Tuesday, January 30, 2007

living - day 1

about a year ago, i wrote a short story about a person who is forced to accept his mortality, and in doing so, quickly finds all life meaningless. this is the beginning of the attempt to tell the other story. please keep in mind that it is only a very early draft.

I am still alive.

They say that when you face death, your life passes before your eyes. What they don’t tell you is that if you keep your eyes open, you’ll live even more. There have been a few occasions in my life when I have truly felt alive. Brief moments of time that seemed to transcend everything else.

Age four. I don’t remember much. I don’t even think I knew what was going on. A week earlier, my mother was pulling me out of the bath and noticed something wrong. A few days later they were drawing my blood. The doctor told me he was checking to see if it was green. It wasn’t. Green blood? I thought it was hilarious. They told me I had a hernia and that they were going to fix it. I had no idea what they were talking about. All I know is that I got to pick out the flavor of air I was going to get to breathe. I chose banana because they were my favorite fruit. I got to ride a red wagon to a room where they laid me down and had me inhale the scent of bananas. The doctors told me to close my eyes and count to ten. I only made it to six.

Age ten. He was my hero. During the summer break, we set out to build our underground fortress. The construction was simple, but brilliant. Dig a large hole. Plant a center beam for support. Lay old plywood, boards, and sheet metal overhead. Use an empty water-bed to cover the rest. Finally throw dirt, rocks, and sagebrush over everything for camouflage. It was the perfect place to play and hide. Perfect, until some neighborhood bullies threw a smoke-bomb in while we were inside. With the plywood trapdoor held shut, we couldn’t escape. Smoke filled the room choking me and forcing my eyes shut to avoid its sting. My brother, two years older, grabbed the flaming bomb and forced it through a small opening. His hand was burned and I never looked at him again the same.

Age twenty-five. I was already missing her. It had only been a day since I knew I would never see her again. My stomach weighed me down and my heart seemed to beat in slow motion. As I laid in the darkness, I closed my eyes and remembered. In sequential order, I witnessed every moment I had ever seen her smile. I saw her stopping me in the halls at school. I saw her laughing over curry soup on our first date. A wide grin with puppies at Christmas. A loving look glowing in the firelight. As I closed my eyes and remembered, I smiled.

Age twenty-seven. This afternoon. I hurt for him as he came to tell me. White sneakers. Light khakis. Sky blue dress shirt. Stethoscope. I looked at his hands. I looked at his chart. I looked everywhere but at him. I couldn’t bear to see his face. I imagined him happy. I imagined him giving me good news, because he obviously didn’t see it that way.

Once again, that sunken feeling in my stomach. That slow beating of my heart. I dragged them with me toward the bus stop as a spring drizzle softly taps across my head, shoulder, and back. As I board the bus, the driver gives me a friendly nod. It pierces me and settles into the back of my mind. At home, I lie on my bed and try to reflect on the day. It seems like an abstract dream. I am already forgetting the particulars and can only remember the overwhelming feeling encompassing me. That, and the friendly nod of the bus driver. As I stare at the empty ceiling above me, his smile gives me a sense of safety.

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