Aftermath | nonfiction | Taylor Stanton


I want to imprint you onto my skin. First, you will be a dark purple bruise, splotchy and not easily forgotten. Then, a birthmark. The feeling I’ve known you forever kept in a pale patch right below my knee. We’ll swim in the creek behind your house and watch the water trickle before the drought. The sun will stream down in waves. I’m still parched from the walk in the park we took last September. 

I want to forget the day a powder pink sleeve brushed your wrist, your hand in my hand, if only for a few seconds. Our handshake was my demotion, your resignation, and our goodbye. I want to call you, text you, and like every picture you post online if you’d only post a picture. Show me a stroke of your painting, a color in your life. Show me what your sky looks like. What your trees look like. What your ordinary and extraordinary look like. I want to make sure I haven’t forgotten. Show me the floss you use. The bulky computer you lug around. Anything. 

I want to know if you still wear the same smile, if you laugh the same way. Has anyone made you laugh like me? We cried over chemistry, and you fell out of your seat. I want to know your details. Tell me the things you take for granted, the things you don’t think about, and the things you still do. What’s on the periphery of your life? Maybe I can make a home there. I’d take your burnt, discarded edges. I promise to take better care of them than I did of you. 

We made a pact. I want to know you when your hair turns gray. I will count your wrinkles as they appear, making note of each one in my journal. Keeping a record of your life would be my highest calling. Early morning after you’re gone and I’ve done the dishes, I’ll place your life on my pages with soft hands. Or I’ll stare directly into your eyes and write lines like I’m painting your portrait. Maybe I’ll pen your life while you sleep under quilted blankets. Someone like you should sleep under the stars. I could catch your dreams for you and shepherd them until you wake. I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Your shadows catch me at every corner. Did you know they do that? You’re here in my kitchen. You’re in my bed. You’re here as I break down moving boxes and drop pizza on the floor and laugh at the television. God, you’re in my head. 

I cook your favorite meal and eat it. I pretend I’m tasting what you taste. When I wake up, I listen for the crunch of your toast. I taste the crisp bite of your apple late into the afternoon. The numbing cold of chocolate ice cream left behind on your lips at midnight. 

Out of the blue you reach out. And I’m frozen. 

Heart hammering. Mind scattering. Dropping everything. All it takes is a simple “hello” or a plain question. You ask for book recommendations or request help with an idea or need a friend’s address. No frills for these short exchanges that were once lively novels. 

We stopped writing many years ago, but the story goes on and I can’t stop the grin that grows across my face when I see your name anywhere. I’m so terrible at concealing it. Surely, you of all people know I’m bad at hiding, and I want so badly to hide. 

In the moments between thinking of you and thinking of you again, I whisper, “Are you still here?” 

And you are here and here and here and here and here.

Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram

Taylor works as a content marketer in Springfield, MO. She studied English and creative writing as an undergraduate at Drury University and was once called a “copy wizard.” She adores her houseplants, owns a disco ball and has a loud laugh. Seriously, you can recognize her by her cackle. She has published work in the undergraduate magazine Polaris. You can find her on Twitter at @TaylorStanton89.