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A Life Between Worlds This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

One thing I remember in clear detail about the night I died is that when I fell off the cliff to my unwilling death, I could feel the wind against my skin. It was like no other sensation. I felt calm and at peace. Before I reached the rocks below, I had felt a smile stretch across my face as I realized the truth. Perhaps heaven would be as beautiful as death.

I did not want to die. No one wants to die. Not even people who destroy their lives. They just want peace, and so did I. But no, I did not destroy my life. Life was snatched away from me. Until now, I never realized why, but I did know at the time that I was dead.

When I opened my eyes after the fall, I first noticed the large domed ceiling with wooden arcs running from the top toward the walls. I wondered vaguely if it was a palace. A few seconds later, I noticed… no… that can’t be right. I was lying in a hospital bed in the middle of a park. I looked quickly back up to the ceiling. Again, a large domed roof like a cathedral. When I glanced back down I was in the park and the sun was setting in the horizon. I glanced back at the ceiling and let my eyes travel slowly down the beams. The more my eyes traveled, the harder it was to make out the beams, until the beams merged into the sky and into the sunset over the hill. It was as though I was in a snow globe. Behind the glass, behind the pictures, was there something else? I felt trapped in a life between worlds.

It was odd and impossible. It wasn’t normal, but was I alive? I could not be sure. I got out of the bed and stood up, feeling grass beneath my toes. Step by step, I moved toward a pond in the middle of the park. I looked down into the completely smooth water, and to my astonishment I saw a girl I did not recognize. She was beautiful, with rich brown hair and bright green eyes. There was not a single blemish on her face. She was perfect, and she looked strangely like me. She looked like the girl I always wanted to be. But she wasn’t me. I knew that, but who was she? I touched my face, the girl did likewise. I moved my head to one side, and she did so. I realized something. I was seeing my reflection. But how could it be? I never looked as pretty as she did. The only conclusion I could draw of this beautiful me was that I was in the afterlife. I suddenly remembered the fall and the reason for it. The reflection of myself burned into my skull.

If I am dead, I thought, then I am indeed in the afterlife. It looked nothing like what they told you, but no one really knows what the afterlife is until they get there, and when they do, it’s too late. I turned away from the pond and wondered where I was.

“Where am I?” I asked aloud. I looked around and all was quiet. “WHERE AM I?” I yelled into the silence. My voice did not echo. “WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH ME?” I yelled.

As though the place were waiting for an answer, a door rose from the ground. The curious thing about the door was that behind it was nothing but the hills that led toward the sun. It was as though the door led to nowhere. I crept toward the door, subconsciously aware of every step. When I reached it, I hesitated, my hand halfway toward the handle. Before I could even turn the handle, the door started to open.

I peered inside but could see nothing but darkness. When I pushed the door further open, I found myself looking into a scene that had definitely not been there a minute ago. It was a street with a row of houses. I recognized the street at once. It was the street that my killer lived on. It was the street I had visited so many times before my death. The street that would haunt me forever.

In this world it was dark, and it must have been very late, because the only house that was lit was a familiar one straight across from the door. Only one window was lit, and I knew which window it was.

I started to walk toward the house, my heart pounding in my chest. I was scared. What if someone saw me? I started toward the door behind me, but the door that I had just left turned out to be just the front door to another house. I was beginning to think anything was possible.

I reached the house and tried the door. It was unlocked. Silently, I opened it and found myself, in the now familiar foyer of the house. Shadows danced across the floor from the windows in the adjacent living room, but I did not inspect the shadows further. I had to move on. An unknown force was drawing me to the staircase.

The staircase was a harder challenge to keep silent. Wooden stairs creaked loudly, and every time they did sounded five times louder than normal. What if his parents wake up? I thought. Question after question ran through my mind. I looked into the mirror on the first landing. I realized that I was still not wearing any shoes. I was still in the hospital gown I had woken up in, and I still looked beautiful. Would he recognize me?

I crept down the hall toward his bedroom. The little I could see was provided by the light that poured from under his bedroom door. When I reached his door, I opened it.
But there was no sign of Austin in the room.
The room was messy. The bed was not made, and the floor was littered with books, clothes, and CD’s. On his desk, his computer light blinked.
“Austin?” I called into the silence, forgetting that I was trying to be quiet. I realized my mistake and turned around. There were footsteps on the staircase, and I looked for a place to hide. The room’s closet was the safest place. I opened the door and slipped inside. I left the door ajar so I still had a view of the room. I could hear the sounds getting closer, and a few seconds later, the bedroom door opened. Austin looked as he always did. His blonde hair always needing a trim, and his face more like an angel than anything else. I suddenly had an urge to cry, but I did not know if it was from sadness, or for love of the boy who stood before me.
The only difference in him was his eyes, could they be red? It looked as though he had recently been crying, or was I just imagining things? He looked tired and miserable, and he was fingering something. It was a…

“AUSTIN, NO!” I screamed, not realizing that his parents would wake up, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care if the people across the street heard me yell, I was not going to allow Austin to hurt himself. “AUSTIN, PLEASE DON’T!”

I didn’t care about anything, I didn’t even care that he killed me. At that moment, nothing mattered except keeping Austin from hurting himself. “AUSTIN” I screamed. I realized that he hadn’t even glanced in my direction. He didn’t even seem to notice that I had jumped out of the closet. But I didn’t care. All I cared about is that was that he was not going to die.

He fingered the gun.

“NO, AUSTIN, NO!” I sobbed. “AUSTIN! I LOVE YOU!” He suddenly paused, “AUSTIN, I FORGIVE YOU, FOR … EVERYTHING! DON’T HURT YOURSELF!”

I knew he couldn’t see me, couldn’t hear me, but I knew, even though I wasn’t sure how, that he could feel my presence. He turned toward me, with the expression of a person trying to discern shapes in a puzzle, and his hand slowly reached o

But toward my face. I started to cry. Even though from his point of view he was touching thin air, where I stood, he was holding my cheek. I felt his warm touch, and I missed him so much that I could feel tears slip down my face. How could I love the boy who killed me? I felt a smile touch my trembling lips, and in that moment, I knew he loved me.

But he suddenly dropped his hand, and turned away from me toward the gun. I started to yell no, but I felt myself pulled back into a whirl of colors, into the closet, and seconds later, onto the green grass of the park. I ran toward the door that I had first entered. The door to the other world, but it was locked.

“NO!” I wailed banging on the door with my fist. “OPEN UP, OH GOD PLEASE DON’T HURT YOURSELF, AUSTIN. AUSTIN, I LOVE YOU. I FORGIVE YOU! OPEN UP!”

I hammered on the door with my fist, my hands bruised from all the pounding, my voice screaming and crying. Suddenly the door crashed off its frame, and even though it fell into the other side of the door frame, the passage beyond was different. It was not Austin’s bedroom, though the back of Austin’s head was visible. He was talking to a man in a chair opposite his. I walked inside cautiously.

“So what happened the night of the accident?” asked the man keenly.

“I met her that night at Great Cliff Park. I wanted to talk to her because she was mad at me for talking to this new girl. She became frustrated at my explanation. She started yelling at me, as we stood on the edge of the cliff. She was really close to the edge, so I reached out to keep her from going over, but she pushed me away and then fell.”

“Then what happened?” he asked.

“I called the police. They recovered her body, and told me to go home, that they would deal with it. But that night I stole the gun from my dad’s garage. I took it to my room and planned to kill myself with it. Because it was my fault she died.”

“No,” said the man calmly, “it was not your fault. You tried to help, no blame falls on you. But what made you decide not to kill yourself?”

Austin paused. “I felt her.”

“I beg your pardon?” the man said.

“I felt her in the room, and it was as if she was trying to tell me something, that she forgave me.”

I felt myself once again fly into the whirl of colors, and I looked up. I realized that I had forgiven him, that I had forgiven myself. I did not belong in the world of the living. I was ready to leave. “I forgive you,” I said. And I meant it.

Suddenly, the ceiling started to tremble, and chunks fell out crashing to the floor, none hitting me. I closed my eyes as a bright light filled the semi-dark space. When I opened my eyes, I breathed what felt like my first breath of life, and walked toward the light that had always been hidden by a darkness that surrounded my life. I was free. For the first time, I was alive.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

Origins said...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm:
Wow i am speechless. You are one of the few writers on this site that adresses the fundamental issues of human nature, all the others stories i read on this site are about love and that stuff which is pointless when it comes to literature. 
 
justbreathe24 replied...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 11:41 pm :
Thank you so much for your feedback. It took a lot of time to write. When I first wrote it, she also had to go back and fix ties with her parents, but I had to cut it into this version. 
 
Origins replied...
Mar. 25, 2011 at 10:53 am :
Yeah, i really liked the figurative aspects of the story like with the door coming out of the ground into the hills and sun. That, and the intro was epic. My only suggestion would be that you center your narrative/plot not on a boyfriend or love but on lonliness/ growing up/ isolation/human nature/society cause those are much more profound, intense topics that would go much better with this powerful story/narrative.
 
justbreathe24 replied...
Mar. 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm :
Yes, those themes are considerably more influential and impressive in a short story. To convey it, however, is very hard to do, especially when the story has to be under 2,500 words. 
 
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