They All Thought Jessica Rabbit 
Was a Scam

by Cheryl Markosky 

No one knows what happens in those few seconds before our brains shut down.

So, when Graham reveals that Lisa Simpson materialised, saying, ‘Trust in yourself and you can achieve anything,’ there’s an unfair silence.

Members of Graham’s Near-Death Experience group look uneasy. Almost dying is no joke to them. It’s a very serious matter.

‘I’ll make the tea,’ offers Paul, eager to escape the uncomfortable ambience in the room.

‘Anyone for more biscuits? I’m happy to go to the shop,’ volunteers Mike, who normally finds rising from his chair a fractious task.

There’s enthusiasm to do anything but listen to Graham. No one wants to acknowledge Graham’s freakish encounter when he was close to expiring.

When Graham meets with his NDE group on Tuesday evenings in a church hall crowded with ghosts and past incidents flashing by one’s eyes, his story never accords with others in the brush-with-death circle.

They all speak of feeling detached from their bodies. Uplifting levitations and a great white light. Hugging sensations of serenity, security, and warmth.

Paul’s out-of-body vision involved guardian angels and a message from his long-dead granny. While Mike allegedly floated beyond his body and time slowed down.

Somehow, both were deemed plausible.

Graham hasn’t undergone any of these things.

After collapsing in the gym – which conveniently had a newly purchased defibrillator and trained staff to operate it – he witnessed infantile cartoon characters. A perky Mickey Mouse beckoning him to come and play. Donald Duck pecking cheerily at his feet. Sultry-looking Jessica Rabbit winking.

‘Poppycock.’ Paul infers that Graham’s a secret watcher of the Cartoon Network in his spare time. He makes it sound dirty, like browsing for bondage videos on the internet.

‘Are you an animator by any chance?’ Mike enquires suspiciously. Why was his way of not quite departing from this earth so banal?

Joe, the guy who steers the group, pulls him aside at the end of the evening.

‘Look, mate, they’re not buying it. Why are you here?’

Why indeed? Eventually, Graham stops attending NDE meetings. He reassures himself that his experience was unique – and not disappointing. His smiling cartoon friends receiving him, like a Welcome Wagon offering a freshly baked pie, was just as valid as exalted experiences of absolute dissolution.

Besides, it’s time to disconnect from people constantly revisiting their nearly death. It’s time to go on living.

Cheryl wanted to be a lighthouse keeper, but it was difficult in the Canadian Rockies. So, she became a journalist, and latterly a novice flash fiction writer.
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