Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WPW: Last moments alive

Have you ever read Severance by Robert Olen Butler? We read it in high school as part of a literary club. It's a collection of short stories that explain a person's last thoughts as their head is severed from their body (hence the name of the book). It gets into the head of people like Medusa, Anne Boleyn and even a chicken being prepared for dinner.

As the dust jacket explains, "After decapitation, the human head is believed to remain in a state of consciousness for one and one-half minutes." AND "In a heightened state of emotion, people speak at the rate of 160 words per minute." That works out to be 240 words which is the length of each of the short stories. 

So why the explanation of a such a fascinating read? Because it's the inspiration of today's Writing Prompt Wednesday. Feel free to take any creative liberties you so choose. As always put your post in the comments below and leave me some feedback for goodness sake!

I imagined that my life would flash before my eyes, like they all say it does. But how can they know? If they've said it, they've never died. I expected a fast forwarded version of all my fabulous moments and maybe even the crappy ones too. But all I can see is his face. Is it his life flashing before my eyes? No, certainly this is mine. The moment we first met, our first date, the first time he told me he loved me. It's a romantic movie montage and our song is playing through my head. Or perhaps I'm singing it. Stick shifts and safety belts, bucket seats have all got to go. I can see him on our wedding day now, across from me, smiling from ear to ear, the biggest smile I've ever seen and he looks so handsome. More faces. The way he looks when he first wakes up in the morning, his eyes droopy, his face full of goofy grin. The look in his eyes when he met our daughter. The little day to day moments are interspersed as well. It's his face that fills my whole mind. I feel nothing but love in this moment. Peace. Contentment. In my whole life, he was the constant. As it comes down to it, he's the only thing that ever mattered. I guess my life is flashing before my eyes after all. I need you here with me, not way over in a bucket seat. I need you to be here with me, not way over in a bucket seat.


  1. Yours is so sweet Jocelyn. What a romantic heart you have!

  2. Every night I used to dream that I could fly. But it wasn't freeing; it was so hard. I would push and kick up into the air like I was swimming deeper and deeper into a big clear pool. It was like swimming, except without the buoyancy of the water helping me along. I fought for every inch of sky that my body moved through. I know now that I was dreaming of my life. Moving, improving, dragging my weight up higher. To be something, to accomplish my mission, to live. It was beautiful, but so hard. I loved flying in my dreams, and I loved life too. I always thought I would hold onto it with the same kicking, fighting effort that I lived it. But I had never really flown. Now I know what weightlessness feels like, and ascension without teeth-grinding effort. And the further I shoot up into the sky the more weight of worry and care falls from me, and I feel as if they were never really part of me. No, I never knew what it was to fly, and perhaps I never knew what it was to live till this moment either.

    1. This is just so beautiful! You have such a way with words and the flying is such a perfect analogy for life, the way you described it. I think that last line needs to be framed.

  3. I forgot to say in my comment Jocelyn that I absolutely love your use of the song lyrics in your story. So perfect.