William Eliot

Perception graveyard

This life is total darkness, but not black like space, or one's favourite ink.

4 July 2021

So there is an afterlife, my love, but no God! There was no welcome to this hell or heaven. There were no pearly gates, and even now I can’t remember what pearl looks like.

Arriving here, I was certain that He existed. But there is as little proof of Him here as there is in your world. Actually there is far less of Him in the empty canvas of my present perception.

No, this world, if anything, is the handiwork of the Devil… I’m sorry to say. This life is total darkness, but not black like space, or one’s favourite ink. It’s dark like the realm of sight beyond the periphery, dark like the garden when the bedroom curtains are pulled tight. I see nothing, for I have no eyes.

There are others here: others who have landed on this post-death planet. Somehow, without mouths or ears, we speak to each other, and yet the sound is glottal, and I can feel the words forming in my unreal throat.

As for moving, that vascular luxury is altogether lost, and life is limbless. Spatial displacement from origin to destination — pure movement — can still happen. Quite how so is unclear, and each of us imagine it differently: I imagine myself as a gust of thinking, careful warmth.

So the dead live here without their senses. None can see or smell or feel the world which we inhabit. Only that form of silent speech I described earlier makes up our lives. Only when a voice grows quieter can I guess I’m moving away from it, or it away from me. I suppose that trapped in a coffin, all one can do is hear mourners quietly grazing above.

My darling, I haven’t told you the worst part yet. An awful discovery was made many millenia ago, and it will disturb you. The terrain of this afterlife is a terrible replica of Earth: it is a sphere of similar size, and you land in the same place you die.

You know I died at Bedford, and the first voices I half-heard spoke in the familiar, calm accent. They explained all, and I wept without noise or tears. They couldn’t hug me, and so they merely described a hug, by merging vowels and consonants.

In an afterlife with so few of Earth’s pleasures, I’m surprised to find myself happy. Ageless and careless, I do miss everything about you and our house and our life. But there is a peace in a world which can only talk.

I am with my parents, and their parents, and in turn their parents. Families congregate and live (if it can be called that) with one another. It’s like being at the root of a cave, and I often reflect on how we have become tribes in this shadowy treeless forest.

Therefore, it’s a cruel God who banishes us from the Eden of Earth, into this strictly-human place, deprived of its senses. And yet I’m grateful that we can listen, for without that power, I would surely feel, and be, dead.