Friday, January 23, 2009

Kimball's Demise by Joshua Lucht

It found me three hours ago and I don’t have too long before it eats me alive. It’s sloppy and predictable and it was just biding its time. I never knew what it was before now. I did not believe in it, but somehow, I knew that it would get me.
And now I’m finding out that there are some things that man was never supposed to know.
Like the Tree of Good and Evil.
I’m crouched on the floor in the corner of my bedroom. My bed, a mattress on the floor with no frame looks inviting, but I just can’t lie down. When it finally ends, I want to be awake.
I thought it was harmless.
All I can do now is sit here, chewing what’s left of my fingernails, down to the bones and smoking the rest of my cigarettes. There are eleven left in the pack. I hope they last longer than I do; smoking has always been my security blanket and I can’t deal with a craving in my last moments.
That was my first stop this afternoon. I went into the gas station and bought three packs of cigarettes. I live just around the corner and they carry these cigarettes special for me, French ones that you would never find in a gas station. I buy three packs every day.
He was standing next to a bicycle in a white shirt and a black tie and he was very, very handsome. I was walking quickly; I don’t like to be bothered and the man, smiling, handed me one of those gospel tracts. “’How much do I love you?’ Christ asked. ‘This much.’ Then he spread his arms and died for me.”
I think it got in through my hand. The only reason I say that is because my index fingernail fell off first.
Against my better judgment, I took the gospel tract. Sometimes, it’s just easier not to put up a fight. I did not even think about it again until just now; I shoved it into the front pocket of my jeans along with my loose change and keys and walked away.
It’s taken one hand entirely, withered it until it crumbled and fell away like ash off a cigarette and it has moved through my chest into both of my legs. And now it’s bubbling under my skin, turning it dark and blistering.
It’s only been a few minutes since I tried to lift one of my legs only to have it dissolve and fall onto the floor, like God was tapping a cigarette.
It’s almost over now, but there’s one small mercy: it’s left my right hand alone so I can still smoke.
I’ll light my last cigarette now; it’s almost over.
I only have seconds left.
With the scant flaps of flesh under my nose and over my chin, I can manage to suck on my cigarette.
She was beautiful and I had no idea that she was in league with the two men on their bicycles. She caught up to me and I thought she wanted me.
She touched my hand and told me that I was loved and then she turned and walked away to add another notch in her crucifix.
But God, she was gorgeous. If my lips were still on my face, I’d be smiling beautifully.
All that’s left now, aside from half a cigarette and my stink is memories. I’m not so sure I want all of them.
Like my baptism; I panicked.
The preacher dipped me under the water, and I felt an unbearable fear. I’d never even imagined that kind of fear. Even in my nightmares, I hadn’t guessed that anyone could be this afraid.
I’m looking at the walls of my bedroom and I realize just how sharp the corners are and suddenly, I’m afraid of the ceiling.
Suddenly it occurred to me, when Brother Jim held me under with his chubby hand, what I was preparing for.
I was going to die. That was the first time I really understood that. I guess for some reason, maybe childishness, maybe believing in the second coming of Christ, I’d always thought I would be exempt.
But when my head went under and the water crept over me, I knew that I was not special. I was going to die just like everyone and that’s why it was so important for me to go through this; I had to prepare myself to go to Heaven. And I couldn’t breathe.
The light is here now, just like when the preacher brought me up from the water and I gulped the sweet air as hard as I could.
I stare up at the corner of my room, where the top of two walls meet the ceiling and it’s sharp enough to cut, so I cower on the floor.
After my Baptism, I gave up the faith. Surely, God would not take a child and send him to hell. If I was not a believer, I knew there was no way I could die. God would just not do that.
But I’m older now.
I can see it and it’s gorgeous; it’s a white light, just like everyone said it would be.
It’s enveloping me and my last cigarette is only ash now.
Across the room, I can see the corner of the floor and it’s just as jagged. If I could, I’d scoot to the middle of the room; I know this corner is going to cut me.
My good hand has given out now and it’s all I can do to keep the cigarette in my mouth. And now it’s gone. I don’t know if He has given me peace or if I have just lost that part of my mind, but suddenly, I’m not afraid anymore. All I can think is how breathtaking Heaven will be if I make it.
I’m going out like a candle.

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