As he began to ponder his problem, he knew what to do. It wouldn’t be easy, but it would have to be done. He then stripped himself of his ball and chain. He somehow knew he knew he had done the correct thing.

Three men dressed in black walked into the funeral home. They were all there to see their friend, Greg. He had died in a car accident a week ago. The men all walked up to the casket to see their lost friend. He looked as though he was at rest. One man began to cry out, “Come on Greg! I know you can hear me! Wake up!”. He was enraged, although he did not know what he was angry at. The other two friends grabbed the sobbing fellow and pulled him outside. As trio walked away, Greg’s eyes opened.

        

        In shock, he screamed. No one noticed. To them, he was lifeless. He got up and walked towards someone. He politely asked where he was. There was no reply, only silence. In fact, everyone seemed to believe he was still dead and in his coffin. He was alive again. He could breath, talk, think -- What made him so different than those who were clearly also alive?  He couldn’t figure it out. Confused, he walked out of the funeral home and stepped into the garden out front. Before him lay a bed of beautiful roses. He looked closer and saw a few dead ones. He reached into pluck a pedal of a rose, and got pricked by a thorn. It came off one of the dead roses. He shed blood, though it only stained the dead roses. The living flowers rejected the bloodstain as if they were too good for it. He had no clue what was going on.

        He walked further out and came upon a man in pure white clothing sitting on a bus bench. Greg spoke out “Hello? Sir, can you hear me?”. The strange man nodded, but he never turned his head. Greg then walked over to see the man’s face. His face was full of great despair. “Can you speak?” Greg asked.

“No. I cannot speak.” the man replied sarcastically.

“Very funny, smartass.” Greg stated. “What’s going on?”

“They are trapped. Lost without hope. Burdened by you.” said the odd man.

“What is that supposed-” Greg spoke before being cut off.

“You are dead.” the man said.

        Greg’s jaw dropped. His head began pounding as he attempted to remember what had happened to him. He could not think about. The memory was avoiding him. Even his own memories seemed to dislike him now.

        The man looked up to Greg and stated “You see those people? They are the living. They hate you and me.”

        

        “What do you mean? Are you dead too?” Greg asked in confusion.

        The man’s reply was a silent scream. He just looked at Greg, pulled out a knife, and stabbed himself in the leg. Blood began to ooze out of the deep cut he had created, but it never stained the grass below him. It just sank into the ground. Greg knew that that man was dead as well.

        Greg turned around and looked at all the happy people walking around. Even the air was filled with joy and cheer. But Greg felt... Sad. The man stood up and gave Greg a key. It had the words “To Die For” stamped on it. Greg turned around to ask what the key was for, but the man was gone. He was so confused, until he looked down. He saw a ball and chain with a keyhole on it. Scared but curious, he put the key in the keyhole and turned his wrist. The item clicked. Greg still was dead though. Nothing happened. Maybe he had to take it off fully. He tugged at it and noticed something odd. On the ground where the man stood lay a pile of dust. It was laid out in a sentence:  “Once it’s off, you will finally be seen.”

        “Seen?” Greg thought. “Seen by who?”

As he began to ponder his problem, he knew what to do. It wouldn’t be easy, but it would have to be done. He then stripped himself of his ball and chain. He somehow knew he had done the correct thing. At that point, the crying friend stopped sobbing. He said to himself, “You know what, we’re gonna be ok. Greg may be gone, but that doesn’t mean we won’t forget him”

Greg’s ball and chain was forged from the sadness on the night he died. Once he found the key to get it off, his friends began to feel hope again. They were not burdened anymore by his death.

What is life? Is it an emotion? A state of mind? No. It’s an evil bond between those who are living and those who are dead. Once that bond is broken, the dead may leave the living to be forever free; forever at peace.