Death Was Waiting

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The story of a man who is realizing he is dying and his discovery of what is really worth living and dying for.

Peter stared and waited, silently haunted by the commonality that he shared with all people of all places and times, the tie that bound him to all those who came before him, his imminent death. The bus barreled toward the place where he knelt in the road. He had forgotten how he got there, forgotten to move, forgotten to breathe. He was all alone in that instant, the world swirled around him, but he had never felt more isolated in his life. He gazed intently at the bus, willing it to stop, empowering his thoughts to hold it at bay. But it moved on unstopping, unceasing, and eternal.

A million thoughts came to him at once, they crowded his mind violently jostling about to gain his attention but each so fleeting he had no time to consider them. There just wasn't enough time; there was never enough time no matter what you did. Each minute, each hour, each day, each year, and most of all each life was just too short.

But what had he done with the time he had been given? Nothing, he had done nothing. Now, as he was about to die he realized that everything he had accomplished in his life was meaningless. What did it matter that he had a high paying job, a beautiful wife to go home to every night, and a big expensive house. In the next instant they would be gone along with him. His job would be given to someone else, his young beautiful wife would inevitably marry someone else, and his large luxurious house would be bought and lived in by someone else.

He became rudely aware that he lived in a society of lies. One that lied to fill the void left by the nothingness that their lives entailed. Lied to feel loved, lied to feel important, and most of all lied that they were invincible; that death would never come to them so they need not think about it, just drown it in the hectic activity of everyday.

What in his life wasn't a lie? He wondered what fragmented truths had been mucked over and buried in a grave of untruth, and all the while desperately beating upon its coffin lid to come out and show its face. But by now, he feared the truth had died. There in that deep uncaring grave he had dug for it long ago.

His marriage was a lie. A hollow deception based on a false persona perpetuated in the wooing to trick the other into ‘loving' you. People are too scared to show who they really are, so they wear a mask to feel accepted. But they are not accepted; only the mask is; only the lie is loved. So you never actually know the person you marry until after the wedding, when their guard is down and you're committed. That's why there is so much divorce he thought, people are marrying strangers everyday, and realizing after they wear the ring that they have no clue who the person sleeping next to them really is.

His importance was a lie. On a grand scale he was meaningless compared with the rest of the world. Yes, he had pompous thoughts of himself, with his high paying job, luxury car, and expensive house.  But they were all pointless, because what could he take with him now, nothing. Was his life just a culmination of unimportant occurrences, strung together to give the perception of a life that held significance? He had accomplished nothing of eternal value in his entire life; it was all just shallow lies, told to offer some vague sense of hope.

He looked again to the bus, it was moving slowly, or perhaps it was time that trudged along sluggishly. He had lost perception of everything, for all he knew he could already be dead and living in a moment for eternity. "What an awful eternity" he said to himself. "Why couldn't I be stuck in a happier time, a time that didn't move so slowly, that didn't let me think this much." He was ready for it to end. He was ready for his casket, his flowers, his mourners, and his eulogy. He was ready for death. Why would it not come?

Peter looked outward now, at the world around him, at the people striding past him. They did not see him. They were too absorbed in their own world. To lost, adrift in a sea of motion, out of a constant need to be doing something. Idle thought was foreign to these people, for who has time to think? He imagined them telling him as they passed that they would think some other time. He laughed at them, they never would. Because they would never admit that they did not think. Of course they thought, about the next movie they would watch, the next friend they would meet, the next song they would listen to, and he laughed at their ignorance, they did not think, they planned. They were always ‘thinking' about what they would do next but never about what they were doing. They had to, the world moves to fast dwell on the present.

As he glared at the people, hating them as they passed he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. Seated at a slight angle behind him, out of the path of the bus was a beautiful little girl. She had colossal brown eyes that swallowed the world around her, drinking it all in. She was very short and skinny, with a shocked expression draped across her face. Why was she sitting in the road he wondered? No, she wasn't sitting she had fallen back like someone had pushed her away.

He stared deep into those all seeing eyes and it all came back to him. He remembered walking along the sidewalk and seeing this beautiful girl standing in the street alone. He had called out to her as the bus flew down the road at her, the driver unaware. She stood frozen in fear, unable to move. He remembered jumping out at her, shoving her aside and falling at the mercy of the cold steel of that wicked bus.

He looked at her again. He regretted nothing. He knew he would die, but it did not matter because in his death he would save the life of this priceless little girl. Perhaps now his life would not be so meaningless because he had saved someone else. He had been selfless and handed his meaningless life to someone who had their whole life before them to do what he did not, something that would last.

He turned back, the bus was inches away and he greeted it with ease. He wanted the peace and silence of death. Time unfroze, it ceased to creep by at an unbearably slow pace and the world became alive around him. He heard the desperate screech of brakes, the horrified gasps of spectators, and he felt the intent gaze of a little girl on his back. He felt a thud on his forehead and the world as he knew it evaporated into nothingness. Peter was dead.


Submitted: June 18, 2007

© Copyright 2022 Sanderland Lewis4. All rights reserved.

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