“I’m going to tell you what the sun feels like to a dead man. “
I spoke to nothing because nothing was all that was left when the end didn’t come. It’s like the universe in a bottle, confined with no end. The sun would be merciful if only I could fly that far.
The sun is a ball of fire, when far away from humans, it burns the top layer of their skin. I was human once, and I can vaguely remember strolling along the Sicilian coast basking in the sunlight. I think that happened, just as I think I remember the taste of fresh bread and fruit. These things are distant, but the sun to a dead man is something I can relate to. At the moment, the sun is digging its fingers into my flesh and sending tingling sensations from top to bottom. My head hurts, it’s filled with thousands of buzzing insects throbbing beneath my scalp and my fingers, they are growing, stretching outward expanding the bed of my nails. The vast network of my circulatory system is alive with burning blood. I feel it and it’s as if I am human, but not quite. My objective is to let the sun finish burning me. I have high hopes, although I’ve lost count of my suicidal attempts.
So why will it work this time? It won’t.
I open my eyes and they are alive with fire as well. My left eyelid sticks open, but I peel it free. There is little moisture and it is pink with my damned blood. I wipe the pale red splotches from beneath my eyes.
“It hurts. Good.”
“Why is it good for you to hurt?”
The voice is smooth and sweet, and It encases me in its loveliness. It sounds like a woman, and because I love to look at women so much, I have to see this one as well. I turn to see something moving against the backdrop of the treeline. It is thin, a momentary smudge in the green landscape. I watch the thing grow bigger, painting a gray smudge against my surroundings. This is no ordinary woman, this one is a phantom.
The gray soup boils in the air. It turns and swirls creating knots of solid looking pieces. The pieces meld together and pull into portions. Two portions form hands and one large ball of smoke forms a mass high and center. A head and face, surrounded by red billowy hair frames the image making an expression. It smiles.
She was beautiful, or rather her own memory of herself was comely. I know a bit about phantoms and that’s how it works. When you see a ghost, you are only seeing an image of how the dead saw themselves in life. Of course, they could be projecting the most attractive rendering of themselves to date, but either way, a ghost was only a memory incarnate. I’ve seen only a few ghosts before. My brother was a phantom, he came to me long after his death. His apparition was the only one I had encountered until I moved to the New World. Here, I saw things that weren’t ghosts, they were something else.
“Seems as though you’re deep in thought, sir.”
“yes, I was thinking of…phantoms, to be exact, demons rather. Are you friend or foe?”
She looked confused by my question. The features contorted sending tendrils of gray spinning away from her face.
“Friend or foe? I came to say hi. It’s not that serious, you know.”
I saw a scowl form on her lips and even though she was dead, she was adorable. I thought she might enjoy a little teasing.
“Well, I believe you’ve come for me soul. I am damned and God has sent you to fetch me, right?”
Her scowl deepened. “I guess you are going to be a pain in the arse. This was a mistake.”
The beautiful girl’s form began to fade. Her face faded back into the gray mist that birthed her. I immediately felt regret.
“Wait, I’m sorry. Won’t you please come back and speak with me.”
But that phantom lady lied. She swirled around me and hovered just above my head. I looked up to see her pretty face. She gasped and pulled back into the cloud.
“I saw you there.” I pointed while looking up. “So Come out and speak with me. I promise I will behave this time.”
It was silent. The sun of high noon was dampened somehow, and all around me, the air grew cold.
“Is that better?”
Her voice was sweet and filled with pain.
“Is what better, my dear?”
“The sun was hurting you, burning your eyes. I thought about shielding you and there you have it. It worked.”
I laughed, for I realized what she had done. IF heaven had come down to protect me, it would be something like this. Too bad I didn’t want protecting. She seemed amused by her feat, I heard her tinkling laughter on the wind.
“I did good, right?”
“Not really. Why do you think a vampire is out in the noonday sun? Why do you think I’m not burnt to a crisp?”
She gasped. “So, you are a vampire then. Wow, how do you stay alive? Is the sunlight thing just a fantasy story?”
“Well, partially. Besides, I’ve been coming out here for quite some time now.”
“Why? Do you like the sunlight, then?”
“I have no preference. The sunlight brings back memories, no doubt, but I am angered by the sun.”
“Then why do you come out here?”
I wasn’t sure of the reason myself. I only wished she could read my mind and be done with it. How could I explain the complexities of the whole thing?
Her face formed right in front of mine. She was grieved by what I was saying.
“Would you like to read a book which never ended?”
She didn’t speak. Her gray mist didn’t attempt to help her form words this time, at least not for a moment. I saw something in her face, something familiar. Her countanence hardened then and I knew she was about to lay on me, what Jim always referred to as, “a revelation.” She wasn’t just a spectator here.
“You understand, don’t you?”
Her expression softened and melancholy took the place of her anger.
“I know how it feels to never have an ending.”
“How can you know what it feels like to never die? You’re dead.”
Her face changed somehow, the mist grew darker around her eyes. She laughed, and as she did, birds erupted from the pines on the border of the field. Her laughter was human and it sounded throughout the forest, making echoes. The silence and the creaking trees replaced her maddening laughter.
I felt a tickling sensation near my right ear. Words, silken and sad pressed into my ear. Although there were no biological mechanics in which she could form speech, and there were no fleshly lips in which to utter the words, she spoke regardless.
“Who says death is the end? You can stay out here until your flesh crisps to nothing and your bones dissolve, but…it doesn’t always end.”
I stood still letting her words move their way down into my being. I understood what she meant.
“So, why are you here? Why did you choose to speak to me? You cannot move on, can you? You’re trapped.”
She was gone, just as suddenly as she appeared. It wasn’t enough. I wanted to know why she was here in this time and this place.
“Why did you speak to me?”
But it was too late. She was gone, melted into the shadows that formed at the edge of the field. The sun dropped behind the clouds and drops of rain pelted my face.
Another day was ending but my end was nowhere in sight.