Last month Dazed & Confused ran a competition to write a short story (less than a thousand words) based on a lyric. I wrote and submitted two (neither of which it appears were chosen to be published). This is based on one of my favourite lyrics, from one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands, a lyric I liked so much that earlier this year I got tattooed on my right arm.
I was ready to go, but I couldn’t tell anyone because they were doing everything within their power not to think of it, not to even entertain the idea, they were physically trying to stop it from happening, preventing the inevitable. They hadn’t actually taken the time to ask me what it was that I wanted to do because everyone always assumes that you want the opposite of the decision I had made. I couldn’t tell people how I felt because if they knew there was only one earthly term for it – giving up. It was human nature to hold out, to keep going but after everything that had happened I didn’t feel particularly human, and in fact I was ready to go.
It had been eighteen incredibly difficult months for us all, for me and my children and my grandchildren. It would be much easier with me going, it would close the chapter, it would settle affairs and balance life out again, I would be comfortable again. It had been eighteen months since I had watched my husband die, torn from me by the same disease that now tore through me. I’d had quite enough of it, I wanted to be back with him, to dance with him, the one I love. There was only way I could get that to occur though. I had to let go. I had to unlock myself from my body and set my spirit free. I forced my eyes and tried to do it, to release myself. I let my aching and tired self relax onto the raised arc of the hospital bed and tried to drift off but there was a noise and I jumped back to life. The door was ajar and one of the nurses whose name I hadn’t bothered to learn had her beaming yet concerned face angled around it, and in at me. I smiled weakly at her, feeling the loose, aged skin of my cheeks tighten momentarily. This was enough for her, she had done her duty, ensured I was still with them in the land of the living, just another tick as she made her rounds, once satisfied she left again. It annoyed me that they checked on me in such a way, it felt so itrusive, that they couldn’t give me a chance to get on with it. I decided this was the time, I had a gap of two hours to get out before the next check, to set my spirit free, I was going to be the contortionist hero of my childhood Harry Houdini, I would find a way out of my many binds and I would break out of this world that calls darkness light.
I didn’t squeeze my eyes shut again, I just let them fall down with the weight of my life, those seventy beautiful years and then I took a deep breath and I started to drift like a dream, swirls of light ebbing like a dance. I felt myself rise up from the bed, but not make it onto my feet, I just rose as a line, as a horizon. I lost all of the weight and the pain, the tests and the notes, the tubes and the uncomfort, and I felt the space where my empty stomach had been roll over in the excitement of it all and I kept on rising. I gathered speed and specks of light that could have been stars transformed themselves into beams rushing past me as I gathered momentum. It was everything I had hoped for, and beyond anything I could have read of the experience or anything I could even describe. I felt refreshed and anew and then I reached a plateau where the light gathered together and shone in a brilliant circle, there was nothing else, just the pure wonder of white, it became me and I became it and I flattened out, tipping up onto my naked feet. I opened my eyes.
It wasn’t angels and it wasn’t clouds, it wasn’t pearly gates and it wasn’t choirs, there was just him, in a ballroom under candlelight and we danced, oh how we danced.