…that is what awaits you in the afterlife, a world of astonishing darkness and hatred and self-loathing and the sort of petulant unassuageable rage that infants feel.
Walsh imagined the dead animals that populated the street outside his house during winter, their heads or torsos smashed, flattened, a red spray staining the snow around their frozen bodies.
He named the animals, just as he used to as a child. As soon as they were named he could hear their voices, and he would ask them what it was like to die, and they’d explain.
It is, as one raccoon explained, like entering a closet whose door is old and rickety and built of horizontal slats of wood, between which lines of light break through from the world you’ve just left behind, and so you stare out at the world through these thin slivers of permission, and you start to miss the world because you finally see it from without, and you see how beautiful and astonishing it is and you suddenly know that everything from the largest mountains to infinitesimal particles of air are miraculous, and so you desire to reenter the world, to scream your revelations into the faces of your brethren, and you try to reenter, but fail, because the door will not open and there is no doorknob and you can’t pry apart the slivers of light, the cracks—you are trapped and ignored and forgotten in some dark place that teases you with a light you’ve lived in your entire life and didn’t know it, and the people you are watching, the ones you’ve left behind, have already forgotten about you if they ever remembered you at all, and they are blind to you just as they are blind to the miracle of their own existences, and this fact outrages you, and you no longer want to return to that world, you wish you were never a part of it at all, and you don’t want to even look at it but you have no choice, there is nowhere else to go, there is nothing but an interminable darkness, its monotony and hopelessness mitigated only by the slivers of light, which you now detest—so that is what awaits you in the afterlife, a world of astonishing darkness and hatred and self-loathing and the sort of petulant unassuageable rage that infants feel.
Written 1.28.17, in my office, in Agoura Hills CA, as part of a chapter of an unnamed novel I’m working on.