(Inspired by my sis)
Tommy “TJ” Jacobs was dead, that much was certain. Hit by a bus trying to cross the street while drunk. (TJ, not the bus). Funny thing was, he wasn't quite as “dead” as one might usually expect to be. He woke up, gasping for air and not able to get any in a pitch black room. He tried to yell out, but he couldn't make a sound. What the heck? Was he paralyzed? Was he in a coma? That would be just his luck. His girlfriend, Ally, would probably run off with one of those stupid New Age hippies she was always hanging around with. Shambam. Sham-law. Whatever they called it when they all got together to hum in his atrium.
What Tommy couldn't possibly know was that his suspicions were off the mark. (Mostly off the mark.) Ally was broken up when he died and gave him the best cremation his ill-gotten cash could buy. She even had a beautiful meditative service in the woods out back of Tommy's mini mansion with some of her friends. It was beautiful. They got an eco-urn from an online retailer that promised a “positive environmental footprint” and poured his ashes in with the oak seed. When the tree grew in their woods, it would be like Tommy was still there. She threw her arm around her friend Jordan and headed back to the house. He was always there for her when things were bad. Like when Tommy came home drunk and angry. He never seemed to have peace in life—only violence. Now, maybe he could find peace in a better place.
Tommy woke up. He didn’t realize he had fallen asleep, but now it felt like he was drowning. It was pouring rain and he was getting drenched. Wait a minute. Was he still in the dark place? If he was, how did he know it was raining? He tried to open his eyes and couldn’t manage it, but he could still see somehow. Freaky. He was looking down from a high place and he nearly had a heart attack. “Sweet mercy! I'm going to heaven!” he thought, but he stayed put, looking down, not moving. Wait a minute. He wasn't flying. He was up a tree or something. There were kids running around playing a game down below and he yelled for them to get help, but he couldn't make a sound. This was impossible!
“Don't bother trying to speak,” someone said close by.
He tried to turn, but couldn't move. He really was paralyzed! “Who said that? Where are you? What's going on?” he asked all at once.
“You're part of us now,” another voice said softly, almost like it was speaking right inside his head. Another told him, “You're in the forest of life. Some of us are on the other side of the world, but you can still hear us. It's beautiful, isn't it?”
“Beautiful my rear-end!” Tommy screamed. Wait a minute. Did he even have a rear-end? Holy cow, he didn't have a rear-end!
Tommy woke up again. It was storming. (How in the world did he keep falling asleep?) “Hey! You! Voice! Where are you?” he shouted, but no answer came. What was that weird voice saying before? Was he really a flipping tree now? What the heck kind of reincarnation mumbo-jumbo was this? Stupid Ally! It was probably her fault! Well, he wasn't going to have it. If that bus didn't do him in, then maybe the storm would. Anything would be better than living as a tree. He stretched his tall branches up into the storm and waited. He fell asleep.
Tommy woke up again on a crisp autumn day with his leaves falling off. “Stop going to sleep!” he screamed. He fought hard to stay awake and actually did pretty well, keeping his mind alert all season long. People came and went below him. Time passed and he almost gave up on getting hit by lightning until one day when Ally came by to see him. With her husband. And kids. That lousy, no-good, unfaithful woman had kept his house! That did it! Maybe if he could get himself killed as a tree he could come back as something more useful. Like a pit-bull.
Years went by. Storms came and went and he missed his chance. At last, his moment came. He found himself waking up again, falling to the ground and on fire. It didn't hurt at least. “See ya later, suckers!” he yelled to the voices. They had all been quiet for so many years, he thought they had all died. But as he lay on the ground awake for a month, he heard their voices again. “You will die, but you will live.” He shot back in the weird language of trees, “Not on your lives, freaks! I'll tell the devil you said hi.”
Tommy woke up. Grass grew tall over his head. What was going on here? He shouted out in his mind, but the other trees didn't answer. Then he figured it out. Acorns had fallen from his branches. He was alive again! Stupid Ally! This was all her fault! He wished he had fallen on the house. Or on Ally. The only good news was that he was dying of thirst. Literally. Even the grass was brown. They must be having a drought, so at least he'd be dead soon. Dead the right way this time. It was weird enough having a second life; he sure didn't want a third.
Tommy woke up. He was so thirsty. This was it. He'd die a sprout before he got stuck again. It was a lousy way to go, but no worse than being hit by a drunk bus. Or was it him that was drunk? He couldn't remember. “Goodbye, you weird world. So long, stupid talking trees,” he gasped.
Tommy woke up. A golden retriever was nearby and was just lowering its leg. He didn't feel thirsty anymore.