i will admit it. i too am tired of sad, messy, diaspora art. can we not just write about beauty, about freedom, about possibility? what of our grander imaginations? maybe it starts tomorrow. tonight, i am writing grief for women i don't know, who look like me, or maybe don't. we aren't all alike -- isn't that funny? i am writing heartache for lost dreams, and things we wish we had time for, for a time when sweating the small stuff seemed like the big stuff. the thing is, i don't know anymore what it feels like to live in a body unafraid, in a mind unfettered by fear. i tried, really i did, to tell myself that fear is a privilege i do not deserve. it is attention-seeking, paranoia reserved for those who have earned it. what right do we have to fear when precarity is predicated on absence? fear consumes me nonetheless. my friends taught me how to escape a chokehold, like it could help me escape from being seen in this body. the knowledge gives false security, temporary reprieve. i felt something like pride. it keeps the fear at bay. mom called me today, asked if i was eating alone at two in the afternoon. i know she has heard the news. i hide my fear behind assurances that the sun is present. neither of us say anything else. vocalizing fear is almost as scary as feeling it. i want to say we'll be fine. i text friends to see if they're home safe. i tell people of my whereabouts after i lock the door behind me; a reminder to myself that someone cares, even if it feels like the world does not. i searched online for how to activate an emergency call from my phone. a cold wired brick, my lifeline. i stopped listening to music on commutes, as if heightened hearing could prevent the unthinkable. how can something be unthinkable if it is all we ever think of? i have not cried since Atlanta, since six women left this earth, since someone decided to play god, since anger-shifting avatars threatened me for displaying anger, sadness, confusion. trying to harden yourself does not remove the fear. it is an abscess you become accustomed to. in front of a laptop, i laid myself bare. near strangers held me in silence. i remember feeling freed - heavy but alive. and oh god, i know we want to live. i have become predisposed to grief, to heaviness. my susceptibility to hard emotions make it feel like second nature. it is contagion and salve. is there a word for wanting to be seen and be invisible at the same time, to scream and bury it deep all at once? tomorrow is another day, another chance for swallowing fear whole alongside my medications. it is expensive to be sick, to be riddled with worry. no doctor has been able to tell me what is wrong, i think the only solution is something i don't know how to find. i want us to be held in safety, in communion. i don't know if tomorrow will let me write that kind of happy into existence, if time will soften the hard edges of loss. but i want to try.