These days, we carry fear with us like a pocketknife. It cuts through safe spaces and political correctness, boulevards of caution-taped crime scenes. Through the coded language and undying stereotypes that conspire to make our presence appear suspicious. A neighbor loading a handgun, anxiously waiting for a reason to stand their ground. The realization that everything we thought was safe wasn't, not really. Our bodies placed carefully, like pieces on a chessboard. Our monsters omnipresent, yet others claim they’re mythical, nonexistent. The backroads, a shortcut home that seems prudent but leaves us vulnerable to false narratives. We follow protocol, hold our hands at 10 and 2, move deliberately when instructed. Remain polite, eschew eye contact, stay silent despite having much to say. The real danger is in the vague ways we fit a description, how we line up for authorities willingly and then fall apart, playing dead to stay alive.

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Adrian S. Potter writes poetry and short fiction. He is the author of the fiction chapbook Survival Notes (Červená Barva Press, 2008) and winner of the 2010 Southern Illinois Writers Guild Poetry Contest. Some publication credits include North American Review, Obsidian and Kansas City Voices. He blogs, sometimes, at http://adrianspotter.com/.