by Peter Davidson
'Peter! Hello? Peter! Can you hear me?'
'Why are you shouting? Of course I can hear you.'
A crowd of strangers, their faces floating above me, demanding, calling.
Ah, I remember.
The window is there behind them, blue sky now dark. The black shape of the bird, gone. Flown away, and not yet with my soul. I don't want to see it again. I'm back from the nothingness. No light. No tunnel. Perhaps no redemption. I take a breath. I've touched death, yet I'm alive.
'How are you feeling?' Another face asks.
An unanswerable question. My mind churns for an answer and finds none. I'm waiting. Waiting again for that instant oblivion. The pain builds in my chest. They notice. Hands work efficiently and the morphine flows.
'Does that feel better?'
I can only shake my head. When it comes, there's no warning.
Click. The switch is thrown on consciousness as quick as a killed light.
Only when the faces appear again, calling me back, do I know I've been gone. This time the window is black. How much time has passed? Is that bird still there, stealthily unseen, black feathers merging with the night, cold eyes glinting in the darkness, waiting. When will he take me? Fly me away into the night, into that timeless void, into nothing.
Sometimes in the hours of a dark dawn, I still look to the window and become fearful of the shadows, of black wings not a heart beat away.