Sophia Elan


Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 93.

Sam

I want to write about Sam. His green Filson jacket smelling of wood smoke and pot. The crooked canine overlapping his right incisor that you could see when he sang. Wide palms tracing the neck of his guitar. The gray grime that would coat the steel strings from hours of playing. Dylan, The Dead, Hendrix, Young.

But what I really want to write about is how he loved me. That day I cut off all my hair. Tired, dry clumps at my mirror, crying. How he said I was so beautiful. How he taught me about riding bikes and jam bands and psilocybin. We’d pick wild blackberries in the summer. Chanterelles in the fall. We’d skip school to eat omelets by the boats. Chinese food. Pastries and coffee.

And what I really want to write about is how I loved him, but didn’t love him enough to stay. So I left. I left in the choppy, messy way of 17-year-olds. I’d see him around town from time to time like a once-favorite dress, donated, and seen on a woman at the grocery store. A gentle recognition. Distant familiarity. He was still playing music. He was still making sushi. He was still getting stoned. He’d smile at me so I could see his crooked tooth.

But what I really want to write about is the night he died. How he exited the car barefoot and stumbling, chef’s knife in his hand. How the blood pooled around him. Hot, rerouted, confused blood. How he had three bullets fired into his torso, but fell to his knees after the first. Sloppy red and blue lights arching over t-shirt and glass and road. Radio static and shouts and the chaos of dying too soon.

And what I really want to write about is why the police officer had to shoot Sam. Why in the chest and why three times? Where were his shoes? Why was he holding a knife? What was going through his mind as he lie there on the asphalt?

But what I really want to write about is what happens to the heart when someone you
love dies.

I want to write about Sam. How, as a boy, he rode horses and could name all the bugs
he’d find in the garden. I want to write about how he was kind and gentle. I want to write about his crooked tooth.


About the Author:
Sophia Elan spends her summers commercial fishing in Alaska and her winters writing in Port Townsend, WA. She is currently working on a collection of creative non-fiction.