This is a science fiction short story that was in a high school science fiction literature book (1973) about a person who is dying and they are describing how they are dying and going to another place.

According to them this place is terrible, she/him tells how there are these awful growths which we find out are our trees here on Earth, and then she/he talks about the ugly fungus growing everywhere, which are our flowers here on Earth. Then at the end when he/she talks about her/his painful death it is really her/him being born here on earth.

This is all of the main details that I can remember. I have been looking for the name of the author and the name of the short story for years.

  • 1
    Hi and welcome to the site! I edited the title of your question to make it more descriptive, because better titles get more attention. I also changed the tags to add story-identification; science-fiction-genre is for questions about the genre itself.
    – Niall C.
    Feb 15, 2015 at 6:03
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    Can you refer to the syllabus for the school board for that year? Assuming the teacher stuck with the recommended books then you might be in with a chance of finding it. Maybe even mention the location/state of the school. I assume USA because you say high school.
    – Ian Lewis
    Sep 24, 2015 at 14:07

1 Answer 1


The story is "Jachid and Jachidah" (aka "Jachid and Jechida" aka "Yachid and Yechida", originally written in Yiddish) by Novel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer. Your high school science fiction literature book must have been Science Fiction: The Future, edited by Dick Allen, published 1971 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. There are questions at the end of each story; for this one the questions are:

1. Do you think Singer's story provides, for you, an acceptable view of reality? Compare the view of reality shown here to that in the next story, Robert Heinlein's "They."

2. Does this strange story affirm or deny traditional religious beliefs?

3. What devices has Singer used to create the vaguely unpleasant feeling in part II?

4. Would you classify this story as allegory, satire, fantasy, or as something else?

A couple of extracts from the story:

In a prison where souls bound for Sheol—Earth they call it there—await destruction, there hovered the female soul Jachidah. Souls forgot their origin. Purah, the Angel of Forgetfulness, he who dissipates God's light and conceals His face, holds dominion everywhere beyond the Godhead. Jachidah, unmindful of her descent from the Throne of Glory, had sinned. Her jealousy had caused much trouble in the world where she dwelled. She had suspected all female angels of having affairs with her lover Jachid, had not only blasphemed God but even denied him. Souls, she said, were not created but had evolved out of nothing: they had neither mission nor purpose. Although the authorities were extremely patient and forgiving, Jachidah was finally sentenced to death. The judge fixed the moment of her descent to that cemetery called Earth.

[. . . .]

Death was no rare occurrence where Jachidah lived but it befell only vulgar, exhausted spirits. Exactly what happened to the dead, Jachidah did not know. She was convinced that when a soul descended to Earth it was to extinction, even though the pious maintained that a spark of life remained. A dead soul immediately began to rot and soon was covered with a slimy stuff called "semen." Then a grave digger put it into a womb where it turned into some sort of fungus and was henceforth known as a "child." Later on, began the tortures of Gehenna: birth, growth, toil. For according to the morality books, death was not the final stage. Purified, the soul returned to its source. But what evidence was there for such beliefs? So far as Jachidah knew, no one had ever returned from Earth. The enlightened Jachidah believed that the soul rots for a short time and then disintegrates into a darkness of no return.

[. . . .]

It was spring, and Earth's corruption grew leprous with blossoms. From the graves with their memorial trees and cleansing waters arose a dreadful stench. Millions of creatures, forced to descend into the domain of death, were becoming flies, butterflies, worms, toads, frogs. They buzzed, croaked, screeched, rattled, already involved in the death struggle. But since Jachidah was totally inured to the habits of Earth, all this seemed to her part of life. She sat on a park bench staring up at the moon, which from the darkness of the nether world is sometimes recognized as a memorial candle set in a skull. Like all female corpses, Jachidah yearned to perpetuate death, to have her womb become a grave for the newly dead. But she couldn't do that without the help of a male with whom she would have to copulate in the hatred which corpses call "love."

  • 2
    Whoever wrote this story must be a real hoot at parties
    – DSKekaha
    Jul 9, 2019 at 15:00

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