Speculative Adventure Inspirational

I still remember that feeling. It was like sledding, but flat on my back. I tried to open my eyes but couldn't. I was so weak that no part of me would move, but I still felt the rolling, little bumps here and there. Excruciating pain raged through every fiber of my body, but I couldn't move or make a sound, not even a groan.

Then I heard disjointed voices, "Stat," "rapid pulse, thready,"

"She's coming round." The rolling stopped. Someone pushed my eyelid open and aimed a blinding light at me. I wanted to close my eye or turn away, but I could do neither. Thankfully, that's all I remember.

Was I dreaming or hallucinating?  I started to float and then saw everything from a birdseye view. I looked down upon myself, surrounded by people wearing scrubs inserting tubes and IVs into my mangled body. I hovered above the chaos like a string puppet. I heard, " We're losing her!"

Then that scene grew fainter, farther away, and was gone. I rose through several floors of the hospital like smoke, then through leaves and tree branches into the blue sky that faded to white, then darkness. I stood now with no pain! No headache, joint aches, and best of all, no heartache, sadness, or fear. Such an incredible, extraordinary lightness! I was so free and safe.

My sight returned but blurry. It was like driving on a dark foggy road, seeing only what the headlights show you. It encircled me, and I noticed several silhouettes on the edge of it; people?

My brother stepped into a lighted area and beckoned to me, and I drew closer. I knew it was my brother. Was this some kind of soul recognition? Ethan was dead! He died decades ago!

"Hi, Briana," Ethan said, "Yes, it's me."

I saw clearly now. But nothing made sense. My baby brother died when I was twelve years old; this man was about 30! I was confused but not frightened. 

"Briana, I look like this to enable you to take me seriously. You would be even more confused if I looked like the infant that you remember," he said and smiled the most gentle, familiar smile.

"What's happening?" I didn't speak. My words just went to him.

"You died." He said, with no drama, just a matter-of-fact comment.

I thought, "Oh crap, now what?"

He took my hand and said, "Look." I saw an unexplainably beautiful landscape of trees and flowers with many colors, some I'd never seen. Then I hovered over a seascape with the whitest sand and breathtaking aqua sea. I watched fish and other marine life in the water, then the brilliant blue sky. I smelled salt-scented air as it caressed me. Peace held me there like a baby in a loving mother's arms.

I'd done some not-so-cool things in my life, so was I in heaven anyway?

"So this is it? Forever?" I asked.

"Not quite," Ethan said, and there was his heart-melting smile again. "There really is no time. It just is. You have one more experience, then you must choose."

"I knew there was a hitch," I thought.

"Not exactly."

Ethan truly was reading my thoughts! This was getting stranger and weirder every second if there were seconds.

Ethan laughed.

Next, we were back in that dark, foggy circle, but I felt comfortably numb, as Pink Floyd put it.

A vaguely familiar-looking young man joined us, "You may not remember, Kevin," Ethan said. "But you bought a piece of his pottery at an art show. You admired his work and told him to never give up. He'd just been accepted into a prestigious business college to become an accountant, like his Dad. But you're encouragement and support that day tipped the scales. It was all he needed to make the unpopular decision to attend art school, which was his heart's desire."

Uh Oh, I thought, did he starve?

Ethan laughed. "No, he didn't starve. He became a porcelain artist and owned a studio teaching pottery making. Kevin was never wealthy but financially secure and was happy to the end of a very long life. This is how he appeared when you met him."

I had no words as Kevin faded back into the darkness.

A middle-aged woman came forward. Her long blonde hair hung loosely over her shoulders; she was a bit plump and wore a green dress and glasses.

"This is Blanche," Ethan said. Kevin hadn't spoken, and this woman stood mute as well. "She was your babysitter, Briana."

Most of the women in my neighborhood were my babysitter, I thought sarcastically.

Ethan ignored my negativity and said, "Her husband died a few months before your mother hired her. She lived across the street from your family and cared for you for three years. You were so sweet to Blanche, and you played cards together and sang nursery rhymes while she weeded her garden. She was extremely depressed when you met, and you gave her something to live for. Blanche went on to care for other children and lived her best life."

I thought, well, I hardly knew I was doing that if I was so young! Again, dark sarcasm was something I had to work on.

Ethan raised his hand, saying, "Be patient just a while longer, Briana."

Blanche disappeared, and a woman I recognized came into view.

I said, "Vivian? Oh, it's so good to see you again!" She looked exactly as I remembered in her pink straw hat, with flaming-red hair fluttering under the brim. She was in her eighties, and heavy foundation makeup spackled her wrinkled face. Vivian's heavy black eyeliner and mascara nearly obscured her eyes, and coral lipstick covered her lips and beyond. I was so happy to see her again after at least twenty years.

Ethan said, "She can't hear you. These are mere images to enhance the experience of your life so far.

"So now I'm Scrooge?"

"Do you remember when you drove her to doctor appointments and the bank and took her to The Lunch Studio?"

Yes! Vivian loved that little artsy restaurant in Flint that displayed and sold local artists' work. She always bought something handmade, even if it was just a fridge magnet. The restaurant served the best tuna and avocado sandwiches ever!" I said.

Ethan continued, "So, you probably recall how you checked on her because she lived alone?"

I remembered Vivian's crumbling old house that could have been the set for the original Psycho movie. Her steep driveway was slippery in winter, so I'd bring her mail from the mailbox on the road and make sure she was okay. It was no big deal, I thought. I liked her, and she gave good advice, even when I didn't want to hear it but needed to.

Ethan said, "Oh, but it was a huge deal for Vivian, Briana. You were the only person who gave her friendship and help; you visited her and brought her little gifts even after she went to the nursing home. She will always look over you with love."

"She didn't go willingly to that place, Ethan. The hospital dumped her there right after her discharge, like a sack of unwanted kittens. I didn't know that until later. Then the care homeowners tried to buy her house at auction for a pittance, greedy bastards!"

A pained look and silence from Ethan.

"Sorry," I said.

Next, the three ghosts of Christmas past, if you will, were gone. I asked Ethan, "So, what now?"

"You can still do much good in the world, Briana, and there are experiences there that will enhance your soul."

"I'm still waiting for the catch," I said

 "Here is your choice, Briana. You may remain here or return to your body and finish your journey,"

I didn't want to be whiney, but I was anyway, "But everything hurts there, and it's so hard. I choose door Number One, Ethan, and I'll Stay here."

 "Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but you will remember this visit and be able to take on each challenge as it comes with confidence and kindness."

"Uncomfortable? Seriously, Ethan?"

Much debate followed, but I'll spare you that. I gradually understood the bigger picture. I returned to my messed-up body, which wasn't pleasant. However, I was more able to cope with life's 'discomforts.'

My experience was the result of being hit by a truck while crossing the street. I guess that's what it took for me to change my ways.  I lost vision in one eye but was grateful for the sight that remained.  I continued with my life, more conscious of my words and actions. I always tried to be kind, which is often difficult, especially when sarcasm is so much easier for me. I appreciate life's joys, no matter how small they appear to others. I'm also indebted to the people who allowed me to help them. Thanks for that, my dear brother. Life is much easier now.

December 03, 2022 04:43

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Delbert Griffith
21:09 Dec 09, 2022

My nephew had an NDE that was eerily similar. Kudos to your great story.


19:17 Dec 12, 2022

Thank you so much!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rabab Zaidi
14:55 Dec 10, 2022

Beautiful !


00:50 Dec 11, 2022

Thank you very much!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Unknown User
14:24 Dec 15, 2022

<removed by user>


14:45 Dec 15, 2022

Thank you so much! My Mom said she had one while in surgery but never got past the ceiling in the hospital. Ha.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.