Tag Archives: death

In Which There is No Light

It’s time for another Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My challenge this week comes from K. Syrah:

Describe the violent death scene of someone, and describe as something beautiful.

This prompt was right up my alley, thematically speaking. I’ve always been of the opinion that writing, at least good writing, should be about finding beauty in things that are horrible. I had a few ideas for this prompt, and my biggest challenge was picking one. I ended up choosing the one that was the most unusual, someone describing their own death, and the challenge then was simply making it work.

(You can read the response to my prompt here.)

************************

In all honesty the only thing that you really need to know about me is that I am dead. It’s been 19 minutes and 34 seconds since a man whom I’d never met tried to rob me and shot me in the head during our struggle.

You don’t believe me, do you? That I’m dead. Well, it’s not like I can’t blame you or anything. Hell, if our roles were reversed I probably wouldn’t believe you either. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am indeed dead. So how am I talking to you right now? That’s something I’m not sure I can explain.

I’m also not sure how I can describe what being dead is like. Or what it’s like to die. It’s one of those things that you need to experience in order to fully understand. But I suppose you’re curious so I guess I can give it a shot.

The best place for me to begin is on the circumstances on my death. Like I said before, I was shot. In the head. Really it was my fault, I should have given him my damn wallet, but I thought that I was tough enough to subdue the man. A word of advice: don’t try fighting a man with a gun, you will lose.

It only hurt for the first split second, as the bullet started boring into my skull. I specifically remember the bullet being really really hot. Once it actually began penetrating my brain, I don’t know. It was like, it was like time began to slow down to a screeching halt.

Your life really does flash before your eyes, at least as the bullet is passing into and through the frontal lobe. My guess is that as your brain is being turned into a mushy soup by hot lead the memories just sort of flash. And flash is the right term, I think. You don’t see your life as a movie, you see quick snapshots. They aren’t in any sort of logical order either, and it’s stuff you don’t really expect to see.

Honestly, what you remember are the tiny insignificant details that you would never be able to recall no matter how hard you try. As the bullet first entered the frontal lobe I remembered the striped tie my Mom always had me wear to piano recitals. I remembered what I ate on July 18th, 1994 for dinner. It was macaroni & cheese, the kind that were dinosaur shaped. The perfume of the girl who I first said “I love you” to at age 16. There were hundreds of snapshots. Thousands.

And then the bullet began running along the line between the Parietal and Temporal lobes. My senses started to become mixed in my head, all the while more and more snapshots flashed in my eyes. Have you ever tasted music? The song that was playing when my brother and I got into a car crash tasted like blueberries. And chocolate. The apple pie I shared with my wife on our first date sounded similar to a piece by Bach, it started and stopped with each bite I took. And the colors, oh how they smelled.

Images disappear when the bullet hits the back section of the brain. It becomes more like, I don’t know, it’s really hard to describe. It’s sorta like those images cease being pictures and become sensations. You remember goosebumps during a snow day. Or sweat after a five mile run. You remember the joy of having your first child, but you can’t picture the child, just what it felt like to have one.

All of that stopped once the bullet exited out of the back of my head, spitting out bone and brain with it. The exit wound in the back of my head is approximately the size of a baseball. My brain is slowly oozing out the back as some birds begin picking at it. As I lay there, the authorities have yet to find me, and they won’t for another 7 hours and 34 minutes.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. As you die it’s just the memories. But it’s not simply nothingness after. It’s more than that. Much more. You actually transcend time and space. You are everywhere and everywhen. It’s really hard to explain. It’s like you’re witnessing all moments that ever were and ever will be and it’s happening simultaneously. I am looking back on my life, and I am also looking ahead on yours.

It’s not like you’re God, but it’s pretty damn close.


Stars are Cool

So I decided to participate in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. The idea is that each week you challenge someone with a writing prompt, and in turn you are challenged by a different person.

The challenge for my first week comes from runaway sentence, who challenged me to:

Write a first-person narrative that begins and end with you lying in your small child’s bed.

***********************

As I lay down the first thing I notice is how the smell of a child lingers long after they’ve gone. It is a sweet smell, a clean smell. My son’s bed is covered with images of Spongebob Squarepants. It’s his favorite show. Or at least, it was. My son is dead now.

His name is Daniel. Was Daniel. Will always be Daniel.

Daniel, he was our miracle baby. My wife and I, we struggled for a long time to conceive. The doctor told us that it would be impossible for us to have a child. Something about a low sperm count. And yet, ten months later, Daniel was in our lives.

I am lying on my back right now, on the ceiling I can see the adhesive glow in the dark stars that I put up. One night, Daniel and I were looking up into the sky, and he asked me what the stars were. I told him they were just like our Sun, only very very far away and that was why they looked so small. And in the typical fashion for a small child, that answer wasn’t enough. It just raised another question in his very young mind. Then another, then another. I answered to the best of my abilities, but what I remember the most was the way Daniel’s eyes lit up. He stood looking at the sky for a long time, then looked over to me and said, “stars are cool.”

I liked that; Daniels curiosity. I put those stars on his ceiling as a reminder for him to never ever lose that sense of curiosity; that sense of wonder and awe to the world around him.

It was a car, and a young man distracted on his cell phone. Daniel was five. I don’t have it in me to be mad at the young man. No one ever means to do what he did. Daniels death, and the guilt that goes with it is something that he will have to live with for the rest of his life. And for that, I pity him.

I rise from the bed and move across the room to the dresser. On top are various actions figures and trinkets; such as Daniel’s first pair of shoes, bronzed over into a monument to the past. They are covered in dust now, everything is. We haven’t touched his room since his passing. I’m told it helps the healing process, to leave your child’s room exactly as it was at the time they died. I’m careful not to disturb anything.

Today is the day of the funeral and a chill runs up my spine just thinking about it. Since the day of the car accident my life has felt hazy, as if I was in someplace other than reality, like I was in a dream. The closer to the funeral the more the haze begins to lift. Like I’m waking up. No parent should have to bury their child.

I can hear my wife calling my name, saying that she’s ready. But I’m not. I’m not ready for the haze to lift, for this dream to become reality. And so, I walk back to the bed and lay down. I smell his pillow, look up to the stars, close my eyes and see Daniel looking at the sky, waiting for me, if only for a few minutes longer.