Writing About The Mummies

As my eyes settled on the mummies, I felt as if I were invading their privacy. Did they really want to be stared at by hungry eyes centuries after their death? They all had their human lives, couldn't they be left at peace now that they were no longer breathing? I gazed at the nun's mummy and thought of the long life she'd had. I imagined her appearance the day she passed. Maybe large dark eyes and thin lips, sunken cheekbones, and the skin of a soft, wrinkled prune. Had she done good? Had she lived somewhat fulfilling life? Possibly.
I took a deep breath, the air was musty. My eyes pivoted to the crypt and I squinted, waiting for some kind of movement. At that moment, the importance of a few decaying skeletons seemed immense.
The man who was our guide crept across the crypt, his eyes bulging out of his head, and gave us entry to the mummies. The barrier between the living and the dead was now non-existent. The act of grazing the finger of an ancient dead being seemed so meaningful.
I slipped through the huddle of people and reached out to touch it.
My heart was slow, rhythmic, and I imagined the mummy's hand crumbling under my reluctant touch, and somewhere in a dark corner of my mind, there was the ridiculous fear that it would grab me and pull me into the depths of Tartarus.
It's finger was hard and immobile and I wondered what the size of his hand would be in comparison to mine.
It didn't feel like touching death but a life worn-out. Oddly, I found this experience portrayed an aspect of life, it's preservation, the subjectively infinite quality of it, never forgotten after its end.  

Alice Bellan