I guess you could say it was like a dream. The kind of dream that you’re aware of, but isn’t quite lucid. You go through the motions; let the dream carry you, because fighting it seems like a waste of energy. Yeah – I guess you could say dying was like a dream.
And I wasn’t alone. Death was a strong presence, there to collect – more patient than a bookie, but threatening nonetheless. I tried to laugh, really, I did. It was funny; like a bad movie that’s meant to be taken seriously but can’t be. I think they call those cult classics.
My death: A Cult Classic. I like the sound of that. It’s fitting, since my life turned out to be an accidental joke with an anticlimactic punch line.
“So? What now?” I ask Death. My tone is almost annoyed; almost apathetic; definitely irascible. I suddenly think I might have to take a number and stand in a line, and the mere thought of it is infuriating. But that’s not what happens.
Death leads me down a tunnel. There’s no light at the end of it or anything cliché like that. But it is a tunnel that seems to go on forever. It strikes me that my legs aren’t aching though, and I have to appreciate that. Silver linings.
“This isn’t going to be a ‘pick a door’ kind of deal is it? I hate those,” I snicker.
We finally arrive at a threshold. Beyond it, there is blackness. It’s absence of color, absence of light, absence of life. It makes me very uncomfortable, and I can’t even think of a snarky remark to cut the tension.
Death gestures for me to sign in, and I do. I sign my name, and beside it appears today’s date – my date of death. Again, I’m uncomfortable. It’s slowly but surely becoming real.
I look at Death. Death is also absence. There’s no black hooded cloak; rather, Death is just a shadow. And that’s when I realize, it’s my own shadow. I squint for a better look, but it’s unnecessary. For at that moment, the Shadow is coming to life. First, the eyes, then the hands. A vibrancy takes hold, as though watching one’s reflection manifest from thin air. Terrified, I instinctively hold my own hands in front of me. But they are dissolving, like sand in acid rain. And then… everything goes dark.
When the light comes back, I’m something altogether different.
“Are you a ghost?” she asks me. I smile. Mainstream cinema has taken on the unfortunate task of representing a figure of the afterlife that floats through air and has a transparency about it. That’s why she’s confused. Indeed, I float. Indeed, my form is less than solid. But ghosts aren’t real. And I am.
“Not exactly,” I say. “I’m a spirit of the Otherworld.”
She ponders on this for a second; bites her bottom lip, then resolves to obtain more information.
“What does that mean?” she asks. “Are you dead?”
I smile, fully expecting to have to answer such questions. “Not exactly. My consciousness once belonged to a human, but that being has died, and its consciousness re-formed. It belongs to the Otherworld now, and it lives inside of me.”
I pause to let the little girl take it in. She is a willing believer, provided she is given the right tools. I watch her carefully process what I have said, and when I decide she is ready for more, I continue.
“Not everyone cans see us. You have a very special gift, and it will become stronger as you grow.”
She looks up at me, doe-eyed and curious. The compliment appeases her, but she’s still confused. I can see another question bubbling in her gut.
“So,” she finally begins, slowly. “Why are you here?”
“A tragedy is going to befall your home soon. I’m here to cast a spell of courage upon you.”
The reference to tragedy sends a chill up her spine. Her shoulders tense, and she quickly tries to form her next question. Deep down, she probably knows I can’t answer it.
“Will something happen to my parents?”
I remain expressionless, and after a moment of silence, I move passed her unanswerable query.
“For all the elements of this world that seem out of your control, know that you are always in control of the elements within yourself.”
I let the words whisper through her, and while she’s still trying to interpret them, I gently release my magic. Then, with only a wink and a smile, I disappear from her forever.
Being a spirit of the Otherworld has given me the opportunity to bond with people in a way I couldn’t have when I lived among them. In that life, my consciousness was as selfish, petty, and mundane as the rest of them. I had always felt it, but could do nothing about it. But from the vantage point I have now, I realize how wrong that was.
People are not as fixed a state as I had once believed. And when that little girl crawls out of the fire, it’s my magic that will be carrying her. Her consciousness will be forever tethered to my strength. She will be amazing. And I will be a part of it.
I guess it’s still a little anticlimactic, but I’m no longer looking for an unattainable impact. Only humans have such trouble defining satisfaction.
In the Otherworld, everything is easier.
Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©