Afraid of the Dark

Trigger warning

Chin up.
Shoulders back.
Walk tall.
Look confident.
Hands out of pockets.
Show no fear.
Hold onto your pepper spray.

Choose the best lit path with the most people.
Pay attention to your surroundings.
Don’t listen to music.
Don’t look at your phone.
Look behind you every other minute.
Make sure no one is following you.
Tell your friend when you expect to be home.

Pretend you don’t hear them.
Keep a straight face.
Don’t make eye contact.

Why is that car slowing down?
Why is he looking to me like that?
Should I say something?
Am I being paranoid?
Well, paranoid means safe.
Cross the street, see if he follows.

If you have to,
Remember to aim well.
Remember elbows can do lots of damage.
Remember to run.
Remember to scream.
Remember to make a scene.
Don’t freeze.
Just live.
Just make it home.

They’ll say it’s my fault if I don’t.
They’ll say it’s my fault for walking alone.
They forget that he can choose to recognize my humanity.

And yet my boyfriend was confused,
When I refused,
To walk downtown after sunset.
Even with him.

I said,
I was never afraid of the dark,
Until I learned that as a woman,
I should be.

Thank you for reading this poem. My full backstory can be found here.

Other poems I’ve written:
How is That My Fault?
Behind Me
Please Don’t Tell Me This is Normal


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