top of page

Bailey Kim: Dear Eli


Sometimes, when things get particularly boring, I like to float way up high, perch myself atop a cloud, and gaze at the world below. It’s a more introspective sight than you might think at first, especially at night, when you can see the cars bustling, the people walking, and the lights on the buildings flickering. You start to wonder about each and every person's life under you, and how there are thousands to millions of people, captured in just one look. It makes you question your own life. Whether it really, truly mattered in the grand scheme of things—whether you were just another one of those thousands to millions of people. 

I don’t remember my death. I don’t remember what it was like to die. At first, for a long time, I don’t think I believed that I was really dead. I don’t remember when during that period of time I started losing my memories. I didn’t even notice until after visiting my parent's house one day. I often visited the places I liked when I was living—my university, my friend's houses, stores I used to frequent, restaurants I used to eat at—I thought maybe something there would give me at least a sliver of clarity or answer any of my millions of questions. Ever since I died, they sat simmering in my stomach, nagging my brain and screeching, We need answers! We need Answers! 

That day, I wanted to visit the old playground, but I couldn’t remember where it was. A place I must've visited thousands of times, and yet, I drew a blank. The more I thought back to my childhood, the less I realized I could remember. That’s when I knew I’d started to forget my life before. I started crying, crying invisible tears that felt wet on my hands but made no marks on the concrete sidewalk as they dripped down. I was starting to fade into nothingness. 

I hung around my memorial often. It was a thin, tall slab of stone, with my name, the date of my birth, and the date of my death etched into it. Flowers and pictures surrounded the front of it, shining vibrant against the dark stone in the daylight, colors of violets, blues, and yellows, happiness captured in short moments with a camera. The pictures, along with the flowers, were swapped out every day by someone different. Most days, it was my parents. Some days, it was one of my friends. Today, it was Matthew. 

Matthew hadn’t once visited my memorial all the days I'd been dead. I visited him a couple of times, but the air around him always weighed heavily. Something seemed slightly off around him compared to others, and he always seemed paranoid, almost as if he could sense I was there. It scared me a bit. I passed it off as grief. He was my best friend, after all. 

I watched as he walked up to my memorial. He was wearing a heavy coat. His hands were shoved into his pockets, but his shoulders were shaking. The wind was heavy, and it whipped his hair around his face. He bent down, pulling a plastic container out of the paper bag he’d been carrying. I recognized it as a muffin from the university cafe—the ones I used to eat every day before class. He replaced the flowers from yesterday with bright pink ones that practically glowed against the dull green of the grass. He put down the muffin next to them and sat, staring at the stone slab. I placed myself on top of it, watching him. We stayed like that for almost ten minutes, and somewhere along the way he started crying, silent tears falling down his cheeks and soaking into the ground. He had a pained expression on his face, almost as if it hurt to even look at the stone, but despite this, he didn’t look away. Soon enough, he pulled an envelope out of the pocket of his jacket, placed it atop the muffin container, got up, and walked away. He hadn’t said one word. 

I hopped down from the stone. The envelope had my name written messily on the front of it in Matthew's handwriting. To my surprise, when I grabbed it, the paper held in my hand. I dropped it and then picked it up again. I was unsure of why, out of all things in the physical world, I was able to grab the letter. I tried at the muffin container, but my hand passed right through it as usually it did with everything else. Slowly, I tore the envelope open, pulling out a folded piece of paper. I unfolded it and stared at the letters scribbled on the page.

Dear Eli, 

I don’t even really know what I’m trying to accomplish with this letter. Bring comfort to you? Bring comfort to myself? Who knows at this point? I write this acting like you’re going to read it, but really, I guess I’m just talking to myself here. Maybe I’ve finally gone crazy. 

I can’t really explain this to you, can I? You’re dead. You’re gone, and it’s my fault. Everyone says it was an accident, but I can tell they just do it to make me feel better. The only thing it really succeeds at is making me feel worse, because it wasn’t an accident. I know it wasn’t one. When we were fighting in that car, some sick part of me really wanted you dead. I wasn’t in the right headspace then, I guess. I was angry, tired, and a little bit drunk, even if you didn’t know it then. When the car in front of us swerved, I blanked. I don’t remember how we crashed, but the next thing I know, I’m looking over at you next to me with blood on your face. I don’t think I will ever be able to get your face out of my head. It follows me wherever I go. 

I guess this is my way of apologizing, because I really am sorry. I miss you more than I care to admit, and it makes me feel guilty because I was the one who killed you. Everyone throws around the word “accident” like I’m the only one who knows that truly I’m a murderer. I murdered my best friend, and yet, I have the nerve to miss you. Can a murderer miss their victim? 

Everything reminds me of you now. I’d say I hope that one day I’ll get past this, but in reality, I don’t think I ever will. Your face is going to follow me for the rest of my life, and that’s OK because I deserve it. It already took me three weeks to visit this place. I’ll try to visit more.


I hope you’re doing alright. I hope you’re somewhere better. I hope you’re happy. That’s all I really wish for in the end. I’ll try to bring more of these muffins since I know you love them. Hopefully, you can eat them every day as you used to, wherever you are.


He didn’t sign the letter. Memories from that day began to slowly flow back to me in small snapshots of moments—getting into the car, the coffee spilling, the argument, the silence after, the car in front of us. I blinked, turning the paper over in my hands a few times, folding it, and unfolding it. This whole time, it was Matthew? He walked away from a crash unscathed while I ended up dead? 

I spent hours sitting in the same place, reading and rereading the note, memories swirling in my head while I wracked my brain for answers to anything . Even long after I set the letter back to where it originally was, and the sun had set in colors of deep red, I sat thinking. Was I even upset, or did I just feel like I should’ve been upset? Honestly, a weight felt as though it lifted itself off my shoulders. I finally did what I’d been trying to do all these weeks. Yes, I still had so many questions, possibly even more than before, but the main one, How did I die? was finally answered. Did it even matter how I felt? Whether I was angry or not? Whether I forgave him for essentially killing me? I was dead after all. I realized that, whether I forgave him or not, I would still stay dead, and he would still have to live with the guilt of the crash for the rest of his life. He said so himself. Even while grappling with this, I could only bring myself to remember the good moments with him. The times we laughed, hugged, and cried together. When I was alive, his presence was one of the only things that allowed me to keep living. Without him, I think I would’ve ended up dead anyway. It wasn’t worth holding a grudge over. What good would it do? 

It wasn’t until much later into the night that I looked up into the sky at the clouds. A small speck of light behind one lit up the otherwise dark sky. The moon was nothing but a sliver of grey and the stars were dimmed. I floated up to the light, only to find that the source of it came from a door. It was large and white, and it glowed around the edges, the brightness overflowing from the other side. Somewhere deep inside me, I think I knew what it was, even if I’d never seen it before. A subconscious recognition. 

I grabbed the doorknob, and the gold metal felt warm in my hand. I turned and looked down at the world one last time. I looked at the cars bustling, the people walking, the lights on the buildings flickering, and I smiled. For the first time since I died, I felt content. Nothing felt as though it was simmering in my stomach or screeching in my head. I felt utterly at ease. I turned the knob and, taking a deep breath, opened the door. After that, I didn’t look back. 

About the Author:

Bailey Kim found her love for books at a very young age. Her father would fall asleep while

reading, she would eagerly picture how the story would unfold. Today, she is a dedicated

gymnast who devotes almost as much time training in the gym as she does in school. To

unwind, she often stays up too late reading. When she has a free moment, she enjoys writing

short stories, daydreaming and sketching. Bailey is currently a junior in high school and resides in New Jersey.


bottom of page