All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Asleep at the Edge of Heaven
A girl watches me through unbelievably thick fog. She says, “I know what it's like to be dead.”
I clench my fists. Of all people, I wish she hadn't chosen me to impart that revelation upon. “Do you?” I implore. “Do you really? Because I do, and I assure you, death is a feeling like no other.”
“But you didn't die,” she responds. “The ambulance made it in time. They saved your life. You have no right to throw that away.” As she says this, I'm trying to recognize her face through the mist. Her voice is familiar, but her eyes won't stop changing color and my gaze keeps getting caught up in the movement of her hair. There's something unnatural about it, like it's not quite attached to her body, rather a floating, blond ripple around her head. Her lips stop moving and I am drawn to respond.
“Then how should you know what death feels like? You look plenty alive to me.” Does she? I'm not quite sure what life looks like, or death either. For me, death was all blood and asphalt and snapping bone, but I know not everybody bleeds when they go. Some people drown, sort of like this girl and I might drown in a mist so thick you could swim in it. I take a breath and taste water in my mouth. It stays there, drawn out of my lungs by the same force that keeps my feet planted on the ground in a world where I'm sure I'm supposed to be floating. I try to see if the girl is floating, but the fog pools around her ankles and she completely disappears into it.
She speaks again, “Breathing is different from being alive. Anyway, constant misery can kill someone just as easily as asphyxiation. But misery's not your problem. You're not miserable, you're in pain and you haven't learned to handle it yet. Big difference. Me, I wasn't like that at all.” She tosses her hair a little and I watch it roll through space in a series of hypnotizing wavelets. Her eyes are grey now, but a moment ago they were black and I decide to make a game of guessing the next color. Blue seems logical, but I'm wrong. They turn purple instead, then orange as a harvest moon, green as moss stuck to the bottom of a rock, yellow as my cousin's offbeat shoelaces, and then, at last, they fade to blue and I am left to wonder again where I know her from.
“I've seen you before,” I tell her, certain now that it's not just her voice I recognize.
“In the newspaper. Your parents saved every one for you to read when you came home. They never lost hope that you would recover.” She blinks at me and her face, I realize, is false—some sort of mask. Behind it, though, is what? I begin to wonder if she even has a true face.
“Who are you?”
Instead of answering, she raises her hand and starts to spell something in the air. I stare at her wrist where a red gleam of skin peels back to display the limp straw of a severed artery.
“You're dead,” I say dumbly.
“Indeed. I am what you presume to know. Death is not as simple as hope.” She lowers her hand and I see that she has cleared away some of the fog. Hope. That's what she was spelling. Could it be her name? Before I can ask, she starts talking again. “You see death as a passage out of hell. You're wrong. Death is only the beginning of a much greater suffering and if you jump, no one will be waiting to catch you.”
Deja vu hits me in the gut and I'm certain I've been here before, the memories returning in an uncoordinated rush. This fog. A light. A cliff between me and where I need to go. I try to catch a glimpse of what's behind her, but she moves to block my view and all I get is swirling mist.
“Don't,” she warns, and I can feel the dream dissolving. The dream. This is a dream. But the colors of her eyes are so vivid. I look again, but they seem to be stuck on blue. There's something familiar about them, though, even more so than before. Her eyes, I think, are real.
“Francine,” I try to say through heavy lips. I remember her now, but the vision is gone and my eyes are sticking shut. Of course, she was in my French class. She died the day of my accident. The newspaper? I read her obituary. Her death notice loomed where mine should have been.
When I finally peel my eyes apart, I can barely motivate myself to blink. Instead I lie awake in a cold sweat in a cold room, and I am reminded again of how hard it is to even walk. A bottle of painkillers has fallen to the floor beside my wheelchair, and for a moment I wonder why I left it open. Then I remember, and the memory comes with a new kind of chill as I find myself slipping unwillingly back into an empty, dreamless sleep.