My corpse is at my feet, and what I see on the ground before me appears to be that of a 22 year old woman; a woman 5 feet 2 inches in the old money, and is lying like Jesus on the cross, flat on its back and arms outstretched across the most magnificent 16th century Persian rug.
Burnished wavy auburn, excruciatingly high maintenance, waist length hair cascades around my size 8 shoulders, highlighting those blank and staring emerald green eyes of mine, eyes purpose built for smiling. Windows to the soul apparently, yet those eyes, my eyes, are eyes that have drawn compliment and witnessed the history of my 1700 and something years on earth. And there they are, wide open, taking the focus off the light smattering of nigh invisible freckles cunningly spread across the alabaster skin of my face. My too small and pointed nose is there, I have never liked it you know. Never. My ears, though, I quite like. Elfin and close to the sides of my head, practical and unobtrusive, just as they ought be.
It is an odd sensation to be staring down at one’s self in a state of mortis; all you find is the vaguely familiar empty shell that once housed your soul.
Smiling, I like smiling, and I am smiling now. Well, smiling at the folly of now, and the fact that in death I have just one black, brogued and laced boot on. How t’other came adrift during my fall from life, I haven’t a clue, but there it is. I’d be walking in circles if I weren’t dead! With such pathetically short narrow feet and long toes, a clear match to my hands, I am surprised I could ever have walked at all. My dress I will miss, being currently filled with corpse as it is. It is a dress built for the cold and the night. Blood red, heavy, long sleeved and ankle length; mildly low cut at the front, woollen, and warmer than Hades with the a/c off. Magnificent! A treasure among treasures. I bought it from a Romany woman for the price of a small house, and it is worth every Franc I paid. Well, ‘was’ worth at least.
Oh, to think of all that pathetic body has done the places it’s been, the wars it has fought, and lovers it has held. All history now. It is a body that began its life enduring the hardships of fourth century, Caledonia then, Scotland now, and my Da was a Pict, that was the name the invaders gave us. This body that could sprout an immense version of the wings of the Elder Duck. Huge wings! Wings enough to get me burned at the stake, weighed down with stones and drowned, and carry my lover, William, from Stirling Bridge in 1297. This corpse that was schooled on a river boat by a witch, and taught to fight by a psychopath. It is a body that has chased the dragon, and caught the tiger’s tale. This is the body that has wept over more loss of life than any one soul should be forced to endure. The gift of immortality, or the cursed infection of life? Neither could I deduce nor name correct. And now I frown, dashed treacherous memory weaving sorrow and self-pity from the air itself.
Death has arrived and is standing beside my ethereal form. Her arrival cheers me greatly. She and I have known each other for centuries, and whilst a friend, she is more the Grandmother every child was afraid of. Death is speaking now, and I am nodding along in agreement with her. My nods in turn have become a smile at her words, and that smile, short lived as it is, has fled in the path of laughter. How I laugh! It is full bodied and fun and I am revelling in it. Death is laughing with me, and her spectacularly sharp secateurs of trade miraculously fill her left hand. Death is a ‘lefty’, who would have thought? With a single committed sweep she has cut my thin pale blue necrobilical cord, separating my soul from the vessel of ‘Then’, freeing me to step into the ‘Now’. At last I am truly happy, and I laugh all the harder for it.
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