The Transfiguration

everything is sacred

Tale of the Day #1678

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Tale of the Day #1678

I felt like a child when I died. Twenty years old and a mother of three, I would have hoped to leave with a little more dignity; my fever allowed none, and in my last living moments I was a fearful, cowering wreck, gripping the edge of my blanket as if it were my nan’s arm.

Things were better afterwards. I did what I imagined all good ghosts did – kept a silent watch on my family, drifting with them as they lived out long and mostly happy lives. My grandchildren grew into kind and intelligent adults, and when they opened their textbooks I read alongside them.

My great-grandchildren died in the war. After that I couldn’t bear to stay with the last of my family any longer. None of them became ghosts – all gone to a Better Place, I hope – and so I went wandering alone.

Earth was a beautiful planet, and I’m thankful that I can still remember it.

Over the next few decades, whenever I returned to civilization, I was astonished at how much things had changed – so quickly, and so drastically, compared with when my children and I had lived.

I overheard one day that the Soviets were launching animals into the sky, and immediately went to investigate. I watched, baffled, as they packed a sweet-looking dog into a rocket, and when they sent her up I decided to join her. She died hours later, leaving no ghost.

After that, I felt no urge to return home. I left the capsule, left the planet, and drifted out.

I walked across the moon, wishing I could leave footprints, and said goodbye to Earth before leaving forever.

I’d always had a fondness for Saturn, and gliding through its atmosphere felt like swimming through a molten painting.

Jupiter was too tumultuous.

There was no life to be found on Mars.

Eventually, curious and without fear, I made my way to the surface of the sun, watching great arcs of light crash over my head. I’d never seen a place, besides Earth, that felt so alive, and I was enraptured to bask in the glow. At length I learned to focus my incorporeal eyes on things that were very small, and spent the next thousand years following a single proton as it tried, so desperately, to fuse with another into deuterium. When it finally did, I cheered, realized I was alone, and left with the strangest feeling of embarrassment.

Time eventually stopped meaning much to me. I don’t know how long I spent between stars, but the years passed peacefully and quietly. I think I felt, at some point, that I was really and truly dead – not even a ghost – but the emptiness was so pleasant I didn’t mind at all.

Most stars I came to nurtured no life, but every few millennia I would find a planet where civilization thrived, and I stayed there until I understood what the strange creatures there were like. Learning to see the universe as they did, with new senses and new kinds of emotions, came surprisingly easy to me – no harder than learning a foreign language. Just by living among (haunting?) these creatures, I slowly took on their form, learned to see new colors, to taste electric currents, to hear the humor in prime numbers, and I left each planet with my mind aglow.

I did eventually come across another human planet. It was in another galaxy entirely, and in the eons since we had parted, people had changed a great deal – more patient, more elegant, more limbs – but the visit still felt like coming home. I learned what it was like to be a new human, and continued on my way as I had before.

Now the stars are going out, and the civilizations who made it this far have departed to other, younger universes. I don’t plan to follow them; I want to see how it ends here.

Throughout all this time, I’ve never seen another ghost. I imagine every other soul has gone Elsewhere, leaving me the sole explorer of these stars. I don’t mind; this was a beautiful universe. This was my heaven.

julie and candy
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Written by Umbrella Man

April 27, 2013 at 2:58 am

Posted in skies, stories

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