“Token no. 89330011294297667?”
The guard with a very silly wreath on his head stares at me, as I hand him over the torn parchment with my token on it. It was generated, as soon as I died.
“Child, we are still at numbers starting with 3…, are you sure this is correct?”
Ask your Daddy dearest – His queue machine gave me that, I say in my head. I nod at him again, reminding myself my sarcasm would get me into trouble here.
“You will have to wait till the numbers before you are done – the machine must have malfunctioned. No worries, see that park there? Go wait out – you will love the place, your transcript says you love nature and painting. You will have plenty to keep yourself busy.”
For an angel, he is quite chatty, and I hate his plastic smile. I take my parchment back and glide over to the park.
I am not exactly surprised that my number isn’t up. I take a nice deep breath in – the cherry trees are in full blossom, in January nonetheless. The grass crunches beneath my feet as I find my spot beside the smooth steel sheet of water in the lake. There is already an aisle, some sheets and paints waiting for me. The perk of being dead, I think to myself, is that you no longer need payment gateways.
The other people, or souls that come after me, wave at me at times, or simply trudge through the gate to Heaven, after handing over the token to the guard. I feel pity for him, quite a boring gig. He would have done well as a model for Vogue.
“Your brush strokes are lovely Mia. You must be so talented.”
I nod. I smile. I know the drill. I did that when I was alive as well. I check the ornate calendar hanging on the wall by Raffe’s station. For an angel, his name seemed cool. He had hideous choice of wall décor though.
One month, 24 days since I died.
“Your friends miss you - Tanya and Yvonne. Even Jay. Such a pretty boy he is.”
I wish he would stop talking to me. I have never responded back. I guess nonverbal communication is just as sucky here as on Earth. Tanya has a son now. She won’t miss me. Yvonne is busy with her dreams, she couldn’t make time for my funeral.
And Jay. Dear Jay. He had all the time in the world to fall in love with me, but would only realize that as I lay in my coffin.
They were all waiting for me to be happy, and getting tired of it. I was too. My death was well timed I think.
I sigh and check the pile of books beside me. New books have already been added overnight. I clap my hands at the dragon shaped bookmark fashioned out of steel.
Two months, twelve days.
I look at the meandering queue in front of me, and their tokens still starting with 4. I think how their lives have been – sad, happy, triumphant, pathetic. Atleast death was seamless. No waiting around in the park and sharpening your hobbies for them. This anomaly had happened only twice before me, since the birth of man.
Ain’t I lucky?
Four months, five days.
The sky always changes colours here, blue, inky black, purple, red. The Powers-to-be gifted me a husky last week, who is always around. Nipping at my feet, licking my face. I love Hugo. And I know, my wait has just been extended.
I am used to waiting, I tell myself. I nod, smile and wave as I should. Raffe gets promoted to some other post, as I don’t see him anymore. As the year turns, he is replaced by Amy. She is nice and quiet, and would sometimes come sit with me by the lake and watch the earth go around the sun, ever so slow and consistent in its pace.
I see my room being used by new tenants in our old house. The appointment letter from Ogilvy was thrown away in the dumpster. It had arrived a day after my accident.
I see Jay getting married. I hear his sad monologue by my grave. I don’t feel a thing. He isn’t the one who had to live without being loved back.
Yvonne and Tanya have become best friends. That didn’t irk me. I had always felt like a filler with them. Tragedies seem to bring people closer.
The huge oak trees in my neighbourhood are cut down, despite my initiative to save them. I guess, whatever I did when I was alive, crumbled down miserably at the end. I laugh to myself. I realize, the larger part of my thirty years of existence was spent in waiting for things to happen. For the reader, this must sound sad. Why didn’t you make things happen?
I did. I went to Europe. I worked at an animal shelter. I rescued a bird. I tried dating apps, gave it my all. I read so much. I loved Jay like Icharus loved the sun. I created five different resumes. I lighted candles in the church. I studied products, and business, and marketing. I cooked. Painted a lot. Danced.
And then I waited.
Enough efforts, and effort to be enough are two different animals altogether. And somewhere in between, I was stuck in limbo, counting down or up, I never seemed to know.
One year, twenty days.
The park seems just like my life sometimes. Frozen, beautiful on the outside. Perfect in its dimensions. Glowing with adulation. But you delve deeper, and you see no life of its own. It is as it should be to each waiting soul. A library to some, a jogging track to others. To me a park.
Five years, three months, two days.
You would think with the number of deaths in the world, my turn would have come eventually. I’m sure it will. As I’m sure you always had a plan for me.
But with the stated arguments above, or rather with the detailed journaled case that I have sketched for you, I reject your offer of being admitted to heaven.
When I died more than a year back, I had thought I would be at peace, just silent, as always, but above tears, and heartbreak, and the hopeless chasm of living. But the offer came with an additional burden of replicating what I had seen as I was alive, and that doesn’t suit me anymore. I understand that no soul can just drift around to survive on its own.
But sir, let me take that chance. As I am done waiting the chance to come to me. I don’t want chances anymore. I just want to separate myself from the rut of the so-called competition for jobs, for love, for entry to heaven to rest in peace. I lose either way, alive or dead.
I’m rather tired. Even after dying.
Hence, please accept this as a formal letter of rejection.
Raffe and Amy are brilliant soldiers of your cause, and they have been good friends to me. I leave this letter with the parchment token with her, respectfully declining to be a part of your games. As unnoticed as I have been all my life, I hardly think, my absence would cause any inconvenience.
I would make sure, though, that you are aware of my location – I won’t make things dramatic by completely disappearing. My postcards would be with Amy. I apologise, but I will take Hugo with me as well.
I hope we meet some day, over tea and cupcakes, and discuss about life, worlds, origins and everything.
But I am not waiting for that.
Soul no.: 89330011294297667