Daily Flash Fiction Challenge: Story #16
I am not supposed to be here. This…is wrong.
My lungs do not inflate. I have no breath. My heart is shrunken. It does not beat.
These hands though…these are my hands. Long and slender. Callused. But much too pale. There is no blood in my veins. No life.
And yet I’m here.
The ice thawed, my grave uncovered. The permafrost loosened and I was able to crawl forth, to stagger across the land. I was once forgotten, buried in distant lands of ice and snow, my body frozen in time. Now, I walk, my feet bare. But I do not feel the cold.
Time has passed. I do not recognize the towns I encounter. The people dress different. Act different. So much has changed.
I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know what force brought me back. People look at me and they shudder. I do not look like them.
I do not look alive.
My home is gone. A large building stands in its place. People mill about, carriages without horses fly by. I grab a long coat someone has forgotten and try to cover myself, blend in. Gazes slide off me now as if I am not there. No one notices my bare feet.
I know my family is gone. Too much time has slipped by. My stepmother, my father, my sister…all dead. I go to the cemetery to pay my respects.
But the cemetery is gone too.
The graves of friends and family have vanished. Another large building is there instead. I used to come here to visit my mother’s resting place. Was her grave moved, her body now elsewhere? Or did they build over her and all the others?
I walk into the building and crouch down, placing a hand against the tiled floor. People are looking at me again. I just want to know if my mother is there, beneath my feet. I just want one last goodbye.
But people are pointing now, whispering. I leave. If my mother is there, I hope she knows I did not abandon her. I did not agree to have her grave disturbed, to have people walking over her as if she were nothing more than dirt. We were treated like that enough when we were alive.
I wish to find my sister, but I do not know where she might be buried. Was she buried there, beside our mother, before it was destroyed? Is all my family crushed beneath these tiles?
I wander the streets, streets of a city I once knew but that looks so foreign now I am hopelessly lost.
Why was I brought back? To see the ravages of time? To see how we have all been forgotten?
I find a church. It looks familiar, the first thing in this city I once called home that I recognize. I go inside.
It is night now, the lights are dim. A handful of people sit, scattered across the pews, heads bowed.
I wander the edges of the nave. There are displays, artifacts and relics. I see a chalice I remember once being used. I see prayer books a neighbor once held.
I stop short at the next display. A record book is open inside the glass case. The church’s baptism registry. I recognize the date it is open to.
My name is there, on the page. Faded, but there. I put my hand to the glass, ignoring the sign saying not to touch.
My name. My parents’ names beside it. Proof that I once existed, that I once lived. Something that cannot be paved over and forgotten. Someone chose this page to display, someone saw my name, my record. Someone acknowledged that I once was.
What I am now, I do not know.
I leave the church. A breeze catches the flaps of my coat, and I hold it closer. I do not know where to go.
I pick a direction and start to walk.