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hey there, you
yeah, hey, it's been a while since you died.
yeah, you were there too,
how could I have forgotten?

you sure haven't. brother,
you look ate up
you white old bastard.

you still getting the runaround,
still?

well see, funny story about that,
I heard the story about when you died
from a friend of a friend
of the guy who came in to
pluck your ass out in a sling.

it's a lot less funny,
the way they tell it, but then
they probably don't have
too many rise from the
grave like you did.

yeah see, they didn't even know it,
that's why they kept pounding
on your fat ass
because they thought you were still
doing enough bleeding on your own
to bet on your heart still
thump thump thumping,
too quiet under the
rotor wash.

are you still peddling that shit
about the white light at the end?

they say you become one with the universe,
when you die. so, is it true? did you become
one with all, only to wake up in that
metal bed with the ugly nurse and the
surprised doctor?

how disappointing for you,
but fuck you,
I'm glad you didn't shuffle it off
quite yet.

let me buy you a beer and
you can buy the next and
we can take turns bitching
like a couple bitter old ghosts.

It was a source of rejuvenation, though I didn't realize I needed it until I came. Everything seemed to be going along fine before. Life was what I expected it to be. But it wasn't until I arrived that it seemed life could be so much richer than the one I originally imagined, like breathing unpolluted air for the first time after growing up in the city.

But the discovery came with fear, fear that I would never again be satisfied with the life I had. It actually made me afraid to go back. The greater the difference, the more I was afraid I would not be able to live without it. For now though, I still visited occasionally, but tried hard to not become dependant. I didn't need another addiction that could vanish at any time, and without warning.

How ironic it was to spend so much of my life looking for ways to improve it, finding something, then realizing I had to protect myself from it. That didn't stop me from hoping for the best though, even as I feared the worst. Maybe if I invested more of my life in this place, it would become a more stable part of it. On the other hand, that risked neglecting other parts of my life that had helped support me for so long.

It seemed every time I arrived, I stood at the threshold of two different lives, and I was unable to step in either direction, merely returning to the middle whenever I felt I was losing my balance. Maybe somebody would push me... what a laugh, leaving my future in the hands of random chance, only because I was afraid to choose a side myself.

It wasn't so bad though. More people should have such problems - warmth on both sides, though maybe a bit colder in the middle, it was never too far from either path. At times I would venture a bit further into one world or the other, but the further I went, the more the other world faded. That would pull me back to the border, maybe just so I could see everything I could see once again, even if I couldn't quite reach them.

I didn't want life to pass me by though. Weeks had already passed into months. What if they pass into years, and I was still standing here at the end, watching but never experiencing? I guess it's just fear of missing out on life. No doubt I had already missed out on a million things in my time on this planet - maybe that's just the fate that life has in store for people like me, watching from the sidelines far more often than standing in the middle.

And now I risked watching my own life from the sidelines. Maybe I never quite learned the rules of the game, since I focused so much on the rules they told me to learn, rather than the rules they actually operated on. Perhaps those who learned the formal rules by heart are all on the sidelines, and all we do is circle the field, occasionally interacting with other members of the crowd, but trying to reach the field using rules that did not apply there, only meant a life of wasted effort.

Yeah, I clap when I'm supposed to clap, cheer when I'm supposed to cheer, and everyone considers me a model audience member. And my own life passes me by, lived by everyone else in it, while I do what I've been trained to do. The basketball game turns into a parade. The parade turns into a concert. The concert turns into a celebration. And there I am through it all, clapping after everyone else starts clapping, not clapping when everyone else has stopped, because that was I was supposed to do.

I knew the official rules by heart. Nobody bothered to teach me the unofficial ones.

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