BY LAMAN-AMEL ISTRABADI
Crisp air stings my skin. The walk back home is silent. Almost.
You did it again.
That nagging voice in my head is like a gnat I can’t swat at, an itch I can’t reach: you did it again.
My voice thunders between my ears, making me squeeze my eyes shut and beg for silence. On my tongue, though, it dries like cement. I did it again. Said nothing. Contributed nothing. Nobody looked at me, and why would they? My heart hammers when I even consider raising my hand; it shrivels when I make eye contact. No, don’t look at me. But please look at me. I want to be something worth looking at. Something okay with being looked at.
Instead, I did it again. The routine that always earns me the dreaded wow, you’re so quiet. I’m not quiet. I’m terrified. Stop looking at me if you’re going to look at me like that. You’re disappointed? I am, too. I was going to do better this time.
Home is as much a defeat as it is a relief. Alone where I’m safe. Alone where I’m not judged. Alone, where I’m starting to get the sick feeling I belong. Alone. Again.
Laman-Amel Istrabadi is a Senior Anthropology and Forensic Science major, an SULC tutor, UpSkill volunteer, and FYS101 Peer Leader. She is a lover of Edgar Allan Poe, animals, and all things horror.