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a woman’s walk

by Fern Biswas

when someone walks behind me

I stop and look back.

dead silent as though waiting

to hear the clicks of the heels of their shoes against concrete

the jingling of their jewelry, a necklace or ring

and the cracking of knuckles

like kernels which just popped in the microwave

when someone walks behind me

I shut my mouth and turn around

waiting for whispers

loaded with heavy gallons of water

as though in a tight balloon

whose knot is about to burst

the brightening of the fluorescent lights

rising and rising until the radiation makes me again beg the question

Of whether I should be wearing sunscreen indoors

“you aren’t supposed to look directly at the sun” so I turn and look to the floor,

waiting for the brightness to dial down

the material of the black, leather sofas

Scratches my skin

until all that’s left is an exposed mound of rotten flesh

when someone walks behind me,

my eyes twitch as they begin to burn

and I close them

but what I see in the dark is far worse,

and I tear them back open in desperation

when someone walks behind me

I put my hand on my keys

and undo my ponytail

I speed up just a bit

And wait for their awkward clacking

As they speed up after me

but they don’t.

when someone walks behind me

my throat closes

my heart races

my stomach falls further and further down

and I look around

at the judgmental eyes,

demanding me to answer

why my hand suddenly tightens

around the pillow I am holding.


Fern Biswas is a student from San Jose, California.

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