Friday, 23 September 2016

Just Some Things #2 : Kasim.

This is the latest instalment in my feature Just Some Things!
In case you don't know, here's how it works...
I send a writer an individual email with a series of prompts from the '642 Things to Write About' book – chosen entirely at random most of the time – and then when I get the responses, I dedicate a post to them and their piece. It could be short, long, backwards, in another language, I don't mind. It'll be an adventure whatever happens! And they can use or ignore however many of the prompts they wish. 



When published on the blog, their piece will be put in first and then I'll add in a little piece beneath it, my response to the same prompt. I will always ensure mine is shorter and less prominent, obviously. It's all about featuring my fave writers.

This post features and celebrates the legendary Kasim, author of Affliction who has a flair for the darker topics and is also an aspiring (+ sassy and harsh af) editor.

His prompt was: Describe Heaven.

I don’t remember how I died. They say that this is normal, all part of procedure. You die and then you don’t remember your death, because why would God want you to remember how you died? It’s never a nice thing, even if you were surrounded by your family and friends and you had no regrets. Your heart still seizes up. Your lungs still stop breathing. You still feel your life fade from you.
Oh yeah, and then it comes back and you’re listening to your family cry over you. You listen to them talk about you and you wonder why they never said these things to you whilst you were still alive. You realise that funerals are for the living more than anything. You listen to the sound of their footsteps walking away and you’re alone. The ground cracks under you and you feel like you’re falling. Consciousness fades and returns and suddenly you’re sitting in the cracked leather chair from your grandfather’s house but it can’t be that because your grandfather died when you were eight. You distinctly remember going to his funeral and watching everyone cry. You didn’t understand that he was dead. You just thought he was gone.
You get up and walk to the door of the room. Your hand stretches out to the handle and your hand doesn’t look like your hand. It looks new. But your hand. It’s new but it’s yours. Your hand twists the handle and when the door opens, there’s a wind that ruffles your hair. You feel better than you’ve felt in years. Suddenly, your child’s betrayal has disappeared from your heart, that fucker that hit your car seventeen years ago exists no more, the woman at the checkout till did not give you a frown as she passed your eighteen bottles of wine through.
Everything disappears and you feel like a tree in the midst of autumn. Naked. Yet free.
You step through the door and everything is dark. Yet, fear doesn’t strike your heart. Not like it did when you were seven and you watched that horror film about the doll that came alive. You couldn’t look at dolls the same way for the next few years and even before you died, if you saw a porcelain doll, your heartbeat would rise a little.
Lights turn on. Natural light floods in. It crashes into you.
You’re standing in a meadow. No, a beach. No, you’re standing in the middle of a city, just one in a crowd of people bustling around to get to where they need to go. No, you’re sitting in a room overlooking a waterfall. No, you’re standing above the waterfall, about to leap in. No, you’re in space, looking at the Earth from a distance of many miles. No, you’re on the moon.
No, I don’t know where I am.
No, I don’t know who I am.
No, I don’t know what I am.
Why are you so fearful?
The voice thunders through me. It growls and is high-pitched, male and female. Accents collide into each other within its space.
I want to speak.
I want to say something.
Is happiness not what you seek?
My mouth opens.
My entire life crashes into me. Sad songs and white women, guitars laced with spider’s webs, drums made of flesh, slashes in my skin. A razor blade sings a soft ditty. A man cries my name, my head cradled in his hand. A bathtub. Slipper underneath me. Shower curtain, hospital curtain. There’s a nurse with pretty lips. I kiss her. I’m at an office. Head cradled in hands. Computer beeps. Life support. A whisper. We’re going to say yes. I want him to say yes. He says no. There’s a switch. It’s turned off.
Is happiness not what you seek?
No.
*

Kasim's Twitter : Instagram : Debut novella : Blog


And here is my response to the same prompt...

I'm walking down an aisle. It looks like the freezing, breezy church in my home town. That one I was christened in. Not the one I was married in. The stained glass is beautifully illuminated from the outside, it casts glowing colours every which way – over all the people. People. There are a lot of people. Who are these people? They're standing either side of the aisle...they're clapping...they're cheering...for whom? For me?
I can't imagine why they'd be cheering for me. I turn and look behind me. It's all blackness behind me. Swirling blackness. How can that be?
'Well done, girl,' a man's hand claps on my shoulder. It's warm and firm. I follow the arm up and gasp when I see the face. It's my granddad. He's here. But he died – when I was a teenager – he did, he did die – and there's my grandma, clutching his other arm, tears pouring down her face. Tears of sadness, or tears of pride? She's smiling. At me.
That's when I look around me again. And I mean, properly look. I see my teachers from school who always inspired me, my best friends whose weddings I attended and children I held, my own daughter who was never born but I know it's her...these people are all dead. They're dead and gone. They've come here. And so have I. And they're happy to see me.


If you are interested in doing one of these posts, do tweet or email me at grace.latter@gmail.com

(Perfect image by Kayleigh Causton illustration)

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