Part I: Last Memories
Death, and afterwards?
Death leaps upon us when we least expect it. There are, I am sure, very few people on Earth who wake up one morning expecting to die. The ignorant majority will wile away their lives, doing whatever they fancy is right and proper -which are very relative – but are completely unaware of when, where, and how, they are to die. Many have expectations about what will occur after the final "tick" of the heart, but not many appear to concern themselves with when that "tick" is actually going to finally, er, "tock." No one seems to ask what happens at Death, and afterwards?
Why do people ignore their foretold death? Granted, they know absolutely nothing about when death is to occur, or how or where, but they do know why they are to die. They are to die because, well, everyone dies, sooner or later. This is fact that spans the entire human population of this planet. No matter what country you reside in, no matter what culture, or religion you call your own, one fact remains constant. You are going to die.
Looking back on it, it is rather surprising that anyone managed to lead a relatively normal life at all, without cowering under tables, refusing to leave the house and staying away from all sharp objects. I suppose that it is this in-built refusal to acknowledge death that means people can live. In order to live, we must forsake death. And in order to die, we must forsake life. Rather poetic really. The only problem is its not that simple. We have to factor the afterlife into the equation. Is there life after death? The logical and simple thing would be to say no, and I could just stop writing right here. But, just like life, death gets complex in a hurry.
For my own part, like the rest of them, I paid the inevitability of my own demise very little heed. My view, humble as it was, ran thus, that I would die when I die, and not a moment sooner. Thus calmed, I concerned myself with other matters of greater importance. Therefore, I am sure you can understand that I was rather surprised, and more than a little irritated, when I woke up one morning to find out I was dead. That kind of thing really puts a crimp on your day.
As for the afterlife, I assumed I'd find out more about that when I got there. I had no particular guess on what was going to happen after I died. During my life I felt, well, living was more important that worrying about what was going to happen later. Now that I'm where I am, my view is somewhat different, if only because of the gift of hindsight.
But I suppose I had better start from the beginning. Or, rather, the end.
My life, such as it was, doesn't really come into the tale of my journey and there are parts of it that I now regret, so you'll forgive me if I neglect to give you all the details of what occurred before I died. Besides which, I had been alive for thirty-seven years, and I have only been dead for four. Suffice to say I was a less than considerate person. I was born that way, and I died that way. While I was alive I was proud of that.
To this day, I am not sure how exactly I died. All I know is that I am dead, which, I guess, is the main thing. My last day alive was a perfectly normal day. I arrived at my place of employment on time, which, while unusual, was not enough to make me think that today was a rather special day. Checking in at reception, I went to my desk. Before I could even so much as sit down a loud and boisterous voice echoed across the office space, reminding me that there are, in fact, idiots in this world, and that absolutely none of them were ashamed of this.
"Hallo Jerry! On time this morning!" he halloed. The loud and boisterous voice belonged to a loud and boisterous person, who held the majestic – in no one's mind but his own – name of Archie Cartwright. He wasn't particularly tall, fat, or bright. His blond hair was brushed neatly back, and his red rosy face was so rubbery that you weren't particularly surprised when he never stopped smiling. You got the impression that the wind had changed when he was a pulling a face in his younger years. Oh well, he didn't seem particularly miffed with the face he had, and to his credit he was brilliant at his job, which was Administrative Law. He was therefore very wealthy and had so much money he didn't know what to do with it all. I had very subtly suggested he give it to me, and the arrangement had stuck. Which is probably why I had tolerated his existence for so many years. He was very liberal when it came to buying drinks, and in return I was a friend to him. In retrospect I wasn't a very good friend, really. Archie bounded over and sat on the edge of my desk, knocking my keyboard into the waste-paper basket. He didn't seem to notice.
"Any special reason for the punctuality?" he questioned? I assured him that I just happened to catch the bus this morning. He ignored the answer and changed the topic, asking me about this and that, and dutifully I answered him. When I mentioned I was meeting Kathryn for dinner this evening his smile seemed to grow even larger, if that was at all possible.
"Well, say no more Jerry! Mum is the word. We hope, eh!" he laughed at his joke. I just laughed at him, but it's all the same to Archie. Then he quieted down and asked where I was meeting her, (the Gold Carnation) what time, (7:30) and whether she was, "the one." (I think so) This last reply seemed to particularly please him and he leapt off the desk and gave me a hug. "I'm so happy for you, I really am. Look, take this," he said, bashfully, handing me fifty pounds. "It's not much, but I'm sure it'll help. Have a wonderful time and," he looked around for a second before whispering to me. "Good luck old chap!" He darted away. I sighed and sat down to do some work.
That was the last time I saw him alive.
My Last Supper.
The Gold Carnation was a restaurant. It wasn't the most high-class place in the world but it was a nice place to eat. It was Kathryn's regular place and after I she and I became friends it became our regular place. When I had first dined there I had attempted to discover just why it was called "The Gold Carnation," but had long since given up, since there wasn't a speck of gold or yellow in the entire restaurant. It was, instead, a rather pleasing blue and gray. The tables were decked in white tablecloths, and in the centre of each table was a vase of flowers. They weren't carnations. On Fridays, a local band came in and played nice quiet songs that didn't interfere with dinner conversation.
Overall it was a pretty nice place, and I was glad to be meeting Kathryn tonight. Kathryn was someone I would describe as pretty special. We were friends, good friends, but it had been leaning slowly towards something a bit more for some time. For my part, I'd been doing my best to tip it over entirely and so far it had seemed to be working. I met Kathryn inside at our usual table. She was beautiful as usual, but she probably didn't have to try too hard to achieve that, at least, not in my opinion.
Kathryn Baxter was 24 years old, 183cm tall, had chocolate-brown hair, fair complexion, a great smile and an even better laugh. She kissed me on the cheek when I said hello, and we sat down and ate our meal. For some reason I can't remember what we ate. I think that at the time I was rather more preoccupied with Kathryn than with my dinner. Since it was my Last Supper, ever, I kind of wish I had paid more attention. All I can remember is a couple of hours later I didn't have Archie's fifty pounds anymore, so it must have been expensive. The evening was enjoyable. We talked non-stop but we didn't say very much, if you know what I mean.
I was careful not to drink too much, because I wanted to drive her home, but I was probably a little over the limit anyway. Still I got her home without any major mishaps. I made her a coffee and we had a chat in front of the fire. It was enjoyable, and I kind of wished it hadn't ended ever. I was truly happy there.
While I was washing up the coffee cups I felt a pair of arms encircle my waist and a head lean on my shoulder. I wiped my hands on the tea towel, then turned and kissed her. Later in the night I quietly got out of the bed, kissed her cheek goodbye and drove myself back to my house. I climbed into my bed and smiled to myself. It had been a good evening. I closed my eyes and must have fell asleep, because I don't remember anything after that.
Looking back on it all.
Those were my last memories of life. My last day, as days go was a pretty good one, I'm sure you'd agree. Nice, normal, romantic evening, ended with a bang. As did my life.
Looking back on it all, I begin to wonder what my life was really like. Not the day to day events, I can remember them clearly enough, although until recently I was beginning to forget what my parents looked like. I've been trying to take things into perspective. If you view my life from start to finish, will you be anything other than monumentally bored? After all, you do have 37 years to get through. Still, I managed it, and I suppose that's what counts. Or perhaps not, because if I hadn't made it through 37 years I would be dead. And, well, that happened anyway, didn't it? Though of course, where we left off I didn't know that yet. All in all I was in for a rather large shock when I woke up. Which I was very shortly about to do, although, in some ways, I never woke up again.