It felt like I'd died twice; first when I choked on the Brazil nut that took my life, then again as I stood waiting in heavens seeming unending queue.
While I skimmed over the activities listed in the gold-plated 'Heavenly Kingdom" handbook, (which I'd been given the moment I passed through the pearly gates), my guide droned on relentlessly monotone. His lack of enthusiasm was infectious.
"So like, you're not allowed pets I guess." I'd been at this boys funeral. Having my former next door neighbours teenage son as my heavenly guide, wasn't that surprising. Jonathan was 4 years older than me when he died at the age of 18. I remember sitting beside my parents at his funeral, as the church pastor warned the congregation against the dangers of excessive sugar-cereal consumption.
"I guess because all the animal freedom rights and stuff?" Jonathan mused as he led me to my designated home. "The lion and the lamb and whatever." He'd seemed so old to me back then, a gangly kid with a laid back attitude and a non-stop supply of weed. It was peculiar to find myself some 10 years his senior.
"Also everyone gets one harp." When he'd met me at the entrance of heaven, an uncharacteristic sharp flicker of recognition in his eyes seemed to calm my anxieties, as I passed through the gates. "Its standard issue, so no upgrades. Take care of your harp, its like your…" he hesitated, coming to a stop as he paused, "what's the last year you remember?"
"Um, 2012?" I answered uncertain.
He flicked through the A5 notepad he was holding, "Kay. Yeah," he said distracted as he ran his finger down the margin of the page, "harps are like a Walk-man? No wait." he double tapped the paper. "Ipod, its like your iPod." He gazed up at me, a lazy grin stretched across his face. "Those sound kinda cool," he said, his voice drifting off as we began walking again.
"So," I said breaking the silence after we'd travelled for a long while. I made a mental note to get a watch, but discarded that idea. Why keep time if you are going to live forever? "How have you found things here so far?"
Jonathan's brow wrinkled as he gave my question deep thought. After a few long moments, as I was about to repeat my question, he answered. "Its OK." He shrugged in conclusion, before turning to present my new home. "Here you go."
I was met with a large wooden cottage; a red door with no numbering and no visible locks.
"How do I get in?" At my query, the front door opened.
"The house knows." Jonathan replied, his tone sage, as he began to walk back down the pathway.
"Jonathan," I said jogging to catch up to him as he came to a stop. He turned and grinned at me. "One more question. I've always wanted to know," I leaned in co-conspiratorially. "What does god look like?"
His grin turned into a knowing smirk. "Like me." As confusion washed across my face he clarified. "I personally greet everyone who comes through the gates. Its easier for newcomers to adapt if I take the form of someone from your past." He gave me a warm smile as he spun and continued down the path, concluding over his shoulder, "I'm actually a lot taller in real life".
Writers Digest Short Story Prompt : You've died and gone to heaven, only it's nothing like you've imagined. You're greeted by a guide—someone from your past—who gives you a tour and explains what you can expect out of the afterlife. There's one question you've been dying to know and, at the end of the tour, you decide to ask. Post your response (500 words or fewer).
Authors Note : A little over the word count, I know, but the story manages to stay on point with the prompt. I tried to describe heaven as a kind of eternal holiday park. No idea why that description came to me.