Water Flashed Before My Eyes
He did not see his life flash before his eyes. He saw water.
I was told that at the moment of death I would see my life flash before my eyes. Stumbling through the desert that day, I expected to soon see everybody that I had ever loved, or a moment from my childhood. However, I instead saw nothing but water, the only antivenom to my terminal dehydration. Death seems to bring the victim what they most desire, with that often being more time – hence the lifetime of memories flooding in. I only wanted water.
Squinting in disbelief, I noticed an ocean in the distance. How peculiar of a sight, for I was hundreds of miles away from any ocean or body of water. The waves were calm, summoning me, manipulating my empty salivary glands to squeeze out their last drop of moisture. Surrounding this sight was desolate sand, likely untouched by anybody, ever. The only life that seemed to exist were the birds that circled me, hoping for me to fall imminently. The more I studied the water in front of me, the more I noticed intricate details: specific hues, melting from navy into sapphire; light shimmering from the surface like a thousand crystals; a lone sail in the distance, fading in and out of existence. The sun continued to beat down, evaporating all liquid from my system and painting my cheekbones crimson, which was just noticeable in my peripheral vision. The beacon of painful light was surrounded by a pool of blue, unfortunately not broken by the safety of a cloud. Despite this obstacle, I continued to aimlessly wonder towards destination unknown.
Suddenly, delicate droplets of rain began to fall, yet no clouds supplied them. At first, they fell slowly, trickling from the sky as if by accident, and I grasped every piece, savouring it. They multiplied, and a storm soon erupted, so powerful that it began to hurt. I spun, I danced, I ran in the crowd of water, appreciating each rejuvenating droplet. The sky was still blue. I slicked my hair back, washed my face that had been tortured by the sun for days, fell to my knees, pronouncing myself a slave to the glorious stream. The sky was still blue. I stuck my tongue out, finally attempting to rehydrate myself, but then I felt nothing. I opened my eyes, and there was no water to be seen. The sky was still blue.
After a taste of euphoria, the desert seemed drier than ever. My footsteps, the only proof of my journey, were being covered by more sand, so I was further isolated, clueless of where I had come from. I watched as a small gust of wind pushed a handful of sand over the spiral that I painted whilst dancing, with the moment then fading from history, forever. In each direction was overwhelming emptiness. Maybe there were once kingdoms and populations that thrived here, but all were now reduced to dust. I would soon join these fallen royals, fading into extinction.
In the distance, the ocean still seemed to exist. The lone sail, once just a silhouette, was clearer. I imagined diving into the pools that the boat floated in. I imagined the weightlessness of being submerged, watching the bubbles float to the surface, all of which craving a glimpse of what was up there. “Don’t do it,” I would tell them. “Life is so much better down here.”
Whilst fanaticising, I felt moisture on my feet. Looking down, I noticed that a small stream was cutting through the sand. I stopped, allowing the liquid to nurse my feet, which had been abused for days by painful plodding. My eyes followed the stream in the direction that it was flowing from, and I saw what seemed to be a flash flood heading towards me. Rather than flee, I found the energy to sprint towards it, and was soon hit by a wall of water. It punched the air out of my chest, but it was the most satisfying of pain. I lay on my back, allowing it to take me away, careless of the destination. I quivered from pure pleasure, admitting defeat to the beautiful disaster. I opened my mouth, craving the medicine that I floated in, hoping to feel the relief of the water slide down my oesophagus and lubricate everything inside of me. I was, instead, thrown to the ground, and the water disappeared. I lay, lifeless, with a mouthful of sand.
From where I was lying, the ripples in the sand could have been a calm ocean. However, they were a harsh representation of the absence of liquid. It must have been years, decades, since it was last graced with the beauty of rain. There was no shrubbery, nor green of any sort: only a dirty golden sand, stabbed with dying or dead trees. I pushed myself to my feet, picking up a handful of sand, and watched it pour from every crevice and crack, joining the rest of the dust and becoming insignificant.
The ocean was now growing larger, wrapping around the skyline. The boat was approaching further, so much so that I could see its small wooden body, painted white with a rim of blue. It had a white sail which was carried by a mouthful of wind, and it seemed to be heading towards me. Finally, I had a destination – a purpose.
I drifted in and out of consciousness, with the world around me blending into a mere blur. A colourful blotch appeared in it, and I could have sworn that it was somebody else. It soon flickered into existence. It was a past lover, somebody that I once hurt. She stumbled closer. I had forgotten her name. None of her features made any sense apart from the tear falling down her face. It looked like liquid gold, trapping the sunlight. I watched the particle of light dance inside of it. It left a trail of phosphorescence down her cheek, continuing to gracefully fall, dodging the crease of her nose and the corner of her mouth. It continued on its journey, stroking her face, hydrating it, before reaching her chin. It stayed there for a while, and I walked closer to admire it. Tt soon fell, doing so in slow motion. After what seemed like hours, the petite pool of gold was absorbed by the thirsty sand and faded out of existence. My past lover had perished into dust, with her only intention being to tease me with the tear. I scoured for it in the sand. There was no hope of finding it, but I needed the optimism.
The hopefulness soon diminished into pessimism after realising I was simply a victim of the sun, a prisoner of nature. Days of walking had led me nowhere, and I was being manipulated, antagonised, teased by my own mind. Maybe I was being punished, but I would not wish the torment on my worst enemy.
I squinted in order to make sense of what was in front of me, and noticed the ocean, now almost in touching distance. I was too weak to reach it. I fell to my knees, too weak to stand. I clasped the sand, trying to use it to pull myself closer to the water, but it perished as I attempted to hold onto it.
I had admitted defeat, but a shadow grew ahead of me, blocking the sun for a moment. It was like heaven, away from the light, but I quickly questioned what had gifted me this beautiful shade. I lifted my head, draining the final drop of energy that I had, and saw that the white sail of the boat was my saviour.
“It’s time to go,” a voice told me, and I could only assume it came from the boat. “Let go, and sail with me for eternity.”
I could see nobody, but the offer was too lucrative to refuse. A hand helped me up, cradled me, and placed me in the boat. It had marks of experience, scars of beauty. I surfed my hand across the wood, and the blisters and cuts from my journey seemed to heal. Another gust of wind carried us away from the countless miles of sand and over the horizon. Delicate ripples of water, like a beautiful ribbon, surrounded us. I placed my hand in it, breaking the surface and making small circles which seemed to glow. It left a trail behind the vessel in case I ever wanted to return. It was unlikely that I ever would.
I watched the sand fade into nothing, diminishing into only a memory. I no longer needed water; I no longer needed anything. I only allowed myself to drift away, for what would be forever.