THE NIGHT I DIED AND MADE MY WAY INTO HIS BEDROOM
This story begins the night I died. The how and why are unimportant. I'd like to tell you I died in a car crash, careening down some open highway at 100 mph, the wind flowing freely through my hair, the music overtaking me to the point I no longer cared whether I lived or died. This is how I always imagined I'd go. But the truth is never this romantic. The truth is more often than not boring and unworthy of being told. I will say only that I went willingly, without self-pity, knowing finally that the air taken in and exhaled was no longer with purpose, the purpose residing somewhere too far away to be seen, too far off to be felt.
You probably want to know what happened, about the tunnel, the light, God's voice. You want the answers. From me you will get none, for there were none to be found. I entered into death with no expectations, no clinging to beliefs. I fell into death with the same casualness of mind with which I fell into sleep, wishing only for rest and peace and forgetting.
On the night I died I made my way to his house, never having been there before, never before having stepped over the cracks in the sidewalk that still bore the initials written long ago with a stick when the cement was freshly poured and their love still new. The house was as I'd imagined it all those unending nights spent back in my apartment on the other side of the Mississippi without him: a simple ranch with a neatly mown lawn and a birdhouse hanging welcomingly from every tree. A car was parked in the driveway next to a fallen bike and I passed through its locked door, seating myself in the driver's seat where he probably had sat only hours before, gripping the wheel, feeling the grooves into which his fingers surely fit. Books and CDs lay open on the floor amidst forgotten Happy Meal toys, dropped Cheerios, and an Etch-A-Sketch partly shaken, a child's rendering of a house not unlike the one I sat before, still visible, though halved. I fingered his books, skimmed the passages marked with a slip of paper, he being too gentle to ever dare fold their corners as I once had my own.
Moments later I passed through the front door as easily as I had passed into the car, half expecting to find him there in his living room, sitting up, waiting for me. But it was only silence and darkness that greeted me, welcomed me, took me by the hand and led me down the hall to his room - to their room. The door was open and I peeked in, unsure of what I might find. The room was silent save for their midnight breaths. Though I had not seen his face in such a very long time, and then only once, on a night so long passed yet etched forever in my mind, I did not immediately go to him. I went instead to a chair burdened by clothes tossed haphazardly with exhaustion onto it, clothes that still held his smell, clothes that I pressed to my nose, eager for physical evidence of his existence.
His scent upon me I made my way to his bed, standing for sometime over it, looking first at him, and then, with equal curiosity at her. It was the first time I had seen this woman, the one that had first captured his heart leaving it only ever half open for another. As I gazed down on her I envisioned her as she had been ten years before, walking with nervousness and a full heart down the aisle to him, ready to offer him all that she had, all that she was. Her face now was turned away from him, her body outstretched in opposition to him, though his was splayed toward her, enwrapping her from the distance he seemed unable to overcome.
I lay down in the gulf that separated them, feeling the warmth from their bodies, listening intently to their breaths that came in unison from either side of me. With a trembling hand I reached out not to my beloved but to her, to that which he held dear, touching her as I'd so long wished to be touched by him, kissing her as I'd never be kissed. I made love to her as he was unable to do, fearing her rejection above all else. I made love to her as I know a woman wants to be made love to -- leisurely, unhurried, with great passion of mind as well as body -- and she, drenched within her dream world, made love to me in kind, though it was to her husband, my love, that she opened her arms and mouth and hips, so long hungry for his touch. And when we had stopped, when her carnal utterances and stirrings had ceased, she turned to him, her body limp, her face pressed into his chest, her arm reaching purposefully over him. I took myself out of their bed, my presence no longer needed, the gulf having been bridged. Once more and for a final time I stood beside him, feeling the roughness of his cheek with the back of my hand, pressing my lips to his with whispered goodbyes. At my touch he stirred gently, suddenly recognizing the breath of his lover beside him, pulling her closer still, the two of them newly content in their shared slumber.
Making my way back down the hall lined with photographs of a family to which I did not belong, I saw another door ajar, inviting me inward. With curiosity yet inside I passed through. There were the two sets of eyes he'd written me of in his poetic prose, shut tight with dreams of dinosaurs and dragons, jellyfish and dolphins. In their faces I found the youth of my beloved, the innocence that exists before our hearts become severed and our dreams trampled. I wished for them a brother or sister, a summer playmate, someone to join them as they crawled into their parents' bed on stormy nights and snowy Christmas morns. The dragonfly-filled covers had fallen or been kicked downward in their sleep and before leaving I pulled them back up, covering their dangling arms and legs.
Gliding back out into the moonlight I sat for a while on the swing set he had constructed one Father's Day not long in the past. I sat and swung, gazing up at the stars, wishing for a cigarette, missing the desire for one, lost now in my immortality.
All this happened on the night I died. Now where shall I go? What shall I do? These are the questions to which there are no answers.
Eternity is a very long time and I am already tired.