Leaving And Returning (2006)

Leaving And Returning
By T.M. Schultze

You and I once played in these same fields that spread for miles, you and I were one of those beautiful children playing games with no winners or losers, frolicking in a world full of flowers dotted with stunning majestic oak trees. Here, they need not grow up, they need not grow, they have no parents, no cares, just a seemingly infinite lifetime of play and laughter.

The sky of this world is a brilliant white, a fantastic striking glow that soothes the skin and comforts the mind. But heaven it is not, for hidden in the distance is an approaching menace, at first a little spot of darkness moving over the horizon, small like a pencil point moving up the page, but it soon splotches overhead like wet black paint thrown across a canvas. Most scurry in the distance, they know what is coming, fearful of the advance, hiding in bushes or behind a tree, but one of the kids, intoxicated by playtime like you and me before him, does not heed this warning.

Suddenly, an ominous hand grabs his shoulder, the man in black says, “Child, we are going on a long trip. Come with me. We are leaving this world.”

The inquisitive child resists but this demon’s awesome power is too much for escape, and the youngster pleads with the man in the dark, musty, trench coat to explain why he must leave this beautiful place, why he was chosen, and whether he will ever see these golden fields again. The child’s tears flow down his face for the first time when he is told by this repulsive man of another world, full of war, disease, sin, violence, pain, heartbreak, and most excruciatingly, death, all of which he must overcome.

The man tells the child, who is crying for the first time, “you can return to this world after you die in the next,” and the kid realizes that these pastures hide a hideous dark secret.

Just then, all his surroundings turn to black, he falls into a hole which opens up underneath him, and down the birth canal goes the terrified, screaming child, whose beautiful existence, before existence, is taken away. And even when they suck the goo out of his nose, wash away the mucus from his face, dry him off with a cheap hospital towel, and the mother rocks her baby to sleep for the first time, he cries, but not out of innate instinct, for in the first few seconds of his life he knows with utter dread this ugly world we live in before these painful memories turn to black.

“What a beautiful baby it is,” the mother says.

One’s life can be summed up in the one single moment where the beep of the heart monitor merges with its silence into one incoherent thought, where light and love are dark and lonely, mixed on the palate into a single painful grey, but somehow, black grows upon the concoction like a cancer, and all that is left for the artist is nothing.

The old man moves in and out of consciousness, he can faintly hear the rhythmic beep, unknown to him are his children at his bedside, who think they are comforting him. His shallow breathing is reduced to a hideous wheeze, he can feel the IV as it tugs at his arm like death has him chained to the ground, and the bright lights above remind him of something he can’t quite place.

Even when he closes his eyes, he sees nothing but light and in one second he remembers that this entire life amounted to nothing, because he must go back to a world where knowledge of all the depravities of this world must weigh upon his mind, and that playful child he once knew was lost forever. The plan was conceived before he entered this world. He is simply moving from one manifestation of Hell to another.

He wants to scream but he can’t open his mouth, he wants to kick his legs and swing his arms but the limbs don’t move, he can’t even swallow, he is struggling to think as he looks up to the light, and it is slowly fading, fading away, and everything in his might is not enough to move this pathetic body of his, its weight is too much for his soul, and as his mind slowly withers further away, light and dark are becoming one, but the darkness has made him so weak he can’t even keep his mind together enough to pray for forgiveness.

Lights out.

“He’s gone to a better place,” says the brother to his sister, with a hand on hers for comfort. “He’s gone to a better place.”

(2006)

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