You were always told to never walk alone. For you are a girl. You were always told to never talk to strangers. Who knows what they could do. You were always told Dad would pick you up, no matter where you were or what time of night it was. You always stayed on the path. You know you are a girl.
You grew up feeling lucky that you had always been safe. You had great friends. Loving parents. And a cellphone, in the pocket below your waist. Then, one night in June air, shadows grew darker and heavier as your vision became blurry.
You had friends over. Friends of the opposite sex.
You had a few drinks. So did they. Soon smoking pot at the park became a good idea too.
There you were in the dark, sweatpants, a hoodie and your favorite running shoes. No intention to grab attention. These guys were just your friends. One went home and then with the other you stood alone. You walked through the park, just as you two would do. You went to the corner store and bought candy.
Something wasn’t right. You began to feel afraid. The candy’s on the ground, his hands pressed against your waist. You don’t remember much, just the bruises on your spine. The ones you felt the next morning and you couldn’t help but cry. That friend of yours, he’s dead. More dead than the ghosts that sweep over your head. Soon you remember saying no and he hadn’t stopped. Memories came back like fragments of your favorite glass after falling to the floor.
There at the bench of your beloved park. Your whole life you were so afraid of the dark. Now the daylight frighten’s you. Having to accept sometimes the very “strangers” we fear are those we call a good friend.
The birds are flying. You’ve always wanted to be a bird. You tell your parents that you’re seeing a therapist because you are stressed. Staring up into the blue, the clouds begin to shift. More than ever you wish that you could fly. You could probably fly away from your thoughts.
Your father lectures you about your spending. How he and your mother “believe you’re perfectly fine” and “should cut back on seeing the therapist.” He drops you off at school. And you smile, trying to fight back what’s fighting you inside.
Walking home is hard. You want to walk right past your street. The tears fill your eyes and blur the bright lights. Your headphone volume is at its loudest, but you don’t understand the song. The melody is silenced by the pain as it spreads like fire in your chest. Has it been four seasons, have you noticed? Have you thought about the time that’s passed. You know it’ll take time.
You wish you could talk about it, but opening your mouth there are no words.
On a street you’ve walked a million times, you are completely lost. You think you see a green light in the distance. You wish you could relive moments, change realities, fix what cannot be fixed now. You can’t be a bird. You can’t fly away. For you are a girl.