The ages of Narayan’s life have gathered for his death. August years stoop at the deathbed’s helm. Solemn patriarchs of house and business, they are cast firmly in his mould. Further back, middle years hark back to the first fading of vitality, thinning at the scalp and thickening at the waist. And at the foot, coil-springed with purpose, is bright-eyed youth.
Behind the front lines, the cogs watch. They have obeyed and honoured, suffered and endured. He cannot put voices to the faces but they bore the little ones now scurrying about, reminding him that he too once lisped and toddled. Four generations to leave behind, and reap all he has sown.
A priest ululates scriptural sounds. Narayan’s ears try to dwell but his mind flits. What will it be? Fire, stench and misery? Ambrosia dripping from wish-fulfilling trees? What he fears most is nothingness. The pitch-black and pin-drop at a matinee’s end. Nothingness has nothing to know of its nothingness with. Why then, is man afraid of it?
One of the cogs creeps forward to touch his feet. His flesh stirs at the memory of a body not meant for him. Hell-fear trickles from his ailing heart. A pressure grips at the neck, siphons up and leaches through his eyes. Vacuum is building where breath should be. Surely, a vise of fingers is at his throat? Hetries to hollow out a gasp.
No air, no sound.
Darkness drips in. A face, just before light drains. Lined by time but sentenced by him, it hisses away in acid libations to unmask tomb-like teeth coring into a crumbling skull. The walls of his heart collapse. His lips give their last and freeze in a parting.
There it is. The body, shrunken, without soul. Here it is. The soul, expansive, without body. An ocean of effulgent nectar and a blaze of poisonous thorns sprawl to horizons within. Fate teeters, closer than nail on skin.
The body’s blood still flows. Curled in a womb nearby, unknown to the living, a beat has begun. Flame to moth, it pulls stronger than a heaven or a hell. The soul cannot but wisp to it, and melt into it. Nestled there, it will ready to rise again. To meet fate in the here. To obey, honour, suffer and endure.
Faber academy alumnus Kiira Rhosair is putting final touches to a YA mythological fantasy for submission. She writes micro-fiction in her spare time with pieces published by @FlashBackFic, Flash Flood Journal, @cafeaphra, @Funny_PearlsUK and was shortlisted by @TSSPublishing (Spring 18). She is on Twitter @kiirawrites.