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The body

Posted by on May 24, 2011

I was driving alone on the freeway on Saturday and I passed a corpse. There had been an accident, and there was a body lying on a stretcher; none of the emergency people standing around were looking at him, which is how I knew he was dead. All I could see of him were his feet, which oddly were bare, and very clean.

That was the day the Rapture was supposed to happen, and I thought maybe he’d been laughing about this day for a while, knowing perfectly well that the world wouldn’t end that day — except then, oddly, it did.

And I started thinking then about all the ways we live our lives in advance — how we hear that someone is very sick, for example, and we start mourning immediately; we can’t help picturing the way the world will be without this person in it. Even though it’s perfectly possible that a car will plow into us on Southbound 880 tomorrow and we’ll never even see that world.

And of course the strange thing isn’t the car accident on the freeway; it’s the hours and days that go by when you don’t die in a car accident, and you don’t have a heart attack, and nothing falls on your head, and no swarm of bees stings you to death in a public park. The freak event happens every minute that you go on being alive.

And yet we don’t think that way, do we? What we think about is what we’ll cook for dinner, or how we’ll get through the presentation at work, or what we’re going to do on our vacation. We move through life with a blind certainty that we’ll go on moving through life, and then one day there we are flashing our bare feet to passing cars with no warning and no reason.

Well, I don’t know. This is hardly news. It just makes you think, seeing a corpse on the side of the road; that’s all I’m saying.

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