Our theme for the month of October is “flash nonfiction.” Writers were asked to submit pieces that were 250 words or less.

Last October, I learned a friend from my hometown passed away. We hadn’t talked in years.

He was one of my first friends for my identity wasn’t linked to my family. He was the first friend whose death I had to grieve. 

I searched for memories, but they were compressed seconds. Unconcluded moments. The silent in-between.

Restless nights accumulated in my search for memories turned into regret for not keeping in touch. Eventually, I spent nights confronting mortality. 

Static noise from a space heater was my only companion. I turned to music to drown out my mind. There was no song I listened to more than 92914’s “Okinawa.” 

The sounds of waves and seagulls tethered my scattered thoughts. The gentle hum relaxed me. The long acoustic solo offered solace. The song was my fix. 

But fixes only last so long. It was inevitable that the thing I turned to the song to suppress became its greatest association. When I heard the song, I only thought of death. 

In January I cut it from my playlists. Encountering the song meant confronting emotions I could not handle. 

But I couldn’t stay away forever. When summer came, it was time to give the song another chance. I started it, hesitantly, and wondered which emotions would come. It was sadness over my friend’s death. It was the fear of mortality. It was the comfort of both. 

It’s the only song that makes me cry. It will be the one I keep going back to.

1 Comment

  1. Alex Johnson

    It’s funny how songs become anchors. When my friend’s mom passed away, I processed my feelings by hating The Band Perry’s popular single “When I Die Young” for no reason other than the flippantness I perceived in the title.

    I’m glad this song is strong enough to hold both the comfort and the sadness that comes with grief.


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