She is falling

Sanne Burger

26 December 2021

She is falling.
She is not sure whether she is dreaming or whether this is real.
She feels the fear surging through her body.
It feels very real.
To drop dead is her biggest fear.
Her eyes are tightly closed.
She is too scared to scream.
She knows she is approaching the rocks very rapidly.
She can hit them any time now.
She faints.

When she wakes up, she knows immediately her body is broken.
She is dead, but she feels very alive.
There is no pain, but she is overcome with emotion.
It was too soon.
She was not ready to die.
Her children.
She loved life.
She wanted to stay.
She sobs.
It is not fair.

There is another presence in the room.
She can feel him.
He is getting impatient.
He is waiting for her to gather herself.
Fuck off, she thinks.
I am dead.
But he is stronger than her.
He somehow commands her to gather herself.
Or maybe he helps her.
She becomes calm.

Where am I? she thinks.
She opens her eyes and looks around.
An empty space.
Nothing to see but white light.
Where is this man? she thinks.
Now she can see him.
He’s tall and handsome, but she dislikes him straight away.
He has a grave energy.
He’s the bearer of bad news.
She can feel it.

‘So, get on with it then’ she says.
‘You can just as well spit it out.’
The man stares at her.
‘You failed’ he finally says.
His words hit her like swords.
She doubles up in pain, while trying to hide it.
She feels the urge to defend herself.
To attack him and scratch his eyes out.
Old habits die hard.
But he is right.

It hurts.
She is standing in the flames of her pain.
She is allowing them to consume her.
‘So this is hell’ she thinks.
‘Finally justice.’
She doesn’t think of escaping.
Not anymore.
She has been running all her life.
And it is too late anyway.
She is already dead.

The pain slowly fades away.
Silence follows.
‘So hell is not eternal after all’ she thinks with a shimmer of hope.
The man is still there.
Is he helping her or is he hurting her?
What does he want from her?
‘What can I do for you?’ he asks.
‘Nothing’ she says.
‘You were right.
I am sorry.’

‘Why did you do it?’ he asks.
She has to answer.
‘Because I was selfish’ she says.
‘Incorrect’ he says.
She’s taken back by that answer.
‘Because I was a bad person’ she says.
‘Incorrect’ he says.
With every answer she sinks deeper into herself.
‘Because I was scared?’ she asks.

‘No, no’ he says.
‘Because you didn’t listen.
Because you forgot.
Because you felt disconnected.
Because you were lost.
Because you tried to control everything.
Because you didn’t trust anyone.
Because you were deeply hurt.
Because you stopped loving yourself.
Because you stopped loving me.’

‘Who are you anyway?’ she asks.
‘I am you’ he says.
‘No’ she says. ‘You are some kind of god and I am a human.’
‘No, you’re not’ he says.
She looks at herself.
Instead of her body she sees a radiant light.
‘Oh yes, I forgot I was dead’ she says sheepishly.
‘So what am I now?’
‘You are me’ he says.
‘And I forgive you.’

‘I don’t want to be forgiven’ she says.
‘What I did was unforgivable.
Let me just burn in hell for eternity.’
‘Sorry hon, there is no hell’ he says.
‘What you just went through was your own making.’
She looks stunned.
He suddenly beams good-humour.
He makes her smile.
‘Are you making fun of me?’ she asks.
‘Yes’ he says.

‘Because you still don’t get it.
Even now that you are dead.
Honey, there is no hell, except the hell you create for yourself.
There is no sin, only the sin you make up.’
‘But what I did was wrong’ she insists.
‘I need to be punished.’
‘No!’ he says and his voice suddenly sounds like thunder.
‘No, you don’t need to be punished.
You need to be forgiven.’
‘I can’t forgive myself’ she says.

Suddenly something is shifting.
She can’t see the man who says he is her anymore.
He seems to have disappeared into the void.
The light dims.
The space gets colder.
She gets scared again.
She started to enjoy his company and now he is gone.
She is all by herself now.
Oh no, she’s not.
Before her eyes a familiar scene unfolds.

She sees herself as a little girl, lying in bed.
Tears are rolling down her face.
She is punished for being naughty.
She spoke too loud at the dinner table.
‘When will you finally learn?’ her mother said.
‘Why are you doing this to me?’
She feels guilty.
Her mother is unhappy and it is her fault.
She was naughty.
She needs to be punished.

Another scene unfolds.
She sees herself as a grown woman.
She is driving in her car.
She has left again.
It was just too hard.
She just couldn’t do it anymore.
She has left her children behind.
‘They will be fine’ she tries to reassure herself.
But she is not fine.
She is broken.

Her children are unhappy and that is her fault.
Her man is unhappy and that is her fault.
Her mother is unhappy and that is her fault.
The world is suffering and that is her fault.
Unhappiness is everywhere and she can’t do anything about it.
She is powerless.
She lost the game.
She failed.
She failed.
She failed.

She’s falling.
She’s not sure whether she is dreaming or whether this is real.
She feels the fear surging through her body.
It feels very real.
‘Wait!’ she thinks all of a sudden.
‘I have a déjà vu.
I have been here before.
Fuck, how many times have I been here before?’
‘Honey, you don’t want to know’ says a familiar voice.
‘Oh, you’re back’ she sighs with relief.

‘And so are you’ he says.
‘This is the first time you broke the circle.
Your guilt was craving punishment.
Again and again you plunged yourself into the abyss.
Breaking your body on the rocks.
Satisfying your remorse.
Paying for it.
Punishing yourself.
But this time it was different.
Maybe the word ‘forgiveness’ finally sank in?’

‘I’m not sure’ she says.
‘I suddenly realized I was in a loop.
It was so weird!
As if I woke up from a nightmare.’
‘You did’ the man says.
‘You woke up from the hell you created for yourself.’
‘Oh my’ she says.
‘So you were right after all.
Hell doesn’t exist.
Only in the minds of people.’

‘Did I really say that?’ he asks sheepishly.
‘Ah, of course I did. I am you, remember? And you are me.’
Again he is beaming good-humour.
She likes him so much more now.
Or maybe she likes herself more.
‘But how did I fail?’ she wants to know.
‘You said that I failed, remember?’
‘Of course’ he says.
‘Don’t you know by now?
In fact I already told you.’

‘Oh yes’ she says, ‘I remember.
I forgot to forgive myself.
I forgot to love myself.
I forgot to connect.
I forgot to listen.
I forgot to trust.
But now I do.
Thank you, thank you.
Too bad I’m dead.
Life would be so much more fun now.’

She’s surfacing.
Slowly, slowly she wakes up.
She feels peaceful and calm.
She is not quite sure where she is.
She is not quite sure what she is.
She is not quite sure when she is.
Her hands touch her body.
Ah, she is a human.
She hears the waterfall.
Ah yes, she is home.

She opens her eyes and looks around.
Everything looks the same, but different.
‘What happened?’ she wonders.
She feels lighter, as if a burden has been lifted from her shoulders.
Her daughter calls.
‘I had such a weird dream’ she tells her.
‘It was amazing. I wish I remembered.’
Her daughter laughs.
They both laugh.
Life is good.

Sanne Burger


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