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Graffiti in Aspen Alley

by Emily Garrett

We etch ‘I love you’ into the porcelain trunk of an Aspen. You kiss my hair as the sun begins to drop below the mountain- top, I lace my fingers with yours and hike back to your truck idled on an overlook in the Sierra

Madre Mountains, not knowing that the beckoning darkness was an omen.

Twenty years have passed. I glance over at my partner of twelve and whisper the same words once reserved for you. The three words are now only a whisper a shadow a void.

The overpass is crowded with tourists awaiting the eclipse, I wedge my car between two oversized Tahoes, allowing the repetitive fear to creep back into my thoughts: I forgot the spot.

My sandals clap against my heels as I weave in and out of onlookers. Our path is empty, I walk in solitude braiding between trees until I find it. The inscription as deep and vibrant as the day we carved hand in hand. I pull the rusty kitchen knife out of my purse and press the tip into the snow-white trunk.

One simple addition was all it took.

I allow myself one more minute of running my hand on the bark you once touched before I leave you behind forever. One step forward one glance back and then I’m free. Now my truth is hidden, found only tattooed on an Aspen:

‘I love you still.’

About the Author

Emily Garrett received her MA in Creative Writing from Stephen F. Austin State University. She has been published in the Underground Literary Journal and Internet Void. She loves rainbows, wildflowers, and anything doused in lemon.

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