A Knot in Constellation by Sophie Ezzell

close-up of strand of shiny, small light bulbs

You thought you’d be more prepared for the email. You knew it was coming. You and she have three days to pack your respective dorm rooms before you have to leave your university because of COVID-19. This is your senior year—you won’t be coming back. You both find moments between packing to sit on each other’s beds and touch each other’s hands and say to each other in soft voices I just thought we’d have more time.

She waits until the last night to unstring the lights from her room. You sit in a chair in the corner and watch the light collapse to the floor. The strands tangle into a shapeless knot, but this excites her. She tells you she loves untying knots. It was something she got good at as a kid because she wanted a skill that made her special. She seats herself in the middle of the floor and pulls the lights into her lap. Her smile is a child’s unwrapping the thing she has always wanted.

You feel the pang beneath your ribs that twitches when you know you’re in love with her. But you’re not ready to admit that to yourself.

You begin to cry watching her hands maneuver the light. You’re surprised by the silence and stillness of your body. This is the most beautiful she has ever been to you, and you know if she sees you crying, she’ll run to you. But you want to hold this image of her for as long as you can.

She is soft and hallowed and glowing. Her hands are stretching stars, undoing the knots in constellation. You wonder what it must be like to be touched by hands that manipulate stars. You imagine warmth.

When she is finished untangling the lights, she removes the plug from the wall. The whole room dims. You feel yourself start to grieve the memories you know will be lost. Her arm around your shoulder, your thumb stroking the line inside her palm, her smile when you touched your nose to the nose of the worn green bunny she loved when she was small. You realize this will be your last memory of her room, watching her pull apart the closest thing you ever had to stars.

Meet the Contributor

Sophie-ezzelSophie Ezzell is an Urban Appalachian writer. Her work has been published in Pidgeonholes, Aquifer, Under the Sun, and is forthcoming in River Teeth. Her flash essay ‘Plastic Flowers’ was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Sophie graduated from Marshall University with a BA in creative writing and is now pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction from Oklahoma State University. Lately, her work has begun to explore the relationship between trauma and the Appalachian region.

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Eric Chan

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