Post Mortem Memories

What if you could get a snapshot of the last thing your loved one saw before they died? Or a sound recording of what they were thinking before the heart hits the brakes? Would the death be less hurtful? Will we begin to love them or hate them fully then? What if they told us how they feel, how they really felt when they were able to?

How vulnerable do we feel when we let it all in though? To be viewed as a public park, everyone pissing everywhere, throwing their garbage where they stand and moving on not noticing the trash cans here and there. The snapshot of a fleeting memory, a blurry sight, as if through tears, of someone throwing their shit around you not caring how it will be received. A photographic memory hurts, to see and remember everything with such clarity as everyone else fumbles around you trying to remember what they ate for lunch yesterday.

What if you could get a piece, some kind of fabric that will let you feel what they felt the moment they breathed their last breath? As you wrap it around your person, does the guilt stab a part of you, the part of you that knew what to say and when to say it but never said it, does the guilt fill the broken parts of you, the pieces stinging in defense, feeling too broken to fully love in return, even if the dying person caused you to be a broken thing in the first place?

Last night, I dreamed someone gave me a snapshot of the last thing my great aunt saw before she died- a constellation of stars in the dark, navy sky. I felt relieved. I felt absolved of the pain I felt for not holding the woman who gave some meaning to my life before she died. Ah, to see the possibility of the beyond in the glittery skies, to see the infinite, the hope, the sincere hope that there is no end, just a leap into something else that marks a chapter finished, that marks the trail end, that marks the path done and done. I have not done any damage, I have not caused so much pain, there was a hope I did not kill with my carelessness.

They took the picture back and I continued walking on a dirt path, someone handed me a mug of water and I drank deeply sighing into myself. I held the mug close to my chest and I awoke holding my hands, the mug no longer there. The banging of the heater brought me back, the reality insisting as the spiritual plane draws back as a veil, the gossamer curtains swaying slowly back into place.

Short Story: Oliver

This story came to me while I was showering one evening, as I was thinking about strange signs life can give us sometimes, and how we come to realize things too late. The end might seem a little dramatic, but isn’t that how it feels, when we are too late to grasp what could have been? So here I present, “Oliver”.

He chews the antacid as he closes his briefcase. The quarterly reports nestle between thick manila folders, loose pens, and a calculator. He adjusts his sweater and heads out the door. 7am skies on a spring day, dew still lingers, and the sun hazes caught between gossamer clouds.

Routine as railways, his feet the unwilling steel tires effortlessly gliding through, passing coffee shops and their inviting aromas of freshly baked goods. A sign sways lazily on a light pole, almost falling from the clear striated tape:

NEVER HIDE TWO EYES

SEEN AND HEARD

ALWAYS

He smiles at the inanity of it and continues, checking his watch now and then, knowing the train arrives at 7:30am every weekday morning. He sees another sign stamped on another light pole:

IF YOU SEE WITH TWO EYES

NOT HIDDEN

MAKE WISH

He scoffs, “yea, I wish” and laughs quickening his steps not wanting to miss the train -a few more blocks- he thinks to himself, egging himself further down the avenue.

He spots another sign:

MAKE WISH—->

His curiosity peaks and he veers away from the routine for a few minutes. He looks down the alleyway and decides on an impulse to follow. He wipes droplets of sweat off his forehead and smacks his chest gently wondering why the antacid isn’t kicking in yet.

A door is ajar, and he looks in. A solitary, wooden chair is off to his right, the room appears empty. Just as he is about to run back to his designated tracks, seeing there’s only five minutes left until his train arrives, something emerges from the shadows. He is momentarily taken aback as a small creature greets him by nodding its head. He notices the deep wrinkles on its face and within each fold, small mushroom like moles peek through. “I will grant you one wish” and it extends its arms towards this man.

He in turn watches before him, in his mind’s eye: a football game he played when he was in high school; playing a piano in a recital as his father records it with a video camera; a kitchen where his mother stirs a pot smiling at him; walking across a stage where a woman is holding a rolled up, ribbon tied paper; and a woman pulling away after kissing him, cheeks flushed, lips stained by the cherry soda they were sharing, the taste lingering on his tongue and her words echoing, “I think I love you Oliver”.

Before he could formulate his wish, a pain strikes him, his arm goes numb and he falls face down. He watches the creature disappear in a plume of upturned dust, the woman still in his mind’s eyes, “I think I love you Oliver” smiling. He could never bring himself to say them back. All the things between them seem trivial now. What was he looking for in life anyway? There was something strange happening between his mind and his heart. But as the blood slowly spills over the corners of his mouth, he could only taste the cherry soda.

on my way

flower petals ripped from every shade of purple
strip the birch from all its leaves
fill in, fill it in
pour the berries, pour the lentils, pour the avocado seeds
let the honey run
fill in, fill it in
ten pounds of gold and quartz encrusted silver
lining made of fresh spun silk
gather the garlands around the feet
long stemmed roses still spiked gather around the head
and there I lay
fill in, fill it in
then set me on fire
send me on my way