“Spirits of the Dead”

Death, with its blood stained teeth, chuckles at me - ‘nothing will ever be the same again’. Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe Awaking, still crumpled in the comfort of her parents’ bed sheets, she noticed the white of her knuckles clenched to the linen of her pyjama bottoms. “I don’t understand”, she whimpers. “I don’t… understand”. These words slither between the cracks of her teeth once more. Perhaps, the scarlet lines engulfing her mother’s eyes, or the growing lump in her throat was enough to speak for itself, but she knew exactly what her mother meant. All the anger, sadness, fear built inside her, melted into a singular tear, wiped with the edge of a finger - “I know you don’t baby”. Grief descends like a fog, it engulfs you. I couldn’t tell you when, or even how, but all I know is that somewhere in between a hot coffee turning cold, a hum of Phoebe Bridges through tangled earphones, and a defeated head resting on the train window with a softened gaze, that something was different. The disdain for my train journey back to London, or the caffeine past five o’clock could have been indicators; however, the polysemous words of Edgar Allen Poe was enough to be the catalyst. From all accounts, my life has been filled with oddly shaped spectres outlined with white chalk, haunting my every present moment. No, I am not talking about literal ghosts - I am talking about the ghosts that appear in certain memories that take shape in the film reels of my past, standing behind me in moments of my present demanding the details of my deja vu, and waiting for me in the possible near future, and no, I am not talking about ‘The Christmas Carol’ kind either. These spectres are the equivalent of giving a child stood in front of an ice cream parlour only one flavour - but, I wanted them all, and the potential disappointment and regret loomed over my choice. Regret is a subconscious feeling that I always compartmentalise. It is the isolation of my circumstance and grappling with the mystery of what follows - what it could have been; what should it have been; and what I wanted it to be. I find it rather bittersweet. Poe befittingly sums up my constant hesitation more eloquently than I ever could - a crippling loneliness that boils into a burning fever blossoming into a red orb, disintegrated by a bitter breeze, deepening his breaths. Death, Poe believes, is the all-consuming mystery of all, and within this mystery is the appreciation of all the different states of our life, despite us knowing the end. Poe could quite possibly be somersaulting in his grave at these words, but the figment of death isn’t waiting for us at the holy gates - but if it was, I imagine it would be like an interview panel, with the grim reaper sat on one chair and St Peter on the other. The spectre of death has been there from the very beginning. As some random wizard once said in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, ‘And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, as equals, they departed this life’. Even though this is about a boy with a nifty scar on his forehead, who, quite frankly, would have died after his first year at Hogwarts, these words speak truth to me. Death, along with the loss, regret, and grief that surrounds it is like one big melancholic sphere – they have greeted me on multiple occasions. I find them petting my childhood dog out in the garden as she grows older; they smile and wave at me from a distance on drunken nights of adolescence; and sit with me at the bottom of my childhood bed as I fall into a depressive slump. Death, with its blood stained teeth, chuckles at me - ‘nothing will ever be the same again’. In a desperately, selfishly human way, I stared back with swollen eyes, demanding a reason, a hypothesis, or even a one word answer. The truth is, something deep within me wants that answer, but frankly, there is a beauty in nothing lasting forever. A beauty in knowing that everything is fallible, and that in between all our stories, all our memories, and all our feelings, things must go. They always leave, no matter how hard we try to keep hold of them. And that, is the beauty of death. Creative Director: Rebecca Jones Illustrators: Matilda Hurrell & Matilda Cornwall

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