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And so that evening I asked Sarah what she thought happened to people when they died. She said she thought that it was all just energy—even after you die. The energy you leave behind is who you are. Then you become part of the energy that came before you. I told her that sounded like new age bullshit to me. She told me to shut up. She asked me what I thought. I told her, “Nothing.” I told her the oxygen escapes from your brain and then you’re gone. I told her about this scientist during the French Revolution. He was about ready to be executed by the guillotine but he decided to have one last experiment. He told his assistants to gather around the platform, and once he was beheaded he was going to blink as many times as he could. This would show how long a brain is still alive after it is severed from the body. It would show if a head was still conscious after it was cut off.
The blade dropped. The head dropped and rolled. The scientist blinked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times and then the face blinked no more. He was able to blink five times before the oxygen was completely gone.
Then I asked her what type of funeral she wanted. She told me she didn’t want a funeral. She wanted to be cremated and have her ashes spread at the Turner farm and in the New River Gorge. She giggled and said she wanted to become the wind. Then she asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted just a cardboard box wrapped in a blanket and then put into the ground. I wanted to be the host of my own worm party. I wanted to rot. It’s what all the great ones do. Then I whispered, “I looked to the gods and wished for 10,000 birthdays. They were granted. Sadly, I forgot to ask that these days be days of youth.”
Then I told her that if I lived longer than she did, I wasn’t going to have her cremated. I was going to have her buried with me.
No you’re not.
Yes I am.
No you’re not.
Yes I will.
No you won’t. I will. You won’t.
You won’t. I’ll be the wind.
Not if I have anything to do with it. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. Well, if you don’t cremate me, I’ll haunt you. I’ll be your ghost.
And so here I am years later and I think of the tattoos inside my guts and skin. I have no tattoos on the outside but thousands of them inside my skin. They say: Why did you leave? Why. But then there are others: No one looked at you like I looked at you. No one loved you like I loved you. No one. No one.
And so I look in mirrors and I find myself staring. I look in mirrors and I do this. I blink.
I go: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
And then there is nothing except the world exploding and a million stars shooting across the black, black sky.