The pearly gates are donned in graffiti. “Tell Mother not to worry”, “Fuck the Man”, “Call 555-0768 for a good time”, “We’ll meet again.” I can feel the tears drying on my face, hardened trails of salt down my cheeks. I wonder if those trails of flesh will turn to sand, the way that soil does as the ocean slips across its surface time and time again. I look out at the ocean and feel my legs go weak. My stomach burns as it pushes that incorrigible lump into my esophagus. I think fresh tears begin to fall, but just as I feel the sensation of teardrop against flesh, it seems to be absorbed back in through my pores and put to some greater use, like keeping me alive. I am petrified of the sight lain out before me. When I first glanced back as I stalked down that long stretch of tunnel, the scene perplexed me, but slowly I understood. Some believe that the afterlife exists in the sky, while others insist that it resides in the earth itself, and still others retain that it is split between the two. However, I now find myself on the horizon. The sense that is the hardest to grow accustomed to is my altered depth perception. Gazing across the infinite expanse of water and land in front of me, I can clearly make out the image of my own posterior, fringed in a white glow. It’s like checking out my behind in a mirror, except no mirror is necessary. But it is the realization that I am at that unreachable place, the end of the rainbow, which makes me weak in the knees.
I can’t decide what to write on the gate. I always wished that I was a good artist. I look to the left and low on the smooth white surface is a small bucket of painting implements, hanging from a rusted nail. I reach for it and overshoot, my hand sliding down the wall so quickly that I don’t have time to stop my face from crashing into it. Damn it! The realization of the encumbrances of my new senses hits me. My head is pounding. What a fucking time for a headache. I rub my temples hard, but my hands feel like receipt paper in a hurricane, they flap uselessly, hardly even stroking my skin. I used to draw one picture that everyone seemed to like. It was a simple silhouette, vomiting a dandelion that was growing out of her heart. A black silhouette on this pristine white wall seems too morbid somehow, as if it would break the integrity of the wall. So I choose to simply draw the dandelion. The process of drawing is slow going and severely aggravating. My coordination seems compromised and my hands continue to feel insubstantial. I grit my teeth and grip the brush harder. I draw the last bit of stem, incorporating his name into the roots, as I slyly discovered that I could the very first time I drew the flower.
Shit. I forgot about him. When was the last time I saw him? Was he there when I left to come…here? Every ounce of feeling drops down to my fingertips and toes. I miss him. As my mind explodes with this realization, I can feel the bands of my heart stretching taut. In Greek mythology, human beings originally had four arms and four legs. However, in fear of their power, Zeus split them apart, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other half. Damn the Greeks! My better half is too far and I can feel the strain take its toll as my heart tries to stretch the chasm between us. My breathing falters. It feels as though Zeus himself has a locked grip on either side of my heart and is pulling with all his godly might. I can feel his fists clenching my lungs as he wrenches his hands apart. I choke out pure black smoke and suck in a sea of random images. A flash of a homeless crack head screaming for drugs amidst oncoming traffic. A snippet of my sister’s blue and bulbous ankle after she rolled it jogging down a mountain trail. The picture of his face the first time he said I love you. A glimpse of him and her after he told me that they had shared a night together…It’s gone. All feeling is gone. Zeus has either suddenly let go, or squeezed so hard that I have imploded. I can’t feel anything. I can’t feel anything! The image of him and her sharing a kiss…My eyes snap open to extinguish the scene. The dandelion fills my vision. Simultaneously, a movie real clicks on in the back of my head. It rolls over and over again, projecting that hideous clip onto the back of my eyes. I can feel it burning there, just waiting for my eyes to close so that it can consume my mind once again. It would be like turning out the lights in a movie theatre, to close my eyes now would turn my entire world into a creation of the imagination, only this is a feature film that is too real, too morose, too heart breaking. So I stare. I stare at all of the elegant graffiti. “Please remember me”, “Don’t look down”, “Someone save Temptation”. And then, separate from the rest, unassertive and almost boring on the edge of the gate…
“Years may fly
and tears my dry
But my love for you
will never die.”
I know tears are falling. Why can’t I feel them? God damn it, I miss her so much. Why didn’t I remember that I miss her until now? I wanted to live for her. I wanted to live by her. The lump in my throat is growing, metastasizing…I can hardly breathe. A chill clings to my spine, then spreads through my bones like wildfire. I can feel goose bumps growing in its wake, until every inch of my body is consumed by numb nothingness. Once again, I am entrenched in it, in such an absolute loss of feeling. I am empty. Why do I feel this way so much of the time? Or rather, why do I not feel so much of the time? I’m a waste. A skeleton with no potency, an empty frame. I close my eyes in shame. The reel clicks back on. My imagination is livelier than my being. But I have no time to dwell on this, as my attention is grasped by the movie showing. Him and her, laying together…I feel my heart flutter back to life, and a steely strength chases the chill away. I feel the lump in my throat begin a disperse and painfully dissolve as the acid tries to crawl its way out of my stomach. A swift kick to the gut sends my eyes flying open and my mouth releases a mighty and horrific sound as the acid pools. The scream emanates with such strength and such torment that it bends and cracks against the pearly bars to resonate tones that would vanquish eardrums and punch holes in the brain. But it doesn’t touch me. It wavers through me and then melts down into the ocean. It is raw feeling. I look down at my toes to watch the final, deafening sound wave seep from my feet and explode the ocean into a tumultuous whirlpool.