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The Day I Died

(December 25, 1995)

5:a.m. – Rapid heartbeat, fluttering eyelids. Don’t know how long I can hold out. Gotta stay strong; can’t give up the ghost just yet. C’mon, Everett – you’re better than that, boy! C’mon, you can do it! Don’t let the Grim Reaper make you one of his own. Not yet, anyway. You’ve got so much to do, so much more to see. Can’t it wait another couple of years? I’m not ready to die.

    7:a.m. – Woke up sweaty, clothes clinging to my limp body. My body’s ready to give in, not my mind. Still sharp, know what’s going on; wait, let me feel my face – good, still warm. Wanna look in the mirror, but I’m scared of what I might see. They say your skin turns a deathly shade of pale when it gets close to that time. That time. Never thought it would happen this soon. Here I am, on the tail end of twenty-five – just getting started, just finding out who I am, what I’m about, and all that is about to be taken away from me. I’ve grabbed my spirit out of the chunk of debris that had been my future and now it seems to be all in vain. Could it really be? The end of me? Gonna fight it with all my might. I’m my father’s son, or so he says. A bastard, nonetheless, but my father’s son. Gotta win one for the Gipper. Oh, woe is me…

    9:a.m. – Managed to get dressed without looking in the mirror, feeling my way through the bulky sweater which usually kept my body warm; now, I feel cold as ice. Death is near. I know it. Didn’t want it, but I can’t fight it. Gotta face it. No way out this time. The gods have my number. Gotta face the music and dance…

    The doorbell? Who can it be? Not gonna answer it! No, no, you’re not gonna get me! Uh-uh, buddy! I know your tricks, man! Ya’ can’t fool me! Yeah, that’s right. Ring, ring, ring! I’m not gonna let you take me alive! No sirree, Bob! I’m not ready, yet. I need more time. Why me? What did I do to deserve this fate? What about my mother? She needs me. What about my family? Things’ll never be the same. All they’ll have left are memories of what once was, reminders of who I used to be. I can hear the male members of my family, the macho ones – “What a shame. He was so young…”

    12:p.m. – Can’t eat. No appetite. Wanna drink, but I’m not thirsty. Throat’s parched and dry. Can feel my body getting weaker and weaker, preparing to give up the ghost. It’s not supposed to be this way. Not from what I’ve read in the past. Aren’t there supposed to be trumpets and singing, a giddy kind of feeling? Sympathetic smiles all around? Instead, I feel cold, yeah, cold and shaky, like my body’s coming out of its skin. My head’s spinning, can’t tell the date, let alone the time. The clock on the wall is one big blur of dots and lines. I try to swallow; it seems to take forever for the big lump to go down. My head is pounding. Migraines never felt like this. I’m taking deep breaths now – that’s it, nice and easy, nice and slow. Never let ‘em see you sweat. Take your time now, like a good little boy. Remember when you got that ‘A’ in classroom behavior in second grade? Remember the discipline you had? That’s because you were a good little boy. And still it had hit you back then; this same feeling, only this time it’s more powerful, more controlling. I wanna fight it, but I can’t…

    It takes all my energy just to get a clear thought across to the other side of my head. My body, mind included, moves with a will of its own. I am no longer the master; I am the victim. I am under its spell.

    2:p.m. – I’m on the way out. My body’s on the floor, a limp, cold. I can’t move; my mind is willing, but the flesh is definitely weak. My breathing is slow and labored. I can’t muster the strength to move, let alone crawl. Wait a minute – there it is. I hear it! The singing – so loud and clear! Oh, it sounds so sweet. And what’s that smell – flowers! It’s starting to feel so, so… peaceful. The strength’s draining out of my body, but I don’t wanna fight it. In fact, I welcome it. I’m ready to give up the ghost. So quiet, so calm -what’s that prayer I used to say when I was smaller and handsomer? Oh yeah: Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to take. If I should die…

    The phone! Yes, I can hear it, clear as day! Such a sound so sweet…I slowly rise, taking care to step out of my former self. I look down at the crumpled shell of the man I used to be. He looks so cold, so tired, so…alone.

    I walk over to the phone, already knowing who it is, ‘cause I feel it in my heart. It is her voice I long to hear, her spirit I long to embrace. My former self would’ve laughed these feelings off as some cruel joke, but that me is no more. He is a stranger to me, a vague reminder of the past. Now, the future is staring me right in the face and I want to embrace her with my will, my soul, my being. The old me was a frown; the new me is a full-fledged smile. I want to give of myself, something that was not possible in my previous incarnation. I am reborn. I am alive. I am in love.

By : Everett T. Ruth

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