It exists solely in the inlet, the creek a leftover of the sea that had encompassed it so long ago. Most of it had dried up, shriveled, unnatural aging. There is not much of it left. But it remains. It remembers.
It knew a moth once. He was ugly. He was fair. He desired the light. He had a heartbeat, but his wings, patterned in shades—of amber, white, mud—beat faster and there was a yearning, a longing it couldn’t help but register. It spoke. He listened. But he was always too small. Too ugly. He did not last long.
It knew a girl once. Her skin was a copper brown, but the bottoms of her feet were of the palest white. She danced across the rocks. It was her sanctuary. Her mother could not find her, nor her brothers, nor her sisters. She collected. She learned. She gathered. She listened. Eventually, she left. Her laughter lingers in the echoes, in the splash of the water against the pebbles she once loved. It still sees her in the flowers, the foam a gleam of a smile.
It knew a boy once. He was running from something. It did not know. It did not ask. He sat and he rolled up his trousers. He sat on its rocks. His white shirt was speckled with blood. He sighed. He dropped his head into his hands. It rushed around his feet. He prayed. It surged past him. It did not know. It did not ask. It felt no relief from him, but he existed. He felt it. He listened. He knew he was not alone. The sun rose, it embraced the golden light, and he never returned.
It knew a dog once. She was a small thing. Her soul fluttered. She was filthy. She barked at the air, screamed at the air, her eyes seeing things that even it could not comprehend. Still, it listened. It roared, slamming against its rocks, and she listened, too. The spray did not heal her but, for the moment, it cleaned her. The fur around her paws returned to what it once was, a snowy white. She was not soothed for long. By nightfall, she stumbled away, leaning, barking, listening for something else. It wished it could heal her. It wished she could stay.
But they can’t. They never do.
Its current is hushed and it hates it, hates the quiet and hates the way flowers don’t grow on its bed anymore. It hates that it’s incapable of being what it used to be. It doesn’t have the capacity to understand why, or how, and it has no desire to because there is no reason to know. What is done is done. It is dry, and it is weak, and someday soon its stream will become a trickle and after the trickle, nothing at all. A lingering breeze. It clings to it. It smells like kwiyamuyam, printemps, primavera, that’s what it does; it takes, it learns, it feels like something more. It struggles. A dandelion seed flutters in the wind; it bounces and jumps and falls in the surf. A pure white—the flick of prancing feet, the splattered blouse, the patterned wings, the paws on its rocks, it remembers it remembers it remembers
It will never die.
Grace Yannotta, 17-years-old, is currently in her senior year of high school in North Carolina. She is an aspiring author and an aspiring historian and an aspiring a lot of things. This piece of hers is titled after Andrew Bird's album, Echolocations: River. Grace writes constantly, avidly, with a preference for character-based interactions.