Life During Death, or is it Death During Life?
For a time, I had wondered how people could look at life in a body and see anything but pain and misery. The pact we make to be here is to buy into the ego and accept that death is real, and that there are separate, other people, most of whom are only living for the material gain, or what they can leverage from other people. From the time we are babies we are little more than one big want. We cry, fuss and generally try to control our environment until we grow a little and decide we will dominate it instead.
Now I’m convinced that people are not happy at all, but instead they pretend to be happy, or become convinced that tomorrow will be different. Like living in a little terrarium and, every day, dinner is dropped in, and you think, well, tomorrow I’m sure they will drop in something terrific, much better than today. And the next day, and the day after that, and on and on it’s the same. Tomorrow will be better.
I thought that when I lived in New York. I’m not positive, but I think it was in the late 1920s. I was a woman, living scandalously alone, and working in an office. To say that I was plain would be kind. Thin, frail, always cold, I wore heavy woolen clothing and small hats with little, drab feathers. I walked with my head down and shoulders drooped so that I might disappear altogether. Everything frightened me.
I attended church a few times per week, and listened intently to the god of death and hatred. Fear filled my life, but death was even worse. I had nightmares about being helpless, tortured and raped. Banished too hell for the slightest thought of evil. God is merciful, god is vengeful; god is forgiving, god is angry and on and on, back and forth. I never once thought to open my mind past an eight-year-old catechism. My spiritual reflection was that of a frightened child, incapable of thinking for herself.
Everything about the time was dreadful, but beyond the day-to-day drudgery, there came a man with a particular malice. He was like a dark, shadowy beast following me to and from work. When I would turn to look at him from the corner of my eyes, he would turn away and act as though he were not following me. I would peek out my window in the middle of the night and there he would be, in a doorway across the street.
This went on for months. I was terrified. I stopped eating and sleeping, and because I had no friends, I was lost in my nightmare. At the time, I felt so uneasy that I started to lose any control of my mind at all. I would slip into cold shivers even in the middle of summer and always wore a heavy overcoat. And then all at once he was gone.
For a while I started to think that maybe I had made the whole thing up. And for a few weeks I felt as though a fever lifted. Skeptical of my own thoughts, I would go back and forth, was he real or was I making it all up?
It might have been in September, or maybe it was October, I’m sketchy on the details, but I remember it was raining. It had been raining for what felt like weeks. It was a slow, gentle, yet cold rain, that seemed to scrub the soul right out of you. I was walking to my apartment when a huge arm covered in a dirty rain slicker reached around me and lifted me off my feet. A menacing hug with whisky and cigar smoke breath. I wanted to kick my feet, but they were gripped in fear-induced paralysis. I wanted to scream but could not find my voice. My body was frail and light, and I was lifted like a child.
He carried me up a short flight of stairs and pushed me against the wall next to my apartment door and held me there with one hand while digging in my coat pocket for my keys with the other. As I recall it now, my feet were only about an inch off the floor but they may as well have been a mile in the air for what good they were to me. He dragged me inside, pulled out his handkerchief and stuffed it into my mouth and tied it in place with my scarf.
For the next three or four days, he kept me tied and naked. He would drink and smoke and then he would fuck, like some crazed beast. I’m not sure how I lived as long as I did. Dirty, lying in my own pee and with dried semen caked over my lower torso, my breath was shallow, and my wrists and ankles were caked with dried blood. I could feel an ache, like a toothache, but it was throughout my entire body. I wasn’t sleeping, but I wasn’t completely awake either. I guess I was drifting in and out. He would rape me, and I would be pulled back into my little body and then he would leave me and I would slip away.
Then one day he stabbed me to death, and I remember the knife piercing my skin and the heaviness leaving my body. At that moment, I was resolved that god didn’t exist at all. We are just animals; with the strong preying on the weak. Beasts consume what they want without even a shred of thought for anyone around them.
Maybe there is something to the thought that we use our minds to manifest our deepest desires along with our deepest fears. In that incarnation it would seem so, although I was gripped with so much fear for so long that I don’t recall having any dreams that I latched on to that I thought could really come true for me. From a young age, I was launched into a world that seemed completely viscous and cold. So perhaps it’s no wonder it didn’t end well. Even in this life, it can be difficult, sometimes, to find dreams that are beautiful and lasting. The world can seem cruel and miserable.
My spirit raised with the diminishing heat from my emaciated little body and hovered over the corpse for a short while and then drifted off. I was there long enough to watch my murderer masturbate over my now dead body, and felt a lingering animosity at the site. This general feeling of anguish and hatred followed me into the void and I clung to it like a life raft in darkness.