Plaid Shirt

Photo by Kevin Huang, Burlington, VT

You probably didn’t think
you’d ever hear from me again.
Maybe you didn’t pick up
because you lost my number
and the one flashing on your phone screen
is foreign to your eyes. 
Remember when we used 
to know those digits by heart?
I still do, I think.
You probably don’t.
That’s okay.
I only called because I found that shirt –
the plaid one with the beige buttons –
that you left at my house
two summers ago.
It was under my bed
and it made me think about
how that’s a perfect representation of our friendship.
Swept under the bed.
Into the dark, the dust,
the place where no bothers to look,
unless they’re searching
for something they’ve lost. 
Sometimes things roll under
and you don’t bother fishing them out
because in the moment
you don’t need them.
That’s what happened to us,
isn’t it?
We were kicked beneath the mattress
and neither of us bothered
to crawl back into the light.
I guess that’s what I’m doing:
trying to get back to that place.
But it was summer when we disappeared,
and the sun in the summer is brighter
than that of the winter,
and I’m not sure I recognize
the snow-blanketed garden
or the icicle-trimmed rooftops.
If this is still the same place I left,
please call back.
Or even if you only want your shirt,
because I have that, too.

– Ella Staats, Burlington, VT

(The Young Writers Project Challenge: Voicemail: Write a poem or story in the form of a voicemail. Read more great writing at