In the Blink of an Eye

Ever wondered what it would be like when you die? A lifetime's worth of memories . . . all running through your mind in the blink of an eye. And what happens to them after you die?

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1. Blinking

Reality shattered around him. A mosaic, a dance of broken, gleaming fragments. As soon as he hit the water, it reflected off the millions of droplets he created. He watched.

Those first, vague visions, walking across a room to a pair of outstretched hands. Saying something to a joyful clapping and shouting. Being dressed, almost like a baby doll. Loud noises in the night, shouting and screaming. Being forced into a pair of short and a shirt that buttoned up. Going to a place with what felt like hundreds of other children, all dressed the same. Friends and enemies in the place, all blurring into one.

Growing older, getting new uniforms when the others didn’t fit or grew holes. Wishing for a brother. A sister. Different parents, ones that loved each other. Finishing one school and starting another. On the very first day, being thrown to the ground. The very first week, straight out of a nightmare. Big, complex words and mathematical sums going through one ear and out the other. Bullies haunting the cupboards at night-time.

Standing in front of the mirror, wondering.

Who am I?

Another new face in the sea of uniformed faces. Being thrown to the ground yet again, but this time, a silhouette standing in front, blocking the way to hell via their ham fists. A girl with a flashing smile and no fear.

Still no sister or brother, and now two different houses, one lonely parent in each. Broken sobbing coming from his mother’s room. Altogether different sounds coming from his father’s, an unfamiliar face walking through the lounge-room every morning.

Growing? Growing up? Are they the same? Are they different? What sort of person do you want to be when you are older? What sort of job do you want to get? Deep questions, buried as school life came to a close. The girl with no fear, his knight in shining armour, slipping through his fingers like sand until they were just two people passing in the hallway. Friends no more.

Finishing school, finally, ending in a dance, feeling like the first day he wore a buttoned shirt, being forced into something he never wanted. Dancing with someone he barely knew, practically a stranger, sweaty hands and awkward feet.

School over, bullies off to start their own life, him trailing behind in the dust.

Work.

Who am I?

An unsatisfactory office job in a city whose name he can’t even remember. Meeting new people every day, not by face, but through the amazing device they call a phone

Teens, twenties, thirties. Age is only a number, meaningless in life, something on paper. Friend, girlfriend, fiancé, wife, all merged together into something unrecognisable from a distance. A wedding. Again with the buttoning shirts, uncomfortable and scratchy but looking posh and presentable. Friends and family from both sides of the coin, smiling, grinning, teeth a stark white. Shower of rose petal. Kiss. Party. Go home already.

Children. One, two, three.

That’s when the screaming started.

About money, jobs, clothes, the house, him, anything she could think about.

Yell, yell, yell.

He thought back to his own days of hiding fearfully in the halls, looking on as the wars raged, being forced to pick a side. It never occurred to him to comfort his own.

He thought about her, sometimes, the one with no fear. What was she doing now? Married and happy? Jobless and alone?

Who and I?

Really?

Just some guy with a desk job, a nagging wife and three children he can’t even connect with. Dissatisfied with life. Things could have turned out better if they had been done differently.

That’s when the voices started.

You don’t need that.

You look hideous.

Do they look at you or through you?

Would they even miss you if you were gone?

Day and night, an endless circle of talk, all inside his head, others having no idea of the turmoil, rising tempest inside him. If walls of the mind were material, his would be battered and worn. Tired.

Seconds, minutes, even hours, all adding up to days spent in front of the mirror. His doom. His destruction.

Who and I?

Years go on, every day, more distance separating him from the world.

Then, clarity.

Utmost surety.

In the car. Drive, he knows the way. To the beach, climb the hill. The sea, roiling below, dashing itself to foam against the rocks. He felt like he was watching himself, dashing himself against the world in desolate futility. And yet, he felt like he was hanging above his own head, like a guardian angel. The breeze feels nice on him skin. A lovely feeling.

Didn’t even need to jump that day. All it took was a step.

As he hit the water, the droplets sparkled like a million fragments of light.

Then, a thought struck him like a lightning bolt.

I missed the rocks.

This isn’t supposed to be.

A white hot pain lashed down his spine as the waves pounded him against the rocks, a repetitive motion, again and again. Lungs, almost burning, brain thudding, yearning, dying for a breath of fresh air. Eyes open, salt stinging.

No.

Legs, agony as they hit the bottom, shoes sinking into the sand. Waves, battering again, narrowly missing the rocks.

Not today.

Kicking off the bottom. Fight. Through the water. Towards the light.

I have everything to live for.

I am me.

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