by Stephen Roberts
In 1997, bird shit was absorbed through my arm on a fiery summer day and caused a near death experience. Anyone would have found it funny, unless of course they found themselves weak and next to the mental ward where a simple buzzer made you fear the insane behind it.
Only 5 years later, in the wake of the World Trades Center attack, I saw true mental anguish and knew I must leave a full time job to enjoy my four and one year old. I’d work part time and grow a new mind.
In the decade I dropped off the earth, I pursued my passion and created new avenues in art, music and writing; each an essential building block to a stable and lean personality, but was rewarded with penniless accolades. After we bypassed the early years and demands grew, the needy poet grew realistic and sought basic cash needs. I returned to full time work in a busy mall October 2012.
A ten-year hiatus seemed enough when only weeks after I began; nature brought us Hurricane Sandy whose force closed work only weeks after I began. Two weeks later, on an early Sunday morning at a Christmas meeting came an unexpected detour- my heart attack.
Again, I thought, death knocks on my door; poor choices of rich and deliciously fatty foods and beautiful alcoholic drinks were a toxic mixture to my unhealthy veins causing a 98% blockage. BUT, I beamed at the doctor who treated me in the emergency room- the first patient to smile at him during a heart attack. At my time on the Gurnee I slowly read papers the nurses demanded I sign. I refused to hurry when the most direct and frightening words one could hear arrived from the doctor. He interrupted and said,” Those papers give us the right to keep you alive under all circumstances. Sign them and we can go ahead.”
What’d I do? I signed the fucking things….
Life or death? Written or read?
So here we go again.
6 thoughts on “Stephen Roberts, and a chance to do it all again”
Charge the paddles, sign away your life to a team of surgeon and watch out for birds with poor diets. With these in order let’s consider this well written, life reflections of a very talented writer with a fatalistic, dark humor. This story brings us less into an ER or operating room than it does to a very human autobiographical, Survival on Manhattan Island with family included at death’s door. How many times in life do we hear Death (yes, this is a Seventh Seal-Bergman reference) snickering in our ear and we get the better of the grim reaper in life’s chess games? I, therefore, enjoyed the checkmates over too early of deaths as well as the lessons to us on what really matters if we are paying attention to those around us. Thank you.
So here we go again. What knocks my socks off about your writing is the theme of existentialism, woven and weaved. Even through the disconnects I heard the voice pushing, shoving. Stephen please, write again, do another … and another.
Parisianne and Michael thank you for your beautiful words. I’m humbled, graced and lucky as hell. Always remember, the picture is never clear until someone ELSE defines it. In this case- I live to write another day. Stay tuned.
I like the way you wrote this story. It has the right waffle and weave of choices made with the ripple effect of those choices. Wonder what would have happened if he had not gone back to the material world? Its all in the choices. This definitely could be expanded to create a more defined character and why he made the decisions that he did. Wonder what he learned from the NDE?
What a killer opening line. Awesome. I love this piece, you packed a dynamic punch into a very small word count. Excellent work.
Man, this contest is rife with awesomesauce opening lines! What to do? To be or not to be…