Monday loomed like a yellow lumo billboard in her mind. The last few years all she had been doing was asking questions that started with ‘why’, and she felt as if she had no more faith to fall back on. She lost the tentative hope she had when she overheard Dr. Dunne tell her mother there was nothing more she could do. Taylor had tried to be strong, but now she was not so sure anymore. The same prayer she prayed every night had gone unanswered. She had no more expectations.
The hand on her shoulder literally shocked her. A tiny tendril of electricity shimmered through her. She looked up sharply just as the bread truck rumbled past her. The wind caused by its passage lifted the wisps of hair not tied into the ponytail behind her head away from her face.
Daimhin knew that instead of saving her, he should have let her walk in front of the truck, but he wanted to get to know her. “Be careful,” he said as he put his hand on her shoulder to stop her from stepping off the sidewalk.
Taylor looked back at him in shock. She was so worried about dying on Monday, she forgot to pay attention to where she was at that very specific moment.
He saw a flicker of recognition in her eyes.
His green eyes sparkled as he smiled down at her. His dark, longish hair curled around his face, brushing his shoulders. His skin was flawless and tanned. He was beautiful. Feeling mortified, she smiled shyly. “Thank you.” She added, “For saving me.”
He bowed playfully. “It’s my pleasure.”
He had performed such an enormous feat – saved her from a possibly painful and earlier than Monday death. Did she not owe him a favour now? She felt awkward just turning around and walking away.
He asked, “Where are you going, I’ll walk you there.”
“It’s okay. Really.”
“You were going in my direction anyway; you might as well walk the rest of the way with me.”
When the green man lit up, on the pedestrian traffic light, he touched her elbow lightly.
Taylor looked up at him unsure while he looked down at her inquisitively.
They started walking across the road together.
Taylor felt silly letting him walk her across the road as if she was a child. She said the first words that popped into her head, “I was just going to read a little. There is a spot on the wall where I enjoy sitting.”
“What are you reading?” He asked curiously.
She held up the book so that he could see the cover. “I know, I know. Mushy romance.” She laughed embarrassed.
When they reached the other side of the pedestrian crossing they stopped together. He looked down at her expectantly. “I have to go into town, but I’ll see you at the wall in a while. Is that okay?”
“I’ll find you,” he promised as he walked in a different direction as Taylor started turning into the walkway around the city.
Taylor smiled as she walked away from him. She stopped her foolish thoughts when a feeling sunk into her, a feeling she had no hope of entertaining or even exploring.
Daimhin walked in the opposite direction. He had to collect a soul.
As he reached the park, he was just in time to see a young man fall down onto the ground while four youths stood around him. The four young men who stood around the figure huddled on the ground, kicked him repeatedly while the hoods of their grey jackets were pulled around their heads. Daimhin supposed it was so that the numerous security cameras surrounding the area would not be able to capture their images too clearly, making them recognizable and then arrested.
Daimhin felt sorry for the boy on the ground, but just like photographers of nature, he could not interfere. He had to be a silent witness, even if the scene repelled him. An unfortunate consequence of nature where the strongest eradicated the weakest.
Daimhin stepped into the circle of violence and bend down onto his haunches. He touched the young man on the ground, whose body looked broken. The boy opened clear blue eyes and stepped out of his body as Daimhin stood up again.
Zayn looked down at his crumpled body sadly.
Daimhin patted him on the back remorsefully. “Don’t worry, Zayn. Karma is watching as well, and she will get her revenge.”
Zayn looked at Daimhin bewildered. “Who are you?”
“Pleased to meet you, Zayn. I am Daimhin and I will be your escort today. Please walk with me.”
They turned away from the violent scene behind them and passed through into The Valley.
“What happens now?” Zayn asked.
“I am going to walk with you through The Valley because it is not easy to navigate. You could get stuck in here, and then you would be trapped between the land of the living and the plane of souls. Stay close to me, for your own safety.”
“Are there a lot of people stuck in here?”
“Too many,” Daimhin replied evasively.
Interested Zayn stopped walking. “Are they the ones who stay behind and haunt houses and stuff?”
“Keep up with me, Zayn.” Daimhin stopped and pulled on Zayn’s elbow.
They started walking again. Their surroundings were getting darker and darker. A sad keening started to surround them.
“What’s that?” Zayn asked scared.
“Trapped souls. Keep walking.”
Zayn yelled frightened. “Something just touched me.”
“They’ll do that. I imagine being stuck here cannot be a very pleasant thing. These souls go in circles continuously, reliving a specific moment in time.”
“But why do they get stuck here?”
“They aren’t ready to let go yet. It is as if there are things they need to fix, which pulls their souls back.”
“Why were they not escorted?”
“Sometimes people die when they are not supposed to die yet, and we have not been notified.”
Daimhin agreed, “It is very sad.”
“So can’t you do something about them stuck here?”
“Good question.” He laughed sarcastically. “Let me explain it this way. You know how everybody looks through and past homeless people in the living world?”
“Well, this is the same. These souls fell through the cracks of the system, and now everybody tends to pretend they do not exist.”
Silently they continued walking until they walked out of the dark valley into a luminescent expanse. Ahead of them there was an unlimited abyss. It stretched further than they could see, from right to left and ahead. It seemed even greater than standing on a beach and looking across to the horizon because here there seemed to be no horizon. The bank of pure white clouds was continuous.
Daimhin stopped and gently prodded Zayn to step forward. “Goodbye, Zayn.”
Zayn looked back unsure. “What now?”
“Step forward to the ledge. Everything from there will happen naturally.”
“But where am I going now?”
“You see all those other souls drifting up toward that brilliant light?” Daimhin pointed up to the pinprick of dazzling silvery light.
Zayn nodded his head.
“To be honest, I am not really sure where that light goes. There are a lot of speculations, but I am not privy to that information, neither are the people I know. Just know that it is a better place.”
Nervously Zayn looked back at Daimhin. “Are you sure, it’s better? Better than what?”
Daimhin sighed. He wanted to get back to Taylor. “I have never been there myself Zayn. I know it’s a one-way ticket, but I am told it’s a better place.”
Zayn took a tentative step and then another. Soon his feet left the ground as he reached the magnetic pull of the light, and he started drifting upwards.
Daimhin looked at his face. He always liked this part. It was as if all the bad memories were erased from them and they floated up with an ethereal look on their upturned faces.