I wrote this short last night as a sort of apology to myself for skimming through the last instalment of the Dylan trilogy. I was tired, and Evie is a character I just can’t generate any enthusiasm for, but I’d put her into play so I had to do something to resolve her.
I like this one. Just when I wanted to sleep, there it was, so I went with it. I hope you enjoy it, too.
I think it’s starting. There’s an odd tingling in my fingers, and suddenly I’m frightened. The outside corner at the base of my thumb nail shoots a small pain that rockets up my arm. We’re all so busy thinking about the big stuff that most of the small stuff goes unnoticed, even though that’s where most of our life is. Life is in the details.
My knuckles begin tingling and I can feel the fine muscles in my hand begin to cramp. I’m not standing but I know, somehow I know, that my legs aren’t going to support me if I try. I remember that time in the rain, when I slipped and couldn’t stand up. The difference was, I knew I’d get past that and be able to stand again. Now, the last time I stood was my last stand.
My elbows ache and so do my ankles and knees. I wonder how long this is going to take. Isn’t it odd, how times flies sometimes and at other times it drags? That sometimes, we want the distances of time to close quickly and other times we want them to stay open longer. Or forever. Right now, I want both.
It didn’t ever occur to me to ask if this would be painful and I guess I’m glad I didn’t. If you know pain is coming you over-prepare for it; you’re overstimulated by the fear of it and that doesn’t just fuck with your mind, it fucks with your nervous system. I don’t know what to expect, but already I’m worried this is going to hurt.
My scalp is really itchy and without even trying I know I’m past the point where I can do anything about it. My blood is thickening, slowing, and I imagine I can feel my organs winding down. It won’t be much longer now. A tear trickles down the side of my face. I still have enough feeling left to register that. I wonder if it’s an involuntary cleansing or if it’s the result of what my subconscious is thinking.
Like so many before me, I begin my life review. I remember the few real regrets and the many silly ones. The time between heartbeats is different here. I remember the good times; there were so many of them. We forget, or we forget to remember, that most of the times are the good times. We convince ourselves that life is much harder than it really is, and that it seems to organise itself against us. And all the while, millions of miracles every second are driving the mind and body that is busy convincing itself that the miraculous doesn’t exist.
My eyes are closed now. I don’t remember that happening. I feel a circular movement of dim electricity in my heart. It’s nearly time now. The energy that creates planets slows in me. Just one more faint spark. Time stops. It’s finished.
“Hello? Can you hear me?” From a far distance that was right next to me, I heard her voice. It was quiet but it was there. “Time to wake up now!” she said, her voice happily chirpy. I felt her hand on my arm, gently nudging me to ‘wakefulness’. I felt myself rising up out of a slumber that was momentary but felt like it had been centuries long. There in the light of Creation, I saw Lin once more; the Silent Witness. I smiled. My soul was in good hands.
I felt myself rise away from my body. I was in it, and then I was above it, and then I was gone. It had a different quality to when I left my body in my dreams. As I floated with Lin out through the ceiling that was no longer solid to me, and out through the roof of the building that now only contained my body, the quality of everything felt different.
“Will I meet a Soul Keeper?” I asked. There are rules in Spirit just as there are in physical life. Soul Keepers don’t meet, even though at times of tragedy they work together. They sense each other, but they don’t see each other. Lin smiled at me and squeezed my hand. “I think the Presence has a different plan for you,” she said. It didn’t surprise me, really. What I had done was so clearly against the Rules that I went into it thinking that I’d be met by the Darkness, or at least disintegrate into negative dust.
My oldest and dearest friend, Dylan, had called me from England. He’d met a girl, thank God, and he said he was finally at peace. I felt tears in my eyes, spilling over silently. He had experienced so much pain and loss, but he had endured. I wished I was there to hug him, to celebrate with him, and to meet Evie, who he said he felt sure was ‘a first responder for the soul’.
We chatted, and I noticed he kept sniffling. “Just a cold,” he said, and I thought nothing more of it until ten minutes after we’d hung up. I can’t tell you how I knew, but I knew nevertheless that Dylan was in trouble. I tried calling him back but his phone rang out. I was panicking myself but the sense of dread was so great that I couldn’t calm myself. Forcing myself to breathe slowly, I closed my eyes and tried to relax, to control my heart rate. I had to push all thoughts of Dylan from my mind, even as I worried for his soul.
I went into the Silence but I couldn’t hold the signal. I tried to calm myself again, and again I reached for the Silence. I felt an impending sense of doom, and in that moment I tried to achieve the impossible. I just gave up, and I let the Silence come to me.
Dylan was there on the floor, laying next to his phone, a heart attack having taken him. In his dying moments he tried to reach out to me. That was the ripple I felt. I saw his soul beginning to separate from his body. Soon the Witness would arrive, taking him off to the Soul Keeper, and it would be too late. I had a decision to make and I made it damned fast.
Dylan had saved my life when we were kids and a tunnel dug into a sandhill collapsed on me. If he hadn’t dragged me out by my feet, I’d have died there. I said many times over the years that I owed him everything and I’d lay down my life for him. And so I did, because I said I would.
I placed my hands over his heart and willed my soul into him. We were running out of time. His energy was separating faster now, unravelling from the body in which his heart had stopped. Our souls intermingled, and I saw the pain and agony he felt at the double losses of Chris, his wife, and Helen, his daughter. I think a part of him wanted to go, so that he could join them, but another part wanted to stay and find a life with Evie.
His soul hung in the balance: stay or go? I pushed my life energy into him, felling it tearing away from my heart. “Stay or go, Dylan?” I asked, and his weak reply was “Stay”. After all this poor guy had been through, Evie must have been something really special. He deserved the chance to find out, and so did she. With everything I had I pushed my life force into him, and I saw his heart begin beating again, weakly at first and then more strongly. I knew, with the certainty of Life, that he would make it.
Briefly, I saw the Witness, standing above us and looking down with the sort of compassionate look in his eyes that makes saints immortal in human eyes. Then I was torn away from the scene and thrust painfully back into my body. Dylan would live. I was dying, having given up most of my Life energy to give him a chance at discovering his.
“Why did you do it?” Lin asked, as she carried me higher. That was easy: “Because I said I would.”
I waited to learn my fate, and it didn’t take long. I felt the Presence come, and I briefly wondered what was to happen to me. I had disobeyed The Plan, and only the Presence Itself knew what train of events I had set in motion. I prepared myself for destruction, squeezing Lin’s hand before letting go. I felt the Presence swirling around me in a way I’d never experienced It before. “It was worth it,” I said. Real love isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.
I felt the Light of Creation come into me then, reanimating my soul and strengthening my spirit. I slipped away from Lin, feeling as if I was slowly falling. Was that the metaphor for going to hell? That falling feeling? I felt myself gently gliding back into my now-dead body, and I felt it come to life in the glowing infinity of the power that creates worlds. I coughed as air rushed into my drying lungs, and I writhed as that power restarted my heart and organs. I had my body back, my soul intact, and my life once more.
“You are worth it,” the Presence said directly into my heart. I had forgiveness. Sometimes, doing the wrong thing for the right reason is enough for forgiveness. I had been gifted Life, again, and I felt the love in my heart surge. “Why did you save me?” I asked. The answer from Spirit was one I will never forget, in this life or any other.
“Because I said I would.”