A pretty girl’s guide to the ugly world

BY BRIANA BARTENIEFF |

 

1, 2, 3, 4

Those are the number of ridges on my keys that I count as I rub my sweaty fingertip on as I walk home

It stings and becomes raw and distracts me from the nightmare

1, 2, 3, 4

Breathe

In and out

Breathe in

1, 2, 3, 4

And release

It’s going to be okay

You will make it home today

You’re only 14

But old enough to be a target

Because you’re a pretty girl

And ugly things happen to pretty girls like you

1, 2, 3, 4

The amount of steps I have taken on this block

The lights seem to blur as my heart rate escalates

The pressure builds up as all violent possibilities build up in my head

I am alone

On this dark and lonely street

But the mind and the news tell me different

A new victim each day

Why not me

Who’s to say

Whispers tell me to look back because you got a bright future ahead of you

I jump as I see a dark figure

But, go figure, it’s only my shadow

My life choices begin to flash in my eyes questioning every small detail

Wondering what I didn’t do right

What am I wearing

Do I have my ID, so they can let my mom know

Even though I am so close to home

Is it my fault that I act this way

Or is it my culture’s

Taught since the age of three to stay away from creepy men

And at the age of 6 to defend with my hands and a set of keys

As I approach the building I always chuckle at the irony if I got hurt walking into a place, that

should be the one place that should be safe

So close, yet not close enough

1, 2, 3, 4

I count as I walk up the stairs

1, 2 ,3, 4

4 steps distance between my drunk neighbor and me

You never know what can happen in these clothes

That I have no choice but to wear, because that is my uniform for school

The things I wear to school are deemed “problematic,” because grown men have sexualized an aspect of my childhood education

You always hear of the tiny plaid skirts

But never of the tight khaki pants

What a funny world we live in Eh?

As I open my door while putting in my sweaty key

I take a pause

1, 2, 3, 4

Before I enter so I can leave the mindset of being prey

And assume one that’s part of the pack

One that is never left astray

One Response to A pretty girl’s guide to the ugly world

  1. Wonderful, terrifying and truthful work!

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