die young - zoe elerby

zoe elerby

art by althea allen


I hate that I know exactly what it’ll look like if I die young. I hate that I know exactly what it’ll look like: pure horror on my face while the polar vortex in my heart starts to shut down or desperately tries to save me.


The headlines would be:

“Young woman shot and killed”

or

“Young woman murdered while walking home”

or

“Young woman shot and killed by police.”


You get it. Another black martyr who died for the cause, an activist, a writer, a queen that must ‘rest in power’ when she was too powerless to stop the system that killed her. Top it off with an unprofessional photo, a hashtag with my name (if I’m lucky) then it’s over. I’m gone forever.


I don’t want that.


I want to at least live until my kid is a parent or until my wife dies. Everyone wants to live a long life, especially if all young brown eyes see is death. The urge to ‘prove them wrong’ fills the chest and another soldier is chosen to fight in a race war she didn’t even want to be apart of in the first place.


I’m a queer black woman. I’m a lesbian, I’m neurodivergent, the world already hated me the moment a doctor happily announced: “It’s a girl!”

But if I die young, the world will pretend they loved me, at least for a couple weeks. That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

I hate that it’s the nicest thing I can think of.


If I grow old and wait for death, dodge it’s bullets and train tracks, the people that matter will skitter out of the woodwork. It isn’t that scary when you realize the fear isn’t of death, it’s of everything you’ve ever done ending and then meaning nothing. Becoming unknown, abandoned, lonely, that’s what we think death is. That’s what we’re trained to think death is.


But death is just a means to an end. Everything ends, literally every single thing on this earth perishes eventually, whether it’s gone in three days or three million years, eventually it’ll be gone completely.


I’m not satisfied with my life. That’s what I want. Satisfaction in life will lead to a death that is less scary, it will no longer be ever-looming. I will finish what must be done on this earth. A happy life will lead to a happy death, won’t it? Won’t it?