…and in those last moments, as the life’s blood rushed from poor Applecrumb, he thought back upon his long existence, parsing the memories like marbles in a sack. Looking for the brightest and shiniest to hold up to the light as he drifted forever into the darkness beyond.
But all he remembered were the things most of us forget, the things that tend to blur together. Instead of love affairs, he remembered haircuts, every last one of them. Snip snip clip. And instead of brilliant highlights of children’s and grandchildren’s lives, he remembered every crap he’d ever taken. Every tedious moment spent sitting on a toilet, staring at an awful magazine or the back side of the door of a stall.
Instead of heroic achievements, Applecrumb remembered standing in line. He remembered waiting at the post office, the bank, the supermarket, the communion rail. Every last boring instant displayed in heightened relief like mountains on a map.
Instead of travels through foreign lands, Applecrumb remembered every mind-numbing commute to work on the overcrowded freeway. Instead of moments of spiritual awakening, he remembered all the cop shows and sitcoms he’d watched on TV. All the cheesy theme songs, commercial jingles, and droning local newscasts. All the empty faces he’d stared at on TV screens again and again, evoking no emotional response whatsoever in his heart.
Perhaps it was a symptom of his age and illness, for he did have a feeling he’d experienced milestones at some point in his life. Perhaps it was simply the nearness of death, prying his fingers from the world one at a time, leaving only the dull and worn-down places on which he could not gain purchase. The flatness which would not permit him to claw his way back, not even a little.
Or maybe, he thought, his tedious recollections represented the truest shape of his life. Of all lives. Those worn-down places, the abundant connective tissue between the scattered peaks, were the only things that mattered in the end. For only by enduring them, one after another, could a human spirit transmigrate from birth unto death. Yes, yes, an epiphany began to arise from that blaze of inspiration, that better-late-than-never revolution sweeping through Applecrumb’s huge head…at last, a legacy he could leave behind to change the world, to polish his name and reputation to a gleaming gloss!
But then, a moment later, all he could think of were the times he’d trimmed his toenails. He saw each crescent clipping afresh in his mind, glowing like the moon in the high night sky. And though he knew it not, knew not that it had even existed, his epiphany rushed apart like embers in a stiff wind, like a drop of blood in the rippling waters of the sea.
(See you soon!)