Tom is Dead
Tom dies. It isn’t like what he thought it would be. He thought he’d embrace the dead or walk out of his body and into the world he knew, unseen. Instead there is only darkness. For what feels like eternity he lays flat in a shape he cannot articulate. Eventually there is the sensation of touch and the tremble of movement as Tom’s shape is lifted from the darkness. The warmth of light hits Tom everywhere. The shape cuts the air as it is lifted higher and higher. The feeling of light and air against Tom’s shape trickle throughout his being. Then it is dark again and the shape is pulled away from itself, halved against sharp dense objects, halved once more and another time, battered and smashed and lapped by a wet and moving thing. It is warm inside the dark. Tom is everywhere, feels a dizzying sensation of being countless pieces in a mouth.
Tom does not know (because he cannot see) that he has become a pretzel. The thin sticks Tom was eating that he himself choked on, ending his human life, were the last things he touched. That is what he became. As he is chewed it feels like ecstasy, each part of him glistening wet and breaking into an even lesser version of itself, dissolving. This feeling lasts for what feels like years, being tossed around and fondled and then swallowed. Inside the throat Tom’s many pieces rejoin as mush, breakdown into energy sources and fats, he is pulled away from himself. The embrace of the tubes that Tom travels through is warm and complete. This will be the best part of Tom’s life as a pretzel before his parts are heated into waste.
Tom dies again. He only remembers being a million pieces in the body of Greg. Greg was a good body to be in. Warm, safe. He does not remember his human form. He was not known among the body as Tom. He was particle, sustenance, waste.
Tom is solid waste. He lives within pipes and sewers. When he is eventually still, and out of the swirling rush of liquid movement, he is smashed against other solid waste. He spreads into and up against soft forms and liquids. He is porous and everywhere. When the fire ignites the waste pit the heat burns every piece of Tom, he becomes a million fibers against the fire. All goes dark.
Tom is born into the light. He is gathered along with the soil and other nutrients that he has become one with and sprinkled across a wide open horizon. There is sunlight, which feels familiar, and the plastic bag that he awoke in, and the treads on the skin of the human hands that separate and spread him across the soil. Tom settles in against the dirt floor, feels water trickle against him and all the other particles. He can feel the energy of him submerging, of a seed rubbing against him, until he is able to cradle the seed, accept it, nurture it.
A piece of Tom melds with each seed. In each seed is another lifetime. Throughout each stage of moving up and stretching out away from the soil Tom becomes more of the plants in the garden. He feels the touch of those human hands against his leaves, flowers, and fruits. Each ridge along the lines of the thumb vibrate against the pedals. To be held, grasped, caressed between two objects tenderly, it all feels so familiar.