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They say before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. If that’s so, why is it that all I can see is one of those cardboard tree air fresheners? It’s just hanging there, taunting me with it’s constant swinging. I cannot move, but all I want is to tear it down and dream.
I want to dream of when I went camping for the first time. I want to feel the crisp autumn air hit my shoulders while I look down at the red and orange wonderland from the top of the mountain. I long for the time I spent under the big pine, playing board games with my friends.
Pine tree. How is it still hanging on to the mirror, which was broken in the crash? An intense heat is moving quickly behind me, but I cannot tell where it’s going or how fast it’s moving. I’m stuck looking at this lousy tree that lost it’s scent months ago.
I close my eyes, frustrated at the sight. By closing my eyes, I open them to the dream of a campfire. I feel the discomfort, yet homey, feeling of smoke creep into my lungs. I cannot tell if it is real or simply my dream. I hear the voice of my sister, soft and welcoming in my ears. She sings a familiar tune that we commonly recite on the last night of camping. “Blue skies above, friends all around us, in a world filled with love, green trees surround us.”
Green tree. My eyes open and I lay in shock as I see that the flame has engulfed almost everything. That tree, however, remains. Back and forth, back and forth, it does not cease in it’s rocking. My lungs do not accept my breaths, as if it is a motel with no vacant rooms.
I begin to panic, squeezing my eyes shut, attempting to picture something other than the tree. I beg my brain for an image of my mother and father. I beg to feel the love and innocence resonating from my dog. I beg my unwilling mind to let me feel the touch of my girlfriend’s arms around me one last time.
All of the sudden, I feel myself being pulled from the wreckage by cold hands. My eyes shoot open.
“She’s not breathing!”
“Get her on the stretcher, Jim! The rest of us will handle the fire.”
Then there is darkness.
“Nurse Gray? She’s opened her eyes!”
It’s my mother’s voice, relieved yet panicked. I can move my head, but everything below that feels weak and limp. I gaze around the bright, white room and notice that, laying next to all the flowers, there is what seems to be remnants from the accident. Upon the blackened papers, I see a small patch of green. A woman in a nurse’s uniform tells me not to try to move, so I listen to her.
When I wake up again, the doctor informs me that my heart stopped for a full three minutes on the way to the hospital. I was dead for three minutes.
They say before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. If that’s true, then why did I only see that ornamental air freshener, embellished with arbitrary memories?