ALI ZARBALI: A Brief Account of Three Deaths and Two Resurrections

Flash Fiction by Ali Zarbali

A Brief Account of Three Deaths and Two Resurrections

My first death wasn’t that horrible. It was a gloomy Sunday afternoon. The sun was already high in the sky when I scrambled out of bed, took a shower, stuffed in some leftovers from the night before throwing myself into my messy bed again. I didn’t know what to do. There was absolutely nothing I genuinely wanted to be busy with. I glanced at the piled-up documents on my desk, some sticky notes on the wall and on the laptop. Deadlines. I decided to go for a walk. I went to the nearest park, walked around there for some time. I bought a newspaper and sat on a bench. There weren’t many people outside. I rested a bit, then I stood up to get back home. I had zero idea how to spend that day. My mind was literally empty. On the way back home I got hit by a car. Internal bleeding. The guy who killed me fled from the incident scene. No one saw my dying body. No one was there to help. This is how I died for the first time.

Unnecessary extra details: obviously, after my death, I was there. Following some administrative consultations, they decided to give me a second chance. I know it sounds ungrateful but to be honest I didn’t ask for that. It was very nice of them. I really appreciated it. I felt uplifted and with a sudden wave of happiness, I almost made a silly joke: I know that you send me back because of the deadlines in the office. I didn’t say it out loud but probably they read my mind. As far as I know, they can.

I came back home. It had been around two weeks since I was away. My wife was in the kitchen preparing lunch. She didn’t seem surprised about my resurrection. “Did you buy the things?” She demanded as soon as she noticed my arrival. “What do you mean?”  I was perplexed. “Oh God…I mean the fresh flowers and grave candles.” I was about to ask if I heard her correctly, she added “can you take the trash out? It stinks.”

***

My second death was terrible. I was living a somewhat content life with my wife and children. It had been a while since everyone was smelling a possible war in the country. Because of some mad greedy politicians, the war eventually started. A full-scale war. Protests, tears, evacuations, fear, hunger, and whatnot. Every day, a new official statement from the president. One of the statements was about the compulsory military service of men under the age of forty. I had to go to the frontlines. I went. I said goodbye to my wife and children. We cried at the train station. After a four-hour train ride, I arrived at a deserted place where a convoy of armored military trucks was waiting for us. They gave us weapons but some of us didn’t know how to use them. Some of us bragged about being good at this stuff. On the way to the garrison, a missile rain started on us. Our truck exploded into the air. All of us died. We died in a deserted field far from our families. No one found our bodies. My body was torn to pieces. This is how I died for the second time.

Unnecessary extra details: I was there again. They recognized me. I also saw some familiar faces. I felt ashamed of my death. I talked to a middle-aged man who was complaining about how a stupid coincidence took his life: He was going to meet some friends after a tiring night shift. Around the neighborhood in one of the buildings, there was ongoing construction work. When he was walking along the construction site, a brick landed on his head from the fifth floor. He died on the spot. I listened to him and replied “I think your death is much more meaningful than mine, I had a ridiculous death.” I went on, “I died because somewhere a madman was hungry for a war.” I lost my temper there a bit. He didn’t seem convinced. “But,” he whined, “yours was exciting at least.”

They sent me back again. To tell the truth, I didn’t ask for it. However, it was very nice of them. I came back home. It had been around two weeks since I was away. My wife was in the kitchen preparing lunch. As soon as I entered home, she asked me to make sure I don’t forget tomorrow’s occasion. Seeing my confusion, she shook her head in disappointment, “Are you kidding me?” she went on, “don’t tell me that you already forgot about the ceremony in the military cemetery.” Drying her hands with her apron she muttered under her breath, “Unbelievable.”

***

The third time, I died as a fictional character. In the story, I was an ordinary clerk living a modest life. I had some family issues. Besides, at work, I had ruined my relationship with almost all of my colleagues. I was having a very tough period of my life. According to the plot of the story, nothing was all right. It was a Sunday afternoon when I felt tired of everything. Earlier that day I had a fight with my wife. Some minutes after leaving the apartment for fresh air my wallet got stolen. I got really pissed off. That afternoon I witnessed a car accident. It was hit and run. A body was lying on the road. There was no one around. I assumed that he was already dead. I kept on walking. However, I felt unimaginably guilty, as if I was the one who killed him. I bought a newspaper and sat on a bench. A news report caught my attention about the death of twenty-two soldiers in a military truck. I felt a knot in my chest after reading that. I was feeling extremely angry. Anger is dangerous. It blocks the sense of responsibility and sense of consequence. Probably you’ve gotten tons of advice about the importance of controlling your anger. I have gotten it, too. However, the problem is that you don’t remember to consider anything when you are angry, especially some words of wisdom that your father told you while he was telling how regretful he feels about the occasion when he spit on his brother’s face because they had a disagreement about how to divide the estate after grandfather’s death. Whatever. According to the plot, anger captured my whole existence, it paralyzed me. As the plot developed, the fictional character – me – went to sit on Liberty bridge. I stared at the river for hours. My anger didn’t evaporate. I stood up on my numb legs and jumped into the river.

Since then I am hereThey never sent me back.

Ali Zarbali was born in Azerbaijan and currently lives in Budapest, Hungary. His stories have recently appeared in Maudlin House, New World Writing, Down in the Dirt, and Otoliths, among others.

Flash Boulevard is edited by Francine Witte. Banner photograph Wes Candela.

Published by poetrybay

Flash Boulevard is a product of Poetrybay.com, since 2000 a flagship online poetry publication.

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