A Requiem For One Man's Life
A Requiem for One Man’s Life
It’s said that life is to be lived whilst not fearing death. There are those, however, that spend far too long contemplating. A span can be all too brief. I often ponder my place in the scheme of things; whether I should be thinking these thoughts or sticking to simpler reveries more akin to my kind. It's funny how we associate with death in an almost gothic manner; designed to be used in calling up reflective pieces and notions of an afterlife. I do have one recurring dream, which I can recount to you now - if you like?
I was flying high looking down at blue waves stretching as far as the eye could see. The sea twisted and churned, waves rising and falling to the beat of an unseen hand. On a day like this it was a joy to be alive. Was there ever a day like this?
The sun was shining, the air cold and fresh. Gentle winds were blowing me onwards. I had nowhere in particular to go as the chalk cliffs came into view, dry land ahead. I could see rocks begin to appear below, rhythmically covered in white spray then immersed in blue wash. Sandy
beach approached then shear rocks climbing a hundred feet or more.
I'll go and see the man.
Such freedom can only be experienced in moments like this. Oh, to be able to glance down at the rolling landscape below, drawing mysticism from a veil of seeming invisibility.
It was minutes later that the shack appeared, just where it always was, in the middle of a clearing surrounded by woodland. I swooped to descend making for the window ledge. Yes, there he was as always - sitting, staring through the window. Today he could see a raven staring back, looking right into his mind's eye. I caught his glance and concentrated. If I tried hard enough, I could see his thoughts which rarely made interesting viewing.
The man had lived for over a century. His longevity was a planned, played for phenomenon. In the timeline of history that was his mind, I could trace a long, unbroken duration of existence. If he had been more active he might have seen the end of Victoria's reign; maybe the stories of the Boer war or the sinking of the Titanic; the Great War unfolding or the rise of Nazi Germany; the second World War with its accompanying Holocaust or the advent of modern Japan. He hadn't seen any of these things or been a party to them. He just sat and waited. Each day was like the last with each ounce of energy conserved. The mitochondria that ticked his life away subsequently slowed to a crawl. He had never taken part nor shared nor passed on. The clock in the background mirrored the passing of his life - unfulfilled and stoic. Never had he laughed or cried, played or fought. There was no love or hate, decree or subservience. Instead, a vacuum to fill a hubbub.
I watched as his back arched, his face contorted with agony. Shudders ran through his body and white spittle appeared at the corners of his mouth. I lost his gaze and had to fight to get it back. I just caught the corner of his eye. I could sense pain as his mind greyed. His body demanded to breathe again but his brain deemed to decline. Consciousness faded as blackness closed in.
I felt a drifting sensation. I was looking at the body of the man but not from the windowsill. I floated above looking down at the curled up figure. He toppled onto the floor, face down. He lay there, motionless; it was over in matter of seconds - a brief set of spasms followed by eternal inaction. Dignity deserts inevitably. I continued to drift further and further. Through the window and upwards into the sky. The body was now far below and I could only just make out the outline. The sky became black; I was surrounded by stars. It was so cold up here. I stared hard to see grainy specks in the blackness. Was this stardust? I wanted these moments to last forever but in a slew of serenity, reality came back to haunt. In all too short a time, I knew that I was returning home as I stopped drifting. The greying came back and I felt as though I was shrinking. I was going back to whence I came - back to stardust.
One more blink of a milk-lid eye and I'm back at the sill. It was time to go; can ravens call a requiem for a spirit? I decided that it could be harder to live than to die but that I was not going to be afraid of either. As I flew back into the sky I wondered why it was that I could remember all those things that the man didn't - my first laugh and my last kiss, a multitude of longings, a myriad of disappointments. Of course, I had been forged from the same essence as he and would become it again someday. Until then I would take my chances and try to live every day as though it was my last.
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