I am dead. There is no denying it. The only question left, was it enough?


I have been alone since I got here. An empty room. It was all some shade of gray. No furnishings. No desires. No feeling. I appeared to have the semblance of a body, but when I touched a wall, all I felt was resistance. I couldn’t tell if it was cold or bumpy. I did not know how long I had been in that room, but I never felt tired or hungry. The lack of desire was what seemed truly odd. I no longer felt a longing to be productive or laze in pleasure. I simply was.


So, of course, I didn’t get bored, but my mind still wandered. I remembered all of my life with extra clarity. It was as if a fog had been lifted from my mind. I went through many of my memories, taking stock of my failures and accomplishments. I didn’t feel pride or shame, but I recognized a good action from a bad one. There was plenty of both.


I had made a lot of justifications. I was selfish and avoided the homeless when I could have been kind because I was trying to take care of myself first. I was cruel when I was trying to laugh and ended up bullying my closest friends. And I procrastinated so much of life away from sheer exhaustion. They had seemed like reasonable explanations at the time, but now I wasn’t so sure. How harsh would my judgment be?


And then there were times when I specifically chose the wrong path. I wanted her to like me so I joined that drug party. I wanted to impress my family so I lied about my job. I wanted to have a moment of fun so I gambled my brother’s savings away. I want. I want. I want. Peer pressure didn’t push me nearly as much as my desires did. Those were on me. Could I even be called an okay person?


It should have surprised me how little my biggest accomplishments meant to me now. I had been called a hero by the public when I saved a toddler from getting hit by a bus. But I had been only trying to get my wallet back from a thief. Saving their life had been accidental. I had won a prestigious award for a paper on solar energy in college that had opened many doors for me in my career. A paper that I had made by simply combining other ideas. Finding those articles was the only real work I had done. I knew those weren’t real accomplishments. So what had I done?


There were lots of small moments that I could hang on to. I was good to my niece and never failed to make her smile when she visited. I went out of my way to make my wife feel safe from raccoons. I held open doors and never yelled at anyone in public. But such small things couldn’t count for much. If I had done all the things I meant to, maybe.


Now I wished I hadn’t taken that plane. If I had had a little more time, perhaps I could have done more. Although, a large part of me believed I would have continued the same as before. Maybe I wasn’t worth saving.


And then a door appeared and someone walked in. He was tall and lightly colored all over. In dress and in shape. “Have you had enough time to consider your life Allen?” he asked. I nodded slowly. “Let’s begin then.” He moved quick and sure, wasting no time for what had to be done. I braced myself. It looked like he was setting up one of those old projectors for movies. I didn’t relish the thought of watching my life all over again. But what else could I do?


Without a word, the man, or perhaps angel, set the reel going. I watched the wall and saw Earth from space. “This first one is closest to being like Earth,” the angel said. “But the mountains are bigger and there is more land here.” The picture switched to a rocky environment. “I can see the buildings getting bolder with such a strong foundation.” I stared at the angel. “Food will be more scarce here and humanity will have to restrict it’s breeding until they discover the hidden caches of mushrooms.” He chuckled. “It’ll be like a treasure hunt for food then.” He switched the image but I didn’t look at it. “The modifications will include tougher skin and tinted…”


“What are you talking about?” I finally interrupt. “I’m talking about Erdew,” he tells me. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the name first, but that’s not really important for your decision…” I still didn’t understand. “What decision?! Aren’t I dead? Shouldn’t you be judging me on how rotten a person I am? Showing me my mistakes and sending me to a righteous punishment and all that. What the heck are you talking about?” I was hyperventilating a bit. I didn’t actually feel the air, but I could imagine my heart beating like a rabbit’s. Perhaps my spirit was simply remembering what my body did. I wanted answers anyway.


The angel widened his eyes and bowed to me. “I apologize,” he began. “I didn’t think they would give an initiate to me. Let me start at the beginning.” He stood straight and turned off the projector. “There will come a day that you will be judged but today is not that day. People react differently per situation and so we give individual spirits many opportunities to progress and grow. Some people grow lazy in a technology-driven world while others expand their mind. Some people thrive in intense survival worlds while others know only pain and fear. To give you your best chance at growth, you will live many lives on different planets at different times. The accumulated choices you make will determine your fate.” He waited a moment but I only stared at him. “While you did not choose your first world, you have this intermediate room to choose your next. So consider who you are and what helped you to become a better person. I will show you three very different worlds and you will choose your next world to live on. No memories, but if you know yourself well, you can stack the deck in your favor.” He smiled at me. “Are you ready to see your choices?”


A second chance? Could it really be? Was God so merciful? Once it hit me, I cried without tears. The angel consoled me and I got up and chose to try again. That I could do.


Photo by Jeremy Yap

Pin It on Pinterest