Rated NC-17 for graphic violence and sexual content.
How do you describe your first love? Your first kiss? The first time you opened your heart to another and lost it completely? I don't think you can, but we will try. Because this story starts where it all began and ends… well let's just get started, shall we?
Placement Assignment for Jan Hooks
Part 1: Chronicle when your life began. Tell of the experience as best as you can. You may envision it only if you wish, you may write it down or you may speak it. In front you will see photographs and pictorial images of what you relate. Do not fear it, you are safe.
"I am going to go against the grain because even though I know what you WANT to hear it is not my truth. The truth as I know it is that my life began when I found out I was going to die. Strange, isn't it? I mean, death doesn't usually bring out the best in people, you know? In my case however, it forced decisions to be made, forced us to open our eyes and see how precious time really is. How little time we had. We could have had a lifetime, but maybe those years after my illness was revealed to me was all the life time I needed?"
She took a breath mostly out of habit. Breathing was a hard thing to give up. The screen in front of her showed pretty colors indispersed with dark, forbidding ones. Yes, these were my feelings. A scene jumped into her mind at the instant it jumped onto the screen. Were they trying to nudge her along? She smiled while a tear escaped from her eye. They were surprised by this and noted it. She watched the colors shift and become images of her and Phil. And remembered…
"I feel the lump in my breast and I am so frightened. Somehow I know it was serious, I have no doubt about that. My mother had died from it, and so had both my aunts. Now it was my turn, I guess."
(They listened closely, hanging on her words. Did she realize that she was speaking in the present tense? The one thought to the other. She was close, very close indeed.)
Placement Assignment for Philip Hartmann
Part 1: He had been pacing for what seemed like forever. Occasionally he would look down at his wrist to check the time only to find his watch gone. Where he was there was no 'time' as he knew it. He sat down on the chair and slung his feet atop the seat in front of him. He nearly fell to the ground when a voice spoke into his ear "Chronicle when your life began. Tell of the experience as best as you can. You may envision it only if you wish, you may write it down or you may speak it. In front of you you will see photographs and pictorial images of what you relate. Do not fear it, you are safe." He spun around to try to catch a glimpse of his loud companion, but there was no one there. "Figures." he mumbled to himself. He was a bitter man. Everything that he had ever loved was torn from him in the blink of an eye. Hell, he didn't even get time to blink! After his passing he found himself here, wherever here was, roaming the streets and getting used to his new surroundings. There was no rain or snow, and the temperature must have been a balmy 77 degrees all the time. The streets were clean, the food was magnificent and free. So were the women, for that matter, which delighted him to no end. He met others; other lost souls that seemed way too cheerful and content to be dead. He had already figured out that this was not heaven. Nor was it hell. And it wasn't the purgatory his mom and dad spoke about when he was a child. No, this was a holding station, a place where your future was decided for you. Sort of like the perfect airline terminal spread out into a city. Only two planes though. One went back to earth and the other went to heaven. He didn't have his 'ticket' yet, and frankly he didn't give a rat's ass where he went from here. Seems no one wanted to go back to earth to live yet another boring existence. If you were deemed in need of another 'life lesson' then you were sent back. Over and over till you got it right. He thought he lived a good life, a decent life. But to him all he learned from that life was that no matter how nice you try to be, no matter how much you give of yourself, you get screwed in the end. What was the point?
Please begin the examination.
"I was born in a little known Canadian town called Brantford. Shall I sing a chorus of Oh Canada for you? No, didn't think so. Hey, is anyone up there anyway? Seems like I have been sitting here quite a long time waiting for this to start. No answer… fine."
He sighed to himself and shook his head in surrender. He still spoke because, frankly, he couldn't get used to thinking his thoughts to others. Besides, the more he spoke the more human he felt. He missed being human. Missed his kids. Oh sure, he got to visit them often but they never knew it, so what was the point? What good is a ghost for a father? And he always had an escort because they knew he would not come back if they didn't haul him away.
(They heard his thoughts even though he was extremely good at blocking. He couldn't hide anything from them, others maybe, but not them. He still hadn't fully accepted his presence here, or the fact that in his mind he had left so much undone back on the surface. They were worried about him.)
"So, anyhoo (he chuckled to himself remembering good old Bill McNeal), I had a big family and felt neglected at times. (The screen snapped on and showed somber blue colors.)"
He looked up and felt the colors rather then see them as he should. Here, you didn't just "see" things. You felt them first and saw them later. Made for great sex.
"Opps, sorry gang."
(But they didn't react as he thought they would. Sex to them was not a sin any more than sleeping was a sin. All was relative. Everything had a purpose. To young Philip, though, (and he was young compared to their ages) he was being a bad boy to talk that way. They remained quiet and changed the scene.)
The screen's colors rolled and swayed like the waves of the ocean. Anyone else would have gotten dizzy, but not this one. Too many years spent on a hard wooden board. Balance too good to be pushed that easy.
His eyes followed the patterns and he could feel the wind against his face and body, the water under his feet holding him up. He was one with the wave, this wave of color, and he floated on it with ease. He always sensed that he was born for the water because while he was on it or in it, he commanded it to do his will. He became one with it. It was like the greatest lover of all.
Well, not the greatest. That spot was reserved for…
As soon as he said it he regretted it, because the blue colors began to change shape. The wave became solid, took a familiar form. A sensual form. A loving form. Another form that he became one with. And as he thought this he lost his footing. For the first time since being there he was knocked off balance.
"Damn you, don't do this please. Don't make me remember."
(They felt a moments pity for him, this soul that fought such a long, worn-out fight to hold back a memory. They wished they could tell him their reasons but they were bound by silence.)
You betray yourself, young one. We do not force you to remember. Your memories are all you are. Let go. Let your fears fall away. You do not need to hide this any longer.
Their words were like beautiful music to his mind. Their speech melded together like one wonderful chorus. He closed his eyes to block the image, but it remained on the screen within his mind. The phone was ringing, it was the middle of the night, and it was raining.
His brows knitted together and his hands were balled into tight fists. He was using every ounce of strength he had to force the image away. But the play continued…