He wasn’t all that old, at least he thought so. After all, 67 is not a long life in today’s world. Heck, more than half of his family had made it to 80, and the women seem to all make it to their mid nineties. He was still fairly spry for his age, and loved long walks, good books, and delightful conversations. In fact, it was just at the end of one of those days, a day filled with a long walk, two cute, and one deep conversations, and the final chapter of his favorite author’s latest book. A nice cup of tea, a quick search of his emails, and he was ready to call it a night.
That is when the circle first appeared. Well, not quite a circle, more like a sphere trying to suck in its gut and be a circle. It glimmered at first, then sparkled like a 1970’s disco ball, before finally taking a form that could only be called: M&M shaped. If M&M’s actually looked like their cartoon commercial characters, and were brilliant diamond like crystals. Kevin had watched the whole metamorphous without saying a word. His jaw hung open, slack and unhinged, no drool escaped to cap the cliche, but his mind teetered on the unhinged part - just like his jaw. You see a being form right in front of your eyes, that starts out as a laser sharp circle of light, then morphs into a five foot circular M&M, and then SPEAKS TO YOU. Yeah, your jaw might hang for a bit too.
“It is time to go.”
“And how come you don’t have M&M written on your chest?”
The circle of light, squashed into a sphere that did indeed look like it should have M&M stenciled on its crystalline chest, laughed heartily. The first three questions were so common and mundane, to be almost as banal as evil. Everyone he told the time to- asked those three questions. The M&M crack was a new wrinkle, a novel one. As far as the see through M&M was concerned, a clever one too.
“Well, let’s start with the last question first. I am not an M&M. I am the circle of life. Some people call me death, a few call me birth, others think those are my ends, and not my beginnings. It is time to go. Where is irrelevant. There is no “where” where we are going. Nowhere at all. (and he chuckled at the pun) Why is a much easier question to answer. It is time. “
“Time? What do you mean?”
“It is time to go. Your circle is complete. At least the one forged on earth.”
“Wait. I can’t go yet. I have people to call, things to do, loose ends to tidy up. I just need a little more time.”
“You don’t have any. You see, you are already dead, or we wouldn’t be talking. When I said it was time to go, you went.”
Kevin was shocked. What the crystal M&M said was true. He could see his body, slumped on the floor next to the computer desk, one slipper on, one must have fallen off when he fell. A shattered tea cup lay a few feet from his hand, with a small cold puddle of tea with much to much sugar in it had spread from the broken cup to the edge of his forehead. When he looked back at the crystalline M&M, it was looking down at his former body too. Only the crystal M&M had a soft smile on its face. A gentle thankful, even grateful smile.
“I like it when the circle closes so gently like that. You suffered very little, and when they lay your body out for the services, people will say: “He looks so alive.” That is a good way to complete the circle of life.>
“The moving hand writes, and once written, it moves on.”
This time, it was the M&M that was stunned. Very few people close the circle of life, and remain calm enough to quote famous lines. Kevin had already made him laugh, and now, think. It made the M&M take a step towards talking with Kevin a bit more. Usually, when the circle was complete, all the M&M did was announce it to the deceased, answer the stock questions, and move the new circle to the newest circle of life. Circles don’t stop being circles, just because you circled them already. Something humans have trouble understanding, the crystal M&M had learned over time.
“ Yes. That is appropriate. It is time to go now. The hand has moved on, and the ink has dried. “
“But what do I move on to? Or where? Is there like a Heaven, or a Hell? Or was that all malarkey? “
Oh, the crystal M&M so liked this Kevin mortal. He must have had a heck of a circle of life.
“Well, that depends. Some circles can be made to resemble a heaven or a hell. But, no, there is no heaven or hell on this circle of life. Any message of love, forgiveness, tolerance and become a fuller, richer, kinder person, can hardly be labeled “malarkey” - can it?”
“I suppose not. “ Smiled Kevin. “But what is on this circle of life? Will I even be alive in this circle? I mean you did say I was dead a bit ago.”
“Yes, you are dead. On earth. That circle is closed to you now. THIS circle however, is open to you. I only take you to its beginning, and I have no idea where, if, or when, it ends. My job is just to bring you to it.”
“And how do you do that?”
Time wrinkled. Kevin was unaware of the transition. He was aware of the heat, the light, and the power. He no longer knew of the circle of life that contained a thought called : “Kevin.” He had thoughts , if that is what you could call them. They just were not formed with words or pictures. No, these self aware thoughts were ripples of magnetism, unbelievable temperatures and pressures, and flares of gasses hundreds of thousands of miles across. The Crystal M&M smiled, as he turned to get his next assignment, he waved a tiny salute to the now defunct human.
“Enjoy the circle, Kevin. You will be a wonderful star. “
Out in the Galaxy, a new star was born. The older stars smiled at its brightness and energy. The gasses surrounding the new star, all caught in the circle of life, surrendered themselves to the crushing gravity that makes matter. Each of the gasses greeted by what looked like a crystal M&M, as they gave up their circle of life, so the new star could be. And it was.