt. He's incredibly social and the pandemic hit hard."
"He's put on weight and hates his body. He admits that he worries about what other people think of him and wants people to like him."
"He's introspective and wants to be a better person, but anxiety gets in the way sometimes. He married a theater nerd lol, but we didn't meet until college. I felt a little intimidated by his popular past, but he's very down-to-earth."-madestories
We really want our lives to fit neatly into these stereotypes, but at the end of the day, we are all just people repeating a cycle of wanting more for ourselves over and over again. We can't shove that into a stereotype.
Even the student council president, the prom king, the homecoming queen, and the jocks can't run away and hide in a single identity forever. Life makes you into a more rounded person whether you want to be one or not.
Movies' strong focus on creating drama through conflict inevitably has lead to countless on screen deaths.
Some of those movie deaths occur to minor characters we don't care much about (enter Wilhelm Scream). Nonetheless, they can still pack a punch if the manner of the death was gruesome or sad enough.
On the other side of the coin, a death doesn't have to be spectacular to create drama if it happens to a character we've grown to love throughout the film.
And sometimes, a beloved character faces a gruesome end. That's the double whammy.
Redditor Boston_Strong_CQB241 asked:
"Out of all the deaths you seen in movies, which one really stands out to you as the worst?"
Many Redditors recalled the deaths that drew their intensity from the connection they'd felt with the character who did the dying.
And, yes, sometimes the manner of death only heaped on the drama.
"The soldier in Saving Private Ryan that had the knife slowly plunged into his chest after a hand to hand fight and he was begging the other soldier to stop. Intense."
That Etched Wooden Beam
"The old man (Brooks) who hangs himself from The Shawshank Redemption."
" 'Get busy living or get busy dyin.' "
A Very Different Boxing Film
"Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. Almost becoming World Champion, then paralyzed, her family only caring about the money she won from boxing, then having her limbs chopped off because of bed sores that got infected."
"All this just to be put down as a act of kindness like the story she foretold of her dog she grew up with. I will never watch that movie again."
Stoic Until She Wasn't
"Vesper Lynd drowning in 'Casino Royale.' That moment when she goes serene and calm, to a panicky and frenzied last gasp for air.... that really bothered me."
Others were spooked by the pure violence of some onscreen deaths. They could barely watch the gruesome moments when they erupted.
But now they can't forget them.
Slam, Slam, Slam
"That f**king wine bottle scene in Pan's Labyrinth. The casual brutality is so horribly realistic." -- Darth_Mufasa
"My jaw dropped the first time I saw it and it still haunts me. In fact, that movie gave me nightmares for two weeks" -- TheSilverCrystal
"The curb stomp." -- AUTheatreNerd
"American History X. The curb stomp. It haunts me." -- DigitFisher
"Ryan Reynolds getting his insides eaten out by an Alien in the horror movie Life. It still traumatized me."
And some people recalled the deaths they witnessed as children movie-watchers. All grown up now, they still can't unsee those old images.
"That shoe from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it was so happy and friendly and then it gets slowly dipped to death. The smoke and its cries of pain are burned into my mind 25+ years later."
"Artax in the swamp of sorrows. Made me cry so much as kid, Atreyo was so hopeless." -- kirby60
"Don't you dare do this to me right now" -- OmgOgan
Multiple Movies' Worth of Sadness
"Stoick from How to Train Your Dragon 2, I still cry every time I even think about it, and the flashbacks in the third movie just break me, great trilogy. Full of emotion and great everything, best Dreamworks movies, in my opinion"
The worst part is that this is only a small handful of the tragic movie moments that are out there. And we have so many unknown future deaths we'll see too.
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It might feel like a challenge to come back at someone who has just insulted you, but it's easier than you think.
What's the most memorable comeback you've heard in your life?
No one knows you like your family, hence why they're usually the one who know the best way to eviscerate you using only their words. Anyone with an older brother and/or sister knows what's going on with these comebacks.
She Can Stay
"My son and his newlywed wife were poor college students living out of state. When I went to visit them I took them to the grocery store and let them fill up a couple of grocery carts that I paid for. As we were leaving the store I said, "Now, when your kids are poor married college students trying to get by, don't forget this". My new daughter-in-law piped up and said, "Oh we won't forget. We're going to tell them to go get grandpa!" Haa haaa haaa...I love that gal."
Got That Sacred "Dad Laugh"
"I don't care if it's self-congratulatory, I'm proud of this one:
"Having dinner with my dad and older sister. I got straight As in school or something, and she's doing the older sibling thing."
"Sister: You may have gotten the book smarts in this family, but *I* got the street smarts."
"Me: The corner doesn't count."
"Dad: *chokes whiles laughing*"
Oh, Good Lord...
"My uncle to my husband. "When are you guys having a kid?"
"My husband. "Please don't ask me about my sex life with your niece"
Like, in public. Where people are. Other people. People you don't know, who might just be going about their day-to-day business, and they just so happen to hear someone being roasted alive?
What's Keeping You Alive, Grandpa?
"Was standing behind these two older adults and this teen girl at the gas station last year. She was on her phone and the guy snapped at her for "not knowing how to live without technology" and without looking up she went "don't you have a pacemaker?".
When The Store Hates You...
"Someone yelled out in a Walmart , "I'm not ashamed of who I am".
"Another voice echoed back, "that's your parents job"
You Would Really Walk Up To Someone You Don't Know And Say This?
"Young pregnant co-worker had a stranger stare disapproving at her in a restaurant, then walk up and say "pregnancy isn't very becoming on you." She replied, "well, being a nosey rude bi*ch isn't becoming on you, but here we are."
And then there's these clapbacks. Unplanned, zero preparation, and with little prior knowledge, there needs to be a call placed to some local medical center with how much damage was done with these comebacks.
If You Pantsed It, Fix It
"My friend got pantsed, underwear and all at a party. Instead of pulling his underwear and pants up, immediately, he just kept going about his business, while hanging dong. Those of us that knew him already thought it was hilarious. The people at the party that didn't know him, looked really uncomfortable due to this dude having his pants and underwear around his ankles, with his wiener hanging freely. Our friend/the host said "dude, why don't you pull your pants up?" Pantsed guy said "I didn't pull them down." Then took his turn in beer pong. The host then found the guy that did pull them down and made him pull our friend's pants back up."
Definitely Seems Like You Got Tricked Here
"When I was working as a bartender one Halloween, I came dressed as an old Western style bartender (complete with mustache and accent). We had the evening split up into a little costume party for kids and families in the earlier hours, and then an adults only costume piss up later on."
"One of the regulars laughed at my costume and said I looked stupid, so I told him"
"You should probably come back after the kids have gone because you've come dressed as a c-nt".
"He didn't talk to me for weeks after that. It was blissful."
That's A Mom Burn! Those Don't Heal!
"I asked my mum out of curiosity what she would do if she found a used condom in my brother's room."
"Her response: "I would remind him that you can't get HIV from your own hand"
"For context, I live in South Africa where HIV is very common"
If you have some ice nearby it might be a good idea to go and grab some.
These burns spread.