I have been doing a lot more thinking than I should these past few centuries. True, I have heard people, nattering as they pass by, asserting that they use their brains to think. Mine on the other hand, was pulled out of my nose long ago. You don’t need your brain for thoughts though; that organ is merely to store the more marginal information one tends to acquire, so the heart has more room for important knowledge. Yes, if one needs to think, all one needs is a heart. Osiris certainly needs it, I was told. All my living years I have tried to think with the thoughts worthy of including into my heart — the airy dreams and hopes — and overlooking the weighty ruminations that are shoved into the brain. If I think the weighty thoughts too often, those thoughts would invade my heart, and it would fail the test against Anubis’ feather. My heart needs to be lighter when weighed against the ostrich feather for my reward, and it’s my duty to keep it lighter.
But those thoughts did not trouble me. No, in life I gave myself little time for heavy pondering and embraced the light ideas and good wishes. I tried to keep the mentality I had when I was a child: that Egypt was a land built by dreams. For how could you not look at those gleaming white pyramids of my home and not feel like you had ascended? And, I had told myself, if the physical land where I lived was so majestic, just think of what the realm of Anubis may hold. When I was alive, my chest had felt as if there was nothing within. It had been a cavernous, yet well-lit space, and it only grew deeper when those expendable organs were removed.
When I died, my peers had removed everything unnecessary, everything bad. Once my body had been made presentable, they had told me, I would meet with Osiris and Anubis.
I’m ready. I’m ready to stand under the eyes of Anubis. I’m ready to speak to Osiris.
So where are they?
This room where I make my home, it looks how I imagined the afterlife to be, only a little darker. A mixture of colours absent from my physical home, statues of the mighty ones decking the corners, and arches. Arches have intrigued me, but I have not tried to reason why, for fear that it would be too much of a weight for my chest. These arches have tempted me with that certain type of thought; they lead somewhere, but I cannot move my body to see where. The answer should be a simple one: if this is the realm of the gods, these passages must lead to something humans cannot comprehend. But why can’t humans comprehend them? Why aren’t they guarded or sealed tightly? Why do so many people keep coming through them?
Is it a test?
Before I arrived at this place, a rather sizeable period was spent in darkness. I saw this as another way of cleansing my body — an empty space begets empty thoughts, making one’s heart all the lighter.
This room though… I move as much as I did in the numb emptiness, but now I am given more to ponder on.
Who are the people who periodically arrive?
Why do they never speak to me, but only stare?
Well, I thought, if they speak, it’ll spark a conversation. Conversations can spark debates and arguments, and those can cause heavy thoughts. I know nothing about these people who come, so I can’t think about them, and they say nothing that will make me think about them. Their glares, however, and the way their eyes bulge at me, sink my heart, as if they’re trying to push it down with their expressions.
The children speak though.
Yes, the children. They say I’ll rise again, which I hope to do, but they say I’ll rise to kill. I’ll rise to curse. I have not dealt with any of that nonsense in life, so why do they believe I’ll do it in death? Why do they think I walk with my arms in front? Is ‘Dracula’ another son of Osiris?
Maybe their mocking is another form of cleansing; teasing me with the possibility that I may murder or cast spells so I may deny it. But, remembering the absence of my brain, I try not to listen to them or my own theories about them.
Then one day, I hear laughter. Three children, bearing more colours absent from my physical home, stand around me, giggling away as one of them seems to put on a show, with me as a performer. ‘Help! Help! The mummy’s after me!’ a girl squeals, and the other two laugh. Her expression was meant to be that of fear, but I know terror when I hear it.
Her expression was light.
They laugh, they laugh at me, and laughter is light. Laughter is from the heart and laughter makes the heart lighter. I thought I could no longer laugh, but when that girl chuckles, my heart hollows.
Or is hollowing my heart no longer necessary? I imagined the afterlife to be a place of great joy, and certainly there’s no greater joy than bringing great joy to others. What’s the use of lightening your own heart without lightening any others?
Gareth Barsby is a young writer looking to share his tales with the world. He is a graduate of the University of Chester, and writes frequently in his spare time.