Your heart got stronger because it had to beat through the scars. Wound after wound and you hardened it to keep it safe but the heart naturally wants to be soft, so it threw off the lies you said were protection spells, crashing against those walls until they tumbled. You went down with them. It didn’t feel like it, but you were free.

Now you are stumbling along a path that seems too bright. Stop squinting. You are closing your eyes against hope and what comes next now that your heart is free.

There are no yellow bricks. A tornado came through this way. You remember because it caught you up and took you to a different road for a time. But look behind you and see the way you have come. Just a slip of your head to the side before you face forward again. You don’t want to get turned around.

Put your hand to your chest and feel the wet heat of blood. You are touching your heart, and it hurts, but that’s what it means to be open. Keep stumbling forward. Keep crying. Keep bleeding all over the world.

You know what you are? Fierce. Brave. Wise. You are a piece of the sun finding her way home. Never shield your eyes against that light. Never fear the burning. It is essence of who you are. Breathe the fire as easily as you once believed you’d breathe water. Feel your heart beat and breathe.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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