her skin was frail and fragile, and dull eyes stroked
her every vein and every bone. she wondered if
perhaps the man walking beside her was lonely,
in lack of love, sex, satisfaction. he wasn’t her type
––though none of these men ever were––
but she refused to open her lips, remaining
silent. the streets were concrete,
filled with lamps, the familiar smell of flowers in the
nearby market. not all was foreign, but the
man walking beside her was. he left after
five ugly minutes.
their torturing tongues were sticky with dirtied honey,
slowly dripping poison. “hey beautiful,” they
would say. “damn.” “looking good today, mama!”
“am I too ugly for you?” “want my number?”
the woman shuddered, clutching her purse to her
side. head leveled, she walked carefully through
the streets, counting her breaths in her head.
she felt as if people were watching her
every move, every twist, every turn.
her fists clenched to check if she was still alive,
blood traveling through her body and keeping her sane
to feel that she was okay. for now.
she remembered how her heart warmed as she looked
at her reflection in the mirror and smiled and wished that
she could feel this way in the outside world:
brazen and rebellious.
and then she would hear one
of them say it again.
the mirror cracked.
- Hannah Chen
Cover photo source: http://www.tlynnfaz.com/Stop-Telling-Women-to-Smile