The church walls reek the stale stench of summer heat.
The only sounds which break the eeire silence are those of chirping crickets and buzzing dragonflies.
The dull humidity of the church air holds secrets near and dear to every family, which slowly is implanted onto the old whitewash of the poorly painted concrete of the high rise dome of the church, but like all pallbearers it too fallls down. As peeling paint.
And the what is the special occasion you ask. Its your funeral!
You start look too confused for this, but also a little scared. You call for your friends but you only see unknown faces. You just stand there, in unknown silence.
From the entrance, you see Vir slowly open the church doors and tries to enter the room, trying to avoid any contact.
The day you died, the fact that Derrek saw Vir in his car driving over to your place and also that the car you drove was actually Vir’s car terrifies him. He covers his face with his hands and sits on the farthest pew. Farthest from the chatters and the illuminating church grounds, living in a fear that the summer heat would drain all the secrets and false lies from him. To live in the light is to be ready to accept everything it illuminates, a price he doesn't want to pay.
Like how goddess Neith wove the earth, rivers, stars and sky. Vir wore a cloth woven with threads of lies and deceit, all tied together by shut eyes and deaf ears. He uses to it cover himself from reality, but it never helps. Like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
You run to his place and get on your knees. Vir starts jittering his teeth and nodding . . As if he was saying no to something, or to someone.
You look at your right and see your coffin layed on the floor, displayed in all its beauty and essence. Your wobbled face and skin white as leprosy lie there, motionless. Emotionless.
You try to touch it and scream at it; you huff and puff and shout and jump. But nothing happens. The body stays there, it always does. The only thing moving in that church are the people visiting your grave and your conscious. You are now just a river of thought, a stream of consciousness ebbing and flowing through the church walls where you paint your history. But it remains invisible, shadowed by the countless others who have drawn too.
Grace enters the room with her black jacket and usual face of anger. Pushing the church doors, she shoves everyone till she makes her way to the altar. Walking in slow, bitter steps she tries to come closer to the coffin, but still denies to look inside it. The footsteps get closer and she sees your hollow eyes, and falls down another level. In the abyss of grief.
With clenched fists, she starts to look in the crowd. She walks around the crowd with forcing breaths and raging temper. She finds Vir in a corner, trying to cover himself with his cloak but she sees right through it.
Her pace picks up as she nears Vir. He gets up from his place and keeps his hands up in self-defence. Grace walks towards him, with rock solid fists and an appetite for blood. No one can stop her.
Oh wait, you could have. But that’s too late now.
Vir starts sobbing in silence and tries to talk against the lump of his throat.
“Look, I didn’t do anything ok. It wasn’t my fault. She was just there at that time.”
Grace stops walking.
“How could you still deny? Why don’t you just accept it, you killed her. Plain and simple. I’ll make sure you suffer for it.” She says while walking slowly towards him.
Oh, you don’t remember, let me explain.
The day you decided to go on a little joy ride, Vir decided to visit you.
But at the time, your were in a 'spiritual hangover'. Without a thought or motor function, you take the half-filled whiskey bottle ,but Vir obstructs your path.
He asks you to calm do but either madness or boredom, you break thebottle and hold it to his face. You laugh and cry at the same time. You shout, “gimme tha keyzz, NOW!”
He protests. So, you lunged towards him and pinned him down. His head banged the cold concrete, dropping the keys, and the rest they say is history.
Do you know what’s the most satisfying thing about learning history? It’s those ripple effects. You should be happy to see yours.
Grace walks to him and punches him hard in the face. The impact was hard enough to send a well-built man to the ground.He murmurs,” Graze, Gr..aaz.ee, please don’t.”
She walks closer to Vir but is stopped by elder’s present there. A few people come and try to stop her but she tries to push her way through, and soon enough there is a crowd of people pushing her back but she puts up a good fight. Till she is pushed away from the fight scene. She walks closer to the coffin, till the weight of the blood pushes her down to her knees and she holds her hands together in a prayer, and presents a bargain to the higher power. Last hope at false reality.
Vir gets his head back together and snorts the blood out. His eyes turn red and the blood starts to entice him. He looks and Grace and shouts, “So now your praying to god, huh. Pathetic.” He runs towards her and pushes her down and they start to wrestle like two little kittens. Vir pushes Grace with his legs and falls on hey back. A few elders take Vir by the hand and escort him outside, against his raging bull-like temper and kicking legs.
In midst of this confusion and agony,y ou hear a familiar voice and rush towards him, invisible to everyone. You move through empty spaces between people and also between people. You find Derek sitting on the wooden pew. Sobbing, hyperventilating. He keeping his skinny legs close to each other, mostly to support the weight of his frail body and throbbing mind.
Sitting next to him, invisibly, you try to talk to him, but all your efforts to reach him are futile. You should have realised that the moment you got into that car, or the day you hit him with a beer bottle for tossing your six pack of beers out the window. Whichever it was, now it’s all gone. You look at your coffin and see a line of people walking up to your coffin with their children or friends and see the bruised lips and pale skin, like an exhibition in a museum.
“This was all avoidable, all avoidable. I wish we did something, I’m sure we could have done something.” You hear him murmur.
He gets down on the floor and wipes the tears off his face and starts to think. Like a person trying to understand a scenario, he decides to put everything aside and starts to think. In midst of this you just pray that it isn’t something bad.
“Vir,” he says “it’s because of him. Only if that dumb bastard didn’t take his car with him, this would have changed. If he was a decent human being and just walked over like we always would do.”
Really funny how a fact can be moulded into so many ways. For knowledge is interpretation, and everything which can be interpreted can also be misinterpreted.
Derrek continues . "I saw Vir’s car and I should have called him.” He says and says and says. For every time he tries a bargain with fate, the barbed wire around his neck grows tighter and tighter. Like an itch which just never goes off, like an animal struggling against a snare trap, like a drunkard struggles to maintain composure.
He falls on his feet and starts praying. “Oh god, just please help me this time. Give me this one thing and I swear to turn my life around. Just this one time, just this one time, just this one time.” He starts kneading his head on the floor and prays.
This is the first time he has ever entered a church, first time ever said a prayer, first time he ever asked anyone for help.
He murmurs, “Please give her back, give her back, give her back, give her back, give her back. I’m sorry that I’ve always hated to as for help, or even ask for hope. Just give her back to me and I promise. I’ll never act like that again.”
Hahaha! Are you really trying to console him? Don’t you understand already. Its all gone. No matter how much you plead or cry or wish or pray, you can’t do anything. Make your stupid make belief fantasies of you all being together. There is no reason in begging anymore.
Bargain how much you want to, you will still receive nothingness.
Derrek stops praying and sits back on the pew. You shout and yell and jump in front of him, but all he ever gives you is, nothingness.
Away from blood and bargain, you see siluette of a sole man sitting on his own. the aura he generated felt as if he wanted to repel everyting. His weak eyes and skin-deep bones makes him look as if he has lost everything.
He seemed too tired to bargain, or shout or even look up. It seemed as if he had no hope to reach out for false realities in this time.
"Max?" You murmur under your breathe.
You go and sit next to the man, eyes red with crying too much. He looks at the coffin with a blank face. Like a blank slate you just want to be filled, but it layed there.
Untouched and untouchable by anyone.
You sit next to him and try to talk but nothing bothers him much.
Depression isn't sadness. It isn't despair or purgatory or painful. Depression is simply, nothingness.
He removes his phone and plays a voice mail. It says
"Hey Alex, it's me helooo! I'm in Vir's car right now and I know texting and drunked drinking be bad but life has no meaning and we don't exist. Ok anyways, I'm going swimming. Since nothing matters to me I might as well go swimming right. Don't save me!"
Then came sound of car screeching and you in the car seat laughing and shouting at passers by. Your voice drops and then a faint sound of sobbing is heard. Then the voice starts to speak again.
"Please save me."
Alex switches off his phone and starts to sob again.
Those were your last words. A futile cry for help. Though you stole the keys from Vir, you wanted to be with your friends. Though you drank erratically, you still wanted to enjoy drinking Monster with your friends and feel super cool aboot it. Deep down, you didn't want this.
Then it hits you suddenly, nothingness.
He rests his head against the black wood of the pew and starts sobbing uncontrollably. The tears fall down from his eyes and are imbibed by the wood, causing a slight swelling in the wood. Upon closer inspection, you see there are thousands such swellings in the chair.
You see around and notice being surrounded by hundreds of stranger and acquaintes. Every one has a breaking point, and this is yours.
Time seems to be flowing so absurdly in the church that you don’t even realise there exists a weather outside. The summer heat still doesn’t accept to give out and rains down extreme heat. The old paint of the church walls which have survived the ordeal of death still remains there, but floats around the perimeters of the wall which helps confine the deathly space. In a flower pot the bees buzz in joy around the vibrant colours of the garden flowers. A butterfly in a pandora’s box.
Morgan sits on the patchy grass, back lying against the walls. Sitting outside the church, away from a place where he doesn’t want to go back to, he lights a cigarette and takes a huge drag. He sees dozens of people moving to and fro the church door, like unattended baggage at airport.
You look out the window and notice Morgan sitting all by himself in the sun. you go down an ugly memory lane and start to cry. Cry at nothingness. You run to Morgan and try to talk, but no words are picked up. You’re invisible now, lost into an oblivion away from life. Giving up, you get sit down opposite to Morgan.
A friendly stranger walks to Morgan and sits down.
“Aren’t you too young to be smoking?” he asks.
“Well, I’m two thousand and one born. So, I’m eighteen years old. Within the legal age. All my friends, like Vir, Grace and Alex, and the person dead are still seventeen years old. So, I’m allowed to smoke.” Morgan replies.
An awkward pause between them both.
“What is the person to you. Like were you both friends or simply classmates.” He asks to calm tension.
“We were in a relationship for some time. But we both already had broken up weeks before this happened.” He takes another drag.
He offers a cigarette to him and he takes it gladly.
“it must have hurt a lot.” The stranger mumbles while lighting his cigarette.
“it did, why wouldn’t it. But I was ready for it.” Morgan answers.
The smoke erupts from the cigarette and dissipates.
“What do you mean ready?” he asks.
“I convinced my…partner to join rehab, which failed because they just couldn’t handle the situation. The first thing that my partner does is to vomit at my door and try to sleep on my floor. We fought, mostly verbal and some physical and yeah. That’s where it ended,” the huge drag spills some ash on the wet grass. “from that day I realised that its beyond anyone’s control.”
The stranger face shows an uneasy look. He turns to Morgan, stunned and asks, “So you did nothing?”
“I tried sir, oh I tried. But it was out of my hands. I know it’s a friend’s responsibility and all that, but it was too much for me.” Morgan crushes the cigarette and put it in the blazer pockets.
The stranger asks, “How did it feel like. The grief.”
Morgan chuckles and takes out another cigarette.
“They didn’t hit me after I knew about the death. It hit me from the moment we broke up. At first there was denial of course. I would keep repeating to myself ‘it’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true’ and I hid myself from reality. It wasn’t enough though, through the cracks the grief poured in. Letting out the inside energy and I burst out.
Then came anger. I would shout and shout about what had happened. I would break chairs, mirrors, windows my old artefacts. I still don’t understand why I did that. It still didn’t get anything back.”
From the church doors he sees Vir being kicked out the church by some elders and a security guard. Virs' change makes Morgan smile.
Hearing it all you just breathe and exhale in all the temperament.
“ Then the bargain with god, I asked him to give everything back. I still held onto the false hope. When it faded away, I plummeted deep into a dark abyss. Like Vertigo. But its all over now, and now I don’t feel much pain.”
The tears disappear from your face and a smile appears on you. a smile erupting from sadness and happiness. Like when you see a long-lost friend, when you find that one item you had as a child. The smile from the happiness of shedding a tear.
“What about your friends?”
You get up in a stern position and listen.
“They’ll get over it soon enough. First, they might deny it, and say it wasn’t their fault. They may say they had no control over it and its true. Then, they will be angry and hit objects, people’s faces, their friendship. Then they’ll bargain and soon enough they will start to feel nothing. These will happen slowly, but it will. As their friend, ill make sure it happens. Then hopefully they reach, acceptance.”
Both you and the stranger are shocked and happy from this statement. You get up and sit next to Morgan. You feel the purpose of your short stay is over now, like thousands of others like you who have been offered hope and answers.
It’s really funny how your friends are able to help each other even without the intentions.
Touching the church walls, you coalase and mold into the old paint which serves as a living documentation of the thousands of souls inhabiting it, who are lost into an oblivion. An oblivion beyond life and death.
The clouds emerge and soon enough cover the sun, dissipating the dizzying sunlight. The dead beetle falls back on its feet and flies away. The flowers open up to new environment and new changes.inside the church, the atmosphere is retained back inside the church walls. Restoring the paint and sealing up the cracks and leaving some open. For the future.
The stranger chuckles and says, “Well, life is shit then you die right?”
“No,” said Morgan in a soothing voice.” Sometimes, life is shit…and you keep living.”