I no longer carry the shields I’ve protected myself with


A swirly view of some Chicago building from the 38th floor.

I had a recurring fear that the sun would stop hovering over Earth and specifically plummet on me. As young as I was, I spiraled into crying fits about the outside, expecting the sun to poison my turbulent charisma. 

To combat my bizarre fear, I wore my sparkly bike helmet and my brother’s “pretty” (polarized) sunglasses for security. City squirrels tormented my contentment too, but luckily, my slap wristband from Justice was the “perfect” deterrent. 

If I dared to go outside and travel outside my safety zone, the helmet was worn to protect my head if the sun fell, and the sunglasses were more of a mesmerizing distraction than anything else. The rich ripples of violet flood the deep blue out if you turn them towards the sun, but turn them back to see the ocean rise and submerge the vibrancy—

Stop the admiration and put them back on. 

I found myself in lots of trouble for simply staring at bewitching colors, but if I don’t put the sunglasses back on, my sensitive eyes will fry in their sockets. When they start to sting, they sizzle, and when my eyes pool with tears—two mirrored streams on either side of my nose bridge—I can see the ever-blinding radiance in each ray. 

To mitigate the chance of an aura or a migraine, my blackout curtains are always pulled neatly to the side. My old stuffed animals border one side of my bed, trapping them between the sides, keeping them in place as I sleep. For the most part, I’ve adapted to my south-facing window and kept a steady flow.

When it’s lifted up or moved to the left too much, a beautiful gap forms, allowing the sun to perfectly align with my eyes—I especially hate those mornings.

However, I woke up to the sun on a school morning this past week. It was Thursday, a school day, and I woke up to the sun that morning without being temporarily blinded by its lethal reach. Instead, my aching frame sinks further into my bed, attentive to the songbirds’ warble and lost in melodious harmony, entranced—stolen by the song of tranquility. 

And the beautiful rhapsodes the birds recite will forever be my favorite sound. Finches exclaim their lives with more hostility than the sparrows, and my ears perk up to the indistinguishable sound of red-winged blackbirds and orioles. 

Still, I ride the rest of my tranquil high. I’m flowing through the peaceful stream of time for once when the chirping stops, followed by the loud flaps of wings soaring.

Instead, my aching frame sinks further into my bed, attentive to the songbirds’ warble and lost in melodious harmony, entranced—stolen by the song of tranquility. ”

I’m hovering over a photo album filled with pictures of me and the Coit house, and one of its ivory wings rested on a mountain of my sweatshirts, displaying a photo of me in the zone I deemed “safe.” It was my birthday, and the photo was of me, posing with the toy fairies I horribly begged for. Smiling with my sparkling teeth because I’m happy, and squinting my eyes to block the sight of the sun, squirrels, and my brother’s brand new Nerf gun. 

Say cheeeeese and snap sounds the shutter and the Nerf gun’s release, plunk. A tip of the dart is speeding into frame as the shutter closes, and in the bottom left corner, a neon orange tip and the dark blue foam is visible. Luckily, the box of fairies protected my big cheeeesy smile from the dart’s impact, but I close the antique cover carefully and walk back to my bed, shamefully, with a glum façade.

I bury myself in blankets, and I cry for the memories stored in that photo. Back when my sleep schedule was normal and properly adjusted, not fully adapted to combat my headaches: my other fear.

The tear trails on either side of my nose bridge gleam as a few more droplets flutter from my lashes.

Headaches and my malignant auras shouldn’t be a quality about myself I fear, but I do. I fear that they’ll eventually rid me of the aspects of life I live for and replace them with ones where I’m safe inside again, fearing the light again, but I now know the sun won’t fall on my head.

I’m moving and positioning my comforter just right so I can snuggle in; gripping the heavy material as I fight drowsiness, leaping from being awake to being aware, then ultimately, slipping away into a prosperous slumber.

When the lights aren’t constantly sending me into agony, wake me up.