Locked In

Everyday in dreams, he would see all these different sounds and images that he never thought he would ever consider beautiful–at least, not back when he was still in control of his body. His diagnosis was ‘cerebromedullospinal disconnection.’

On Thursday, he saw the sea crashing against the shore, the repetitive swelling and ebbing that he had come to miss like hell. There were so many shades of blue–so many–a startling contrast against the uneven dunes of white sand that climbed up to the edge of the beach, littered here and there with clumps of seaweed. He could feel the phantom sensation of wind buffeting his body (his body, he remembered, was something he was very proud of; before it left him to rot, it was glorious and Adonis-like). He could almost feel the salt-tinged spray freckle his pale skin with minute droplets as he stood, ankle deep, in that wonderfully wide spectrum of blue, blue, blue.

On Friday, he saw the sunset–the myriad colors staining the sky–pink, orange, yellow, red, purple, and every other variation present. Clouds rippled across the heavens; floating mountains; soft, shimmery shades of white. When the sun finally dipped below the horizon, and the sky had finally darkened enough, he could see the tiny pinpricks of light against the inky black dome–cosmic Braille, he liked to call it.

On Saturday, he saw people that he knew: his ex-wife, foxy and refreshingly youthful like she had just popped out of a worthwhile story, perched on his best buddy’s lap and feeding him cherries. Every so often she’d pop one into her own mouth and spit out the stem, expertly tied around a pit, like a bow on one of her prettily packaged sardonic aphorisms she was given to reciting. In the vision she was wearing a coat made out of his own skin, and her lips were painted (rather alluringly) with his blood. He tried to scream at her but his voice was dead. He could not move.

On Sunday, he wasn’t dreaming when the doctors told him he was going to die a slow and painful death, unable to sit up or even talk. They gave him morphine for the crippling regret, launching him into a feverish dream about the obnoxious clanging of church bells, about diving for a striped purple Easter Egg on the sidewalk, falling, scraping his elbow, and his mother’s sweet voice was telling him everything was going to be okay. That sweet, sweet voice, melodious and quiet, reminded him of honey and warm, summer days–the kind with dragonflies fluttering lazily above in the still, heavy air.

Several weeks passed with several more visions, and he often thought of the expression that went something like, “before you die, you’ll see your life flash before your eyes.” 

Well, it wasn’t a flash so much as a painful taunt of what had been, what could have been, taking its own sweet time, with no particular arc–where was the rising action, the climax, the resolution?

However–there was a catharsis that felt like a supernova in his chest. When the visions ended, and he realized the past, present, and future all at once and all too quickly, it was like an implosion. He could hear the monitors beeping frantically, setting a beat to his final moments. Nurses rushed in, and that was when everything ceased to exist.


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