For years after that night,
my pulse raged,
my stomach clenched
at the sound of anything
moving outside my window.
I held in my breath
fearing an exhale would reveal me.

I saw them looming
in my doorway.
A man with a knife,
a man with a gun,
a man in a mask.

The moonlight
glared off their weapons,
showing me where
I would soon see my blood.

But hadn’t I created them?
My mind was cruel like that.

She asked if my mind
couldn’t help but see them,
could it change
which way they faced?

The men are still here,
but now they stand
at the corners of my room
facing out.

Their weapons sparkle
in confidence.

I am protected.

Lauren is an organizer and justice advocate, spending her time working with communities in seeking racial equity and criminal justice transformation, along with voting access and policy wins across the country. Her work has been published in The Sun Magazine and she lives in Austin, Texas.