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June 17, 2024

Passing By

By Thomas Elson

You've seen me before.

When your head twists as you pass plots of land -- many sparce, others garish, a few overloaded -- where one or tens or hundreds have stood, then walked away with tears, or anger, or relief.

You've seen me before.

Where I wander among oddly shaped protrusions to search for fresh mounds six to ten inches above grade.

You've seen me before.

Where wet grass enfolds underfoot or scrunches when dry.

You've seen me before.

Where wind whips and yelps, hisses and slaps, finally retreating -- only to repeat as if unsure whether to beg to be forgotten or pray to be forgiven.

You've seen me before.

But we've never met.

* * *

I was tenth in line at one point. Others had more talent -- protecting, delivering messages, keeping records, healing. A few were skilled with forgiving or allaying fear. All I can do is calculate credits, ask my single question, then render my decision.

My authority entails acknowledging credits for work done -- as set forth from Solomon and Matthew to the Deeds of the Right Hand and the Noble Path's Right Action. Only a few credits are necessary. I don't expect much. I know what you're made of.

If you have the credits, I stop. My process is not a single fell swoop as all rise, form into long lines, then shuffle forward. I am a minimalist -- almost mechanistic. Quick and easy. No long lines. No waiting.

Here is what will happen to you.

When we first meet, your left eye will open, then, both eyes will flit from side to side. Despite your condition, your eyes will tear-up. You stand and stare at me -- your mouth closes, voice silent. I can hear what you're afraid to say.

Your throat will constrict. When you cough, phlegm will spew forth. You cough again, clear your throat, then open your mouth. I rest my index finger against my closed lips. You slump mute, then move back, startled, but not frightened -- more resigned than anything else.

Your head will tilt forward. You'll have questions. Once more, I press my finger to my lips, step a few inches closer, lay my hands upon your shoulders, and say, "You must have earned enough credits before I ask my question." I pause, then continue, "Without credits, I will pass you by."

I will wait, allowing you to absorb my words, then, "You have enough credits."

For an instant, your eyes will brighten.

However, this is a two-step process. Credits first, then my question.

I'll wait a little longer to allow you to catch your breath.

Once you're ready, I'll ask, "Will you give all of your credits to the person in the grave next to yours?"

Your answer will dictate my final decision.

Article © Thomas Elson. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-09-19
Image(s) are public domain.
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