“Promises to the World” by Hannah Taylor

Appalachia Bare is proud and honored to feature the Write the World contest winners for fiction and poetry, hosted by East Tennessee’s Pellissippi State Community College. The contest centers on an international-focused theme or topic.

The college’s participants were encouraged to reflect upon and write about experiences living or traveling in a country outside the United States. This event was co-hosted by Pellissippi State’s International Education Committee, the Student Engagement and Leadership club, as well as the college’s Strawberry Plains Creative Writing Club.

Today, Appalachia Bare honors Write the World fiction winner, Hannah Taylor, for her entry “Promises to the World.”


Promises to the World

And in the entrance to your neighborhood was a certain sort of beauty not found elsewhere in the suburbs. See, the road was split by a median that grew tall, branchy crape myrtles with magenta-tinted purple flowers so light in their color, they resembled white. On the sides of the road grew more trees, but these were not crape myrtles. They were of the sturdy type: the universal tree with dark bark and perfectly shaped, dark green leaves that was not an oak nor a maple, and seemingly not a tree with a name that was thrown around in casual conversations with neighbors. These trees grew thick in foliage on either side of the road and almost joined the crape myrtles in the middle. Almost, but not quite—like Adam’s hands reaching for God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This was Mother Nature’s ceiling fresco; though, how much of a hand Mother Nature plays in the carefully pruned world of suburbia is debatable.

Crepe (aka Crape) Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) by Harald the Bard – Wikimedia

Nevertheless, the trees weave a canopy of a sort over the brief entrance road, shielding those underneath from sun’s direct assault. If you’re especially lucky, you’ll come upon this road when it is raining. Not a threatening rain, but a good hard soak—the kind where it doesn’t seem like the sky is crying and the winds are whipping, but more like the sky is nourishing creation and the winds are guiding the droplets to their destined resting place.

When this happens, the blossoms of the crape myrtle will struggle free and float among the air like a feather, graceful and poised. And if you are an especially imaginative person, perhaps you can hear the drifting, melodic sounds of an enchanting piano, soon to be accompanied by a solemn violin, that can have profound effects on emotions with the simple reverberations of a few smartly strung together notes.

If you do all this, then maybe your belief will be suspended enough to call this little, overlooked place magical. If you do all this, maybe you will forget that you are in a place with conformist expectations among prideful, monied people who don’t have half the imagination you do. You don’t mean to be condescending—you don’t want to be anything like them—but you have visions and optimism outside of the confined life of cookie-cutter houses and people who gloss over hardship and sweep problems right under the rug.

You have made a promise to the world, one you intend to keep. You’ve promised this vast and insanely phenomenal world that you will explore her, care for her, get to know her until one day when you’re old, you can talk over tea about this and that adventure, about how your children are doing, about the pains of aging. You will look at this world, the people inside of it, the elephants nobody talks about, and find a way to be continually awed by its beauty. And, if there is no beauty to be found, then you will just have to roll up your sleeves and be brave enough to tell the truth—something nobody else is willing to do for some reason or another.

You will look in every crevice, nook, and cranny and write until your fingers bleed, and then write some more because there’s a story to be told about the rich color and metallic taste of pain; there’s a story to be told in everything. You made a promise to your world, and that promise started in your neighborhood—a neighborhood just like every other neighborhood in middle-class America—when you found a magical world deserving of your exploration. The world saw you as a friend and gave you some of her magic, and you will return the favor by being quiet, by listening, by observing people and places, until you draw your last breath and write your last word.  


Hannah Taylor is currently a dual enrollment student at Pellissippi State Community College and will start college full time in the fall of 2024 with the intention of double majoring in History and Political Science before pursuing a career in law. Hannah has been writing stories since fourth grade but has found herself drawn to poetry and prose in the last two years. She is constantly inspired by music, forgotten places, and ordinary people. Writing lets her exist beyond the chaos in her head, as well as share the truth in all its hidden layers.


**Featured image by Ralph from Pixabay
***Last image (expanse) from Snappygoat

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