All the books I’ve ever read said that the moment before you die is when you see your whole life flashing before your eyes. I never quite understood what that meant. Was it like an artfully-designed slideshow, each moment twirling and cartwheeling in and out of view while the encroaching darkness throws every single second into sharp relief? Was it supposed to be like an action movie, where all my mistakes exploded into fleshy ruin along the darkening pavement?
It is none of those things. In my fading moments, I try to bring up something that will start my weakening heart, even if it only breaks it. The sensations are leaving my body and mind. My thoughts are slipping like a cascade of Nerd’s candies through a destroyed box.
I can’t remember my head repeatedly hitting the rusted, blood-stained toilet of Elmer Elementary. I reach back to feel the scar where hair no longer grows, and there is no sadness. I don’t recall the feel of blood rushing to my head as I hung from the monkey bars, with only my beltloops holding me up. I don’t feel the twinge my wrist makes ever since my beltloops gave out and I crashed onto the woodchips.
I look down at my stained white shirt that I wore for eighth grade picture day. I can’t even see the faded scribbles from when Kimmie Held me down and drew demonic faces on it with red and black sharpy. I look at my pastel wrists and I don’t see the demonic faces I drew with Mom’s scrapbook scissors.
No, as my world dematerializes, I can only think of that smile. It’s bright and gap-toothed and painted with blue fun dip. I see it flashing brightly from the fading background. I hope she can forgive me. I hope that the world can continue to see that smile, even if I never will again.