The lady who had pushed me was still standing there “What the hell was that?!”I scream when I see her. “You cant just go around pushing people into the ocean! You are lucky I survived!” As soon as the word “survived” popped from my mouth she lunged to push me again. This time I saw her coming, and I dodged her. She flew past me and landed in the water. Good. that’s what she gets! But no longer than it takes me to think that she is climbing back on the boat- dress dry.
“NO! I saw the splash! I saw you physically go into the water! How are your dry?”
“How are you dry?” She doesn’t look mad, that she just fell into the water, in fact she looks a little bored. Her tone was as dry as her dress. I look down at mine. Oh. I had forgotten about that oddity when I got back up here and she was still standing here. “Why is my dress dry?” I ask her.
she Counters my question with another question, “Why were you able to breathe under the water? How have your survived 2 weeks without food or water?” She raises an eyebrow. For someone who just tried to kill me, she is quite sassy.
“TWO WEEKS! Lady you are off your rocker! I’ve only been out here for 2 days!”
“I promise, you have been out here for two weeks.”
“Has it been 2 weeks for you?” I’m still not convinced, but it really seems like she is.
“No, it has been 150 years for me.”
“You look 25 if you’re a day! What do you mean you have been out here for 50 years!”
“Honey, ONE HUNDRED and fifty.”
“You should be d-“
“Dead? Yes, I have been dead for 150 years and you have been dead for 2 weeks.”
“No! I am alive! I may have been at sea for 2 weeks, but I am very much alive! I am breathing and walking around! I have been sleeping and waking up!” If I were dead surely I would know! This lady is nuts.
“You are only breathing because that is familiar to you. It is a habit, a routine. Are you hungry?” Hunger pains immediately shoot through my stomach. My hands fly to my stomach try to stop the pain. “That is not real, you said you have been sleeping, were you tired?”
I take a second to think about it. “Well there is not much to do on a raft alone… I was mostly just bored. So, does that mean, if I’m dead, I get to spend the rest of my… after life, on this rickety raft?
“Would you like to?”
A tear rolls down my face and lands where my lips meet. “Not really.’
“None of that,” for the first time she showed emotion. She came closer to me and enveloped me in a hug.
“Is this it? This is what happens when we die? We just float around by ourselves hoping to randomly bump into someone? How lonely! What if I hadn’t bumped into you! I still would not know that I am dead! am I being punished?” I sobbed into her dress.
“Oh no honey, you’re not being punished. Do you think me finding you was an accident? That was supposed to happen! When you were under water did you look around?”
I pull back from her “why would I have looked around? It’s dark… and in the middle of the ocean. Best thing I was going to see was a shark!” she tugs on my hand and leads me to the end of the raft and jumps in. I yank my hand from hers and just stare at her.
“Come on, what do you have to lose? You’re already dead!” She yelled from the water.
“I don’t know if I believe that yet!” I say truthfully.
“Well then you are soon to be dead, so what does it matter?”
She had a point. I hesitantly jump into the water next to her. She dove into the water and followed her, holding my breath as we swam. Usually when I swim I have my eyes closed, so it was a little weird for me to have them open, but I kept them open. We dove a little ways and dots of light started popping up, covering the entire ocean floor beneath us. When we got a little closer I could see elaborate houses painted beautiful pink, blue and yellows matching coral of a reef. Everything was so clear and bright! It barely even seemed like we were underwater.
When we finally reached the ocean floor I saw other people , they were dressed in their finest. Everyone that I saw had clothes that looked like the came straight from a history book. All different styles and from different periods. Everyone was going about their normal lives…”lives” as if they were not underwater. I look over at my tour guide and she says “impressive right?” And I heard her! She opened her mouth and no bubbles came out, no gargling, just words! I was too afraid to talk so I just nodded my head.she just stared at me – disapprovingly. “Are you holding your breath?” She asked, her eyebrows scrunched together.
I shook my head yes.
“Well fine, whatever,” waved her hand, “ hope you don’t have any questions about Atlantis.”
“THIS IS THE LOST CITY OF ATLANTIS?!” I blurt out excitedly.
“No this isn’t, but you looked ridiculous with your cheeks puffed out like you were smuggling acorns.”
“Are we in the Bermuda Triangle? Is that why all the rafts were gathered here?”
“What, no, you new deaths get strange ideas. This is called coral city! Because of all the coral buildings.” She spins in a dramatic circle, with her arms out. “This is where you start your journey if you choose to stay.”
“Oh, is this where everyone goes when they die?”
“LORD NO! Do you know how over populated this pace would be? I think we need to have a chat. Why don’t we go and get something to eat. I know a place that has killer apple crumble muffins. Just because we don’t HAVE to eat, doesn’t mean that we can’t. “ we start to walk along the sandy street, our footsteps not bothering the sand. “My name is Deloris, you may call me Lori. When you are born the Reaper is called to your birth and marks you with the day you will expire, and you are assigned a guardian. That’s me, I am your guardian. When you die it is my job to help you acclimate to your new way.”
“So where were you the first 2 weeks?” I ask
The question clearly catches her off guard. “Uh, well,” she stutters, “usually when people die they know it,” her words were a little snarky, “and they need a little alone time. I kept waiting for you to realize, but you never did. I thought pushing you in the water would be enough for you to, but no you clung onto your beliefs.”
“So do you remember how you died?”
“We can remember how we die if you choose to when it happens. I died during child birth and chose to remember so that I could remember my child who ended up living. I wanted to meet him later and know who he was and how he turned out.”
“So I must not have wanted to remember,” I say in a small voice. “But! I remember getting on the boat! So does that mean I died at sea?
“You cannot board your raft when you are living, in fact the living cannot see the rafts.”
“Oh, so I died before that?”
“Yes, but there is no reason to dwell on it, because you chose not to know for a reason.”
“Yes, I suppose so, but it still bothers me a little. I can’t imagine me ever making that decision. It must have been pretty bad. So how did you get saddled with me?” I ask. A group of women in different shades of red gowns walk by us and we wave casually.
“Well I got saddled with you because I volunteered.” I was fixing to ask her why, when we came to a stop outside a bakery. It was a giant blue and pink coral building. Absolutely stunning to look at. It had hexagon glass windows, tinted with green algae. “My friend runs this place, everything she makes is delicious, but the apple crumb muffins are creme de la creme!”
“Oh, actually, I am allergic to apples.” I announce.
“Well then you are going to REALLY enjoy this muffin!” She opens the door to the bakery and ushers me in. I look around the shop and am in absolute awe. It is even more beautiful on the inside than the outside. It was a single story building, but could have easily had 4 or 5 floors. The ceilings were insanely tall. The walls had holes of every size and shape, allowing the water and outside light the flow through. light from where, who knows. At the back of the shop, on the far wall, a glass counter full of baked goodies was displayed neatly. Scattered throughout the shop was delicate round tables with 2 chairs at each. The table and chairs were gold and black, but looked like they would barely be able to hold me, much less someone bigger than my five-three 120 lbs!
We are immediately greeted with warm and mouth watering smells, that make your mouth water profusely. “Hey, Julie! Can we get 2 of your most delicious muffins?” Lori calls out to the empty shop.