I never burned the candle at both ends, yet here I am with only drops of wax to fuel my small lick of flame.
They gather around me with eyes and ears gaping wide, awaiting last gestures and utterances. These they will take from this room as treasured trinkets stuffed into small pockets.
With eyes as keen as ever, I plainly see the dread and sorrow that lives behind masks of happiness. Genuine and false in the same moment if such a thing is possible.
A grandson steps forward and closes his strong hands around my languid paw. The words are hushed and full of promise.
“I haven’t forgot about the ashes, Grampa. You’ll be floating down the river soon.”
What smile I can manage, I give to him. Then, I leave my body to the flames.
The blackness is cut off abruptly and blue-white light fills my eyes. The sounds of this place echo wildly and fill my ripening ears. I cry out in fear of the unknown as I am carried further into the light and placed into a warm embrace.
“Congratulations, it’s a girl.”