Tag Archives: fiction

The Moonlit Road & Other Stuff

14 Apr

I haven’t updated my blog in a while. The main two reasons for this are that I started school full time in autumn, pursuing a 4-year degree in 2 at an accelerated (and expensive!) art school for Creative Writing in Entertainment (TV, Film, Games). I’ve also been taking care of my significant other, who is out of work on disability at the moment. He had a horrific ice skating accident and managed to bounce his head off ice so hard, he got a concussion, brain bleed, brain contusion, rear lobe cyst and frontal lobe blood clot. Go big or go home, right?

We went to three hospitals before someone got it right. The first (Trinity) said he needed surgery immediately or he’d die. The second wouldn’t even give him the MRI he’d been sent over in an ambulance to receive, since they said he simply had a migraine. They gave him a migraine ‘cocktail’ he had an allergic reaction to and sent him home. (Don’t ever send anyone you love to Tampa Community Hospital.) Tampa General was a long wait, but worth it. Then came The Concussion Institute and various neurologist appointments. A second stay in the hospital to administer IV drugs round-the-clock to shrink brain swelling and address the migraines.

Brain injuries can hard to properly diagnose and take a long time to heal. Additionally, there are a lot of things to deal with. He can’t drive and has brutal head pain. There are issues walking around, speaking, vertigo, light and noise sensitivity. Then there are the personality swings. Emotional, hostile, anxiety, tantrums. Kind of like the worst bipolar behavioral mood swings you can imagine. He’s been wound up like a spring and the slightest thing makes him explode.  He has been irrational, unpredictable and violent to live with and it’s been trying most days. He picks fights over laundry or how the refrigerator is organized. I’m on great stabilizing medications for my bipolar disorder, but there’s a cap. Things around here have been able to push me to over the edge and that calm, cool reserve I now have dissipates as fast as the blink of an eye,  which has been alarming. I raised my medication a few months ago, but there’s only so much one can take at times. I am stretched to the breaking point and trying to do the best I can to take care of him.

There’s concern (read: he’s anxious as fuck) about being able to go back to work. He put himself through school as an adult and his career as an app developer isn’t possible at the moment. Screens and monitors make him worse. Money has been a challenge with lack of funds and medical bills. I’ve had to take on much more around here. There are a ton of appointments to drive him each week. It’s been really, really hard. A (very sweet) friend set up a GoFundMe for us back in February. If you want to donate or share, it’s certainly appreciated. Link:  GoFundMeMedicalBills

Being a wrestler with pre-existing conditions, I’ve never been able to afford insurance and always opted to pay in cash when things got bad. (Or I’ve gone to other countries for treatment in cash.) I’ve also gotten my prescriptions overseas to save money. Now I’m insured and have had a brutal and up close look at this messy bullshit we call a healthcare system. What a joke. After using healthcare in Japan, England, Canada, Germany and various other countries, where the aim is to a.) get your diagnosed quickly and b.) tell you how to prevent coming back, I can only surmise that the reason Americans put up with this is ignorance. We don’t travel and have no idea what other countries have, so we  have no clue how shitty our system truly is. With zero preventative care, several appointments just to pinpoint an issue, lack of addressing other issues (environmental, food), medical willingness to write a designer brand script for all ailments, referrals needed for specialists and insurance company denials to battle. Let’s not forget that we get to fork out lots of hard earned paycheck money for our health insurance and hand over even more in person for high deductibles on each office visit. The ever pervasive a-pill-for-everything mentality couple with the For Profit inflated costs, and it’s no wonder we have the highest priced heath at the lowest quality care. It’s frustrating. I wish others could see things for what they ARE. There’s a valid reason no other country has a healthcare system like ours.

Anyway, I’ve started writing more fiction and this is a Flash Fiction assignment I had recently. I’m new at this, so I’m living and learning!

The Moonlit Road

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The cold air cut into my bones every time a car passed. I’d been walking this densely wooded road for nearly two hours.

Jesus H., I thought. What else can go wrong? The few who were out that night didn’t so much as tap their brakes. Maybe a bear can put me out of my misery.

A black pickup truck rolled to a stop.

“Where you headed?” The man had dark hair and a solid, muscular build.

“Town,” I replied. “Thanks. I’m Dave.”

“Tom.” He shook my hand. “That’s where I’m going after I make a quick stop. Did you break down?” His face and faded jeans reminded me of James Dean.

“No,” I said, shifting uncomfortably. “I…uh, had a fight with my wife. We were out this way, but she got pissed and took the car.”

He snorted. “Been there, friend. Been there.” He cracked the window and lit a cigarette.

“I haven’t. She just started acting…I don’t know. Weird. Different. I think she’s cheating on me. When I confronted her, she went crazy and accused me of cheating on her…and then she took the car.”

“Are you?” he asked.

“What? Cheating on her? No. I’m not.”

“Well, why do you think she’s cheating on you?’ Tom asked.

“Standard issue stuff. She’s suddenly working late, not returning texts or answering my calls, and she’s going out with supposed friends I’ve never met. Seems like bullshit.”

I’d also found new lingerie in her dresser. And in her car, ashes and a licorice gum wrapper. She hates licorice.

We drove in silence while the moonlit highway stretched before us. The occasional car passed, dampening the steady chirping of crickets that filled the air. Tom’s cigarette glowed in the shadowy cab. There was a Yankee Candle air freshener swaying from the rear-view mirror. Tahitian Breeze. It was slightly overpowering. Everything was at the moment. My stomach roiled and I was damp with feverish sweat.

“What are you going to do?” asked Tom.

“I don’t know,” I admitted, staring at the empty road. “We’ve been married fourteen years. I really don’t know how to be anything else. I’m just praying I’m wrong.” I could see Tom nod out of the corner of my eye. He took a final drag on his cigarette, flicked the stub and rolled his window up. The crisp breeze had been refreshing.

“Maybe you’re wrong.”

The lights from town became visible through the windshield. We passed McDonald’s. The greasy smell of fries which normally made me salivate now made me queasy. I needed to talk to her. I had to know what was going on.

“Here’s my quick stop,” Tom said. He turned onto a local road.

“Oh. I live down this way, too,” I said.

If we drive by the house, I can see if she actually went home.

Tom folded a piece of gum into his mouth. With a jolt I realized that the crumpled wrapper was Black Jack gum.

Licorice.

Before I could say anything, Tom pulled into 58 Teaberry Lane. My house.

“Be just a minute,” he said, leaving the truck running.

My heart felt as if it was going to pound out of my chest. She ran out to him. He kissed her. He gave her something and she threw her arms around his neck. She couldn’t see me behind the blinding headlights.

I’m going to be sick.

“Who’s with you?” She asked, squinting through the bright headlights.

“Nobody. Just giving a guy a ride. Gotta go, but I’ll call you later,” he said as he watched her go inside and shut the door.

Nobody. Should I throw this thing into reverse and drive off? Let him take me to a motel? Beat the shit out of him? Did he even know she was married? Did he know I existed? That I am not ‘NOBODY’?

I stared at the dashboard and tried to make sense of my racing thoughts.

“Okay,” Tom asked, as he opened the door. “Where should I drop you off?”

“Here.” I pulled out my keys.

“Are you going to walk the rest of the way?”

“Yep.”

I took a deep breath and tried to steady my shaking hands and lurching abdomen. What the fuck. It’s over. Everything. Making dinner together. Sharing the bathroom in the morning.  TV series marathons. Cuddling in bed. Our future. Without looking at Tom, I got out of the truck, stood tall, crossed the final agonizing yards of my driveway, and entered my house.

 

Owned by April Hunter.

Twitter @AprilHunter

Instagram @realAprilHunter

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Site: http://www.AprilHunter.com

He Said

10 Jul

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He said, “I’ll be there tomorrow.”

Excitement. My heart beats. I smile.

Then panic. I did not like the fact that someone had the ability to make me feel this way.

If he can make me feel happy, he can make me feel sad.

That scares me.

A lot scares me.

Having control is key. Key to focus. Key to life. Key to sanity.

Someone else making me happy is not having control.

 

When I was safe inside a relationship, there was control. There was the comfortable glide. There was security.

This is none of that. It’s up, it’s down. It’s long distance. It’s uncertainty.

It’s gut wrenching solitude.

It’s a hole in my heart.

It’s wanting. And not being able to have.

It’s being attached to the phone.

He exists in there when he’s not here.

His face, his words, our moments.

I had wanted unplug more.

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How did this happen?

I’m usually so careful. Removed. Warm, yet cold. It’s hard for me to really care.

I’ve gotten it down to an art.

Smile. Converse. Drink wine. Ask them questions about themselves.

Even if it’s boring, act interested.

Eye contact. That’s what you have to do.

Sure, sure. Let’s do this again soon.

Let me check my schedule.

Oh, damn. I’m away. Maybe another time?

 

I’ve become more and more like a man in so many ways. I was raised by a man, I work with men, I have turned into one.

I’m not selfish. It’s self preservation.

Truth be told, most people aren’t worth it.

There exists a carefully cultivated fuck-you shell around me.

It intimidates.

Purposefully.

“You’re nothing at all like I’d thought you’d be. You’re smart…sweet.”

I know.

It’s a common comment I hear from people who make it past the muscle. The blunt truths. The loudness. The vibrancy.

I have a lot to give. I can’t afford someone who takes.

I only want real in my life. Not so easy to find.

 

He was different. His words alone were atypical.

He saw things differently.

He was strong. He was used to being the one to do the intimidating.

He had his own uniquely cultivated shell.

He got into my head. I couldn’t get him out.

I tried. I gave up.

Gave in.

 

We were a lot alike. 

Maybe too much alike.

 

He said, “You’re so different than I’m used to.”

How?

“Well…you’re like a guy in a pretty girl’s body. That’s what I like, though.”

Really? Someone who views sex as sex? Someone who swears far too much? Someone who lives on steak and bacon? Someone who takes no shit, will shove people out of the way and not think twice about punching another in the throat if there’s cause for it? Someone who would rather go to a shooting range than a romantic comedy? Someone whose dog holds more value than all the jewelry she owns? Someone who watches Das Boot and knows who Yngwie Malmsteen is? Someone who hates malls? Someone who doesn’t give a shit about designer labels? Someone who doesn’t cook very often?  Someone who believes “Great mind talk ideas, good minds talk events and small minds talk people”? Someone who “gets to know herself”…often? Someone who believes the word ‘cunt’ should be used as a noun, adjective and verb? Someone who only half-heartedly cleans behind the toilet?

 

He said, “How bad are you? I’m asking because I really like you and want to know.”

Extreme. Rapid cycling. Out of my mind. Crazy. Bipolar.

Medicated.

He said, “Okay.”

And it was.

 

He said, “I’m being recruited. The job is across the state. I have my second interview this week.”

My gut twisted.

I wanted to run. But I didn’t.

But I wanted to.

 

He said, “I’m not sure if I’m taking it yet.”

I allowed myself to breathe.

For the moment.

 

He said, “I’m on my way.”

And I smiled.

 

Then one day he said, “I can’t do this right now.”

Why?

He said, “I can’t give you any more than this. I can’t give you what you deserve.

There are issues about myself I’ve always had. I’ve been working on them and thought I was all right. Mentally…I’m not.”

 

I suddenly realized that I’ve been him before.

I’ve done this to others.

 

I hated how it felt.

I felt raw and ripped open.

 

I’d hated how I felt when I did it to others.

It’s taken this to make me realize what I’ve done.

What I’ve done to those around me.

 

I wanted to help him. But I can’t. 

I know from being me that only he can help himself.

 

He said, “I’m sorry.”

And I was right.

He made me sad.

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Truth or Lies?

3 Jun

lie

The problem with being around a writer is that you never know how much they’re taking from you. I steal – or am “inspired” – from many around me.

I take from people’s stories, personalities, problems and conversations.

Anything and everything can be material; I’m always observing. Nothing is off limits.

Bad decisions make the best stories.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with friends who have begged: “Please do not write about this, April. Okay?”

Or someone will hover over my shoulder as I’m writing. “What are you…?”

“Nothing.”

“Yeah, right. Let me see…”

“You smell like drama and a headache. Get away from me.”

So, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.    

 

April 054

 

There is a fine and sometimes blurry line between fake fiction and real non fiction.

 

“She kissed him and tasted cigarettes and disappointment.”

“Are you taking your medicine?”

“No.”

“But you’re depressed.”

“Good. That means I’ll be inspired.”

—-

Being single at fifty-two was confusing. She sipped her wine. Looking at the online dating sites seemed unreal. Half the men her age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before.

The other half looked like shit.

—-

“Mom died. You need to come home.”

That’s how he had ended up back in the tiny house, in a tiny Nebraska town full of tiny minds.

—–

Florian was only culturally Hispanic, because she found she’d had to translate a menu for him in the restaurant Paella. It was a culture Abby had quickly learned to appreciate after a small town, white bread upbringing chock full of aprons and meatloaf. His was one of café Bustelo and cigar factories.

She felt the heat emanating from his body as his full lips bit hers and brushed softly against her ear. He wrapped his hands in her hair and pulled her roughly into him in full view of whoever cared to watch in the busy parking garage. He pressed her against the car, burying his face in her neck. She liked the way he felt. She liked his dark eyes and aquiline nose. She liked his passion for life.

The next day Abby returned his text in Spanish and said, “I’ll make you learn this.”

“I know…I’m a bad Latino. I’m sure there are many things you can teach me. That’s why I’m keeping you.”

“Oh, are you? We shall see about that.”

“See we shall.”  

“Mind the gap.” The tube doors slid open and people rushed in as we shoved our way out, surfing along with the teeming throng of black and grey clad bodies pushing up the stairs. The grey-white tiled walls dripped with dampness…

She’s  late. Again.

Not because she’s high maintenance. Because she doesn’t want to go.

Procrastination. Stomach churning. She hates this.

Self revolving, self serving, selfish. Me, me, me. That is what she sees when she looks at them.

Far too stupid to be whores. They’d rather give it away like sluts. For attention.

“Look at me! How fabulous I am, right?”

Stupid, stupid girls.

Narcissism. Borderline personality disorder. Mommy and daddy issues. Undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  All rolled into one room multiplied by 35.

This is the entertainment business.

It won’t make you crazy. Crazy makes it.

He wrapped his arm around her from behind and in the filtered twilight, she could make out several skulls and the Virgin Mary on the colorful tattoo that ran from his shoulder to his wrist. One of many he hid under his crisp suit and tie during the week. He wasn’t one for words or sentiment. When he did speak, it was matter-of-fact, blunt and stoic. 

His was a character of contradictions. Punk rock and golf. Independent art and million dollar contracts. Athletism and exhaustion. Chaste and carnal. Impatience and biding. Supercilious and open minded. A love of food and an empty refrigerator.

She found him brutally direct and completely unreadable.

He dumped the Big Gulp cup with change out on his tatty blue blanket and counted. Thirty-eight dollars. Not bad for the day, but not good either. Most of it had been earned on his last trick, a coup des gras magic levitation combo. He’d waited until the New Orleans streets were packed with happy drunks. Timing was everything.

“I wish we could make more money,” he said to the scruffy brown mutt lying at his side. Sam was never far from his side. Her bushy tail wagged easily despite the conditions they lived in.

“Do you?” 

Rodney looked up. An old black man with a milky eye that stared off to the left stood before him. He wore a starched white uniform and had a Creole accent. Sam didn’t growl, which surprised Rodney. “I’m Claude. I work at La Richelieu and I enjoyed your act.” He reached down and scratched Sam behind the ear. “Tell me…have you ever thought about voodoo?”

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and a large medieval contraption was before her. Leather straps, metal, cuffs. A sign read “Please tip your attendants. These rooms are not self cleaning.” In the corner, a blond was kneeling in front of a middle aged man sitting on a dark purple vinyl couch with khaki pants around his ankles and his hands on the back of her head.

She worked with the church, spending her nights taking calls and heading into the cold to pick up strays and search for lost pups. On this night, she’d found a little white dog with big, brown eyes and took him back to her place. He didn’t stop trembling until she wrapped him in a blanket and fed him.  He ate like there was no tomorrow and wriggled into her ankle afterwards in happiness. He wasn’t in bad shape, really. He couldn’t have been out there long because he was still groomed. She pet his soft white face, cradling him as he kissed her cheek and nose. Walking outside, she crossed the dusky yard to a sizable wooden pen. As she neared, the barking and snarling coming from it hit a fever pitch.

She kissed the little mutt on the head and then dropped him into the pit bull den as bait.

The left side showed me immediately why she’d survived and I hadn’t. A truck carrying long metal tubes had lost several.  One went through my windshield. The glass was a crumbled spider web splattered with blood and bits of skin. The metal was perfectly intact.

And it could be found pierced straight through my chest.

Mark Twain’s advice is to “write what you know” – which can be taken or mistaken in many ways.

 

 

Death Date. A Short Story by April Hunter

15 Jan

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“Dear Mom and Dad…”

     I faltered, unsure what to write. What words could possibly convey what I was about to do? I didn’t want my parents to go to prison and whatever I wrote would be analyzed over and over again as part of the trial. It had to be meticulous.

     From birth, everyone has a number on their leg, the date they will die. Try as they might; no one is able to prevent their inevitable deaths.

My death date was in three days, on my twenty-second birthday.

     My mother had been inconsolable all week. My parents decided to have children because both of them had long death dates, and they felt that genetically, it would be passed down.

     We had just lost my brother Lucas three years ago in a tub drowning. He had been one of the ones who tried his best to avoid it, changing all his patterns and staying home from school all week. He was only seventeen and terrified. On his death date, he didn’t leave the house. By dinner, the tension had eased up a little. Perhaps he’d managed to elude the impending fate. There have been more than a few urban legends about people who have avoided death through various means and tricks. Maybe his careful plotting has worked. By the end of dinner, we were actually joking around and enjoying our food.

     Lucas had excused himself to the bathroom and that would be the last time we saw him alive. When he hadn’t emerged forty minutes later, my father banged on the door. With no response, he kicked it open. The details will never be forgotten.   A Rorschach of scarlet splattered all over the side of the tub and across the white tiled floor. My mother, wailing screams behind me, shoved my frozen body aside. Lucas’s eyes wide open in shock in dark red water, and his neck at an oddly twisted angle. 

     He’d slipped and hit his head, drowning. No one escapes. Death is unpredictable and often gruesome.

     So, how was I coping? I stared at my leg, scratching at the raised skin colored digits.  There was a tiny scar across the eight from the chicken pox in second grade. Nothing had changed. The numbers were as clear as they’d ever been. There were only hours left.

     A strange calm came over me as I set the lavish, crystal gown on my chaise to admire. Tomorrow was going to be my party, a birthday bash and Bon Voyage life party rolled into one. “Alexei’s Last Ride”, I’d named it. I didn’t see the point in finishing school, but I happily ended up with a lot of friends because my parents forced me to continue. I’d planned on leaving everyone with one hell of a memory, peppered with strippers and a disgustingly large stretch limo that would make them smile forever. Or, until their own death dates.

      I had considered fighting my date at first. My friend paid a tattoo artist to change her death date numbers into the infinity sign. It was a great concept.

     The tattoo artist laughed at her. We laughed with her. She died. Everything works in theory.

 

“Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m sorry…”

     It seemed the right thing to say. But was I? 

     Ever since I was old enough to grasp what a death date meant, every birthday card with a one-fifty amero bill and any extra allowance I could put away for as long as I can remember has all been used to collect government rationed painkillers over the years to prepare for this time. Sometimes people will sell their painkillers for a steep price on the black market, usually family of the very elderly.

     Our government only allows us to grieve for a limited amount of time; five weeks and three days for a child, less for a spouse, but they don’t force us to physically suffer. Drugs are strictly forbidden and controlled worldwide, but we are allotted a certain amount when our dates, and those for which we are registered, get close.

     After the grieving period has passed, the medication privileges are revoked and drug testing resumes. You are allowed one strike within a certain period of time of Mourns End, but after that, you face imprisonment. Everyone knew someone who had been in prison or still was.

     Prisons became privatized in America several decades ago, back in the second Bush era when my parents were both just children. We’d learned in school that previously, the imprisoned population was nothing out of the ordinary. Privatizing it became immensely profitable and corporations from all over the world lined up to invest in US prisons. In short time, half of the world’s prison population was held in America, despite the fact that the US was made up of less than 5% of the world population. Nation of the free and brave. Well, maybe just the brave. People were imprisoned for the most minor of infractions, things what would not get a sentence in other countries. The strictest of countries, like Russia and China, didn’t even come close.

     The profits grew wildly and private corporations started to require contractual “lockup quotas”, demanding 90-100% prison occupancy. The US government owned and controlled by the drug companies and corporations, began to criminalize everything in order to keep the money flowing quickly.  All drugs were declared illegal, as was alcohol. Even vitamins and supplements were no longer available without a prescription. To be caught with raw milk or vitamin C and not have a prescription for it? Prison. Midwife for baby delivery without a permit? Prison. Even an aloe plant was grounds for imprisonment. Fear was the main emotion coursing through America’s veins.  

     A rumor circulated that one of the corporations created the death dates to thin the over population, except something went wrong and it spread much more aggressively than anticipated.  Soon, every child was born with a raised, flesh colored date on their lower leg. No one knew what it meant at first. It was thought to be a birth mark until hospitals became inundated with babies bearing numbers; and then some began to die on dates which numbers coincided with those on their legs. These dates just suddenly appeared in 2041, like the AIDS explosion  in the early eighties and rampant Autism in the late nineties. 

     My family didn’t know my plan, and I highly doubted they’d approve. My mother was ardently pro life and one of the head honchos that lead the push ending the era of Roe versus Wade. Once the death dates began appearing, the argument for outlawing abortion completely grew stronger with so many children dying. As luck would have it, several members of Congress had lost infants suddenly that year due to short death dates and had been forced to return to work after Mourns End. My mother struck while the iron was hot. The court case was overturned swiftly and silently without a single abortion clinic bombing, or a grisly showing of fetus photos with torn limbs.

      The UN backed this decision and other countries followed suit. The world as a whole was mostly pro-life and disarmed whether they liked it or not. The federal government had decided that instead of going after America’s guns and risking more “Constitutional Rights” stripping backlash, they would simply stop producing and importing munitions.

     Some were peaceful, like Canada and Germany. Russia, Morocco, Bosnia and much of South America were not. Bullets became worth more than gold for about a decade…then they were gone. Killing still occurred, but it took a lot more planning. Suicide was illegal. Failed attempts were imprisoned for life and if family members helped or had prior knowledge, they were too. Suicides have become unheard of since most people have a much keener awareness of how short life is.

   8887897-pile-of-pills-in-blister-packs  I knelt down to the bottom row of my bookcase and pulled out the worn bible. It was a thick book that included both the Old and New Testaments and was translated in three languages; English, Italian and Swedish, with an extra section of the Old Testament in Hebrew. Its edges were frayed and the title had faded. It was my great-great grandmother Elizabeth’s. She’d had it during The Depression early in the nineteen hundreds and had passed down, from female to female until it reached me. I don’t think my great-great grandmother had anticipated death dates or girls dying so young that they wouldn’t have had any children. Then again, it was The Great Depression. Maybe she did. I opened it to reveal the hollowed out center compartment which had been conceived by young Liz. It hid her copper pennies, bread crusts, stamps and a gold wedding ring. Being in a different sort of depression now, it held the means to an end; my beautiful collection of freedom. Xanax, Vicodin, Percocet’s, Demerol and the rare Oxycontin which had been pulled from the market for nearly fifteen years.

     My mind raced, but I refused to let the fear engross me.  I wouldn’t live that way and I won’t die that way. My numbers don’t say when. I do. The best way to beat the odds is to not be one of the odds. I didn’t feel sorry. I felt in control.

     I sat back down at my desk and picked up my pen again. Chewing the tip of it, I suddenly realized that only when you’re dying do you truly start to live. Your senses become more alert: colors more vibrant, smells crisper, details more fascinating. You realize that nothing is to be taken for granted, because it may be the last time you can enjoy your mother’s incredible sausage balls or the last time you’ll see your dog bound over to you when you walk through the door.

 

“Dear Mom and Dad,

We don’t get many choices in this world.

I’d like this one to be mine.

I love you, forever.

Alexei.”

 

     I tucked the note away into the bible with my pill stash for later. Right now, there was a party to finish planning.

 

——-

Thank you for reading. I’m new to writing fiction. 

–April Hunter

 

(Copyright & story owned by April Hunter.  All words and accounts on this blog are the sole property of April Hunter.)

Alternate Universe

8 Jan

Image“It’s a shame humans get so sad over death. When loved ones die, they mourn for so long and miss out on so much life.

If they only knew.

I wish I could tell them.

But I’m sworn. We all are. If they knew, they would alter their behavior.

It is their actions and reactions that determine if they pass or fail, moving on to the next phase. To know would severely modify that. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it would not show the True Self. We need the True Self to be fully educated in order to pass through.

What am I talking about?

Well…I’ll tell YOU. But only you.

What if I told you that we understand mourning? However, it is purely selfish. Humans are sad that their loved ones are no longer with them because they wish to have them in their lives. But this is because they do not understand.

Earth is only a stepping stone. It is basically a school. Humans are there briefly to learn empathy, compassion, how to care for others, to love, give, respect and protect. When you die, you move on to the next universe…it means you have graduated.

You humans have a saying. “Only the good die young.” There is far more truth to that than is realized. We take the better ones early; it’s similar to skipping a grade. They’ve learned all they need to on Earth and are ready for the next step. 

There is a catch, however. Not everyone graduates. Many never make it off Earth.

Because all mammal souls are created equal.

All of them.

Does not a mother rat protect her babies? Feed them? Fight for them?  Yet, humans look down upon the rat because the rat eats the mess and trash…trash and mess the humans created.

If a dog that was abused or left out in the freezing cold the the human responsible will not be coming up. We call that a Lost Fail. What happens then is that he – well, his soul – is left on earth, but recreated as something that other humans abhor as punishment, usually a cockroach or a mosquito. He will be treated the exact way he treated the soul before him for his eternity; shunned, swatted at and stepped on. Some humans just don’t learn until it happens to them. You can tell them the stove is hot many times. They must touch and burn before they realize the stove is indeed hot. Others never learn that the stove is hot. They repeat, repeat, repeat.

Unfortunately, a human wrote a book of ‘rules’ in order to control others. Solely because of its dated age, people mistake this book as verbatim, despite that fact that it makes little sense in many aspects and is not truthful. It holds story tales instead of fact and cannot be proven. Who could believe, in good faith and with an ounce of common sense, that human females are inferior and animals do not have souls?  But those in charge of religions have twisted words to make people do what they want…and many are lost souls because of it.

To be a good and righteous human is to treat others the way you want to be treated. That is all. If you do that always, you will never make a mistake in life. Humans are much smarter and stronger than they recognize. They do not need a book of conflicting stories that can be translated to justify any thing one can imagine – even bigotry! They need only that one simple guideline.

These are not my rules. This is just how it is.”

He paused and stubbed out his cigar, which had none of the pungent stinking odor I’d always associated with cigars. It smelled fresh and clean, like towels from the dryer.

“Thankfully, most do make it off Earth and on to the next phase.  As a whole, the human soul is a good True Self. It has a very long life on many universes constantly evolving and learning. I cannot tell you more than this. But I will tell you that being kind is never wasted. You learn something new every day – or you do not. That is up to you. Karma does exist. The Earth world is an echo in a way…you will get out of it what you put in. Please trust in me when I tell you this; perhaps when someone good dies, celebrating their life would be far more appropriate than mourning it.”

He touched my shoulder and looked down at me with that slight grin.

“This too, I will divulge, since you are a willing student; in the next phase there is no Wal-Mart. We have no vegans and there is no traffic. If you think that sounds heavenly, it only gets better and better as you keep passing on.”

-by April Hunter

COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS STORY MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.