Thirst

We’re laughing into our third or fourth round of Moscow Mules,
telling stories of love and laughter and absurdity,
when I hear the word again.
It’s the second time recently
that someone has said it to me, about me.

“Brave.”

I stare down at the melting ice in my glass,
swirling it, swimming in it.
“I’m not,” I mutter,
but before I can get the objection out,
they’re in an uproar of protest,
insisting that they know this word
and they know me
and the two are the same.

I want to accept it, to believe it,
to wrap myself up in it to stay warm and safe.
Instead, I smirk, shrug, and sip,
drinking the ice away and feeling the weight of the empty cup
until the subject changes.

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