remembering why the US is a red flag zoneMature

warning: contains mention of rape in verses 15 and 16 (discussing risks, not the actual event). please be aware of that so that you don't get triggered - i don't want it to bring something up, or just make you uncomfortable. it's not the main focus of this, but it's prevalent.

and i think, 
somehow, 
i had forgotten. 

why i don't go to America. 

it's too bright and dark at the same time, 
overwhelmingly loud with shrill laughs and deep chuckles, 
but unnervingly silent where you'd expect friendly banter. 

i'm not sure if it's just me, 
cloaked in the warmth of Canada, 
the distinct feeling of home
despite my dislike for my city

i miss it. 

here, where it might as well be an alien world, 
where i flinch at the lights flickering along the streets
i want to leave and go back 

and i feel something akin to disgust
at the confederate-flag adorned children's outfits. 
i hadn't really processed that a symbol
could be that utterly racist before this. 

and the sexualization - 
it's everywhere, unescapable,
and suddenly i don't want to be here anymore

i'm visiting family, in the south. 
and i know not all of the US is probably like this, 
but this is small pennies and it still freaks me out

locals get drunk and stumble along the sidewalks, 
panhandlers eye you sideways
(i have grown up with the homeless dotting avenues
but never have all of them had this look),
and men lurk in the shadows

we are women, here, 
because i am forced to play the role i was cast as here, 
and that is dangerous. 

i am afraid
and i am unsafe. 

all of my instincts tell me to 
boot it out of here while we still can, 
grab a car and just drive until we're out of the red zone
because my fight-or-flight automatic reaction
is shouting one very clear thing at me:

run. 

the rape (yes, i'm going there, 
because it shouldn't be a ghost word
when it is a constant threat every day)
rate here is high. 

high enough that it increased massively from last year,
with a terrifying amount of sexual assault reported,
and at one point six cases of rape in one week. 

this is unsafe, i am worried, 
and the dark is a bogeyman far worse than we ever dreamed of

and i'm a teenager with a sister no more than 5 years older than me,
with a mother that can't necessarily protect us. 
we are vulnerable and i am so awfully aware of it

today, we wanted to walk down to the beach. 
we're about five steps away from the shop whose owner we had been chatting with
when she leans out of the doorway and calls after us 
as we retreat into the shadows

she's hesitant to tell us what to do, 
nice face crinkling in worry, 
but what she says is plain and clear. 

we can't go down there. 

it's dark, there are drunk locals,
men that are dangerous, 
and we can't go down there. 

i had been walking with the Make-Up Criminal, 
who shouldered her way slightly in front of me 
so that i was behind her
and i can feel the tension leak out of her body

we all know well enough
that the night does not hold pleasant things. 

and i'm angry, 
at this goddamn city and this goddamn country, 
and i just want to go home 
and not shake with the nervous energy
of someone who is very aware that they could become the next victim. 

once, my mother and her partner were walking in the dark
in new orleans, away from the touristy areas, 
and a woman hustled them onto the street, 
told them in no uncertain terms with a demanding voice
that they were going to go back to their hotels, now 
and called a taxi for them. 

around fifty four and clearly someone's mother, 
she watched them get into the vehicle and saw them off, 
made sure they were in there and told them they should not be out, 

and i guess the moral of this story
is that i am tired of women having a ffucking bedtime. 

when did we get societal leashes?

tell me the goddamn answer because i'm not 
going to wait long for you to figure it out

America, you have a lot of work to do down south. 

i'm too tired from having my ears explode into pain on the flight
to write anymore, especially on the man who grabbed my arm and 
wouldn't let go until my sister sunk her nails into his flesh

good night, 
and i hope you're safe, 
where ever you are. 

The End

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