eleven epilogues of

☆ erik kirkland memorial prize finalist ☆

eleven epilogues of

ella baker

evie stiner

i. I want to be a musician, a composer, and an expert in every single division of history. I want to know the past eras as well as I know how to be touched. I want to read every book that’s ever been written, enough times over that I have each one memorized. I want to be famous, published, and humble. I want to know all about the things in the ocean and I want to be able to name every kind of cloud and dinosaur. I want to sing. I want to speak every language and I want to speak each of them well. I want to knit a hat or a scarf. I want everyone to love me. I want to be pretty, intelligent, and kind. Selfless. I want to stay awake for days over days. I want to cut off all of my hair and paint my nails very dark green. I want to run across sunsets, sand caked in the cracks of my heels, salt-water sloshing at my calves. I want to speak beautifully every time I open my mouth and I want to love the sound of my voice as much as I love yours. I want to know what will happen to me when my heart stops. I want to know for certain that everyone I’ve ever met will remember my name. I want to love my teeth, my skin, my eyes, my ankles, sorry, I’ll stop. I am only overwhelmed, clocking from dream to dream. I can’t play the violin without wishing I could also play the cello, the piano, the bassoon, call me ambitious, call me young. For I am so very young, and I’d say that ambition is a wicked curse if this is such a thing. Ask me what I like to do, and I’ll tell you that somebody croaks over every other second—I’ll tell you that I only spend a fraction of my time awake—there are colors that only an insect can make sense of—and I am never going to be seventeen again.

ii. On my walk back from the library, I keep to the right. Not another soul fares this quick evening air. Someone told me years ago that they loved me the same way that they loved to write—helplessly, and despite the goddamned odds. I’ve never really stopped thinking about it. The moon is full, and I’m at once caught on the thing; is that how it always looks? I can see its craters, that little gray sun, so large to us and so necessary. I want to write a poem about it, but, I think, there are already so many poems about the moon.

iii. At some time, like two in the afternoon, I am barefoot and running along a broad, open trail. Everything itches and my skin is too warm. When I trip, I let myself fall down, down, down, and now, flat against scratching grass, sun-sick, shoulder blades digging at tree roots, I am able to cry right at the clouds. They are only ever this heavy in the afternoon, and I don’t enjoy the feeling. Something about this moment’s gappy shadows is exactly my childhood. Something about this kind of sunshine fills me with the worst kind of dread: I am so pointless. I am so breakable.

iv. My sister knocks on my bedroom door and walks in before I can let her. She’s coming close and she’s crying, I notice, even though it’s dark. Flopping on the ledge of my bed, she mumbles about something she read online—a story—a love story. She’s been reading it for weeks, and she’s just finally finished. I haven’t seen her cry in years. She says through sweet sobs, oh, I will never be loved like that. I am never going to be loved like that.

v. I wrote something beautiful here, but I deleted it just a few minutes ago. You’ll never get to see. Oh, it was so perfect! It was the most beautiful thing, I promise. It would have moved you like nothing has ever moved you before. Up and down and all around. Trust me, you would not have been able to sleep tonight if I had kept for you the masterpiece that I’d written down right here. Listen, it was about the moon. Hey, are you mad at me? You should be.

vi. The movie is over, and I’m crying. Such a wonderful, heartbreaking story. I wish I had written it first.

vii. A crash is blocking the main road, making traffic slow. I am going to be late for class. This is annoying, and I am bitter about it all the way up until I near the scene, where then, my bones go cold. Three cars sprawled and bent and ruined. One suffers far worse than the others, crushed utterly at the fender, slightly smoking, almost fresh. Between a few police cars, an ambulance, its back doors are open, but I can’t see inside. The blue and red blinking lights of them disrupt the rich morning gray. Two girls are crowded and crying at an officer; one of them has an arm wrapped in some thick bandage. A black body bag sits sickly still on concrete, just steps away. Maybe I will stop thinking about it tomorrow.

viii. My skin has not stilled in weeks. This heart keeps jumping to dangerous places. I’ve been battling against the intrigues of mortality, stumbling along tempting ledges. Their steepness I have only just begun to discern. Days have started bleeding blue—bleeding green—bleeding this sticky, vicious red. I’ve been gone for some time, haven’t I? Long enough that you classify my presence as ghostly, and my love as nearly false. I’m sorry. I’m always sorry. Please, can you say my name like that again? I’m so tired of all these inevitabilities. You know I just love the sound of your voice.

ix. Something I’ve been thinking about: I keep getting heavier.

x. I dig at the strings of my violin with every last bit of myself. It’s making this horrible, cranky sound. Bitter red, screaming. I am not even embarrassed, sweeping my arm merrily back and forth. I will not stop. This destruction is almost touchable, nearly permanent, and finally, I am able to breathe.

xi. All of these things go together in the same way that the sound of a minor chord feels exactly like looking at storm clouds, in the way jazz sounds like a coffee shop, in the way pink looks like ballet. I hope there is some sense to it all. I’m trying to capture a feeling, I’m doing a dance with my very own soul; please, someone drag me from this heap of eternal contradiction. I just want to be known.

ella baker
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Ella Baker is a Sophomore Creative Writing/Publishing and Editing double major. She’s the president of the SU Shakespeare Club, plays the violin in the Symphony Orchestra, and has minors in Music Performance and Religious Studies. She likes crabs, cats, and the West Coast.