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The dead tell tales if you care to listen. Inside the lush ruin of Parisian cemeteries, fervent fingers tendril the dirt to tug on your cuffs and in whispers softer than a fading heart, they speak.

They tell stories of lost glories now empty like tarnished trophies, they tell of whetted nights cut short by fights ended only by a sun which forgot who won, they recount their guilt of trying times when they could only cry yet now they’re trying to recall why. They talk of a love buried beside them and a fire that once raged inside them to leave only embers even they remember no longer.

But if you follow their lives and read between their lies, you’ll understand they’re talking about you. For as many tragedies as they survived, their greatest loss resides in the lives they left behind. They are jealous because you have the one true treasure they could not take with them, that of choice.

You have the option to hide from time or ride it wild, to shy from the rain or be immersed inside it, to cower from the light or fly into it your laughing eyes open wide. You have the choice to use that right or abuse it, to place the bet or lose it, to take that chance or refuse it, but even in not choosing you place your voice. You alone will decide before you die to run to life or away from it but either decision will catch up to you. It doesn’t matter in the end for you will follow the dead, regardless.

Life is measured in numbers as fleeting as candles on a birthday cake, not by the risks you take, the mistakes you make or how often your heart breaks. What the dead are screaming at you in their pealing whisper is that nothing matters much because you only live once. And some people not even that.

This is the first of three stories in the One Life Trilogy. The second installment is “Imprisoner”. The third is “Let Me Die Not With Bed Made“.]

© 2010 Paris Paul Prescott