Necropolis

Today I lay on the highest hill in the city of the dead, two coins clutched in my fist for Charon. To practice, I held my breath so that I could submerge in the sea of the dead, golden sunlight filtering down to the scattered bodies in the grass. At first I felt an unbearable pressure in my lungs as they fought bitterly for air, and then a sense of sweet surrender took me and I melted into the earth, my skin dripping away from me into the soil while birds flew overhead. As I sank deeper into the ground, my bones emerged, waxy white and glistening, until they in turn dwindled away into nothingness.

Persephone brushed my brow and I felt a deep silence settle over me, the grasses crackling beneath my flesh more a sensation than a sound, the planes overhead silent and swift, stark in the bright blue sky. Not an orderly city, the graves are dice tossed at the earth and left to land where they will. Faded silk flowers droop in vases and brittle bouquets that were once vibrant with life have sunk with defeat to the ground. The clouds scurry overhead on more urgent business while we lie returning to the earth, the ground beneath us moist and seeping, roots of plants reaching.

Today I feel as though I have already crossed unknowingly into the land of the dead but have been left unprepared, doomed to wander the shores of the Styx for a hundred years before I can be ferried across. I drift in a world that is not quite life but is not death either, and I constantly reach for one state or the other and am rebuffed. Like Psyche I have been set a series of trials which culminate in the underworld–can I remember that I must not touch food nor drink?

The fierce brightness fades and I breathe again, a deep shuddering wrenching of my chest. I cannot dwell with the dead any longer, but must return to the land of living, come what may there. My bitter misery still burns within, waiting.