Sophia Zhao

It’s coming. 

every fiber of my being 

every bone in my body

every ounce of my brain


The hair on my arms 

stands like soldiers,

straight at attention

waiting for the attack.


It’s coming.

my heart pounds 

out the syllables


It’s a warning. 

Blood rushes 

in my ears

Something metallic

coats my tongue

It tastes like fear.


It’s coming

and it’s all I 

can think about.

My muscles tense

Fight or flight?

but there is no fight.


It’s coming

and flight is 

my only option

so I stand

on shaky legs

command myself 

to move


It’s coming

and I need to 

get out

it doesn’t matter

where –– as long as they 

don’t hear

my sneakers

squeak on 

scuff-shined floors


It’s coming

and now 

it’s here.

the cough 

shakes my core

rattles my bones

scrapes down,






my throat


is this what dying feels like?

the man in the white coat looks at me with a smile when I ask,

sitting criss cross applesauce

on his plastic table.


“It’s not death,”

he promises.


“Just the yague.”