When I was a kid my gran had a caravan at a really cheap ‘n cheerful park on the coast. There were a lot of kids there, we all knew each other, and though I was one of the younger ones, it was good fun.
One day a weird thing happened. The owner of the park had had some work done on the shower block and, somehow, the cowboy who fixed the pipes in the shower rooms managed to connect the gas mains to the water pipe. Don’t know how that’s even possible, but it happened.
The result was, a pal of ours went to have a shower, turned on the water, and got gassed. He collapsed and nearly died. About a week later, when he’d gotten out of hospital, I noticed he stopped hanging about with us. It was like, somehow, the experience of nearly dying had altered his view of his life and, by extension, his view of his friends.
He had a near-death experience, and afterwards he didn’t want to be friends with us any more. He’d moved on, in some way. He found a door, and he stepped through it, and never came back. There was his life before the accident, and there was his life after the accident.
We were part of the before.
It still fascinates me; how did he do that? I want to know what he thought and how his thoughts changed. I remember him looking at us one day a week or two later, and his face twisted a little and he looked away.
It’s like I accidentally glimpsed a strange, unused path, and wondered where it led.
I still do.