Clara has sought many places to go deeper. More than crystal streams and woven baskets. Wherever she looks lately, she finds an extra thread.

Like everything else, her memory does not seem to be what it once was.

What do you see?

People have different theories about what happens when you die. Lyla was brave enough to test them in a new way.

“Cover my eyes. I’ll hold my breath.”

The attraction of seeking how close you can get. The compulsion to let it go too far.

“What happens then?”

“That depends on how long I can hold it for.”

Clara was still until Lyla’s skin grew cold. Long after her shoulders molded like stone within the small space they used to roll to symbolize life. It was after her deflated diaphragm weighed down the shell she was determined to destroy.

It wasn’t your fault.

As Lyla’s listless body slid from Clara’s lap, Clara gripped a rope of hair to prevent the hard clang of skull against floor. She eased her to the ground during a moment where neither felt anything at all.

She stared at the body. She looked over her right shoulder, then left.

It wasn’t Lyla’s corpse keeping Clara’s attention. It wasn’t the shock of knowing neither were playing a game. It was the three syllables that Lyla exhaled during the parting of her lips to signify the end.

“Samuel…”

When I count to three you will open your eyes. You are not in the forest. You are in a safe place. One… two…

“Clara, who’s Samuel?”

photo: The yesterday chronicles by Jessica Tremp