The Afterlife

By , Indianapolis, IN
Ashok’s body was numb from the feet to her neck. She couldn’t remember how that happened or where she was. Her surroundings were blurred at first. It only appeared as a light blue-grey color. As her vision changed to form outlines and reality, her body gained feeling again. She brushed off the awkward feelings that ran through her body from her memory. She stood up slowly and realized that she was looking at small pond with grass land around it.

“Isn’t this place weird?” asked a voice from the only existing tree in the area. The rustling of leaves was heard as the voice’s owner jumped down. “You can only remember so much. You can’t even remember how you died right off the back.”

“Died? What do you mean?” Ashok blurted out as she swirled around to see a man dressed in fine clothing. A cloak of brown fabric hung over his shoulders and a red shirt and brown pants leaned against his body underneath.

“Yeah, I know. I didn’t know what happened either. All those weird stories of the afterlife and heaven seemed real until I got here. Well, I didn’t exactly remember that. I couldn’t tell you how little I remembered,” the man said as he put his hand into his pockets.

“You’re not making any sense. What is this place? Who are you?” Ashok questioned him.

“This is the afterlife, sis. I’m your oldest brother who was murdered in front of you. It’s weird how the afterlife shifts happy encounters to confused ones,” the man said with a smile. He pulled out a seed from his left pocket.

“I’m dead?” she said as she looked around for another explanation. She couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t true.

“You’re as dead as I am. Your death usually returns to you last. Tell me, can you remember who you are? Where you were born? How old you are?”

“I’m Ashok. I was born…um...in Maylim, I think,” she said, double guessing what her own hometown is.

“You can’t remember much like most folks go through. It’s the hardest part of the afterlife. Like this seed, it takes time to grow. Sometimes the worst memories strike the heart and the seed doesn’t grow properly,” he said and tossed the seed on the grown next to the tree. It grew quickly.

Ashok gazed at the tree amazed. “If I am really dead, how do I get my memories back?” she said, taking her eyes off the magnificent oak tree.

“That various from what I’ve heard. The afterlife is like dreams turned to reality. You can mold the place however you like but there’s different kind of dreams in life. You have dreams that come to you like small, snowflakes then you got rocks that fly at your head that many refer to as nightmares. Then there are memories of your past and flashes of your future, which are utter nonsense at first,” the man explained as he walked up to the pond. He kicked a twig into it and the ripple spread its way to the end of the water.

“It still doesn’t make much sense to me,” Ashok admitted. The man seemed to be familiar but she couldn’t tell how that was so.

“There are five realms of the afterlife, Ashok: creativity, nightmares, memories, life, and paintings. It’s not something someone would think if they listened to religious speech. Creativity is a private realm for the brain. Most people settle in there but the problem is it gets a bit lonely after awhile. Then there’s a nightmare or what some people refer to as hell. It’s just one part of the afterlife you got to survive through to receive the memories you’d like. Memories are the things you want but it’s just like a movie there. They’re parts of your memories shown again and again in your point of view when you were alive. The more you remember, the more shows will run there. Memories differ though and sometimes it’s like you’re alive again,” he explained. He sighed as he tossed another seed onto the landscape.

“What’s life then?” Ashok asked, wishing him to keep going. It was slowly making more sense.

“I asked that too. Before-life, I would like to call it. Life is the overall existence of you. Your body, you mind, and soul live together but unfortunately that realm is usually closed. I doubt that you’ll return,” he answered her briefly. He tried not to make the explanation confusing.

“What’s the last realm then?”

“Paintings,” he answered, “are the only place you really get to see new comers. It’s also the only place that doesn’t really change at will. It’s kind of hard to explain because this place is probably the most like life. This here is the painted realm,” he told her sitting down on the green grass this time.

“But you made those trees grow,” Ashok pointed out.

“Did I? How did you reach that outcome?” he asked as if it was a riddle. “Look again.”

And she did. She looked at the area behind him and there was only that one tree again. Not two or three like before but just one single, lonely tree. She looked to her right where he had been sitting but he wasn’t there either.

“I told you this place doesn’t change. It never has and never will because nothing ever grows here since time isn’t a variable in the afterlife. It can feel like a day but it might be a year. It all depends how you look at it. Brother might be resting somewhere. Tell him I’m sorry I wasn’t part of the welcoming committee if you spot him,” his voice echoed through the grassland like thunder in the distance.

“But where do I go? How do I get there?” Ashok called out. She didn’t want to see him leave. She was confused, worried, and hurt.

“It’s the afterlife. Things come quicker than you’d expect. Just keep an open mind ready on your search, will you?” his voice called in reply. A chuckle rang through the land and died off slowly like the booming thunder of a storm.

Ashok looked around and wished she knew what he meant. So many questions kept going through her head. It was hard to make sense of what he had told her. She couldn’t come to answering one question though: Am I really dead?

She walked closer to the tree and saw it wasn’t just a lonely tree but a door. To where? That question was the first she planned on answering as she opened it. Her mind was well at work with questions that needed answers.





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