Not everyone remembers the first time they die, but I do. It’s still a painful memory. Not because of the “actually” dying — yeah it hurt —but rather what came after.
Like the vast majority of people, I didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t a diagnosis or a sudden illness that took me. No, mine was far more straightforward. It came in the form of a heavy articulated truck.
I don’t remember much about the accident. I don’t remember if I was the driver or passenger of the mangled car. I do, however, remember the screaming. People screaming, and flashing lights, and the EMT’s putting my mutilated body on to a gurney. Somehow I was still there, clinging to life, through the blood loss and pain, I was still inside that shell I called a body.
I slipped a bit when we arrived at the hospital; the darkness was speaking to me, calling me to its everlasting embrace.
I struggled back, and the sterile white lights hurt my eyes. The plastic over my mouth stifled my murmurs pleading for whatever god there was to help me. I didn’t know if the answering cold was the deities response, but I took hold of the drowsiness creeping through my veins and let me soul slip.
The pain brought me back with a snap, it was so intense and hit me in waves. The voices surrounding me, they were scared and nervous; none sounded like a doctor should be. Calm and controlled.
I don’t know how long I lay scattered on that operating table. Hours? Days? Who knew? One thing I do know was hearing the screams again. The voice sounded vaguely familiar I thought back to the accident site. Did someone happen on my disfigured body and purged their throats? I wish it had been that truth; instead, it wasn’t some unfortunate soul wailing; the screams were mine.
Although the cold operating never left my back, I did leave that shiny table. Slipping into the darkness was a welcome relief from the torture of pain. So again and again, I let it swallowed me, and I swallowed it. I slowly became a part of it, and it became a part of me.
I remember screaming anew in the darkness, surrounded by unknown terrors. The things pulled me down with savage claws scalping my soul, cutting into the fabric of my being, crushing me with their wickedness, throttling me with their tentacles.
I remember screaming the whole time the light came; it was small at first, just a pinprick in the darkness, and I squirmed in the creatures grasp with all I had to reach it. The darkness surged and pulsed like a living thing, and the light grew. I struggled toward it.
Heat raptured me and compressed me; the terrors shied back from the brightness. Slowly, painfully slow, my twisted body crept closer to the feeble light. My limbs kicked at talons holding me and the pressure released. Again I squirmed toward the light. Pain flared in my head as something tightened around my throat cutting off my screams.
I gasped for air, sucking the foul stench of the darkness into my parched lungs. The light grew, and all at once the dark pushed, and the light pulled, until I was free. The brightness was so intense that I couldn’t see, just blurry outlines of shapes and colors.
The tightness around my throat lessened and then went completely; again I screamed with the new sharp air that filled my lungs. The cold chilled my heated skin; until I was picked up and place on something warm and squishy.
My mother cooed at me, and the fresh scent of her milk enticed me to her breast. I stopped my screams to suckle, and my nerves calmed.
They say: “When you are born, you scream not because you are born, but because you remember how you died. It just that when you grow older, you forget.”