Outside the Streetlights

Erin Shetler

I begin my walk

I step to the beat of Killer Queen

as it plays through my earbuds

My heart pounds as I near the darkest section of the street

No streetlights to protect me


My dog trots beside me

But I know that he’d just lick whoever was out there

I hold my phone in my right hand

Prepared with the keypad open

I double-check that my keys are in my pocket

Prepared to put my house keys in my fist

I look behind me, seeing if anybody was there

Prepared to run if I saw something move

Over and over, I look back

Scared of what lies outside the streetlights


I enjoy the cooler weather especially with my short hair

Even though the colder weather, brings earlier sunsets

I get to wear bulky clothes

Allowing me to hide behind layers of cloth

With my combover, I had been mistaken for a guy before

I shouldn’t have to disguise myself as a different person

But I wanted to make it home safe, so I take precautions


I run through my checklist

just in case somebody walks past me

Head down when they pass by.

Push my shoulders forward to hide who I am.

Hold my dog’s leash tightly.

Turn the volume down or pause my music.

After they pass make sure they keep going.

Don’t forget to breathe.


I hear something behind me

I quickly look back as I begin at a jog

The leaves on the ground taunt me

as I run away from the wind

My heartbeat steadies, allowing me to breathe


I wish I didn’t have to do this every other night

I wish I didn’t have to be afraid of what was out there

I wish I didn’t feel obligated to disguise myself as somebody I’m not

I wish I didn’t have to protect myself from the unknown

I wish everybody understood what we go through

because maybe if everyone did, we wouldn’t be afraid