The Hands of Ella DuJardin

What seemed like darkness to everyone else was the brightest spot I knew

J.A. Taylor
Published in
6 min readSep 3, 2020


Photo by Peter Sjo on Unsplash

Watching her die was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

Most would dismiss her as ‘troubled’ or ‘disturbed.’ Her life was too messy to want to be involved, too chaotic to touch. Men would have gladly touched her body, but they wanted no part of the deepness that came with touching her soul. I wanted both.

Most would say it was the madness of the world that drove her down, but I knew differently. It was madness she chased. She chased it because she knew the world was dark. And some people can only make sense of their own darkness by feeling how dark the rest of the world is. Most people thought her darkness was as black as night, but I knew differently. Her darkness was nothing more than a storm cloud compared to the nighttime sky she chased.

But what most never discovered was if you were willing to get close enough to her, you’d be showered with a life-giving rain.

Saturday nights we would sit on her father’s screened porch, drink Mountain Dew, and share a joint. It was a spiritual ritual we’d practiced for years.

“Do you think there’s a God?” she asked.

“Dunno,” I said. “Maybe.”

She sat atop the chair with her legs folded, small feet protruding from her cat-like figure. “It’s the wrong question.”

I propped the roach on the tray and peered into the deep wells of her eyes. A lovely labyrinth flowed through those tunnels, each turn taking you deeper into a thousand worlds, each birthing thousands more. I would never be able to explore that chaotic beauty to its end. But everything in me wanted to try. “Then why’d you ask it?”

She flashed her amazing smile. Rows of pearls under muted lipstick shone against her chestnut skin. “To see if you knew it was the wrong question.”

“You’re testing me?”

“Helping you,” she said flatly before picking up the blunt and taking a long drag. She inhaled deeply, then let an offering of smoke float from her open mouth. It drifted upward, tangled by the slow-wheeling fan. “Helping you understand. You already know the answer.”