The afterlife. It could either be the place where you experience all the adventures you’ve always wanted to experience or it could be the place where all your deepest, darkest fears come alive. I’m sure that’s what you must be thinking about right now, but let me tell you, the afterlife which I am a part of right now, would be a mixture of both and also a lot more than that. Let me take you through my first few days.
My bay window overlooked a magnificent valley, a tear rolled down my cheek as I hugged my knees. I mentally knew where I was, or atleast assumed where I was, but I failed to accept it. My head rested on the windowsill and for the first time in my life I felt completely hopeless, however the nimble and surreptitious movement of a rabbit forced me back into reality. A rabbit? What on earth could a rabbit be doing here?
The harsh sunlight forced me to wake up and face the day. It was so bright outside, but me? All I felt was numb and lonely. As I made myself a cup of coffee, I walked towards the bay window and opened it completely. I sat down cross-legged. The sunlight that had forced me to wake up, was suddenly replaced by an overwhelming darkness.
I’ve noticed a few things since I arrived here.
1) I can’t go outside, there's this barrier, which unfortunately I can't cross. So I'm confined to this unusual one storey house.
2) I was completely and utterly clueless, except for well, one thing. The weather changes according to my mood. That explains the sharp contrast between the sunlight and dimness.
3) I’m alone here, there hasn't been a single human being in sight.
4) I desperately need physical human contact, or I will lose my mind.
It had now been a total of fourteen days. I feel a lot lonelier and as a result, the sky has become sunless. I just keep thinking, is this what the afterlife is all about? Being completely alone and lonely? Where was my chance of sitting down to have a cup of coffee with Satan or flying through the clouds? Though I had noticed a figure lurking in the shadows, in the very corners of the house. I was once exploring the house when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it in the study. It didn’t move but when I turned around to get a full view, it impetuously moved and was out of my sight. The next time I saw it I planned to-
Oh my god! There it went again!
I followed it and rushed through the kitchen spinning around to find the source of the shadow, but it moved towards the entrance of the house, and before I could step out I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I spun around instantly, unfortunately banging my head against the hard wall. After regaining my consciousness, I look towards a faint figure to find-
“Ethan?!” My brother looked at me intently. How could he be here? Was it because of my last memory of him?
“I’m happy for you Ethan.”
“It doesn’t seem like you are.”
“Ethan you’re leaving us, what do you want me to say? You out of all people know my biggest fear and how terrified I am. But I can’t hold you back, can I? You’re my baby brother. So when I say I’m happy for you, I mean it by heart, but not by mind.”
“That isn’t enough.”
That was when I walked out on him.
That was my last memory of him.
My brother often disappeared every night and would be back in the morning. He had one demand; no questions. But look at it from my perspective, there were just so many unanswered questions! How was he here? Did he..? No, please no.
“I need to talk to you about something.” I whisper into his ears. Our eyes lock.
“I remember our last memory now, and my heart physically hurts. My time on earth was no different than what it is here. I’m lost in an endless abyss of loneliness. Back then I was frustrated and mad, almost hurt that you were going to leave me. The worst mistake I made was that I walked out on you, instead of encouraging you to chase your dreams, instead of being proud. You don’t know how truly sorry I am.”
He simply looked at me, a tear falling out of the corner of his eyes, a small smile spread across his face. I moved forward to hug him, but he backed away.
Disappointment flashed through my eyes, and he wiped his tears. He looked up at me, his grief stricken eyes yet again, meeting mine. He cleared his voice and began:
“I really wish I could hug you now, I really do. But under these unusual circumstances I can’t and I hate it. The very last memory of ours, I would do anything to switch it with another, but it’s okay. I understand and I accept your apology. I love you but I can’t embrace you in a hug and I can’t cry against your shoulder like how I used to because I am just a shadow. I’m just a shadow and nothing more. I mean it was kind of expected, wasn’t it? This is your afterlife Brie, of course it’s going to be bittersweet.”
I covered my face with my hands, and even though I knew he was going to leave me, a little spark ignited my fire, because at last, I finally felt content. I look up to find that the sun finally found its way back into the sky again. I nod.
“I love you, as long as the moon shines in the night sky.”
I said as I now saw him walking, slowly away from me this time.
“Till the very end of time.” He whispered.
Author: Krishna Malkani
Editor: Hirday Lakhwani