I wanna be brave like Deanna Troi. Like skintight powder-blue eyelashed brave. That’s not afraid to look inside you and see what you see when you look at me brave. Like under the knife for the cause brave. That doesn’t question anomalies or enemies or orders because this is a choice brave. That looks down the barrel of a gun and says oh hello brave. Because when Troi breaks down messes up the eyelashes or gets that ugly tear in her eye you don’t look away. Because you know you can’t be brave like Deanna Troi. Nobody can be brave like Troi. Belly brave. Heart-catching brave. I wanna be brave like Troi because you keep looking and you keep judging. And I keep tightening and shortening the dress. Keep my legs bare. Keep skin. And when finally I come at you all skin-clad harness strings showing messing up my mascara pulling at all the wrong parts I want you not to stare and wonder as if I weren’t—weren’t a thing. A brave thing. I wanna be brave like Troi. But I’m too busy pushing. Push away the look in your eye the skin the barrel. Push and push and at last keep still because. Just because. When finally you come at me pretending your teeth aren’t bared hissing bitch in my ear and I say yes, I wanna be no-brave. I wanna know what it’s like not to be afraid. Afraid of Jupiter or Mars or empty space or going so far away I can never come back.
Jennifer Savran Kelly (she/her/they/them) lives in Ithaca, New York, where she writes, binds books, and works as a production editor at Cornell University Press. She has written for film and print, and her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Green Mountains Review (online), Iron Horse Literary Review, Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts (online companion), and elsewhere. Her novel-in-progress, Endpapers, won a 2018 award from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.
Photo by Lukáš Gejdoš