FlashFic: The Veil

The secret to successfully being dead is to remember what it was like to be alive. Does that sound too simple? Until you’re dead, you can’t understand the big deal. Moving to the other side of the veil makes it harder to stay like a human.

I don’t know many dead people. Those I met convinced me I’m not missing anything. Lots showed me what I didn’t want to do. Being with them made me understand how to have a good life after death. What a tired saying that is. “Life after death.” There must be some other way to put it. There’s “living,” maybe there should be “deading.”

I’m rambling. I rambled a lot when I was living. I do it more now that I’m dead. Now that I’m deading. There’s so much time to fill, you see. Think of all the busy things the living do. They eat, there’s school or work, they sleep. These take up time. These help the living stay tethered to time. These are things that were stripped from me when I died. So much time to fill and no tether to time anymore. It’s easy to lose track.

Losing track of time is worse than idle hands. To say it’s the Devil’s workshop is only a figure of speech, so relax. Losing track means time passes without notice and all the familiar things blur away. The dead lose their sense of self. Just like the living, the deading get depressed, angry, confused.  They start acting stupid, brushing at the veil between the dimensions. Pushing themselves on the living. Terrifying them. It’s hard to come back from that and be all humanlike again.

The veil is gauzy thin. I watch the other world through it. I fantasize I have a tether to time. Familiar people, places and events remind me what it was like to be alive. Whisper light and lovely, the veil is so attractive. I want to touch it, even reach through it and touch my familiar stuff. I move close, too close sometimes. The idea of having an effect on my stuff is crazy cool. I miss it, but I’m afraid of scaring the living. I’m afraid I’ll lose myself in the rush, too. I dance away again, but I don’t lose sight of the familiar. My anchor to time and remembering my living self.

The living press against the veil from the other side sometimes. People who die and get saved, go back to living. Curious people, mourning or looking for kicks. Most often it’s just a dreamer. Like a nurse to a confused old patient, I say soothing things to the dreamer. “Yes, I’m here. I’m fine. I love you.” Pretty words. As close to having an effect on the living as I let myself get. No idea who they are, but they always leave the veil peacefully. It’s part of remembering what it’s like to be alive. Remembering that need to know loved ones are okay, even when they’re deading.

Age at death doesn’t much matter. I’ve seen old and young spirits lose track of themselves. They become ugly and mean, lashing out at each other and pushing at the veil. Sometimes they become desperately sad and try to reach through. Either way, I pull in tight and think myself away.

Leaving makes me lose sight of the familiar, though. Time blurs. I grasp hold of something, anything, that can be an anchor. Pets are nice. They can see through the veil. Their eyes are soothing. They make me remember being alive and loving my dog. Good anchor stuff. Good reminders of living for the deading.

Familiar things from life give way to new things as the living change. As the living join the deading, new familiar things take their place. If time blurs too long, all the familiar stuff is gone. There’s no anchor. Rebuilding the pretend tether to time is hard. Giving over the memory of living is the easy way out. I fight hard to remember living. Mom always said I was stubborn.

Don’t be sad, Daddy. She’ll be here soon, too. Hold her in your sights, let her be your familiar anchor. She’ll help you remember what it was like to be alive. Just like she does for me.

Once again, thanks to @Selorian (Clifford Fryman) for inspiring the flash by posting the bold line above as a #storystarters.

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

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10 thoughts on “FlashFic: The Veil

  1. Marisa Birns February 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm Reply

    You were right to choice that wonderful first line to start your piece.

    Good pacing and flow and crisp writing to this narrative.

    Very good surprise ending!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm Reply

      Clifford Fryman writes great #storystarters on Twitter. Never fails that at least one catches my imagination on fire. I’m glad you liked this one, especially the ending. Thanks!

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  2. Deanna Schrayer February 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm Reply

    Jess, I love the voice in this, so matter-of-fact, yet somehow very emotional. I find it ironic that I should read this now, after having finished Sylvia Brown’s “A Psychic’s Guide to The Other Side”. Great book by the way, if you haven’t read it I think you’d like it.
    Very well told story. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm Reply

      I used to follow Sylvia’s career closely many years ago. Funny how things can come full circle, isn’t it? The images in this were so clear to me. Perhaps her work influenced me all these years later.

      Thanks for your kind words, Deanna.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. Dana February 12, 2010 at 2:10 pm Reply

    This was neat and I enjoyed the narrator’s voice. I’m curious was the point of the afterlife is in the setting. It sounds like the dead just hang around watching the living. Which sounds both boring and creepy.

    Or is the narrator needlessly clinging instead of moving on?

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm Reply

      I wanted the reader to take from this a personal view regarding the afterlife. For some, the narrator could be “needlessly clinging” out of a lack of awareness of other options, for example. Others may see it is all there is. I’m sure there are yet more interpretations. I’d love to hear what they are!

      Thanks for your comment, Dana.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. jimwisneski February 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm Reply

    Yea, the voice in this one is amazingly great. It hooks you in and keeps you going. The small things like mentioning about rambling, etc. are what really make the voice REAL.

    Nice job!

    Jim

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm Reply

      Thanks, Jim, that means a lot to me. I heard the narrator’s voice clearly, but mine kept getting in the way when I wrote it. Had to go back and cut the “Jess bits” out. I’m glad the narrator’s voice comes through so clearly now.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. Jen B February 12, 2010 at 3:01 pm Reply

    I second the other comments, the voice here is wonderful– perfect for the subject, sweet and also specific, matter-of-fact. I can believe that this is all true, and I’d be happier for it. Lovely story. Thank you for sharing it!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen February 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm Reply

      What a nice comment, Jen. Thanks so much – I really appreciate it. The voice was a challenge, not to hear, but to put down into words. I’m glad the story was uplifting and realistic.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

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