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by Yvonna J

It could happen

Sometimes I get paranoid about my paranoia–like I’m investing too much in the shit I never want to see unfold. I feed my paranoia with warped memories and those after-school special-esque stories wailed by the ghost of an unlucky soul, wagging a finger in my face, worrying that it could happen to me too if I’m not careful. I force myself to live inside of a glass, lowered inside of another glass box and secured with a latch I’ve welded with the red-hot terror fueled of unrelenting superstitions and fears. When my grandmother rides in my car, a hatchback that’s low to the ground, I have to tell her to roll her window up in traffic. When she asks why I tell her, someone could reach through. I explained to her that at a standstill the window should be cracked and only by a few inches.

It did happen

I didn’t tell her about how in the days before my 21st birthday, I saw a girl in the parking lot of the photo archival and restoration service downtown with her window down, and a man reached into her car and opened her door. He robbed her right there, at two in the afternoon on a weekday. I was standing 20 feet away and he saw my presence as no consequence. All I could think to do was shout HEY! I scared him and he staggered away from her car. When she sped off, still screaming, the door slammed behind her. We stood there, her brown LV wallet crumpled in his fist. I was quick to the draw, with 911 on the phone before he got to me. Hearing himself described to the operator was enough to prompt him to flee.

It shouldn’t have happened

In my hometown, two hours away, a man called 911 to alert authorities that he shot someone in self-defense. He waited for the authorities and was arrested immediately. He suspected his girlfriend was cheating on him so he waited for her outside of her apartment. When she came home, he saw through her tinted glass that she wasn’t alone and confronted her about her infidelity. She went inside and left the two men to their own devices. What insults couldn’t penetrate, a bullet did. The obituary plastered in the news belonged to my childhood friend.

I would stay up late with him and his little sister watching the real estate channel. The real estate channel was a 24-hour channel that flashed pictures of the homes’ interior and exterior on the left and stats like the price and features on the right. You could hear the static rise to meet his finger when he drew circles on the convex glass of the boxy television around the things he liked.

It doesn’t matter what happened

One summer, when we lived on a military base in Virginia, I watched the other kids in the neighborhood rifle through recycle bins and pull out green beer bottles. Every single house they went to had them. The kids would lift the lids of the bins with their bean pole arms and release the yeast into the air. The boys would dump the beer over their sandals. They claimed the sticky white foam cooled off their feet.

When the kids met their quota, they chucked the bottles at the garage door of an empty house. I didn’t want to throw anything, it didn’t seem fun but it was better than drawing shapes in the dirt by myself, so I’d run up the driveway and kick the big pieces into the grass. The sound of shattering glass was carried into the living room where my mother was watching tv. When she stepped outside to see the neighboring driveway lined with broken glass, she began to lecture me. She laid into me the dangers of broken glass and told me she was disappointed that I would be so destructive.

Yvonna didn’t throw any! We promise! The cloying cries of the other children fell flat against my mother. She dragged me inside and grounded me for two weeks for being an accessory in vandalism. For those two weeks, I sat in my bedroom with my face pressed against the glass of my window that overlooked the street. I watched my friends do wheelies and lose races while I fiddled with the latch on the window, dreaming it would fail and I could tumble out to freedom, unscathed and unconcerned with the consequence of jailbreak.

Yvonna J (they/them) is a Black, Southern, Agender cultural worker raised in Fayetteville, NC. They received their BA in English Literature from Fayetteville State University. Across multiple disciplines, they explore themes of gender+sexuality, memory, personal responsibility, and poverty. They study trends in beauty, domesticity, ethical sustainability, and social media in an attempt to make direct links with critical race, gender, and art theory. They also practice multiple forms of divination and understand the practice to be one of mapping narratives. Yvonna’s work has been published in spaces like the Coraddi Fine Art and Literature Magazine, Womanifesto Mag, and a few others. For more of their work visit their website or instagram.

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