There is a place adjacent to us but never visible or palpable in any way, yet it is there. I know this because I am there, here, wherever this place is. Allow me to explain.
I was stumbling home around two thirty this morning, more intoxicated than I should have been, when I decided to cross the road. Drunk me failed to take in his surroundings and there is nothing more sobering that being struck by a Ford F-150 speeding at 47mph. The instant my flesh met metal, I, this form of me, was ejected from my body like ink hitting water. I dissolved into this parallel realm that I assume many would believe is the place the ever-elusive “soul” resides even as it remains attached firmly to the meat and bone of the physical world.
I’m in Limbo. Purgatory. I only know this because it is what I choose to believe. And because, as I stand here, I can see my physical body lying on the pavement as blood pools underneath it. I tried to kick the side of my body but my toes simply evaporate around the physical shape only to return when I pull my foot back. I am nothing, but I’m still here. So, I wait for the only two outcomes I can think of. Either I die, my body is still breathing raspy breaths, or someone comes along and saves me. The latter of which would be preferable but the chances seem slim since the dickhead in the truck never stopped and is probably near the state line already.
So here I am. Some evanescent form. Stuck waiting. Watching myself die. The street is wet with a light misting that I try to catch in the palm of my phantom hand. It simply falls through, and I feel nothing. I look upon myself and try not to think of how I ended up here. Try not to think of the woman at the bar I was too afraid of speaking to despite the way she kept looking at me all night. I try not to think of all the women I chickened out of speaking to. Or the jobs I never applied for despite my friends urging me on so I wouldn’t have to keep digging ditches or hauling trash or cleaning offices overnight. They only wanted good things for me, but I never believed that I could have those things. Which is why, in some way, I know I deserve to be right here lying on the pavement as my blood, darker than the wet asphalt, begins to stain the grass on the side of the two-lane road just outside of town.
I see the lights before I hear anything. The red and blue of the patrol car as it slows to a stop about ten feet from me with its headlights focused on my body. My final act has an audience. The lone officer steps out and calls over the radio for an ambulance. I stand there and wonder if he can see my ethereal body. I wave but get no reaction so I assume not. Secretly I hope that the ambulance will make it in time. I also am secretly grateful that I have something to turn my attention to besides my body awkwardly stretched out on the road with what looks like at least one broken leg and a crushed rib cage. The officer kneels and checks my pulse and turns toward the radio on his shoulder. I’m half expecting him to call off the ambulance. That I’m done for, and I start to wonder if I’ll remain a specter if I were to expire in the cold, wet darkness.
Instead I hear a rough voice call, “He’s got a strong pulse, but make it quick.”
I look at the ocean of black around my body and wonder what my heart could be pumping hard enough to register a strong pulse. A larger box of lights arrives and two paramedics drop bags by my broken body. They apply bandages after bracing my neck and sticking a tube down my throat. I winced and grabbed at my neck, but realized there was no feeling at all. The sight of it, however, caused my reaction which was based out of instinct. But it was an instinct meant for a different world entirely.
The medics put me on a stretcher and loaded me in the mobile hospital room. I followed them. A spectator to myself. I tried to climb in the back but, as before, I simply dissipated. Before they shut the door, a beeping punctures the silence and the paramedic who had hopped in the driver’s seat climbs in back to help the other medic. I’m flat-lining, but I still feel nothing. I stand beside the officer as the medics pull the defibrillator off the wall and charge it. They zap me once and my body flails like a fish. They zap me again and I feel nothing. The officer winces for me. They charge up and zap me a third time and I dissolve into the air like ink in water.