If You’re Afraid | Sage Kubis

smoke the bowl. it’ll put you to sleep. you and your best friend smoke out the window in the middle of the night and you both dream that the room is on fire. you’ve started having dreams that he’s kidnapping you. they stick in the back of your head even when you’re saying i love you, because when he kissed you in the dreams his mouth tasted like wet sand and you were afraid.

that fear sort of lingers.

you assume something is wrong with you because what shouldn’t linger does. on the back of the tongue, writhing in stomach acid, it remains. fear, sadness, loneliness even when you’re not alone. conversations are hard when your own fear chokes up the back of your throat. someday, you’ll be able to swallow it, but for now, you swallow around it and pray your food doesn’t get stuck.

you choked in the restaurant but didn’t tell anyone because the fear of dying was outweighed by the embarrassment that it wasn’t actually food you were choking on. run to the bathroom, cry a little, dry heave. alone. you can do all this and still watch yourself in the mirror and see that person in the back of your pupils saying ‘are you okay? is this normal?’

you choked in the restaurant but didn’t tell anyone because the fear of dying was outweighed by the embarrassment that it wasn’t actually food you were choking on.

you haven’t gotten a proper goodnight from someone in years. getting older means everyone always falls asleep on you, tastelessly and ages away, or your eyes drift shut in the middle of a conversation. you’ve reached a point where nothing has endings, nothing has beginnings, nothing stops or starts – just a vague grey area that drifts along whether or not you’re conscious for it.

you open your eyes to the ocean. it takes you a while to realize it’s a dream, and you reach empty hands to skies that open and swirl above you. you always dream about getting caught in storms. it’s like a wizard of oz complex, Dorothy. go back to sleep. get out of the basement. stop looking for your heart in someone else’s hands. you’re not going to find your courage in the eyes of someone hiding behind their own curtain of illusions.

we’re all trying to make it out here. if you’re afraid – they want you to say it’s okay to be afraid and embrace the fear. but there’s nothing as solid as fear in the grey area. anxiety that knots your stomach, sure. but anxiety is far less solid than feelings, and you can become comfortable with your shoulders up around your ears. you can grind your teeth in your sleep and not think twice about it when you wake up. if you’re afraid: numb the pain. wait a little while longer. someday you’ll meet someone and you’ll know them, even though you don’t know how. maybe they sat in the basement with you in your dream about the tornadoes.

talk about your dreams. make eye contact with his brown eyes and hope he holds it. if he holds it, he loves you. if not, he doesn’t. it’s like a daisy you can’t put down. pull off the petals and hope he doesn’t care that you’re destroying him.

maybe they sat in the basement with you in your dream about the tornadoes.

tell everyone you love them.

tomorrow, you’ll still be afraid. smoke the bowl. go to sleep. maybe tonight you’ll dream about kissing him again, but this time his mouth will taste like the inside of a tinfoil raincloud. you can handle boys who kiss like rain.

——
Sage Kubis lives in small town New Jersey. She’s currently taking a gap year to travel the world and write angsty poems, both of which are going well. She exists mainly on coffee, well-written feminist rants, and burritos. In no particular order.

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Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.

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