“You want to die, so you can be with everyone you’ve lost. Live for the same reason.”
Submitted for second year creative writing coursework; graded: 72/100.
I was struck by lightning a few days before my seventeenth birthday. It killed me quite badly. Scorch marks, a complete shutdown of my respiratory and cardiovascular systems and my favourite shirt was ruined.
It was the hottest day of the year and our dads decided to have a picnic at the local park with me, my younger brother and sister, and our surrogate mum. On the scale of weirdness, the subsequent storm comes second to the picnic. We were a family under an unspoken social stigma, lacking most social skills in a social environment, so you can imagine the awkwardness. I guess it was Dad 1’s way of dealing with that. “No wi-fi here,” he said as he set out the sandwiches. The rest of us exchanged a look of horror – Dad 2 included, and we promptly turned on our mobile data. It was a far more expensive day out than any of us could have anticipated.
About an hour in, the fluffy white clouds bled to dark grey. They hesitated for a moment as if to say, “watch this”, then unleashed heavy raindrops that stung our skin. Dad 1 scooped everything up in the picnic blanket and we raced back to the car for shelter. I was two–maybe three–steps away when the first bolt of lightning struck me down. In that moment, I smelt overcooked chicken, wet dog and piss.
The thing I remember most about my little death was hearing everything that went on outside my body. Dads, mum and my sister were screaming, bawling their eyes out. I even heard my emotionless mess of a brother hiccuping with fear, “Is he –? Is he… dead?”
I’m not sure if I speak for all corpses or if this was some strange precursor to… well, I’ll get to that part. But, if that’s not the case, then, the dead are conscious. And in my opinion, that’s seriously messed up. Like, how long are they conscious for? Is it just while the brain activity ceases? Is it forever? Imagine being on your deathbed, your wife’s telling you how much she loves you, wishing she could spend more time with you. All that soppy shit. You’re convinced you’ll die a happy man. You close your eyes and you die. Then you hear her say, “Thank fuck.” You’re rightly confused, maybe even pissed off, but you’ve got to be pissed off blind and paralysed for goodness knows how long.
Fortunately, my parents only complimented me in death.
“My beautiful boy,” mum said between her wailing.
Dad 2 was sobbing on top of my chest, praying like I’d never heard before. “Please beat again. If there is a god, I’ll do anything. Just let him live.” Maybe someone heard him. If I had to place bets, I’d say Zeus. Not long after the ambulance arrived and my family had been told to move away, lightning struck twice. My corpse doubled forward and like that, I was alive again. Heart racing, ragged breaths, all seeing, all feeling again. Weirdly my first thought was not that I’d just died, but how undignified I felt lying in a puddle of piss. Sure, it was the last thing anyone else noticed, but it wasn’t something I was in the habit of doing. But, I digress.
I turned to face my family, their mouths hung open in disbelief. The paramedics shared the same expression. “He was dead,” one of them said. “I checked. His heartbeat, his pulse – I swear, there was nothing.”
“It’s a miracle,” mum said.
That was one word for it.
I made the news. You know, the light humoured, less depressing segment towards the end. Footage of my reanimation (someone had been filming me when I died) was watched all over the world. I became something of a global sensation, everyone’s favourite talking topic and the latest meme. From showing off the lightning shaped scarring from the back of my neck to my torso, to attempting to answer questions the experts couldn’t, this life was a little crazy. “I’m just a freak of nature,” I joked on one television show. A roar of laughter from the audience ensued.
The fun and games eventually died down. But that wasn’t the only thing dying.
(This piece was submitted for my Creative Writing coursework. Dialogue-driven; two boys walk home after a night out.)
“Shall we get a taxi?” Jordan asked,
“I don’t have any change,” said Adam.
Jordan patted his pockets. “Yeah, me neither.”
“You could do with the fresh air anyway.”
“I’m not even –” he started, nearly walking into a lamppost before swerving around it, “ – drunk.” Continue reading “3 A.M.”