Paper Children


He burned. He died after all melted away. There was nothing, truly nothing. Not even darkness. Just emptiness. He couldn’t feel his body, though it probably remained behind as a corpse. He tried to speak but no sound emerged. He tried to move but he couldn’t feel anything moving. So he waited. If he still existed after death, something had to come. He still remembered his name, remembered what he had done in his life. He didn’t remember more than he did in life, things he forgot remained forgotten. It wasn’t hard to wait. He actually was glad he got some time to rest. What a painful death it was.

He felt something tugging on him. Poking, prodding. It’s hard to tell where, but it moved him ever so slightly. Whatever his body was now, it swayed with the light push. This pushing happened in random intervals for some time. Sometimes more aggressive, sometimes hesitant. Soon something had to come. He tried to speak so whatever was touching him could see he was aware. They didn’t touch him that often anymore after that.

He became desperate. Fearing they might lose interest in him and leave him behind like this. He moved a body that wasn’t there, spoke words that made no sound. He was touched again, this time it almost hurt. Everything felt so numb. Like he doesn’t feel the touch, just that the muscle was moved. But even more numb than that. The hard touches stopped.
No one touched him anymore. Eventually he fell asleep.

His body was gone but he could feel his soul so clearly now. With everything around it burned away, it was like a gem cut out of grey rock. The more he concentrated, the more he could see it. Soon it illuminated the world around him. First there was sand, as he knew from his home. Then a wooden pole behind him, if he even had a front and behind anymore. A metal chain. What’s the meaning of this? He looked down and saw his hands, saw himself on his knees. Leathery charred meat wrapped around his bones. He could move his limbs but he couldn’t feel any of it. Whatever was moving his body, it wasn’t his muscles anymore. Further away he could see children. Age ranging from six to fourteen. One girl was sitting there and watched him. One side of her face had been cut from her skull. Her eyes studied him. Wondered whether he was aware.
Aware that he never died.