Oxygenated Souls

Written for the game Fire Starter–Writing Prompt #7


Nobody breathed. Nobody could.

I never thought the world of the dead would be so different than the world of the living. It was. In so many ways. But what struck me most was the silence.

I’d had a few awkward silences while I was still alive. But while I was alive there was still the sound of our breathing. In and out. It was like it was trying to scare away the quiet. There is no such thing as silence for the living.

The living are loud. When I put my ear to our dead sky I can hear them. In and out. Billions of oxygenated souls.

Down here we scream and shout and party like the living. They can’t hear us, but we can hear them. The difference is that 10 billion noses and mouths taking in air is the loudest most repetitive noise that unmistakably reassures life.

The sounds of the dead are unrepetitive. If a living heard us they would think we were pipes beneath the earth, because pipes are also unrepetitive.

My friend cackled, his teeth hitting together.

Somewhere above a metal tub clinked beneath a small child’s bedroom. The child buried her head beneath the covers and held her breath.

Down below we laugh harder.

“At last,” said my friend, “It is quiet.”

But it doesn’t last.