i stopped wearing shorts—
unable to stop feeling eyes raking my legs
up and down, up and down.
i didn't even know there was a word for that.
i started wearing clothes
a size big for me.
they did not ask why
i get angry whenever they force me
to wear something that clings.
i hated puberty,
how things would grow and change,
and they would stare.
i tried wearing shorts again.
immediately i get the feeling of someone
trailing behind me.
i went home as quickly as possible.
i wore baggy clothes during commute—
a blouse and jeans. it was a thirty minute ride.
it felt longer. especially since this man
sat next to me,
hounding me nonsense— anong pangalan mo?
i do not answer.
that night, i had my resolve—
i will never commute alone again.
people laughed at me. hinahatid ka kasi lagi.
i started giving prolonged glares,
staring into the eyes of the beast
whenever i hear a whisper as i pass by.
hello, saan ka pupunta?
so i stare them down. funny how
they back away
as i stop in my tracks asking with my eyes
"what now, imbecile?"
does it feel bad when people don't tolerate
the ******* coming out of your mouth?
ano ba kasi ang suot niya? they ask.
everything feels white-hot, searing.
i refuse to hear anymore of that.
every time i go home on my own
i carry something
in my hands, a blade if you must.
the night sky begins to envelop the horizon.
the streetlights cast their sickly orange hue
on the pavement as i take one last look at the hospital.
i hope i make it home in time.
"hello, anong pangalan mo?" : hello, what's your name?
"hinahatid ka kasi lagi." : well, you always have a ride.
"hello, saan ka pupunta?" : hello, where are you going?
"ano ba kasi suot niya?" : what was she wearing?