Nothing like feeling a sweat break. Just one drop slipping out of some unseen hole in my forehead as I lie still and wait for sleep in a hot room. Then a cramp in my middle toe. It’s crossed with the adjacent like an eye. Cramp me another now. Cramp all toes and both feet. Cramp up calf after calf and then the thighs tighten too. Cramps in both my heart + brain, head + back. Kink up my spine until I am lying in a pile of meat + muscle, blood + wet skin.
Until I am just one charley horse.
Could I reincarnate as a horse?
I once rode a bike thirty miles and in there somewhere drank a blue slushie and then double cramped in each leg, falling over onto the road’s shoulder.
Once, my sister got a phone call at work from a woman who had bought makeup there earlier that day, asking her if she would accept five hundred dollars to drive thirty miles to Lebanon to do her dead mother’s makeup for her dead mother’s funeral but her mother wasn’t quite dead yet, just lying at the bed of it, and could she keep my sister on call for this service, which she assured her was on the d/l? My sister hesitated and told her she would call her back but then never did because she watched a YouTube video about how to do funeral makeup and it warned about facial twitches during the process. She saw eyes opening for eyeliner and lips whispering for more magenta.
I am here in this pile bare with age spots showing. I am a crumpled cramp. Someone do my makeup.
What does God do with your makeup when he takes your body to heaven? What if it rains the day he pulls you up from the ground? The shadow might run, the cover-up uncovers you, the foundation is unfounded. Will he/she accept an ugly dead? Will she/he grant your body the benefit of the doubt? Factor in weather, bugs, dirt, time, your family’s effort to get a clinician, your family’s genes, its history?
Isn’t God family?
Here I am, still. A pile on a deathbed. Moving only tenses a new muscle that hasn’t yet cramped.
Here I come, God. Time to find out if rain is angels crying, or if my suspicions are true: it’s just a big space sheepdog, wet from a swim in the Milky Way, shaking himself out.
Is this really what you think about before you die?
These are thoughts on the way out?
Life not flashing before your eyes, but seeping slowly out your pores.
Tyler Steven Barton lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he teaches high school English for work and co-manages a literary organization called The Triangle for fun.