When Alice wakes up everything is dark. She is lying, stretched out, on something soft, and there is softness all around her, close. There is also softness above her. She can’t see it, but she knows it is there. She remembers flowers and organ music. People are filing by her, she can’t see them, but she senses they are there. Nor does she really smell the flowers, hear the music.
It occurs to her, lying flat in total silent darkness, imprisoned, that perhaps she is dead. Alice has no memory of dying, of being dead. She doesn’t know what might have happened – automobile accident, heart attack, a disease, but she knows she is dead. There is no other explanation, though she cannot explain her continued consciousness. Is it going to be like this forever, leaving her trapped, buried in a coffin? Or is she wrong? Has she been buried alive? She needs out. She doesn’t know how long she has been trapped here in the darkness, but she can’t allow it to go on. She can’t imagine it going on. She begins to struggle. She begins to scream. And scream.
Alice doesn’t know how long the screaming goes on, struggling and thrashing in the tiny space, but eventually she starts to calm down. She remembers a movie she saw several years before in which a girl, recently buried, suddenly reached a hand up through the graveyard dirt. Everyone in the theater jumped, there were several squeals, a few people screamed. So, she wonders, how did the girl do that? Had she be buried, not only alive, but coffinless, just lowered into a hole in the ground and covered up? Or did coffins have a weak spot that the girl had managed to penetrate, allowing a stream of dirt to rain in until she could force her hand upward, through it, into the light? Alice feels around above her; with her nails she manages to tear the fabric above her, shredding until she feels wood. Then she begins to pound as much as the crowded space will allow. She does this for hours, days, perhaps months. She rests occasionally, then begins again. Finally, lifetimes later, she feels something start to give. She pounds and pushes and suddenly a thin trickle of dirt begins to fall around her. Pushing, up and up, knowing escape from her prison was imminent. Pushing, clawing, resting, then pushing and clawing some more. Dirt cakes under her nails, falls on her face and breasts. She begins to wonder if the coffin was simply going to fill with dirt, leaving her even worse off than before – double buried. She wonders if she should stop for awhile, then she feels her hand burst through into warm sunlight. She flexes her fingers, moves her hand back and forth, waving. Through the earth she hears the people above her screaming; she feels the vibrations of running feet. She tries to wave them back, a single hand beckoning. But no one turns, no one comes back. It is then that Alice begins to wish that she had learned sign language.
Copyright 2017 by Art Metzger. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.