After you die you learn that your universe is small. Not the universe. Just yours. And those memories don’t disappear. You know needs like hunger, thirst, and lust. However, in this moment you recall other moments. It happens in an instant and it’s like this: You feel the wind and you understand it is the wind. You feel your body and you understand it is your body. You feel your mane and you understand it is your mane, and in that instant—that particular moment of clarity, you understand that you didn’t always have one.
Overhead, in a gold sky you hear a plane and you look up, watch it traverse and you know it’s a plane, and with the sight of that powdery streak you recall hands, can make out your face. You remember being a boy in a field with a girl who touched your earlobe with a fingertip. Neither of you spoke. You recall watching your grandfather bait an earthworm to a hook with dirty hands. The hook pierced him. The blood mixed with dirt. You watched the blood drip down from his fingertip to the stones below. You recall your mother, but only in photograph: she is a girl. Her hair is in short braids, her arms are razor blades, she is not smiling.
You recall making love to your love. You see the tiny beads of sweat at her hairline, the ghost roads of veins beneath the skin of her wrist, the meeting of soft coils to straight extensions. You recall your daughter’s fingernails when she was first born. They were fingernails as any other, but tiny and you wondered how anything so faultless could be so tiny. You wondered how she had soft knees, a wisp of a spine beneath opulent skin, the bluish Mongolian spot on her little shoulder. You wondered how she existed then, and the last image in your mind a few days later as you died of four gunshots to the chest—you startled someone with your shadowy bulk, your mysterious material meant to withstand the brightest beams of the sun, the driest stabs of the dust—was her plump belly. Will it be full? you wondered. Will it be full?
You turn your head, feel the wind in your mane that you understand for this instant, and look at the gate enclosing you. In this moment you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she stands close to your enclosure, hands pressed against the gate, your grandson at her side. It comes as fast as it goes and you are you, but not that you and your daughter stands with the crowd wondering why she can’t look away from the lion that followed the plane with his eyes.
Angus J. Sullivan is a new writer. He works as a bartender in Flagstaff, AZ, and knows more about the locals than their families.