When I was dead one of the first things I did was to try to find Jacob. He should have been there before me. So in my first few months (as they measured time in the villages) I would find myself glancing at every shadow or pool of light under the trees, thinking I saw him stepping out from behind branches or around a low hedge into the road.
You are not supposed to be able to lie there. If you stay long enough they say you forget how. But that doesn’t mean you have to answer every question anyone asks, so for a long time I didn’t know he wasn’t there.
Then one day I saw him, just as I hoped, walking toward me between rows of poplars, down a slight rise in the road.
"You were the missing piece," I told him.
He smiled. If anyone tells you that you cannot be frightened there, they’re wrong. There was emptiness in the smile.
"I know," he said.
It wasn’t Jacob.
They would say later that it really was him in a sense. He was an echo, a memory. Everything still exists in the mind of God, they would tell me. We never have the freedom of being truly forgotten.
When they said this I wondered if it was supposed to be a comfort. Maybe they were really saying I should have let him be forgotten. It was, after all, my desire to seek him and talk with him again that had stirred his form from shadows under the trees.
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