INFREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 5: PINING FOR THE FJORDS / OH COMELY

You die on a Tuesday, which surprises you for several reasons. Over the years before that fateful weekday you had generally avoided contemplating the circumstances which might prompt your untimely demise, but even if you had given it some thought, you certainly wouldn’t have anticipated that your death would come from tripping into the road after failing to tie your shoelaces. This was, after all, something that your mother had explicitly warned you about. In retrospect you’re lucky to have made it this far without dying elaborately as a result of not tidying your bedroom.

Before the enormity of the change sinks in, you find that you are slightly excited to be dead. It had not been in your plans for the week. Logically you understood that it would happen eventually, but in a small, unconquerable bit of your heart you always secretly believed that you would never actually die. Now that you have perished, it is like you’ve prematurely seen the final episode of a television programme that everyone is obsessed with. It was neither as painful nor as scary as you might have feared. It was not even the worst thing to ever happen to you. You have definitely had breakups worse than your own death.

You leave your body in the street and continue on with your day. It does not take long to adapt to the new reality of your existence. The closest you come to sadness is a passing concern that you should be feeling more sad than you are. Your death was just another part of your life, you understand now. What is unexpected however is that you are given no guidance about what to do next. This is much the same as during life, you suppose, but you had been conditioned to expect at least a brief consultation with some manner of celestial administrator. Even in death, you are still essentially on your own, and while this doesn’t upset you, it does leave you with a lot of time on your hands. It is probably not worth going to work any more, and your social calendar has emptied dramatically.

The sudden lack of a corporeal form is difficult. You spend a fruitless afternoon in a local library trying to read over people’s shoulders, but they are either too slow or too quick for you, and you soon lose patience. Cinemas and museums are better, and you discover that you now possess a level of attention that was previously absent when there was a million things to worry about. You rarely visit figures from your life: it is hard to see them upset, and almost as hard to see them happy. As fatigue has ceased being an issue, you cultivate an interest in hiking. Perhaps it might be fun to walk to another country, you think, although if you didn’t like the area then the return journey would take ages. You’re not sure if this is going to be it, forever, or if this is just a stage like the ones that came before, but you do know that you should probably come up with a plan. On balance, you mostly wasted your life; you do not want to waste your death as well.

What do you do next?

Originally published in Oh Comely’s newsletter.

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