It was a day in June. The exact date has escaped me, but it was a Saturday. The week had been stressful, and as I always liked to do, I left home early and drove to the woods. A hike seemed to clear my mind; it sure as hell helped me deal with the shit I had to put up with at work. Just walking in the woods, I felt more connected with nature – with life, if you will. I felt more human, more alive, to leave the death and the grey of the concrete, tarmac and brick to enter the world of rivers, mountains and trees.
Around two o’clock I took my first break. I must have sat there for at least half an hour, enjoying the view and the absence of car noises, shouting people and sirens. Without really thinking about it, I plucked a little wildflower, growing beside my feet.
“You shouldn’t do that,” a young girl’s voice said.
She scared the living hell out of me.
“Hi there, you scared me for a minute,” I said, heart still beating like crazy. “Are you lost? I didn’t see anyone near when I walked up here.”
“Are you all alone? Are your parents nearby?” I asked.
“Mommy is here,” she said.
I looked around, but saw no one else.
As if she felt right at home, the girl sat down next to me. I remember well how her little white dress had an intricate design of colorful flowers, bugs and birds on it. She might have worn shoes, but I can’t seem to recall anything other than the dress. That beautiful dress.
“Can I sit and talk to you, for a moment?” she asked.
“Sure, but aren’t you afraid mommy might go looking for you? Does she think it’s okay for you to talk to strangers like this? Won’t she be worried?” I asked, secretly hoping she’d feel inclined to go back to her mother. I’ve never felt particularly at ease with children.
“Mommy knows I’m here,” she answered. “She sent me. To sit with you and to talk to you, I mean. She wants me to tell you that you will die on November 5th.”
I needed some time to process. Took me a minute.
“What… how… why would you say such a thing? That’s… I mean, you can’t just say something like that to people. That’s not nice, and you shouldn’t be joking about something like death. That’s my birthday, for god’s sake,” I uttered.
“I know it’s your birthday,” she said, with a hint of regret in her voice. “And I know it’s not nice to say. Or to hear, for that matter. I dont like saying it. Not at all. But mommy was very clear: I was to meet you here, at this time, and I was to tell you you are going to die on November 5th. That’s it. I am not joking, I’m doing what mommy told me to do. That’s it. Now I gotta go back to mommy.”
And just like that she got up and started to walk back the way she came from. As if she was relieved her pesky job was over, she hopped out of sight. Maybe I should have followed her, but I was stumped. Don’t remember much of the way back either, but I guess I just walked back to my car and drove home. I remember sitting on my porch with a beer until long after dawn, that’s it.
Tomorrow is November 5th, and all I can think of today are the little girl’s last words as she hopped out of sight and I angrily yelled who her mommy was… who this wise lady was, if she thought she knew when I was going to die.
“She was here all the time, silly… she is everywhere around! She is the trees and the butterflies and the flowers and the river and the rock you sit on. She is the ants and the earth they build their nest in. She is the bird and she is the air under its wings. She is the sunlight and the shadows. She is everything and she knows everything. And if mommy says you’re going to die, you most certainly will. They always do, if she said so!”
Tomorrow is November 5th. And I don’t want to die.