Following my recent post about potentially quitting poetry, I have found myself writing longer stuff, such as short stories. These have been a lot of fun to write, and I want to share my first one with you. It concerns death, our relationship with life, and the impact we make on Earth. This is called ‘I Will Follow You’.
I: The End!
Death isn’t scary, at least I think so. The way I see it, its just a part of life, its just that last bit where you tidy up your toys, before Mum sends you to bed. You’re already in your PJ’s, your day is done, and the light goes off. Is that so bad? I haven’t been well, for a while. They sent me to hospital for tests, and before I know it, I’m hooked up to machines, and my body is tearing itself apart on the inside. My Kidneys are failing, so they put me on dialysis. That’s just a precariously placed piece of Sellotape on some almost torn paper. I need a new Kidney, and I can’t wait for one.
Today was a bad day. I couldn’t eat or drink today, I guess my head said ‘fuck it’, and decided to finish the job, before the Kidneys could. Fuck you, head. And fuck you, Kidneys. You both suck. I think I fell unconscious. I remember the last noises I heard, as it all faded out. Like a beeping noise, and muffled shouting. It was the end.
II: The Wait
And then I woke up.
The Hospital room was empty. No one but me, and I was perfectly fine. Alright, I was absolutely terrified. There was no one there. ‘Hello?’ I shouted out into the corridor. It was eerie, a horror movie made flesh. Even the trees didn’t move. It was a disquieting silence. I had to ask:
‘Is this death?’
‘Hey.’ A chilled, feminine voice spoke. I turned, and there she was. She was smiling at me. Flustered, I replied: ‘Hello. You’re not what I was expecting’. it was the best response I could come up with, but she laughed, gleefully:
‘They never do’ she spluttered out, as she keeled over in her laughter.
I took a look at her, and she was beautiful. A pale, porcelain white face, with wild and curly brown hair. It was so long. Her round, brown eyes, almost black, looked at me with such warmth. And that smile was punctuated by perfect teeth, and a piercing, on her lower lip. And, of course, she wore black lipstick. Enamoured, as she swept her hair from her face with her ring covered hand, with her matching black nail polish.
I stood in silence, before recalling the situation. As far as I know, I am dead. This is death, and there she was to take me to the afterlife. This was the end. But she didn’t take me anywhere, she just stood there. Trembling, I had to ask her:
‘So, you are death?’ I inquired
‘I am Death’ She smiled in response. An unnerving response. So friendly and welcoming, for a guide to the afterlife. She scanned me, observing me. It was as if I was being checked.
‘Why are you not taking me away?’
‘This is purgatory’ she replied ‘You’re not dead yet, they’re still trying to fight for you. Until they do, we wait’.
She walked up to my bed, and sat down. I joined her, and we watched the garden for a time. Despite the nothingness surrounding us, the garden looked ‘alive’. Things were moving again, the trees were swaying in the light breeze. We could have been there for hours, days, weeks, months. Time had no real meaning.
Death turned to me, her eyes wide and open, with a certain eagerness to chat. She was inviting me to talk to her:
‘Why do people fear you?’ was the first question I asked.
‘They don’t know me. I am unknowable. Why do people like you?’ she retorted, and I was taken aback. She was relaxed, and had a sense of humour about her.
‘I don’t know. You could call me unknowable. I think I’m some sort of people magnet. I guess I have one of those faces’
‘You certainly attracted me’ she answered, before realising what she said, and we both laughed loudly. It took some of the anxiety away. As the laughter died down, we continued to look out of the window. She began speaking her thoughts to me:
‘Life is amazing. You’d think that I was the antithesis of life, but I’m not. I don’t choose who dies, or pick who goes where. I am just a guide. People come here, and they worry about what they left behind, or order to go back. You seem content with it all. You would follow me.’
‘Death isn’t scary, is it?’ I pondered to her
‘You sound so sure’ she retorted, with a brief smirk.
She clapped her black, Doc Marten Boots together, as her feet hung off the edge of the bed. Her black, high waisted trousers matched her outfit. She wore a 3/4 length knitted cardigan, over her seamless vest top. A large silver necklace, complete with skull pendent, completed her look.
‘I am sure. But no one knows about it’ I finally explained ‘We see people die, and we feel sad, because we lose them. But if Death is part of life, then why should we be sad?’
Death thought for a while, looking up to the ceiling as she was thinking, before she turned back to me:
‘There’s a phrase out there. You Only Live Once. That’s not true, you live everyday. You die once, but every other day, you live’
‘Yeah’ I said, smiling ‘That’s my point. You can do so much in life…’
‘And everything you do has a consequence. It changes things, and that is what life is. If you die, and you touch people, then that part of you carries on. You make changes to the world’ Death continued on, ecstatic.
‘Don’t cry when something ends. It happened, and that is important’
‘As was meeting you, Death’
‘My name is Mora. And I will see you soon’
Mora hugged me tight. She and I parting as friends. As I prepared to go, I promised her that I would come back, and she would show me all the secrets of the unknown. We kissed, as it all faded to black again.
IV: The Beginning?
I woke up, slowly. I was slightly dazed, and very confused. A bright light was shining above my eyes, and I assumed that this was heaven. Instead, I was in the recovery room. I had crashed, but they managed to save my life. I was very lucky. Mora was right, your life does matter. If I met someone, if I had children, if I had Grandchildren. Boyfriends or Girlfriends. Even if I stayed in the company of friends, you imprint and impact their life.
I don’t know when it will end. Perhaps, I might not even get my Kidney. I may get it, and I’ll live my life. Whatever happens, when I die, I won’t be scared. Because I will follow you, and I hope that people will follow me. Life goes on.
Author Note- I Will Follow You
In my opinion, I Will Follow You is about life, not death. I wrote this story about death, because I wanted to do a subversive take on it, and make a story about someone’s potentially last days life affirming, instead of falling into typical literary clichés. The character doesn’t fear death, because they believe that their quality of life is worse than what death would be. Hence why ‘I Will Follow You’.
Death being a woman is not a new concept. The angel of death being a merciful being is not new. The name Mora is derived from Slavic depictions of the personification of Death. But I wrote Mora as an eternally young figure. She is a young woman in my interpretation, which juxtaposes her modus operandi. She’s full of life, she’s cheerful, benevolent, and curious.
That’s why the narrator loves her. They know that death isn’t the end. I Will Follow You is about accepting that death is life, and that we are immortal. In one sense, at least.