Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dance of the Reincarnatorium

 To the photo prompt below:

Finally the mule that stood before him was finished and moved aside.

“Next” shouted the man behind the counter. Jess stepped forward the best he could on waxy legs.

“And what’s your problem lad” the information director said. “let me guess. You wanted to come back as a king eh? A knight perhaps? Or a black cat I’d venture. What is it then, I’m a busy man.”

Jess was disheartened. People were very rude in the Reincarnatorium. You’d think they’d be more understanding of those transitioning from one life to the next, but perhaps their own rebirths had not been to their satisfaction and they too were a little miffed about their current status.

“I thought that a person being reincarnated would become another person. Now I’d heard you could become a snake or a worm if you were a poacher or a liar in life, but I was very careful during my 23 years to never lie, or take another man’s game for me supper. But in all my days I never heard anything about coming back as no inanimate object. A candle? Really? What’s the point in this? I have to believe there’s been some sort of mistake!

The clerk checked his big book of transmigration. “Nope, sorry, a candle you are and a candle you shall be until such time as you are a candle no more!”

Jess slowly backed away, his wick pounding, his tallow pulsing through his beeswax outer shell. He had to find something to lean against. He’d rather have sit down, but of course a candle can’t do such a thing; so he found a poor soul that had come back as a quaking aspen and took the liberty of declining right into him.

“Really sucks don’t it. I’m Mary, how’dya do.”

Jess turned and stared at a candle just a wee bit shorter than himself, one bearing a lovely cloak of red and a green sash, and what Jess could only describe as “a twinkle in its eyes”, even though candles have no actual eyes as such.

“Hello Mary, now go away please, I’m very busy.”

“Feeling sorry for yourself eh? Yup, know the story. I’ve been back here for counseling every day since I was made an advent candle and I don’t think all the king’s witchdoctors can put my head back together. I miss life too much, as miserable a life as I had.”

In spite of himself Jess continued the conversation. He quickly grew to like Mary, and the idea that he was not completely alone in his misery. Hours passed with the pair talking incessantly until suddenly he had an odd thought.

“Say Mary, if you are supposed to be reincarnated over and over, like every time you die your soul goes to the Reincarnatorium and they assign you a new form, well, what do you think a candle’s lifespan is anyway?”

Mary stared off into space, a little confused; but then the implication hit her like a pillow at a sleepover with Bobbie Joe Markamp and the girls from Bison Junior High. “Until it burns out!” she said.

Jess was getting a little excited. “Know where the nearest fire is?”

“At the church where I’m usually on display” said Mary; “but it’s a long way from here, and it’s a hard road.”

“Let’s go!” Jess hopped out the massive front doors of the Reincarnatorium Information center and looked out in all directions. “Is that it? he asked, leaning toward the cathedral atop the nearest and highest hill.

“I’m afraid it is” said Mary. “I make the trip every day so it can be done, but I warn you, it’s not a cakewalk.”

“Well you just watch this candle go” shouted Jess, and he lay down and began to roll toward his salvation.

It’s not easy for a candle to roll uphill. Mary had been right; in fact she’d been positively gentle in her description. It was bad enough fighting against gravity, but the dodging of carts and the being bombed by errant horse apples made it near impossible. Yet, Jess had been a short story writer in his past life, a doer of impossible deeds, a man who could make something of nothing, once sweating enough blood. Determination saw him through, though it took a few hours to catch his breath after reaching his destination.

“I know” Mary said while Jess heaved and panted; “candles have the teeniest lungs!”

Once Jess had shaken off the vertigo caused by hyperventilation the twinish tapers stepped into the Cathedral  proper. “Over here” said Mary as she rolled down the vestibule toward a tall, wrought iron stand that seemed to glitter in all the colors of the rainbow. “This is it, the votives! And lucky for us, a few have been lit! Thanks goodness for prayers!”

Jess and Mary leaned into the mass of stained glass and fire and lit their tips. “Whew” said Jess, “I was a little afraid it would hurt!”

It didn’t hurt at all in fact, but it did make what was just a thought, a reality.

“What if it doesn’t work” he whispered; “what if we burn down to nothing and then, that’s it, we’re gone forever.”

“Do you really care? Is it so important to exist if being a candle is all we can be?”

“Yea” said Jess, “you’re right. If it is the end, let’s go out with a bang! Say, do you know how to tango?”

“Do I?” said Mary with a squeal; “I was Bison Junior High’s Tango Queen my friend!”

They giggled. Then danced; danced as if it might be their last dance forever… because it just might have been.

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