colouring outside the lines

i could never colour within the lines

i felt freedom outside them

and as i grew up

i took every path except the safe ones

now that i sit here across the dining table from the people i’ve known my entire life

i realise they don’t know me.

and im still peeling that skin beside my nails

like the day i told them i couldn’t get an A

i had been trying to let that skin grow lately- well, i don’t know anymore.

i spent years crafting these wings to reach my first grade teacher’s prophecy,

but now i just stand under the sun

to feel my skin burning,

to feel anything except this fear;

this fear of not belonging,

this fear that was once curiosity,

this fear that was once butterflies in my stomach,

the fear that made the nine-year-old me lock myself in the washroom and strangle her neck.

the same fear that made the fourteen-year-old me carve hate on my skin,

the fear that stitches my lips everytime i try to speak up,

the fear that i can never escape.

so, i let myself burn.

i’ve found a home here.

i don’t like this place but there’s comfort here.

how does a numb soul win a burning skin?

-Avni Jain

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