We all will die at some point. It's inevitable, really, and that is fairly well known. However, the age-old question that has puzzled humanity since its conception still lingers. What happens after death? Everybody has their superstitions, their beliefs, all of which are correct in their own right. Some people believe that those who have the purest of souls go up to a safe haven, a place where their souls may wander on in serenity for all eternity, while those with more sinister souls are stricken down to an eternity in flames and suffering. Some people believe there is a crossroads; a place where those in between good and evil are forced to wander on in solitude for the rest of time, desperately aspiring to one day be deemed worthy enough of joining the light. Other people just believe nothing happens after you die, that everything just goes to black and you spend the rest of your days as a mere, decaying corpse.
Like I said, all those beliefs are correct in their own right, but none of them really are completely correct about what happens to you after death. I was born with a gift, something that I noticed very quickly after my mother passed away when I was just 10 years old. I always felt an attachment to her, like she was always there with me no matter where I went. Now, I know what you're thinking, just about everybody says that they can feel that. But this- this was stronger. I knew she was there. I could feel it.
Not only could I sense her presence, I would notice things. Minor things, of course. I'd lay a book down beside my bed at night and wake up the next morning with it placed across the room, or I'd leave for school with a chair beside my door and come home finding it next to my bed with the cushion pressed in and a strange warmth covering it. As time went on, these minor occurrences not only ended up happening more frequently, but also with a bit more notoriety or severity.
While attempting to go to sleep some nights, I'd feel a pressure in my bed beside me, as if someone was lying down with me. Occasionally, I'd feel warm breath on the back of my neck or the feeling of a feminine hand caressing my arm. Some days, certain spots in my room would become shockingly cold or warm. Many people would be unnerved, or even scared by these strange happenings, but I found comfort in them. It was comforting for me to know that my mother was watching over me even beyond the land of the living.
One day, with a few friends over, I decided to do a seance. Of course, none of us were really trained; we were just little kids after all, and just attempted to mimic what we saw on TV to the best of our ability. Of course, every time we commenced a seance, it never would work, but we persisted and kept on trying at every opportunity we had. My friends and I were really into ghosts and everything supernatural for that matter, so my stories of my mother always being with me really interested them. Throughout all my futile attempts at contacting my mother through a seance, one day, right after I turned 12 years old, my friends and I were finally able to get it right, and I found a way to contact the dead. I was at the head of the table, of course, so I was the only one able to hear them. The first time I heard them, all that was audible were a few grumblings, and the rest was indecipherable. However, those few sounds were much more than anybody else was able to hear when they were at the head of the table.
After that first taste of success, we continued attempting seances more and more, but all I would ever get were nearly inaudible sounds that I couldn't really make out. For another year or so, we kept on trying, but as time went on, more people left the group. Eventually, it was down to just me and two of my closest friends, but even they lost interest after a while. I was disheartened that I wasn't able to speak to my mother, as nobody else wanted to try to contact the dead anymore. This feeling of dread was amplified by the fact that my mother was giving me even more signs of her presence, almost as if she wanted me to speak to her.
While lying in bed some nights, I heard knocking from inside my walls. Just like any other, my house would sometimes make noises at night, but these knocks were indistinguishably unique, and were done in rapid succession. Some days, I'd walk into my room to find handprints scattered among the walls, which I was luckily able to wash off before my father came home. I took those occurrences as signs that my mother was trying to contact me with information of dire importance.
I tried contacting the dead on my own many times at that age, and to my surprise, I realized that I didn't need friends or a “seance” for that matter to do so. That was when I truly realized my gift. However, at that time, when I went to talk to the deceased, all that was audible were otherworldly growls and odd sounds, certainly not those of human speech.
Some days, though, I would hear less chaotic noises, such as melodic hums and some sounds resembling flowing water. This was the first time I realized the two planes after our world. I simply titled them, the dark, and the light. The light appeared to be more peaceful, somewhat like how many people envision "Heaven" to be like. The dark sounded more chaotic and-dare I say it -evil, which many people would assume to be "Hell". Of course, I didn’t know much about these two areas and theorized that in all actuality they could possibly differ very much from what most people consider the two biblical areas of Heaven and Hell, so it would be a disservice to simply classify them into those two blanket categories. However, I still rationalized that the more pure souls go to the light and the impure souls are sent to the dark.
The more times I attempted to call out to the dead, the more times my mother attempted to contact me. This fueled me to continue in my endeavor to find out what she so desperately needed me to know. She made sure I knew she was present in many ways. I noticed that on every third monday of any given month, there would be a noxious stench resembling that of sulfur following me around wherever I went, of which I was unable to ignore. At around midnight, I would be awoken by loud popping or snapping noises coming from the left corner of my room. When there was a full moon out and moonlight would illuminate my room, I'd sometimes be comforted by the occurrence of shadows dancing across my lavender walls and by the saccharine aroma of flowers. I appreciated signs like this because they comforted me while at the same time making me more determined to understand my mother’s message. However, there were other times that she'd attempt to get my attention in less comforting ways. Sometimes I'd feel a slap on my arm, and a red hand mark would appear where I felt it. I took this as my mother punishing me for not trying to contact her as often, so I tried even more frequently, attempting to hone my skills and mustering all my power to try and finally hear what she had to say.
Occasionally, around the age of 13, I would be able to get into contact with her. I wouldn’t be able to hear much, just simple sentences and phrases if anything at all. A lot of the time she’d just repeat the same sentence over and over again: “Wake up and smell the roses” in a sing-songy tune. In fact, my mother seemingly only talked in almost unnatural, jovial tones when I would contact her, almost as if she was singing her words to me. I didn’t drone too much on that though, as I was just excited that my mother was as happy to talk to me as I was to talk to her. There was one major issue though, like I said, I was only able to be in contact with her for very short periods of time, meaning that I wasn’t able to receive my mother’s message yet.
My 15th birthday was the day it all changed. The absence of my mother made it more gloomy than it would’ve been in years past, but every year I had one without her it did tend to get slightly better, especially that I now knew that she was always by my side whether I liked it or not. That night when I went to bed, I was oddly woken up mid-dream. I looked at my clock, and it was 3:00 AM on the dot. I peered over to the other side of my bed, and when I did, I almost had a heart attack. There, standing behind my curtains under the full moon, was a woman. I couldn't make out any features other than her basic figure and frizzled out hair. She lifted up her arm and pointed at me, making the curtain raise so that I could see her feet, which surprisingly were as black as tar with bits of charred skin falling off the bone. Naturally, I reverted to the age old, adolescent tactic of going under my covers, closing my eyes, and hoping it was a dream. After residing beneath my sheets for about a minute, I was greeted still with nothing but silence. It took a bit of self confirmation that I had just dreamed the apparition up, but I eventually slowly peered over my sheets, became petrified by what I saw, and painstakingly ducked back under my blanket. I could see a figure kneeling beside my bed, which was obviously the woman who was in my curtains.The moonlight wasn’t bright enough for me to make out any vivid details of her face, but I could practically feel her lifeless eyes gazing in at me even while I was under the covers. Soon after, the stench of death pervaded throughout my room, bringing me to the brink of vomiting in my own bed. The figure contorted and inhumanly bent down, matching her face up with mine. I didn't get a wink of sleep after that point, especially not with her right beside me and the ever present sounds of her heavy, fluttering breaths in my ear. This continued until I was woken up by the sound of my alarm clock that morning for school. I got out from under the covers and noticed nothing out of the ordinary. My curtains were in the exact place I had left them the night before, and there were no signs that anybody had been in the room other than me.
Even if it was just a twisted dream, it still was an undeniable sign. Now my mother was resorting to such tactics as trying to scare me into speaking with her. What she had to say must have been incredibly important. After school, I went straight into my room and tried as hard as I could to contact the dead. I was shocked when I did, as for the first time in my life, I was able to hold stable contact with my mother from beyond the grave. I spoke with her for a few seconds as she repeated “Wake up and smell the roses” yet again. After she repeated it for the third time I began getting a bit irritated. I began questioning her, asking why she attempted to harm me like she had the night before. Why she constantly harassed me throughout the past few years. Why she wanted to talk so bad just to tell me to “Wake up and smell the roses”. The more questions I asked, the more her voice became distorted and intimidating. She just kept repeating that same phrase over and over, faster and faster, louder and louder. That is, until she abruptly stopped and began to speak something different. Her voice was crackly, and sounded as if it was that of a heavy smoker.
I don't remember exactly what she said to me from the afterlife, just three important things. Number one, that I, and everybody that I knew was in serious, undeniable danger. Number two, that whoever- whatever was making contact to me was not my mother. And number three, most importantly, that I had to wake up and smell the roses.