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Heaven. (A short story/reflection)

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    To die at an inconvenient time is to die with no freedom remaining. And I died at a most inconvenient time. I’m still bitter about it. My heart palpitated one time too ferociously on Wednesday, mid-afternoon. It sparked cardiac arrest and I died then and there, on the 14:33 from London, Waterloo to West Byfleet. I was alone – bar the other passengers. I was, at time of death, four pages from the end of Plato’s Republic, and in deep anticipation of how he would conclude his work. So I never found out. Mildly irritating indeed, and if I had time to think it through before I died, I might have cursed myself for the wasted time I had spent reading other books which I did not want to read, or not reading at all, or re-reading sentences which I had read one time but not processed, and so was forced to read again. As it happened, I did not have time to curse myself; so - maybe for the better - I was left to wonder with nonchalant curiosity exactly what Plato’s final thoughts on Ancient Greek society and politics were.

    I was of no inconvenience to the other passengers, at least not immediately. No one noticed that I was dead until the train reached the end of the line and I failed to vacate my seat. The curse of the deaf, blind and mute British commuters is that they hear, see and say nothing. My freshly deceased corpse was left to the mercy of a 36 year old train guard called Edward (known to family and friends as Ned).

    My death was an inconvenience to Ned. He was at the end of his shift, and was shortly due at a primary school half an hour away from our current location to pick up his kids. He was a nice man, was Ned, and his children were uncommonly fond of him. His wife knew he was reliable, and she trusted completely that the children would be collected on time, fed on time, bathed on time, and tucked up in bed on time. For this reason, she did not allow herself to feel guilty for pursuing the career of her dreams in Marketing. So, as it happened, Ned was late to collect his children from school that Wednesday. They were invited to join the After School Club for that one day, while the registrar, a Mrs Lawrence, attempted to track down the absent Father. Ned’s mobile phone was in his jacket, which was in his car at his local station car park. It was a warm day, and he had not thought he would need layers. And so Mrs Lawrence’s calls went unanswered, while Ned answered routine questions for an hour from the police regarding my recent decease. Somewhat inconvenient for Mrs Lawrence, as prior to this episode she had made herself a cup of tea and placed it, inconveniently, on a desk which was about an inch further away than the phone cable would stretch.

    I observed the ripple effect of my ‘probably unproblematic’ heart defect with something akin to amusement. Death is a frightening thing until you have experienced it, and after that, you tend to wonder what all of the fuss is about. It was a bit of an anti-climax, to be honest. A Blink and You’ll Miss It event. With the exception of an indescribably painful twang in my chest a split second before I died, there was really nothing to distinguish between Life and This. So when I entered in to the This and saw, through sharp focus and a strange ability to be wherever I wanted to be (almost omnipresence), anything that I wanted to see, I had to take some kind of advantage of it. Maybe it was an immature kind of pretentiousness that sparked my desire to see everyone affected by my death. Maybe the Ned’s and Ned’s family’s and Mrs Lawrence’s of the world should have been low on my list of priorities. But who doesn’t want to see a healthy bit of mourning for one’s own spontaneous decease?. I sure did. I’d had enough of being nobody. So yeah, it was kind of nice to watch Mrs Lawrence’s tea get cold. It was kind of exhilarating to see my face in next morning’s Metro, and to see the look of shock on commuter’s faces as they recognised me from their journey the day before, and as they matched the train mentioned in the article to the one that they had been on. I counted the number of times that Nice Ned’s phone rang, firstly from Mrs Lawrence (5), then from Mrs Nice Ned, when she had finally been reached by the school and informed that her husband had failed to collect her children that afternoon (17).

    Of course I didn’t know that my all-seeing, earth-walking ability would wear off. You don’t get a Welcome Guide when you pop your clogs. There’s no How To Make The Most of Your Post-Death Holiday information pack. It was more frightening when I died the second time round. My first death was fine. Like I said, it was over and done with, minimal fuss. My second death was slow and intimidating. I faded like a light with a dimmer switch, and I felt it as well as saw it, I felt the newness of my After-death state being sucked from me, sucked dry until I was the metaphysical equivalent of my already rotting human body. What a farce, I thought with all of the power of my remaining emotion, which was already calmed as if by gentle marijuana fumes. To be forced to die once, at great annoyance to myself and others – well fine, that’s a fact of life. But to then be given a life of relative contentment, power and knowledge, only to have it cruelly drained away? That takes the plinking plodding piss, I thought with something similar to anger, but not quite the same. I thought all of this as I stood no-where, melting from nothing in to nothing, and I felt for the first time in my After-death as if I was really nothing at all. And then I was gone.

    Stage Three. Alone again. And I mean alone in the traditional sense. Not Train Journey alone, where people are around but I don’t know them and they don’t know me and we ignore one another because we don’t care for one another. Not After-Death alone, where I see everyone and they don’t see me. But alone, just alone, just me and me and me. And there could be me to the power of infinity, because I see nothing and hear nothing apart from myself. There could be many me’s, or there could just be the one, I don’t know and I don’t really care. I am my own train. I wonder if I am in Heaven, or in Hell, or in somewhere different. And I wonder how long I will be here. I hope it isn’t Hell, for obvious reasons. I hope it isn’t Heaven, because that would imply a God resides here, and I may have some explaining to do. I doubt it is Heaven or Hell, because I am neither in unimaginable pain, nor am I encompassed by a feeling of omnipotent Love. No, just me.

    And time passed, I am sure, but I don’t know how long for. I was OK. No expectations when it is just me. I just thought; no need to talk because I can hear me perfectly every time. And when the time had passed I realised that I had been walking through the Nothingness, and had in fact come a long way, and even though I wasn’t tired, I was ready to rest, because I got the distinct impression that I had arrived at somewhere to rest.

    And it was still me, but there was me and there were others. I didn’t know them, I was sure of that, even though they didn’t have faces that I could distinguish. Their faces were there, but they weren’t important, and so I didn’t see them. And their bodies, which were also there, were also irrelevant. But the others were good, and I knew that I had some good in me as well. So I arrived at where I was, and I rested. The others were around me, and they spoke to me, told me stories which never ended and sang ballads which looped like a beautiful, broken record, and they laughed the most pure, honest, healthy laughs that I had ever heard, and I heard everything that they spoke and sang and laughed, but it was silent, so very quiet, because silence is one thing that I love. And I know it went on forever, that it is still going on even now, but when I knew I was rested then I was ready, and I got up – and the others got up as well, but they started to dance – and while they danced, I ran and then when I wanted to walk I did, and when I wanted to skip, I did that instead. And it was still me, in every sense of me.

    I knew I had got to where I was going, wherever that was, and so I stopped, and I turned and I saw, to my relief, that the others were still there, still dancing, still perfect. I looked around me and I knew that I was going to stay here, because it was everything that was right and good and happy. It was like I was living inside a Prozac capsule, but it was better because it was perfect. And so I curled up where I was, and nothing hurt – my heart was as it should have been all along – and I was calm. And The Republic was open on Page 452, and I finished it, and it was as it should be. So I read it again, and again. And the others danced in the distance, but so close, danced perfectly timed steps while I read, alone.
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    (Original post by sammy-lou)
    To die at an inconvenient time is to die with no freedom remaining. And I died at a most inconvenient time. I’m still bitter about it. My heart palpitated one time too ferociously on Wednesday, mid-afternoon. It sparked cardiac arrest and I died then and there, on the 14:33 from London, Waterloo to West Byfleet. I was alone – bar the other passengers. I was, at time of death, four pages from the end of Plato’s Republic, and in deep anticipation of how he would conclude his work. So I never found out. Mildly irritating indeed, and if I had time to think it through before I died, I might have cursed myself for the wasted time I had spent reading other books which I did not want to read, or not reading at all, or re-reading sentences which I had read one time but not processed, and so was forced to read again. As it happened, I did not have time to curse myself; so - maybe for the better - I was left to wonder with nonchalant curiosity exactly what Plato’s final thoughts on Ancient Greek society and politics were.

    I was of no inconvenience to the other passengers, at least not immediately. No one noticed that I was dead until the train reached the end of the line and I failed to vacate my seat. The curse of the deaf, blind and mute British commuters is that they hear, see and say nothing. My freshly deceased corpse was left to the mercy of a 36 year old train guard called Edward (known to family and friends as Ned).

    My death was an inconvenience to Ned. He was at the end of his shift, and was shortly due at a primary school half an hour away from our current location to pick up his kids. He was a nice man, was Ned, and his children were uncommonly fond of him. His wife knew he was reliable, and she trusted completely that the children would be collected on time, fed on time, bathed on time, and tucked up in bed on time. For this reason, she did not allow herself to feel guilty for pursuing the career of her dreams in Marketing. So, as it happened, Ned was late to collect his children from school that Wednesday. They were invited to join the After School Club for that one day, while the registrar, a Mrs Lawrence, attempted to track down the absent Father. Ned’s mobile phone was in his jacket, which was in his car at his local station car park. It was a warm day, and he had not thought he would need layers. And so Mrs Lawrence’s calls went unanswered, while Ned answered routine questions for an hour from the police regarding my recent decease. Somewhat inconvenient for Mrs Lawrence, as prior to this episode she had made herself a cup of tea and placed it, inconveniently, on a desk which was about an inch further away than the phone cable would stretch.

    I observed the ripple effect of my ‘probably unproblematic’ heart defect with something akin to amusement. Death is a frightening thing until you have experienced it, and after that, you tend to wonder what all of the fuss is about. It was a bit of an anti-climax, to be honest. A Blink and You’ll Miss It event. With the exception of an indescribably painful twang in my chest a split second before I died, there was really nothing to distinguish between Life and This. So when I entered in to the This and saw, through sharp focus and a strange ability to be wherever I wanted to be (almost omnipresence), anything that I wanted to see, I had to take some kind of advantage of it. Maybe it was an immature kind of pretentiousness that sparked my desire to see everyone affected by my death. Maybe the Ned’s and Ned’s family’s and Mrs Lawrence’s of the world should have been low on my list of priorities. But who doesn’t want to see a healthy bit of mourning for one’s own spontaneous decease?. I sure did. I’d had enough of being nobody. So yeah, it was kind of nice to watch Mrs Lawrence’s tea get cold. It was kind of exhilarating to see my face in next morning’s Metro, and to see the look of shock on commuter’s faces as they recognised me from their journey the day before, and as they matched the train mentioned in the article to the one that they had been on. I counted the number of times that Nice Ned’s phone rang, firstly from Mrs Lawrence (5), then from Mrs Nice Ned, when she had finally been reached by the school and informed that her husband had failed to collect her children from school that afternoon (17).

    Of course I didn’t know that my all-seeing, earth-walking ability would wear off. You don’t get a Welcome Guide when you pop your clogs. There’s no How To Make The Most of Your Post-Death Holiday information pack. It was more frightening when I died the second time round. My first death was fine. Like I said, it was over and done with, minimal fuss. My second death was slow and intimidating. I faded like a light with a dimmer switch, and I felt it as well as saw it, I felt the newness of my After-death state being sucked from me, sucked dry until I was the metaphysical equivalent of my already rotting human body. What a farce, I thought with all of the power of my remaining emotion, which was already calmed as if by gentle marijuana fumes. To be forced to die once, at great annoyance to myself and others – well fine, that’s a fact of life. But to then be given a life of relative contentment, power and knowledge, only to have it cruelly drained away? That takes the plinking plodding piss, I thought with something similar to anger, but not quite the same. I thought all of this as I stood no-where, melting from nothing in to nothing, and I felt for the first time in my After-death as if I was really nothing at all. And then I was gone.

    Stage Three. Alone again. And I mean alone in the traditional sense. Not Train Journey alone, where people are around but I don’t know them and they don’t know me and we ignore one another because we don’t care for one another. Not After-Death alone, where I see everyone and they don’t see me. But alone, just alone, just me and me and me. And there could be me to the power of infinity, because I see nothing and hear nothing apart from myself. There could be many me’s, or there could just be the one, I don’t know and I don’t really care. I am my own train. I wonder if I am in Heaven, or in Hell, or in somewhere different. And I wonder how long I will be here. I hope it isn’t Hell, for obvious reasons. I hope it isn’t Heaven, because that would imply a God resides here, and I may have some explaining to do. I doubt it is Heaven or Hell, because I am neither in unimaginable pain, nor am I encompassed by a feeling of omnipotent Love. No, just me.

    And time passed, I am sure, but I don’t know how long for. I was OK. No expectations when it is just me. I just thought; no need to talk because I can hear me perfectly every time. And when the time had passed I realised that I had been walking through the Nothingness, and had in fact come a long way, and even though I wasn’t tired, I was ready to rest, because I got the distinct impression that I had arrived at somewhere to rest.

    And it was still me, but there was me and there were others. I didn’t know them, I was sure of that, even though they didn’t have faces that I could distinguish. Their faces were there, but they weren’t important, and so I didn’t see them. And their bodies, which were also there, were also irrelevant. But the others were good, and I knew that I had some good in me as well. So I arrived at where I was, and I rested. The others were around me, and they spoke to me, told me stories which never ended and sang ballads which looped like a beautiful, broken record, and they laughed the most pure, honest, healthy laughs that I had ever heard, and I heard everything that they spoke and sang and laughed, but it was silent, so very quiet, because silence is one thing that I love. And I know it went on forever, that it is still going on even now, but when I knew I was rested then I was ready, and I got up – and the others got up as well, but they started to dance – and while they danced, I ran and then when I wanted to walk I did, and when I wanted to skip, I did that instead. And it was still me, in every sense of me.

    I knew I had got to where I was going, wherever that was, and so I stopped, and I turned and I saw, to my relief, that the others were still there, still dancing, still perfect. I looked around me and I knew that I was going to stay here, because it was everything that was right and good and happy. It was like I was living inside a Prozac capsule, but it was better because it was perfect. And so I curled up where I was, and nothing hurt – my heart was as it should have been all along – and I was calm. And The Republic was open on Page 452, and I finished it, and it was as it should be. So I read it again, and again. And the others danced in the distance, but so close, danced perfectly timed steps while I read, alone.

    huh?
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    (Original post by hiding12)
    huh?
    that was the reaction I was hoping for.
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    are you sure thats a SHORT story??
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    Well that's depressed me.
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    (Original post by 123maz)
    are you sure thats a SHORT story??
    It's definitely short for a story! Haha. I'm not entirely sure it can really be classed as a 'story' though
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    (Original post by game of james)
    Well that's depressed me.
    Oh, sorry about that
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    I just read it and i liked the kind of circular structure you put in, the way the story started and fnished in the same place, reading the book??

    At some points I was like huh :eek: but i deffo wanted to read on!
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    (Original post by 123maz)
    I just read it and i liked the kind of circular structure you put in, the way the story started and fnished in the same place, reading the book??

    At some points I was like huh :eek: but i deffo wanted to read on!
    Ah, well I'm glad you liked it! It's a bit loose in that it doesn't really have a 'plot' as such, but I kind of wanted it that way haha.
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    (Original post by sammy-lou)
    Oh, sorry about that
    Did you write it? It's very good.
    I don't know why it was depressing, it was kind of happy I guess.
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    (Original post by game of james)
    Did you write it? It's very good.
    I don't know why it was depressing, it was kind of happy I guess.
    Oh yeah, I did. Thank you

    I wanted to end it on a happy note, but it is depressing in that it is kind of cynical of life in general I suppose, I'll give you that!
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    Very well written! I really enjoyed that, well done!
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    (Original post by Pandora.)
    Very well written! I really enjoyed that, well done!
    Thank you very much! Really glad you liked it
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    (Original post by sammy-lou)
    x
    I thought it was a very interesting read! You clearly like writing a lot, and I found it engaging, I think you're good at this kind of thing, do you plan to be an author, or study English/ related subjects at university, or do you just write for fun, because you have a great style!

    Keep it up, in what ever format
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    (Original post by Niki_girl)
    I thought it was a very interesting read! You clearly like writing a lot, and I found it engaging, I think you're good at this kind of thing, do you plan to be an author, or study English/ related subjects at university, or do you just write for fun, because you have a great style!

    Keep it up, in what ever format
    Thank you so much I'd love to write for a living but I do have a lot to learn, and I'd be worried I'd lose the passion for it if I had to do it as a job!

    But yeah, I'll be doing English at University from September, can't wait!

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