Queer Black Millennial
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Ready or Not

Written by Ebony Short



As I hide behind a tree, I can hear the little black girl playfully exclaim that she was preparing to come and find me


I was terrified


is everything honest, beautiful and bold about me but I choose to keep running

and hiding

I never knew I had the capacity to lie to myself

for 5 years

I stood

trembling behind an oak tree

catching my breath as I could hear her laughter


throughout the forest


I had convinced myself that

emotions are irrelevant

so when I felt my emotions

sunset on my snowmen

and melt

I started making snowmen out of mud

and pretended

“Its always been this warm”


was always a book in the back of

my mind

that had never been opened

even though

I was the author


comfortability can be


above all things I try to create safe spaces for myself that have walls made of

blankets and Tempurpedic mattresses


no matter where, when or how I lay

there will always be a comfortable space for me

in relationships,

when I felt the mountain was too high

he would tie rope around my waist

and climb

I was always down for the ride

but never down to be vulnerable


being vulnerable makes me uncomfortable so

I lie to stay safe

I can’t even look myself in the mirror when I cry because when I stare back

my reflection is mad

mad that I didn’t tell the truth to myself

in the beginning

so she wouldn’t have to appear

mad that I’m human

mad that I’m hurt

because affections are something that I don’t acknowledge


mad that I haven’t burned my apartment building to the ground

or broken a mirror or two

so I sit in the dark

holding back tears and words

that could

baptize the boldness back

into me


I choose to remain silent


I wish I could eat popcorn everyday

breakfast, lunch and dinner

and still have the health of Serena Williams

since I couldn’t

I would be gluttonous with my lovers

I would be selfish with their sentiments and brand them on their hearts

with my initials

I was the god here

they paid their tithes

in compliments and intimacy

and if one ever even looked at another

I hauled them out of heaven

I was recruiting a horde of hypemen

and any chances of a mutiny or a revolution

within myself

was unacceptable  

I wanted

the high of their company

like an on call nurse


maybe someone within me whispered,

“Where is your solitude?”

but I was too high to remember it

I was

too pretty to share anyway


pretty privilege prioritized

I went from a 6 to a 9 in a matter of years according to them

I thought the world was just

a mine of men

at my disposal

waiting for me

to pick which of them

really brought out my eyes

because I

had it all

except I didn’t

I was smart

most of the time

and pretty

on the surface to everyone

except me

and I had morals

it never occurred to me that they were as strong

as a sand castle

in a storm,


at least I was pretty to someone


I haven’t bleached my hair platinum blonde yet because

I’m scared it will ruin my curl pattern

but I’m more scared of what it will look like to other people

It took me two years

for “pretty”

to be stamped on my passport

I don’t want to bleach away my mask

of acceptance

that will make it easier for the little girl to find me


I shut my eyes


I brace myself

10, “Ready or not!”

I burst from behind the oak tree

and sprint

my way to base

I trip over a rock

and injure my heart

I hear someone say,

“Get up”

I sway and begin to stand to my feet

I am tapped on the forehead

I freeze

I meet her tear filled eyes


has been trying to catch me since I was 16

she hands me an unfinished autobiography

she tells me that sometimes being uncomfortable

means you’re growing

she asks me how can I be a victim of vulnerability

when I’ve survived suffering

she tells me

never regret loving or caring for someone

in rainbow sharpie

she tells me

self-control is the greatest form of empathy you can ever have

for yourself

She says solitude is salvation

She hugs me

and tells me


pretty is a state of being, but

I will always be beautiful

even when I’m not doing what I love

even when I’m walking down the street or

tying my shoe

you are beautiful because you are


she tells me

I’ll die before I please everyone else

and asks me to be bold in my existence


I owe it to myself to live daringly

she helps me to my feet

she holds my hands

wipes away a tear from my face and says,

“Oh, and honesty

is the genesis of all remedy

and freedom.”  


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