i can hear it when i'm walking down the street even if it's silent.
gazes fall over me like watchful crows, i try my best not to boomerang their stares. fearful, always fearful.
once an anecdote to share over a cup of coffee or a raised hand to gain participation points in women and gender studies classes,
sometimes (hopefully) taken seriously but above all if i was with the right person, a palpable tale.
i can hear their voices flood my mind even when they're not talking,
all backwards baseball hats and oversized shirts, pants that sag too low, purposely belted in the wrong place, or if not them then a construction worker sneering twirling his screwdriver in hand, an uneducated high schooler stepping off public transit, sometimes even a brazen-mouthed father holding a young child's hand.
i hear the unwanted coo that eclipses that of the humble new york pigeon or harmless night owl,
i had once thought "sonorous" to be a beautiful word but now i just associate it negatively,
for i hear it, the stream of "hey mami"s,"god bless you", "hey ****", "hey gorgeous how you doin?"
effortlessly tangible like the condensation on a glass of water.
i hear it when they don't speak, it comes naturally to me.
every man i pass by, i give him a voice. i say the words for him in my mind before he even gets the chance to speak or look at me. i've rehearsed it so many times because i've grown to expect it.
constantly fearful and hyperaware.
it's getting to the point where i can't even remember not being like this.
i hate myself for it because, and i repeat words in my head "honey, it's your fault for what you're wearing." who's on your side really? who's on your side when it's 100 degrees on a summer's day and you don't want to wear pants because you don't want to feel the burn on your legs?
"it shouldn't bother you so much."
"just listen to music."
"boys will be boys."
again and again and again
who really understands?
thankful for fall not only because of the pumpkin spice lattes and the countdown til the giant christmas tree is set up in the city, but partly because it'll give me a reason to dress frumpy, unflattering, shapeless.
hopefully it'll help me appear unknown.
that's all i can really hope for.