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I knew my eyes were open; I saw nothing.
A shadow from the trees covered the casket, the proportion of sunlight to shadow changing with every passing second. I clung to the memory of the overwhelming sunlight that reminded me of forgone simplistic beauty. The comfort of standing in the sun: beauty is accentuated; ugly is forbidden. Sunlight is expository of righteousness. Sunlight was fading fast; its finality was disappointing. I knew, by the close of the day, death would dock.
The entirety of the cemetery was illuminated. The grass swayed with its motions, spurred and replenished by the corpses underneath. Jilted hearts and dispirited brains fed the parasitic grass above. I couldn’t find anything to gain from the death below; I could find everything to lose.
The casket was in complete darkness as it descended the typical six feet. What is it about six feet? Protection for the deceased or the living? Impenetrable. Love could not sink so low; immortality could not rise so high. I could still feel the pull of the dead on me—the casket still in the sight of the sun. I fastened my vision on the disturbed ground beside me. The ground that would surround the dead; the ground that would bring him comfort; the ground that would say an everlasting prayer; the ground that would provide the kind of love I was now incapable of giving. I envied the ground. The undertaker regretfully handed me the shovel. The chorus of mourners kept their eyes on me.
I couldn’t hear them blink.
I gathered a heavy amount of ground in the shovel. The mourners chanted injured prayers as I jolted my arms to release the ground. With each cathartic thud on the casket, my union with the deceased was smothered with ground, comfort, prayers, and love. The prayers of the mourners became less audible, submerged in a purely white swamp of secluded companionship. The mourners dispersed with a somberly satisfied disposition; I continued to bury the dead. The casket was out of sight; my world was out of touch. Can I sing you one more song?
The cemetery had changed. It was still soaked with sunlight seeping down through the ground. I sifted through the tears and the malfunctioning synaptic psyche to imagine the dead experiencing the glory of the sun. Lying in a warm and secure casket wholly at ease. I impregnated my lungs with as much vitality as I could collect to dry my tears.
I became more and more frantic as my sides were empty. The mourners were hanging on the surrounding trees, their necks constricted by spiteful nooses. The trees offered their unflinching support for the mourners, refusing to let their useless feet meet the ground.
I enjoyed the taste of complacency with the dead.
I figured there was nothing left for me in the cemetery. The tombstones solidified; the casket was buried. The six feet barrier severed the union with the dead—sunlight couldn’t reach him. I could only hear applause from the mourners, cheering for my failure. Damn. I craved the cheer. Nostalgia. I walked away with pride. Is this how I say goodbye? The applause subsided as I walked away; the grass willingly relaxed with a jovial spirit. I walked on the uneven cobblestone pathway, passing tombstone after tombstone after tombstone after tombstone. The stillness of mortality was surreal. My walking was impaired by the irregular path. I figured everything was impaired by asymmetry; imbalanced by misfortune and synthetic frivolity. I raised my arms to mimic the trees, imagining the mourners hanging from my own limbs. The deceased reached for my hands, stroking my unblemished palms and innocent fingers. They grazed my arms and legs, clasping the mourners and pulling them six feet under. There’s a way to reach you. I know there is.
The touch of the deceased was scintillating. The touch of the dead was omitted.
I took the bus home, public transportation not being the most commonplace in my life. Untold stories, exposed lives, and rotten smells festered in the ambiance of the bus. I searched for two seats, my arm slightly extended from my side holding the hand of the dead. Only one seat offered itself up to us; I released the hand. I occupied the seat next to a man of many stories. The bus pulled away from its stationary position adjacent to the sidewalk; I was uneasy. Pulling away, the bus ran over the corpse of a young boy; I was not uneasy.
I wanted the man to tell me his story. The single toe released from the antiquated boot; the uncontrolled hair that reached far beyond the man’s body; the missing teeth that wrecked the smile. He was alive, living a seemingly wasted life.
“This bus took the life of a little boy. It should have been you,” I whispered to him. Tears returned to me. The dead was not with me to wipe them away; the mourners were not with me to pray.
The man’s story was already known. I could expect what I wanted to know. I could tolerate his decisions; I could consider his love. It should have been you.
“We could have prayed for you.”
“I don’t need solace,” he lied.
“We could have buried you.”
“I don’t need company,” he lied.
“We could have given you the sun.”
“I need the sun,” he said as he turned to face me.
The bus approached my home with hesitation. I saw the shadowed windows, out of the sun’s reach. Beauty could not be illuminated by the veiled sun; ugly was revealed by the darkness.
As I left the bus, the scent of the man faded into the vibrantly deceased expanses of the dazzling afterlife.
Home. My home had changed. Each and every corner was swallowed by the darkness of night. It felt as if I was six feet under—all of my surroundings were separated by an impenetrable gate, only opened by a single, nostalgic melody. I could not reach the other side; I could not reach the dead. The dead needed solace, unlike the man. That’s the difference between life and death. Stimulation of sins and redemption forms the union so morbidly broken by those six simple feet.
I formed my hand into a fist. I raised my thumb and uncurled my pointer finger to create a firearm. I pointed my gun at the dark shadows around the room. Pow. With each shot I released the sun. The man on the bus experienced the beams; the dead experienced security and warmth. I redirected the gun to face me. I pulled the trigger repeatedly: pow pow pow pow pow pow.
Nothing worked. Bang.
Still alive. Snap.
I dropped the gun and ran out to the backyard, seeing the sunset. I dug my hands into the ground that offered the dead comfort. Tears fell and softened the ground; I tore up as much ground as my hands allowed. I lost all control to breathe. The game became one of find and retrieve. Scream. The mourners applauded; I dug. Six feet seemed to sit at the core of the earth, only reachable by the soulless undertakers. I was empowered to meet the dead.
My emotions spiraling out of control digging for the dead searching for his soul searching to hold him again
trying to illuminate the darkness
pounding heart reached my ears my head my feet my soul my body quaked with fury
I could not determine life or death
I had no answers I had no solace to give the man
I had no solace to give to the dead
I had no solace for myself
no beginning or ending no functioning senses
bursting at every seem sparks flying out
seeking a sense of right or wrong
Igniting a silent explosion of everything all at once.
I had reached six feet. A familiar pile of ground sat next to me. The mourners took to their trees. The cemetery had changed. Not a single ray of light awoke the deceased.
I had penetrated the barrier, inciting the union between parent and child. I lay next to my son, the dead, in his casket. Still warm from the sunlight, still secure from the prayers. I caressed his overtly pale cheek—the same cheek I kissed many times ago.
The mourners clandestinely hummed their prayers as they untied the nooses; the mourners reconvened at my son’s gravesite; the mourners picked up the undertaker’s shovel and covered us in the comfort of the ground.
The mourners dispersed once again, walking away seemingly silent. The mourners hummed an everlasting prayer for our impenetrable love.