Beyond which lies a garden by Chris Jantamaneechot

Exeter (United Kingdom)

Chris Jantamaneechot

I Want to Live Forever (In the Garden of Earthly Delights)
Dedicated to the late H. Bosch

The meadows from which I came frolicked away, like they themselves were only ever painted on butterflies. The hills, steady under my feet as I ran and ran and ran

And ran, and ran, were now pages stuck under termite dust, rotting away, eating the words so as to make me question if they were ever written in the first place.

Yet here I am.

“Hell.” he says, “is only a loose word for the ignorant, a place of eternal flames, ones that linger.”

“This, this here is but a moment.”

He was white, not his skin, nor his hair (which was in fact brown), nor the funny thing on his hat. Like a strange gigantic duck egg whose cracked shell held not the yellow of its yoke.

“My chambers echo with your laughter.” he spoke, “you laugh like it is yours.”

They planted flags on his back, tied silk bows below his knee to mask the scars, and played the oboe like a bagpipe on top of his crown.

“Ring-a-Ring-o’-Roses”, they chant in unison, tap dancing on the brim of his hat.

“A pocket full of posies.”

“Sing little one don’t be scared.” he spoke. Just words carried away by passing winds, too quiet to be heard by…

“A-Tishoo! A-Tishoo!” As one of them sneezed.

The blacks of the water carried their word downstream, to a crying child, a grandmother on her deathbed, a drunkard, a junkie, an accountant, a banker, a broker, a teacher – her students, a doctor, a dancer, a politician, an obstetrician, and an artist.

“We all fall down.”

He had boats for feet, branches for legs, and they seemed to float just fine.

“Come ashore.” My voice harsher than I remembered.

He shook his head in response.

His roots were gone, the ground he once embraced was gone, replaced by charcoal chunks, expired honey, and the runoffs from distant places. So, they build a boat for him, one without anchors, or sails, or even oars. All done out of the kindness of their hearts.

“What a load of bullshit.”

“You know what you are?”

To this he didn’t respond.

“You’re a trophy, a sleeping pill. To the heartless, you’re just a proof of their hearts, but look at you all hollowed out, bobbing desperately on boats made to only prolong your suffering.”

“I don’t suffer little one.” he explained. “Humans suffer, and I am certainly not one of you.”

“Then is this hell?”

“What did I ever do?”

“I do not know.”

“What did I ever do wrong?”

“I do not know.”

We stood till the sun rose, bloomed petals of red tangerine, that caress the ground and set it ablaze.

We stood till the sea waned, much like the moon, it’s embrace swept stones, shattered glass, buried us all in sand and debris.

We stood for generations, as gravestones perhaps for a life cut short.

Before the moment passed, he asked me a question.

“Do you have a wish?”

“I want to live forever.”

“That’s rather selfish little one.” he answered, “and a bit of a sad dream.”

“I know.” And before I knew it, I began to cry.

Chris Jantamaneechot is a student at Exeter College and has dreams of travelling the world, seeing snow, and getting over his fear of skydiving. He currently struggles with the usual pitfalls of student life and is grateful for memorable moments of happiness which sometimes seem to pop out of nowhere.