Onism

by Jace H.K. about a year ago in fiction

A boy and a crow discuss death.

Onism
Onism - n. the awareness of how little of the world you'll experience

The boy wore a black turtleneck, and he never heard the end of it from the crow. He always had a lollipop stick in his mouth, and he never heard the end of it from the crow. All he could talk about, that rivaled the crow's rambling, was death. This, the crow never heard the end of.

"Do you believe in God?"

"A higher power?"

"Whatever you call it."

"Yeah. Do you?"

"I think, to some regard, everyone does. Atheists believe in a higher power of science to explain everything. It's not like they worship it, but they believe we are here because of science. Same way Christians or Muslims believe in God and Allah putting us here."

The boy, Angel, did not remember how he got here. All he knew was that he was wearing blue jeans, a black turtleneck, and sucking on a Tootsie Pop. The crow didn't help him figure out how he got here. In fact, the crow brought on even more questions. The crow, Lyric, could change into a boy like him.

"If you believe in a higher power," Lyric began, "do you believe in the Devil?"

"That, I know, everyone does. Or, at least, the atheists I know. The agnostics, specifically. They'll tell me how there's no proof of God, yet are quick to believe that Hell, demons, and ghosts are real. To me? You can't have God without the Devil."

"So what are you?"

"Religiously?"

"Or spiritually."

"I'm religious, and that's all I'll put as a label. Call myself a Christian, and it doesn't include the possibilities of other religions being correct. I think there's truth somewhere in all of the beliefs. They can't have all come from nowhere."

"So you think myths are real?"

"You can't just come up with tales of the Olympians, can you? It's gotta be based on something. Nothing is original."

"That's presumptuous."

"I think," Angel recalculated, "that they saw something. The people of old. We can't dismiss something just because 'uncivilised' people wrote about it in stone."

Lyric landed on a bench in front of Angel, a flutter of black feathers revealed his human form. He looked at him curiously.

"Headstones, then?"

"What about them?"

"Does something always deserve to be written in stone?"

"Do you mean should we bury and mark our dead? I think we should."

Lyric tipped his head to the side.

"Well..." Angel clicked his tongue. "We should have the choice. Burying our dead can have the effect we didn't anticipate it to. It's hard to forget the dead when you've poured money into keeping their memory alive."

"That's a little cynical."

"As someone who has had to do that? It's just my truth."

"So you've not forgotten your dead?"

"No. I don't anticipate I will."

"Why not?"

"I feel a sort of obligation to them, in a way. They made my life a life worth living. I think it's cruel to just forget them. You aren't needed to visit them every day of your life, but shouldn't you take the time to let them know you care?"

"Do they care?"

Lyric lit a cigarette, blowing the smoke to the side. Angel crossed his arms.

"They might. We have no way of knowing the afterlife. They might still be with us, on Earth."

"If they aren't?"

"Then I suppose it might not matter. But, again, the conversation of money. Why waste money on burying and marking your dead if you're just going to leave the grave to grow weeds?"

Lyric shrugged, standing up from the bench. He slipped off his blazer, tying it around his waist.

"What do you think it takes to get to Heaven?"

Angel pursed his lips. "Not much, I hope. I don't imagine serial rapists and other monsters like that find their way through the pearly gates. But I think everyone else could be... accepted. If they want."

"If they want?"

"I think it also takes a conscious decision to reach Heaven. If you truly don't want to go there, I can't expect the higher power to argue. It'd be useless, wouldn't it?"

"I think that if the higher power had the option to bring whoever they wanted, they would do it. I don't think some human deciding they want to see what Hell looks like will be able to tip the scales like that."

"I suppose you're right."

Angel placed his arm across Lyric's shoulder, gazing up at the sky.

"Where is Heaven? Or its equivalent, anyway?"

"Not up there. Wouldn't make much sense. If what we know is true, scientists would have found Heaven a long time ago."

"So where? Another dimension?"

"I think if we were able to find it, it wouldn't be Heaven, would it? Hell, too."

"We can't prove it?"

"If we could, anyone—living or dead—could walk right in, couldn't they?"

"Like in mythology."

"Exactly. Can't have a random Joe Blow thinking he's Hercules, could we?"

Angel laughed. "Definitely not."

A breeze blew through Angel's hair, the first time he'd actually noticed the elements. He'd not realised the world was the world the entire time he'd spent talking to Lyric. He wondered, for the first time, where the other people were.

"Time is a construct."

"That was random," Lyric noted.

"Not really. See, when people are dying, they often say they haven't, or have, had enough time. Who's to judge how much time we need?"

"Nature?"

"Even natural causes aren't natural anymore, are they? In the Bible, people lived into their hundreds and on. Now? We're lucky to be the few who reach a hundred. What constitutes 'natural' anyway? Because someone dies of a heart attack doesn't mean that's natural. That usually means something unnatural was happening to them. Heart failure and any other organ failure means something fucked up along the way. Natural would be just to disintegrate, wouldn't it?"

"Disintegrate?"

"We came from the earth. It'd make more sense for natural to just return to it."

"Wouldn't that be painful? To disintegrate?"

"Pain is natural. Everything everywhere feels pain."

"Plants?"

"Grass alerts other grass to death when we cut it. We can assume that means pain."

"Grass fears death."

"But it's learned to live with it, like we all have."

"Do you fear death?"

Angel stopped walking, taking a deep breath. "Yeah. I really do."

"Why?"

"Because it, as it is for everyone, is unknown. The only people who know what it's like are people who've died."

"Wouldn't it be better not to fear it?"

"It'd be better not to fear anything, but we're human."

Lyric linked arms with Angel, coaxing him to keep walking. There, Angel noticed, to be no pattern to when his companion shifted back into a crow. He'd met him in that state, but he was less shocked than he thought he would be when it had happened. He wondered if maybe movies and creativity ruined the surprise.

"Does Heaven have a static form?"

"What do you mean?"

"Does it change according to what one person imagines a utopia to be like? Or is it a constant thing?"

"Wouldn't it get confusing if it shifted to every person's preference?"

"Not necessarily. People tend to care more about smaller things than large things. If it were to change, it'd probably be to include maybe a meadow or more animals around them than for another."

"What about the other people?"

"It wouldn't be paradise without the people. Even an introvert would have to agree. It would be Hell if you were left alone."

"What if it was just you and the higher power?"

"At least you'd have someone to talk to. I would lose my mind if I died to find that—in exchange for a movie theater in Heaven—there would be no one there. The whole reason people are so excited to die, usually, is that they can see their lost loved ones again."

"So you would rather have a static form of Heaven, maybe one that looks like a suburban neighborhood, just so you can see people again?"

"People make memories, not places."

Lyric tossed his cigarette onto the pathway, quickly replacing it with a new one. The haste wasn't lost on Angel.

"What would be the worst way to die?" Angel asked.

"I don't know. There's a lot of ways we can die."

"But, in your opinion, what's the worst?"

"I think old age might be the worst, for me."

"Why?"

"Because you have to continue your life. You have to see your friends and family grow and die. You, yourself, are slowly dying. You can feel it, can't you? If you just... I don't know, get shot? It's done. You can go to the afterlife without having to go through the lasting torture."

"Hm." Angel sighed. "I'd never thought of it like that."

"What about you?"

"Alone."

"That's hardly a way to die."

"But it's a way. I'm not asking for someone to be right there with me, hurting as it happens. But I don't want to be absolutely alone when I go. I want there to be someone who remembers how I went."

"That's selfish, isn't it?"

"Maybe. But we're all selfish, aren't we? We're social beings, anyway."

"So you would be content with a... crosswalk guard watching as you die in front of their eyes? But you wouldn't want say, your mother, to be with you as you go."

"I wouldn't be happy, either way. But I'd feel more comfort knowing someone might try to help my family or me, than for them to find out I died out in a canyon somewhere."

Lyric finds another bench and lays down on it, shifting slightly so that Angel can sit beside him. They gaze up at the trees that line the path. They blow lazily in the wind, a light rattle filling the quiet air.

"If you could bring someone back from the dead, would you?"

"No. I don't think I would."

"Why not? Everyone talks about doing it."

"But it shouldn't be done, should it? You die, you die. If you do something to bring them back, it'd drive you and them crazy, wouldn't it? That's selfish."

"Why crazy?"

"Because if you bring them back, you're going to hate it when they inevitably leave. Say I bring back a partner I lost, right? If I bring them back, then I won't want them to go. I'd get overprotective or something similar. And when they have to go again, it might bring me to a place I can never come back from."

"So you'd never want to see them again?"

"Not like that."

"What about immortality?"

"I'd rather have invincibility, if that was an option."

"Why?"

"Immortality means that, like you said about old age, I'd have to watch the people I love age and die in front of me. Invincibility would mean I couldn't get hurt, but I'd die just like everyone else."

Lyric whistled. "Everyone forgets about that, don't they?"

They stayed on the bench, silent for a while. They listened to the autumn leaves hit the pavement with small taps. Angel was glad, at that moment, that it was just the two of them. A perfect moment, and he was happy other people weren't around the shatter it.

"How would you prefer to die?" Lyric questioned, sitting up and leaning on Angel's shoulder.

"I'd never thought about that."

"No?"

"I'd been too afraid. I only thought about ways I wouldn't want to."

"I'd assume that's a long list."

Angel nodded. "I think I'd prefer to sacrifice myself for someone I loved. Someone who would take it seriously."

"So you'd rather get shot or something, than die of old age?"

"I'm not agreeing with your sentiment. I'm just saying I'd like to die for something, if I had to. Not as a martyr, but in the most selfless way possible."

"But what if it was in vain?"

"I hope it wouldn't be."

Lyric thought for a while. "Would you ever like to know how you died?"

"I don't know. It would be helpful, for sure, to know how I die. But it might drive me crazy. I'd rather have a date."

"Why would a date be better?"

"Because I can plan my whole life around that date. I could figure out what I should prioritise. If I know how I die, it could be tomorrow or when I'm 70."

"Hm." Lyric scrunched his brow. "I'd rather know how I die. It might be fun to learn."

"What? Like you get decapitated by a roller coaster or swallowed by a Great White?"

"Wouldn't that be fun to know?"

"Only if it was something like that. If it was a car crash, I wouldn't want to know."

"No." Lyric sighed. "You wouldn't."

They stood up, continuing down the path. Lyric told Angel he was too tired to fly, answering the unspoken question that danced on the tip of his tongue. He was glad, though. He hadn't really wanted to explain to passers-by—wherever they might appear—why he was discussing things with a crow.

"Would you tell someone you loved them, if you were going to die in a few months?"

"Does this have to do with finding out the date or way you die?"

"That's part of it. But say you went to the doctor and they said you had a month to live. Would you go to someone you've liked for a while and tell them you love them?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"It's another idea of bringing someone back from the dead. If you set up a relationship, only for it to fail, why do it?"

"Isn't that the whole concept of a relationship?"

"If you tell someone you love them, what would you do if they told you they loved you too? Would you really put someone through that? I don't consider that love. It's more of a torture."

"But what if they're willing to ride it out with you?"

"I... I don't know. I wouldn't let them, I think. I'd want to protect them from a version of myself I'd rather they didn't see."

"That's selfish."

"So is anything regarding death, isn't it?"

Lyric put his hands up in surrender, not wanting to rile up his friend.

"What do you think about the concept of purgatory?"

Angel hummed. "I think it's just a waiting room. Either to go through shit or to reconcile with something you've done."

"Wouldn't that be the same thing?"

"Talking through things isn't always the same as going through your life and trying to right wrongs."

"True."

"I think purgatory does exist, but it'd be impossible to decide what it would look like. Unlike Heaven and Hell, I think it does shift to what the person needs to go through."

"So a killer would have to... what? Go through purgatory dealing with the people he's killed?"

"Maybe? How would we know?"

"What do you think yours would be?"

"I'd definitely be talking through things. But I don't know what the setting would be. Maybe a park I used to go to? A place I hold close, for sure."

"Hopefully you never learn."

"I don't agree. I think we should reconcile with our lives before we go to Heaven or Hell. I think purgatory would be your last chance for the higher power to decide where you go."

"So if a rapist dealt with his demons here, and felt remorse, the higher power would let him in?"

"We aren't the higher power, are we? Again, there'd be no way we'd know. I'd like to think purgatory would set people straight enough to realise that they deserve where they end up."

"Do you think you can get stuck in purgatory?"

"I think if you're stubborn or can't figure out what it is you need to deal with, yeah."

"That'd be pretty common then, wouldn't it?"

"Why? Because humans are stubborn?"

"Yeah. You can't expect everyone to immediately know what they have to work through."

"I suppose so. I guess I have a little more faith in people."

Lyric smiled. "Here's a question."

"Shoot."

"How good do you have to be to be considered a good person?"

"I think, and it's not even a new revelation, that good and evil are... subjective."

"Oh?"

"This might make me sound bad, but might as well. My friends would consider me mean or cruel because I'd laugh at death scenes or something similar."

"Okay."

"So that wouldn't make me good, in their eyes, would it?"

"But in your eyes you're good?"

"In my eyes, I'm innocent. I haven't done anything wrong to deserve the label of bad or evil. I just happened to laugh at something I had thought was funny."

"A death scene?"

"It's... you'd have to watch it to understand. But..." Angel thought. "... Even if you did, you still might not see it from my point of view. Hence subjective."

"I think that might not be a strong example."

"How about the... Good Samaritan law? Or whatever it's called?"

"What about it?"

"Well, you could claim you're doing something to save someone—which is good. But they could claim they didn't want your help and you only made things worse—which is bad. Everyone rules with the Samaritan, but there's still the people out there who think you've done something horrible."

"Hm."

"Anything that calls perspective into question is immediately subjective. So, answering your question, I suppose you just have to be on the right side of most laws."

"Laws? Why would that matter to a higher power?"

"Well, I think the higher power would care whether or not you were an absolute shitty person. I don't suppose the higher power would consider you good if you were sentenced for a triple homicide."

"I guess that's right."

Angel puts his hands in his pockets, looking at his feet, thinking. His mind races, so it's hard for him to focus on just one of the many thoughts. He'd always hated he could never find the right words or starters when talking to people. It was something he, unfortunately, got from his father. That, and a lot of personality quirks that would—he often joked—get him killed.

"Back to natural causes," Angel began, earning the quick attention of Lyric. "Why would people consider dying at a younger age from heart failure 'natural'?"

"In reference to what?"

Angel sighed. "My dad. He died at 42 from heart failure. I wouldn't really consider it natural, hence me never calling it that."

"Do others?"

"I think they wanted to believe that was his time."

"What caused it?"

"We aren't sure, actually. We had the thought of alcohol abuse."

"He was an alcoholic?"

"He was a lot of things, but yeah."

"I suppose, in a way, it's still natural. Many living things find death early because of natural things."

"Such as?"

"Well, there's poisonous plants out there that some animals are too stupid to realise could kill them."

"You're saying alcohol is like a poisonous plant?"

"Isn't it, though? It's a pretty natural drink. Oddly, more natural than the nature juices people are drinking nowadays."

"But no one dies from drinking too much Jamba Juice or whatever."

"No." Lyric shifted his gaze. "They don't."

Angel kicked a loose pebble in front of him, his mind now on one track. This was usually how it is for him, at any mention of his father. He didn't know why.

"Since his death, I've been imagining what life would be like if he came back."

"Like resurrected?"

"No. Like, he'd come home and say it was all a ruse."

"Why would he do that?"

"He was a," Angel snorted, "strange guy. It'd be complicated to get into it."

"Okay." Lyric nodded, respecting the boundary.

"I realised, often, that I didn't want him back."

"Odd thing to say about your dad."

"But true. It wasn't always sunshine and rainbows with him. Since he died I finally felt free."

"Really?"

"I felt like my mom and I could finally have the life we wanted. We could travel around, joke about things, redecorate. It was... it took a while to get used to, but if he came back now—I don't think I'd stay."

"That's a strong commitment."

"It was, sometimes, like having a warden. I love him, though. I just think his death helped me more than he could have while he was alive."

"Do you suppose most deaths are like that? Like parts of a rocket falling off so the capsule can continue?"

"That's exactly what I think of it as," Angel said. "I still grieve, but I think that the higher power does this for a reason."

"So you think we're on a sort of timer? Everytime it dings, someone dies to help someone live?"

"Not like that, not necessarily. I suppose it's more of a destiny thing. You make your choices throughout life, and it leads you on a Choose Your Own Adventure story. Often, we die before reaching the goal. The higher power provides the book, but it's our choices that define the end."

Lyric took a long drag of a cigarette, blowing out the smoke in front of them.

"I have a hypothetical conversation for you," Lyric prompted.

"Go ahead."

"Alright." Lyric glanced at Angel. "If you died, would you come back?"

"As a ghost?"

"Or a guardian angel. Whichever. That doesn't matter."

"I think it could be fun. I'd like to The Lovely Bones around. I often joked with my friends about haunting them."

"What if, bear with me, you could only come back to a purgatory state? Like, you could be a ghost or whatever, but in purgatory?"

"It'd mean I'd have to help someone, wouldn't it?"

"I guess."

"I wouldn't mind that. I'd just like to have some variety in death. If I can't stand to stay one place in life, I'd imagine I'm the same way in death."

"Yeah. Okay."

"That was random, Lyric. What prompted that?"

"I dunno. You just talking about your dad, I wondered if you would ever want to come back."

"I wouldn't want to be alive again. But I'd like to wander around without earthly constraints, you know?"

"Yeah, but I'm a crow, so I don't really have the same problems."

Angel laughed. "That's true. God, but I don't know. It'd be interesting to hear what people go through in purgatory."

"It would be wouldn't it? But aren't there like... laws?"

"Like, what? You can't tell them they're dead or something? I feel like you would know. Wouldn't the place look different than what they're used to? Like a dream, at that point?"

Lyric shrugged, "Don't really know how I'm supposed to know."

The two walked in silence, surveying the place in which they were. Angel couldn't place exactly the place, but he knew it was a cemetery. He'd meander around the cemeteries of places he'd visited often. It wasn't a Stephen King-like obsession, he told himself, it was just a place of peace. Unnerving ambiance, but peace. He couldn't go to the one his father was, as much as he'd liked. He always seemed so unprepared for the elements and insects that claimed the place as their kingdom. That, and it was almost half a world away, now. He hadn't been to his father's gravestone in almost a decade. He wondered whether he should fly back there, maybe for his father's anniversary. It was almost time. He couldn't place the date of today, though. He asked Lyric, but the crow was just as clueless. He decided not to push it.

"Can we walk around the headstones?"

"Why?"

"I think we've taken the perimeter two too many times."

Lyric shrugged. "If you want. I should've brought an ashtray."

"I don't think many people care if they find cigarette butts. As long as you don't toss it onto a grave."

"I'll try not to."

Angel led the way, taking each row. He didn't study the names, just glanced at them. It was the dates he was more interested in. Math wasn't his strong suit, but he felt he owed it to them to know their ages. That would be the last thing they held onto, he thought. You might forget where you are, but you would remember the memories—and age plays into them.

"That's just depressing."

"You'll have to be specific," Angel called back to Lyric.

"This." He vaguely gestured.

Angel turned his head to look, noticing a seemingly abandoned plot. The placer placard and the simple headstone were all that donned it.

"Hm," Angel pursed his lips, looking around.

"What are you thinking about?"

"I'm trying to see if there are flowers nearby."

"You're not going to steal from someone, are you?"

"Would that make me good or bad?" Angel posited, jogging over to a patch of dandelions.

He plucked them up, and handed half to Lyric—who had to juggle it between his lighter and cigarette.

"Weeds?"

"Flowers, Lyric. Flowers."

Angel laid his half at the head of the grave, making a little X with them. He watched as Lyric placed them on the headstone.

"Doesn't that feel nice?" Angel asked.

"To put something we didn't have to buy on a stranger's grave?"

"No. To help remember them. Isn't that a thing in other cultures? You oughta remember them otherwise what they disappear? Is that what it is?"

Angel rambled onto himself, trying to remember. It was getting more difficult, he noticed.

"It did," Lyric finally said, placing his hand on Angel's shoulder.

"Good. I did it when I could, you know? Sometimes I'd have to just do what I did. Money was usually a problem."

"At least you did what most don't."

"Heh, yeah. I guess."

They walked together down the rows, sometimes stopping to pay their respects with flowers. Soon, Angel noticed a patch of fresh dirt ahead. It was a bit far, but he noticed no one was there. He looked around for the gravediggers or other caretakers, but there seemed to be a lack of anyone at the cemetery.

"Aren't they supposed to fix it?"

"What?"

"The grave." He pointed to the plot. "Aren't they supposed to make it look nice?"

"Maybe they needed to get new tools or something."

"I don't know. Let's go look."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I mean, no one's there, right? It's not like we're grave robbers."

"Not yet. Depends on what might be there."

Angel shook his head smiling. He slugged Lyric's shoulder before heading off to the gravesite. There was power in his step, and it took Lyric a little to catch up to him.

The sun had started to set a while ago. By the time Angel had reached the plot, dusk had begun to fall onto the cemetery. He couldn't read the name, but he began smoothing the dirt regardless.

"Don't wipe that on your turtleneck."

"Can you help?"

Lyric groaned, kneeling on the opposite side of Angel to help.

"Did you manage to read the name?"

"Hm?" Angel didn't look up from the dirt.

"Read the name?"

"Oh. No. It's too dark."

"Would you wanna? I do have a lighter."

"Okay."

They stood next to each other in front of the placer placard and Lyric flicked open his lighter. He held it next to it.

"That's," Angel whispered, "a hell of a coincidence."

"I didn't know that was the date."

"Excuse me?"

"What?"

"That's today?" Angel asked incredulously.

"Well, I mean. Maybe."

"Don't burials take a while? Like, autopsies and payment take a bit."

"Do they?"

"My dad's took a month. Exactly a month."

"Maybe that's what happened here. I don't really think that today is November 4."

"Why?"

"Not enough leaves have fallen. Doesn't it happen in late October?"

"I... guess. Huh. I just. Didn't think there were a lot of people with my name walking around."

"It's actually more common than you think. Any Facebook check could tell you that."

"Still," Angel stared at the placard. "They died at the same age as me. I don't..."

Lyric flicked closed the lighter, standing between Angel and the placard.

"Don't. This is... was supposed to happen a bit better. I guess this happened faster than I anticipated."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Angel, don't get this way. Calm down."

"I'm perfectly fucking calm. I just... What do you mean 'you anticipated'?"

"I. Hm. I'm your guide."

"Through purgatory?" Angel murmured.

"Yeah."

His heart dropped, but he didn't feel what he thought he would. He thought, in his life, that he would be angry or sad. But he didn't have a word for what he felt. He felt longing, but that—he knew—couldn't encompass everything.

"I have to figure this out myself, don't I?"

Lyric shook his head. "Seems you have. You know you're dead. I can tell you anything."

"I... how long ago did I die?"

"A month ago."

"How?"

"Are you sure you want to know?"

"Will it really make a difference?"

*

I was driving with my friend. We were going on a small road trip before she left for greener pastures. We were wildly aware that we'd never see each other again soon, so we wanted to make the best of it. I wore clothes I knew would make her laugh. A turtleneck? Mom jeans? Ratty old converse? It was something I'd never wear myself, but I wanted this to be in our memories for as long it could be. We were listening to some new pop song on the radio, she worshiped the radio. I wasn't too into it, but I wasn't in the mood to argue.

We had stopped at a 7/11 where I got a Tootsie pop. I was forced to pay it out of my own pocket. It was worth it. I don't know why she got a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. She wasn't a smoker out of habit. It was a thing she would do if others were. She knew I hated cigarettes.

We pulled out of the parking lot and found ourselves on the highway. She decided, then, to open the pack. It was common for rainfall, why wouldn't it be? I don't know what she was thinking. A car chose to cut us off, I don't know what they were thinking. She slammed on the brakes, but it wasn't good enough. We swerved and... I don't remember anything after that.

I thought trauma had erased the memory. My life was polka-dotted with car accidents. I figured my mind had had enough. There was a reason I never drove.

*

"At least you didn't die alone."

"No, I didn't. But I hurt someone I loved."

"Would having known your death changed your decision to get in that car?"

"I don't think so. I loved her. I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I hadn't. What if, because I went with her, I saved her life? Would she have died if I hadn't been there?"

"There's no way to know."

"Is she alive?"

"Barely."

"Is she alive?"

"Her mind is, but her body isn't what she wants it to be."

"I didn't save her."

"But was it in vain? What if you're right? That she might have died had you not been there?"

"I don't know if I want to know that answer."

"But you asked."

Angel wiped the tears from his eyes. "My mom. What is she going through?"

"She's heartbroken."

"I don't... want to be here."

"There's nowhere else to go, Angel. You're here. You can't change that."

"I didn't want to die before her. No parent should have to know their kid died."

"No one should know anyone died."

Angel took a deep breath, gazing at the crow in front of him.

"And who are you in all this?"

"I'm your ghost. Your guardian angel."

"But who are you?"

"It doesn't matter. I'm not who I was. Purgatory changes for everyone. I'll be surprised if I look anything like how I truly do."

"The cigarettes."

"Oddly enough? A vice I can't give up. It's a coincidence."

"Am I buried here? Is this actually my grave?"

"Yes."

"They never stopped the burial. We're just... alone here."

"Yes."

Angel looked around, trying to keep his tears from falling. It was then he noticed the silent crows in the trees above. They all watched, but none of them watched.

"Who are they?"

"Everyone else."

"My dad is one of them?"

"One of them. But he doesn't know what's happening here. To him, it's just a room in a building he's yet to explore."

"So where is he?"

Lyric bit his lip. "I can't say."

"I might not see him?"

"I can't tell you that."

"Why? I thought you said a higher power wouldn't care?"

"No. But human stubborness is one of the strongest things in the world." Lyric chuckled lightly. "I wouldn't want you to take a risk."

"I'll never see what I spent my whole life hoping for, will I? Never know true love or see different countries."

"Don't say that. You have no idea what the afterlife holds. To say never means that you've got no hope. There's always a possibility of everything."

Angel ran his hands across his face. Knowing he should see this in a positive light, he thought as hard as he could about the memories he had.

"I want Heaven to have cherry blossoms. I want to be able to see my dog, my cats. I want to see a kid I hardly knew but treated as my best friend." He looked at Lyric. "I want to see you."

Lyric smiled, holding out his hand. "Come with me."

Angel grabbed his hand, and was led out to a clearing. They passed old headstones that slowly formed into tall trees. He had no idea where he was, and it sent an odd feeling into his bones. Lyric walked in front of him, and let go of his hand. Without looking back, he shifted back into a crow.

As he did so, a lightness filled Angel's body. He rose into the air, chasing after Lyric. They flew together, laughing as they did it. The feeling was new to Angel, but he embraced it. A freedom, one he desperately wanted his family and friends to feel.

Lyric coasted from on high to the treetops, and Angel followed. From the air, he saw it. Everything he wanted. Blossoms flew beside him, and he could see the blurs of fur of his pets. They landed, and Lyric took his hand. He led him to a pavillion where people he both knew and didn't had gathered. Amongst the crowd he saw the kid. Neither knew each other well, but they acknowledged each other. He saw a tall man, with a sense of kindness in his eyes. He knew him instantly.

It had been a while, hadn't it?

fiction
Read next: Run Necromancer
Jace H.K.

I write nonsensical pieces.

See all posts by Jace H.K.