Coming Back

by Mary King


So one minute I’m lying on the operating table, out like a light, minding my own business and the next minute I’m floating somewhere near the ceiling looking down while the doctors frantically try to revive me. And I think: This can’t be good.

And then, nothing for quite some time.

I wake to find myself in what I can only call a peculiar situation. For some reason, I am surrounded by chickens. On further inspection, I find that not only am I covered in feathers, but there is something strange going on with my feet. They look a lot like... well, claws is the only way I can put it.

So, to sum up, I am covered in feathers, I am surrounded by chickens, and I have bird feet. I am a chicken. I have been reborn as a chicken. And one of the other chickens is insistently pecking me on the head. Knock it off, I scream at him (or her, I don’t really know) but all that comes out of my mouth is a kind of angry clucking sound. And then, to put the cherry on the sundae, here comes a man with an axe in his hand. And I think: This can’t be good.

And again, as before, nothing. A lot of it.

Until I wake once more to find that I am running. I’m running faster than I have ever dreamed possible which makes perfect sense as soon as I discover that I have four legs. I hear a sudden piercing whistle and I stop short and turn around. There behind me is a small boy calling Come on, Rex, come on!

Well, I certainly will not come on. But then the boy produces a ball and an indescribable feeling comes over me. He throws the ball in my direction. Go get it, Rex, he calls and inexplicably I am compelled to chase the ball. Must... get... that... ball. The ball’s capture becomes so all important in my mind that I never even see the car speeding toward me.

And then, (say it with me now), nothing.

Inevitably, I wake again and realize from the smell, if nothing else, that I have now been reincarnated as a skunk. A night-prowling, grub-ingesting skunk. And as I try to remove the mayonnaise jar from my snout, I begin to ponder the imponderable.

For instance, why is this happening to me? Is this what the afterlife is? And, if this is indeed the afterlife, is there some cosmic or comic intelligence behind the whole thing? Is my immortal soul nothing more than a pinball that, once released, bounces randomly from one stop to another?

Very profound thoughts for a skunk. My head begins to ache, which is interesting because I had never realized that skunks could get headaches. But then again, why shouldn’t they? So if nothing else comes from this experience, at least I’ve learned something.

And, in the meantime, I suppose I should try and make the best of the situation. Because there must be some point to the whole thing, mustn’t there? And maybe in my next incarnation, the mists will clear and I will finally understand what this is all about.

But until then, I am just a skunk with a jar on my snout, waiting for the next thing.


Copyright © 2008 by Mary King

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