A Local Individual

It was a different Monday morning.

I could not sleep the night before.

Why? I did not know.

My heart was in pain.


I was scrolling through Twitter.

Nine words caught my eyes.

“We all know Muslims are behind Las Vegas shooting!”


What happened last night?

When I was trying to sleep, what happened?

I felt strange and broken,

Finding about sad news when the fingers were pointing at me.


As I learned more about it, I felt worse.

The shooter was not Muslim.

“He was not a terrorist,” said police.

He was a “Local Individual”.


I shook in terror because I know

This could happen in my locale

And as a Muslim, I wouldn’t know who to turn to.

You see, I am never a “Local Individual”.

My headscarf, my skin, my accent, my passport,

None of them qualify me to be a “Local Individual”.

The terror I fear is never called “terrorism”.


“A mass shooting took 58 lives”

Sounds passive.

A man, a terrorist, took 58 lives.


He closed many eyes.

He broke many hearts.

He stopped many lips from kissing ever again,

Many bodies from waking up ever again,

Many human beings from ever feeling whole again.

And if that is not terror, what is?


A member of Free Women Writers, Zahra is a sophomore in high school who loves writing and poetry. Zahra cares deeply about girls’ education and empowerment.

Always a Survivor

When he touched her,
She never wanted it, but that was never his concern.

When he raped her,
He said he was strong and he could do anything he wanted.
He tried to take away her dreams.

He thought he had the power to destroy her world.
He said, “If you don’t marry me, no one else will take you.”

She was not ashamed.
She cleaned up her tears and stood tall.
She achieved her goals,
Crossing them off, one by one.

When he saw her again, he asked:
“You have a bad reputation now, right?
Nobody married you, right?
I warned you.”

She said with a smile:
“I heard you got married.
Does your wife know who you really are?
I don’t have a bad name. I am a teacher.
I am teaching your son to respect women.
Because I don’t want anyone to be like you.”

He looked at the woman’s bold face.
He could never believe
That one day she would become the heroine of her own life.

Photo credit: Free Women Writers

Zahra Wakilzada is a sophomore in high school, an aspiring writer and poet, and a member of Free Women Writers.