Dawn creeps across the ragged field, quiet and diffuse. I’ve been looking out the window, waiting for my long dark night to end. Am I still dead? No. Flushed with relief, I cross over to the kitchen. I make coffee, strong and dark. The bubbling echoes in our small loft, but still I have to rouse my carpenter, Harley. Make breakfast. Scrambled eggs, sausage patties, buttered toast. Wake up! Barely containing myself. Everything changes. In the flesh. I made it.
Some day, I will go back again, but not today.
We take the dogs for their morning walk. Damp softness beneath my sandaled feet. It rained last night. Three hearty squalls, as promised. It’s warm for early December. Unlike the carpenter, I don’t wear a jacket, just a long shift.
“You’re not cold?” he wonders.
“Not at all,” I say. I’d just as soon wear nothing.
The dogs are all over me like cheese on pizza. The bulldog drools, his slobbering maw agape and panting. The rat terrier runs around in circles, rubs against me as if he were some kind of cat. Even the carpenter’s eyes well, but he says nothing of it.
The light isn’t quite right. The lavender sky, the fluorescent grass, the copper halos of the street lamps still burning. A skinny adolescent tree throbs, its thin bark veined with blood-colored sap. I inhale the musky air. I love it. Connected to all. Pure love. I will never be alone, never grow cold, for I am one with all the world. On the other side. I remembered. All I can do is choke on my giggles. This is eternity? The chorus laughs. I’m hearing voices, but I don’t care. Neither do they.
“Are you all right?” Harley asks. He’s nervous.
“Yes.” I smile, and look down at the callouses on my feet. “I’m perfect.”