It is possible to fall out of heaven. It doesn’t happen often; in fact I have never known or heard of anyone falling back to earth in the time I have been here. That being said, I haven’t been here that long. There isn’t really much in the way of a concept of time. I can only pin point a date to each day if I catch a glimpse of a calendar somewhere on earth. Life on earth can be stolen in little, blissful moments. A reflection in a window, a change in the wind; a precious capsule of time when the film of life pierces through the shields of heaven.There is no definitive god here, but maybe that is because when I was alive I never really thought there would be. There is however a ‘boss’ – a man in a black suit, with a wooden desk and towers of paper work. I soon realised he only looked so stereotypical because of my interpretation of a man in charge, hence the suit, and whoever may be waiting for me when I die, someone at a desk with a tonne of paperwork. The files of the dead. This was the first person I met after I died. He isn’t a spirit of a human though - he never lived. He’s just an entity. Not the friendliest guy, but that’s down to my own imagination. I say he was the first person I met, but I was soon informed that my spirit guide was with me the moment my soul left my body on earth, and they guided me to the afterlife. I didn’t know they were there until I was told so, and I have yet to meet them in heaven. I imagine they still have people to look after on earth. I always wanted to have the ability to meet my spirit guide when I was alive, but they never revealed themselves to me. I also keep referring to this place as ‘heaven’, but that is simply due to lack of a better word. It is quite the opposite of what I always pictured the afterlife would be; a lonely, bare place where I endlessly wander as the dimensions occasionally shift around me. The place I find myself stuck in the most is a completely white space, with buildings from busy city streets. No cars or roads or people or noise; just buildings. I’ve yet to explore any because they all look empty. When I want to see the Boss I just have to imagine myself in his space, and I get there. I have so many questions to ask, but every time I go to him he tells me to keep them for my spirit guide, who will come to greet me when the time is right. I have met one person in my ‘city’ area, but everyone else I have met I have found when I stumble into different spaces of heaven. Meeting other spirits isn’t like you might think; there is no relief of the fact that we’re not alone, no sympathy in shared conversations of how we got here. Just one mutual factor: we are all dead. It’s almost like bumping into a stranger and sparking a one minute conversation, before moving on alone. Only a few people have I met on several occasions. They are my source of information about where we are, but everyone’s heaven space is different, so there are no definitive answers about mine. There is one thing that no one at all here knows the answer to – is there a hell? I did meet one older lady who told me about how she had spent more time than she had alive creating her Nirvana, and never once had she seen her husband. She was however thankful; he had murdered her. This led me to fabricating the thought that she either never saw him because she had created a place so impenetrable to anything negative, or that there is a place where all the evil goes.
My afterlife is so far a very lonely existence, so I take comfort in the blurry moments when I see a moment on earth unfold. Most of the time I observe a minute of a complete stranger, but I have been getting better at choosing who I can watch. My favourite person to see is my cousin Cole. Although we’re not real cousins, in my whole seventeen years on earth, he was the person I felt I connected with the most. In the months before my death, I had been staying at his dad’s house – my mother’s unofficially adopted brother, who has some super important career, meaning he spends almost zero time at home. This is why when I was little I referred to Cole as my cousin, because for a long time my mother really thought of his father Felix as her brother. Cole turned 21 about a week after my death, which would have also been my seventeenth birthday. Although he is four years older than me, we would always share our birthday celebrations in the happy company of each other, along with a few members of his family. Since as long as I can remember, my mother, Felix, and I would travel to America every year for summer, where Cole and his mother lived. I remember Cole always telling me in confidence how he secretly disliked his father a lot, for an unknown but ever present reason. Although I only saw my cousin for two months out of every year, he soon became my best friend. Every day I spent in England I would get through it by thinking of the time spent in North America, and reminding myself that I had more time to spend there in the always approaching future. Until one year, when I was about thirteen, we stopped going.I couldn’t look at Cole from heaven for a long time because it crushed me to see him so distraught. Although we hadn’t seen each other for almost four years, the news of my death was just as hard hitting for him as if he saw me every day, as oppose to the two months each year we spent together. Neither of us knew why our summers together suddenly stopped, and in protest we phoned each other multiple times a week which incidentally cost both our mothers a storm in phone bills. My mother didn’t see why we insisted on spending hours on the phone every day after we stopped visiting when before we would spend ten months apart with only the occasional phone call. I don’t think Cole or I knew either, but looking back I expect it was the desperation to not lose our friendship. By force of our parents our phone calls became limited to once a week, then once every other week, and then over the course of a few messy years neither of us picked up the phone to make the call anymore. Although I hated accidentally catching moments with Cole from heaven in the first weeks after my death, seeing the impact my absence on earth had on him made me feel comfort in the fact that my years of absent worrying that my lifelong best friend had become a stranger, were a waste of thought. Only in the afterlife has it come to light that our connection was never lost. Although we didn’t speak anymore, we remained in each other’s memory. Haunting but comforting memories. The word haunt seems almost appropriate. Not because I lurk in the shadows of Cole’s house and go bump in the night to scare him, but because he knows I’m with him. It is a mutual feeling of warmth and peace that we share when my presence becomes apparent to him. Although I know I’m not physically standing next to him as he imagines, we both experience this comforting feeling when I’m watching him from heaven. Sometimes he talks to me, when he’s out of ear shot of his goofy roommate, and I can’t help but smile. The more time I spent looking at him live from my lonely spaces in heaven, the more we both knew I was becoming his guardian angel. This however, just as my time on earth, was cut brutally short.
I hear Corey laugh crudely at the TV from the next room as I wash our two sauce covered plates from dinner. I sigh, and my thoughts go to their happy place. Cielo, I always told you that name suited you. My chest feels warm as I close my eyes and imagine her in a beautiful, calm paradise, at peace. I jump as Corey laughs again, this time louder, tearing me from my comforting thoughts. I realise my hands have been motionless in the dishwater, and note how two dishes just shouldn’t take this long. I think about how I always wanted to show Cielo the house since Corey and I moved in, and how I wanted her to meet my whimsical friend. I had met him a few years ago when I quit college, and found respect for him in the fact he didn’t even go. He seemed to have a free spirit, which was refreshing, but also a strong wisdom, which I have been heavily dependent on since our first conversation. He found me in the midst of my wasting sanity, and carried me through it. A stranger into a best friend. We lived in a tiny apartment he rented in the city until my mom offered us this house, my childhood home, because she was moving south. This house where I spent so many summers with Cielo, now a quiet boyish place, where the haunting memories are invisible to its newest inhabitant. Corey knows about Cielo, of course he does, but he lives in this house without hearing the children’s laughter on the wind whistling through windows; without watching fond moments from long ago unfold in the shadows, he is completely oblivious to the intricacies of each memory replaying over and over.
I throw down the dish towel I’d been idly twirling through my fingers onto the table and make my way into the lounge where Corey turns to me as he sees me approaching. He must see the distant look on my face because he almost immediately asks what’s up. I perch on the arm of the couch and take a deep breath, attempting to shake off lingering thoughts. I look over at him as he’s turning the volume down on the TV. ‘Nothing too bad, I just wound up thinking about things I shouldn’t be obsessing over at this time of night.’ I flick my eyes over to the TV to see a big-toothed purple monster running dramatically from a butterfly. Corey and his cartoons.
‘Cielo?’ he asks quietly, and I nod my head. He says nothing more, showing his favourable trait of being ever careful of saying too much. ‘I can’t stop picturing her,’ I tell my friend as I look at him staring back at me with a concerned expression, ‘I hope she’s some place nice.’
I often find myself wondering how Corey pictures Cielo, being that he never met her, or seen any photos. I keep the endless photo-captured memories of her hidden away in my room. For an unexplainable reason I feel like the more people who I share her appearance with, the less meaning those photos will have to me. I don’t want her to be a thoughtless presence in pictures of ‘just another dead girl’. I never like seeing pictures in the news or on posters of those passed, or who are missing, who to me are total strangers; I feel photos are a personal thing that only loved ones should get to cherish. Of course, when publicised, a photo of the recently deceased becomes an unwanted face in the lives of strangers who don’t want to be reminded that their children, husbands, wives, brothers or sisters – people they love – could be snatched away from them in an instant.
I realise suddenly as my train of thought ends that Corey and I have been sat in a sad suspended silence for too long. I jump up from the couch, stretch, and smile at my friend. It’s late, but I need time to clear my head. ‘I’m going for a walk, I won’t be long.’ I make my way over to the stand by the stairs to grab my keys and briskly open the front door and enter a new atmosphere in an instant. The air is crisp, but still warm from the recently set sun. It’s only as I step off from the porch that I notice the gentle drizzle of summer rain drifting to the ground. As I step closer to the end of the clearing the house is situated in, and towards the trees, the smell of lingering rain is present. The sun is totally missing from the horizon, but the lights from the quiet highway keep the edge of the forest illuminated enough that I’m not constantly tripping in the undergrowth. The smell of trees and drizzling rain clears my lungs as I slowly step my way on an endless route of woodland. It can be the quiet times like this where I may become calm enough to feel connected to Cielo. As I walk I wait for the familiar sense of peaceful warmth to take over. I slow my pace more and more as the confirmation of her presence in my energy is yet to arrive. After a few extra lonely moments I stop walking altogether, and my heart jumps. Nothing? This has never happened before. In the five months since Cielo left the realms of earth I have never failed to experience even the slightest sense of that comforting feeling which signals the colliding of our energies. I close my eyes, and try to understand. Before she died, I never believed in an afterlife. However the undeniable sense of her in the air, in my every breath, when I quieted my mind enough, led me to realise there is something. There has to be.
‘Cielo?’ I call out under my breath, as I open my eyes and lift my gaze to the dimly light area and its growing shadows around me. Are you not there? No.
My heart hits like a stone as I can’t stop the feeling that something isn’t right. My eyes dart to the highway as a growing sense of feeling weightless begins to take over me, as if the occasional car quietly driving by will bring reality back. I become oddly stuck in some sort of limbo, dark shapes of trees occasionally outlined by blurring headlights, and the sensation of having a body drifting into nothing. When I can no longer tell whether I’m here or there due to lack of feeling my physical form, my senses are stuck on the highway, and I think a fire truck is approaching as alarm bells and sirens fill the space inside my head thick and busy with noise. I wait to see the flashing lights, but they never come. All that happens is the painful noise grows louder, to the point where I regain some feeling, a physical manifestation of the ear drum crushing noise. It feels as though miniscule metal beads are awaking inside my skull, bouncing against each other and against the walls of my brain. This feeling slowly creeps from my head, through the rest of my body, lastly filling my legs and feet with the itchy vibrations. Once every particle in my body is thrashing violently my feet begin to move once again, out of their own volition. My brain is being painfully crammed with noise, as my consciousness is swirling into a dark drain with every step into the blackness my body is taking. Along with each stumble of a movement, the deafening song of the sirens fade do an end as the sound of vibration takes over. Every fibre of my being is awake and on overdrive, making me nauseous with the excessive movement throughout and within my entire body. There are only three things I can be sure of in this state: the noise, the feeling, and the sudden seemingly eternal darkness. The smallest, quietest voice in my conscience chimes in at regular intervals, totally freaking out but almost unheard amongst all the noise. Eventually it wears itself out and gives in, only to come back soon after, get tired, and stop again. There is no telling how long this continues before there is a ringing piercing my eardrums and splitting my brain, and as quickly as it all started it stops.
I look up and around me, and don’t see a thing. I’m not by the road anymore, and the rain is painfully heavy. I force my eyes shut, squeezing them together as if it would bring back any sense of reality. How long was I stumbling aimlessly into the dark? The sudden transformation from the loudest, painful noise to silence could fool me that I have gone deaf. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a dramatic contrast in anything. The difference in sound was so sudden and shocking that my ears can barely hear the heavy rain pounding into everything around me, and bouncing off my soaked body. As I attempt to visualise trying to scramble my thoughts back to coherency, I realise I can’t tell the visual difference between having my eyes closed or open. I can only be the slightest bit sure by measuring the aching in my eyes depending on whether my eyelids either become open or closed, not that I know which is which; I can simply feel that they have moved. Suddenly I know for definite that my hurting eyes have reopened when something effortlessly catches my gaze. How did I not see it a moment ago? Small orbs of light are dancing around a hollowed out fallen tree, flickering on and off like broken fireflies. The oddly bright lights illuminate the edges of the forest debris on the ground, but as I look closer I see a larger, darker mass. I can’t help but approach the sight, the curiosity of something I’ve never seen before over powering, and my better judgement lost somewhere in the murky blur of the events just passed. I stop, dead in my tracks a few feet away, as I hear an all too human sounding moan. Has someone been attacked? ‘Shit,’ I say under my breath. At this most inappropriate moment I find myself wishing Corey was here. He’s so much braver than me. You can’t just leave them there. A conflict erupts in my mind, until reality fades back in and reminds me that I might have imagined the sound, there might not be a person lying there, dying in the dark woodlands in a storm… Adrenaline finally sets in and I mentally kick myself for hesitating to help. I slowly approach the scene, afraid that the attacker may still be around, lurking just out of sight. The darkness is only a few feet away; I could be jumped before I even know what’s happening, and there will be two bodies in the dirt, dying in the storm. I bring my attention back to the possibility of the person who is lying on the forest floor right now, not hypothetically as I am in my precautious imagination. What if they’re dying? What do I do?
‘Cole…?’ My heart freezes, my brain shuts down. But only for a moment. No, no, not possible, it can’t be someone you know. The voice was so faint, so changed with defeat, that it would be impossible to put a face to it. Nothing but adrenaline forces me to take the final few steps towards the figure lying crumpled on the floor. As I crouch to see who it is and how I can help, the flying orbs brighten, giving a pocket of impossible moonlight to illuminate a small circumference around me.
‘It’s okay, I’m here, I’m here,’ I blurt out in panic, words shooting out from my mouth in an effort to comfort whoever is here. The unnatural glow surrounding me makes my breath visible, and I sneeze, reminded of how I’m positively freezing. My heart sinks as I hover over the thought of how cold the person laying here is, depending on how long they have been here. I glaze over the body in front of me to try and identify this person who apparently knows my name, regularly attempting to knock the icy water drops off my face as the unrelenting rain blurs my eyesight, dripping through my eyelashes and stinging into my eyes. I resort to holding a drenched hand along my brow bone, effectively stopping most of the rain from sliding into my eyes, and focus on the body. I start at the feet – no shoes – then the legs and waist, curved and feminine, a white shirt; completely soaked through, and dark, dripping hair tangled from just above her hips up to her face. Her skin is iridescent, almost glowing, and I realise she has lost consciousness. For one insignificant moment, I find myself lost in her beauty, so strong that it is surely only accentuated as the colour drains from her skin, making it pearlescent as her life is slipping from her unconscious fingers. Despite the situation, she looks peaceful… a sleeping beauty. Snapping myself out of morbid thoughts, I tell myself that she isn’t dead, that I can save her, and that she is not going to die. I shake her shoulders, gently. ‘Hello? Can you hear me? Hello?!’ With no response I panic and reach for her wrist to look for a pulse, not knowing what else to do in such a situation. After what seems like hours of brutally silent, cold and deathly fear, I feel the blood pump through the veins beneath my frozen fingers. It felt slow, sluggish, and there was only one slow and prolonged pump. Is that possible? To feel the blood like that? I wait another panicked eternity for the next pump, and it comes what must have been thirty seconds later. Not possible.
I sigh, and shut my eyes. What do I do, what do I do.
With her cold wrist still in my hand, I open my eyes again, the action accompanied by a tear of panic, sadness, or simple human emotion at the loss of another person. I stop my thoughts for a silent moment, hoping for something, anything. A miracle; a life-bringing sun beam in the dead of night; a hand from the god I never believed in. Inevitably my thoughts flood back noisily, crowding me with questions. Who would do this? Why does she have to die like this?
Slowly, regrettably, I accept the reality of the situation, officially ending my five seconds of faith; no miracles, no sudden re-birth of life. I drag my gaze back to the girl’s face, knowing I’ll be the last person to appreciate the natural portrayal of the innocence of sleep.
My entire body jolts with electricity as what I see takes not even a millisecond to register. Open eyes, piercing and bright like an emerald ocean. Open eyes, staring fearfully right back into mine. Those eyes open; alive! Her eyes.
‘W- what happ-’ I try to speak but my throat has dried, my lungs have seized, my heart has paused.
She looks at me like a deer about to be shot as she watches me, possibly about to pass out from shock right before her. Her voice cracks and breaks and crashes like a wave: ‘I fell’.
My eyes open in slow motion, as a show of all too real scenes play double speed in my mind. 'Oh, no,' I whisper, my voice completely void of hope, 'This wasn't supposed to happen.' My eyes open once more despite the fact that I thought I had already opened them. At first my vision is much too blurry to see anything but a calm off-white glow. My next sense to be awoken is touch, as I feel a firm pressure on my right wrist. Just the same as before I... passed out? I blink slowly, and suddenly an invading warmth begins spreading around me, as my vision starts to clear. Through the lowest part of my sight I see bubbles; white, frothy, extravagant little pockets of air. Like clouds. The only other thing I see is ahead of me, at eye level. Cream coloured bathroom tiles, dripping with condensation. For a moment I do nothing but stare ahead of me at the oddly familiar distasteful colour scheme, and take a deep breath in. I wince as a sharp pain outlines my lungs, as if they were over stretched, old balloons unable to accommodate all the oxygen. A rather audible gasp pulls me out of my weary mindfulness, and I turn my head to the right to see Cole, sitting on a step stool beside the tub. My Cole.My cousin. My best friend. My family. He's staring straight back at me, his eyes unnaturally wide with what can only be interpreted as fear. At this sight my mind is instantly wiped of all memory of tonight's events, although I know that just moments ago there was a clear replay running through my thoughts. In this sudden total unawareness, a painful feeling of dread takes over my body, filling up my bones with heavy concrete. 'Cole,' I choke on the word, 'Did you die?' I feel tears begin to rush down my cheeks, almost out of nowhere. How is Cole here? Why? The only explainable reason is that he died and is here in my heaven, isn't it? 'No,' a voice breaks through my panicked thoughts, bringing with it a little piece of reality. How did I get here... where did the time go? 'This is Earth, Cielo...' I hear his voice break with the use of my name, 'Earth: we're all alive.' Cole stops talking for a moment, shaking his head and squeezing his eyes shut. 'This is real,' he continues, as if he's speaking to himself, reassuring the absurdity. Slowly, he lifts his gaze back up to me. 'Y- you're... you're not dead anymore.' My brain stops. I have no way of responding to that, it’s impossible. Deprived of rational thinking, the only thought I do have is creeping back to the continuous pressure on my wrist. I glance down to it, then back up to Cole, frowning with confusion. 'Your pulse,' he begins, explaining why his fingers are pressing firmly over my veins, 'I've been checking it, and it’s so slow.' At this point Cole slowly takes his hand away, and almost automatically I replace it with mine. Sure enough (after waiting about ten seconds) the forgotten feeling of blood pumping through my veins is felt. 'I have a pulse...?' I tear my astonished gaze away from my wrist and back to Cole, and I see something beautiful. He's smiling, a true, honest show of happiness. 'You're really alive, breathing, living.' I can't help but smile too at the sight of Cole and his words, although my eyes are still bursting with hot tears. I move a hand up to wipe them away, but this only results in getting bath water all over my cheeks, soaking them even more. I sniff, my nose beginning to block from crying. 'Cole, I... This can't be real, it’s completely impossible! I mean, what happened? How did I get here?' I rub my palms against my forehead, overcome with disbelief, but at the same time enjoying the refreshing feeling of warm water on my exposed skin. 'I was hoping you'd be able to answer that,' Cole says, and I can hear the ironic smirk in his voice. I turn my head to look over to him, pressing him to go on. He shifts in his seat, and stares down at his hands as he begins idly tangling his fingers and stretching them out. 'I was out in the woods, just walking to try and clear my head. I had been thinking about you, wondering what kind of place you were in. I always knew you had to be somewhere, and that your energy was still around, because when I thought of you, and tried hard enough, I could feel you with me.' Cole looks at me, his expression a mixture of sincerity and shyness. A fairly odd pairing. 'I knew you could feel me with you. I could never actually come to earth, but when I watched you, I knew you felt my energy was with you; around you in the air.' I feel one fragment of loneliness melt away with the conformation of the fact that just one person on earth knew I was still around, in one way or another. 'I always imagined that the times when I felt you around, it was like our energies were connecting on some mutually accessible plane.' Hearing words that struck so true, I look into Cole's eyes only to find gentle honesty staring back at me. 'Really?' I whisper, amazed at the similarity of our experiences. 'Every time,' Cole answers immediately. A moment or two pass by where the two of us find undeniable comfort in basking in our confirmation of enduring, undying love and friendship. A shiver passes through me, more out of this newfound peace than lack of warmth. This, however, of course sets Cole to worrying. 'Are you warm enough?' he asks, springing to life, ready to do something to help. I smile internally at his eternal kindness and care towards me. I shake my head as I see his lips purse, about to speak again. 'You were so cold when I found you.' Cole sees that this sparks my interest; reminding us both that he was recapping what happened tonight that led to this situation. Me, engulfed in warm water and surrounded with bubbles, and Cole sat initially worriedly beside me. Cole clears his throat, bringing his thoughts back on track. 'As I said, I was walking in the woods, right on the edge so the lights from the highway light a decent path. I was trying to regain my calm, peaceful state of mind where I feel connected to you, but it wasn't happening. I got worried, because I have never failed to do that before, and in that moment I really needed the comfort of feeling you were there. I remember I stopped walking, and there was this horrible noise...' Cole stops for a moment, pausing to gather his clearly scattered thoughts. 'The next thing I remember is being much farther into the woods, away from the highway lights, so it was pitch black darkness. I looked around and saw these weird dancing lights, and I heard my name being called. I thought someone had been attacked, so I went to the lights to find a body lying beneath them. I didn't recognize you until you opened your eyes.' At this point Cole stops again, and looks at me. I see small tears filling his shimmering eyes. 'I thought you were dying, as if you were somehow alive, so I brought you back here. You were so cold.' Cole blinks, and tears fall off his face. I lean out of the tub as much as I can, my heart hurting from seeing my best friend cry, and wrap my arms around his shoulders, dripping water over him and onto the floor. Cole turns to face me and holds me so tight, as if he thinks I'll vanish before him if his grip isn't strong enough. We stay in this embrace for an untold amount of time, sobbing quietly in happiness, sadness, and disbelief. After basking awhile in this blissful moment that could have easily lasted forever, the peaceful embrace ends. Cole tightens his grip on me into a squeeze for the briefest of moments before pulling away. Feeling sadness in the loss of such a perfect moment of innocence and security, but also immense comfort from said exchange of emotion, I slide back into the tub, once again completely immersed in the now rapidly cooling water. ‘Right,’ Cole says with a sharp exhale as he visibly collects himself, ‘you get on out of the tub and dry off, and I’ll fetch your clothes for you. Corey put them on a fast wash & dry, but I doubt they’ll be even barely wearable. I’ll bring them and you can see if anything is salvageable.’ He speaks and exits the bathroom before I have time to get in a response, leaving me slightly confused. Did something discomfort him? Maybe he’s simply eager to get back onto the rails of reality. After all, I know how easily I could have stayed in the serenity of this warm bathroom with him, pretending that nothing outside of the tall wooden door existed. I sigh, rubbing my nose as I reach to the end of the tub to pull out the plug. Swiftly I get to my feet, watching the now reasonably murky water disappear, stepping out of the rapidly draining liquid as quickly as possible. Standing on the white carpet of the small bathroom floor, I momentarily wonder why I was so fast to exit the tub. After a moment of furrowed thought, I remember that at a young age I always used to be terrified of getting sucked down the drain in the bath tub when the plug was pulled. I laugh quietly to myself; I guess some things stay the same forever. Even through death. Jumping out of my thoughts, I shiver with the insanity of this situation. Not wanting to think about it, I turn to the towel rail, relishing the heat radiating from it as I grab the bath robe off it. I wrap it around my quickly cooling body, and just in time as I hear a soft knock on the door. I only need to take a step to reach the handle, and open the door to see Cole holding a tragic looking pile of clothes. He looks at me with a sorry but amused grin, holding the ruined gathering of cloth out to me. ‘Thanks,’ I say, taking the clothes from him, eyeing them up as I retreat back into the bathroom. ‘I’ll be waiting for you in my room,’ Cole says quietly before softly closing the door. I stand shivering slightly, separating the pieces of cloth. Everything is torn, mud stained beyond belief, and… burnt? Little corners and folds in my white shirt appear to be blackened, with some parts completely missing, their absence marked by crusted, black outlines of holes. I try to think nothing of the oddities, and realise the only item of clothing that isn’t spoilt to the point of no return is my bra. I thank ‘my lucky stars’ as I see it is still more than wearable. ‘Good,’ I tell myself, draping the black undergarment over the towel rail. ‘That’s really the only currently irreplaceable thing.’ I sigh, suddenly experiencing something I haven’t felt in such a long time it takes me a moment to remember what the slow, heavy feeling is… tiredness? A smile can’t help but spread across my face; I haven’t slept for months. In heaven, sleeping was something that had to be practiced. Obviously the dead do not need to sleep – as I understood it, sleeping was simply a way of passing the much too eternal time of the afterlife. I close my eyes for a brief moment, taking a second to reacquaint myself with the feeling, something that used to bring me annoyance, yet here I stand basking in the gloriousness of the fact that I am actually feeling it. Funny how something I used to regard as a nuisance, a feeling completely devoid of energy, is now making me feel the most alive I’ve felt in months.
Remembering that Cole is waiting for me, I bring my thoughts back to the task of finding some way of making myself presentable. I don’t really mind how Cole sees me; after all, we used to play together naked in paddling pools throughout summers when we were small enough that it didn’t matter to anyone. However, I don’t want to run the risk of meeting Cole’s roommate Corey tonight and allowing him to see me in a way that is totally unacceptable as a first impression. After a moment or two of contemplation, I conclude that the best I can make of my current clothing situation is to put on my underwear and just wear this now damp bath robe. I’m more than grateful that my bra is still decent, but the other part of my underwear duo is somehow barely more than a few tatters and pieces, almost failing to even impersonate the pretty black pants they once were. Still, it will have to do. No other choice. As happy as I can make myself with the outcome, I slowly untie the bathrobe and let it slip to the floor. As much as I always hated seeing myself au naturale, I can hardly avoid the sight in the full length mirror in front of me. Initially I dart my eyes away, trying to find anything else to focus on as I reach for my bra. However, I uncontrollably double take.
Something is different. Astonished, I can’t help but gawp at the image staring back at me. My skin is a consistent milky white, giving my form a sort of glow, all traces of teenage stretch marks and complexion imperfections gone. My hips are slimmer than the size I remember hating, my waist curving in the perfect amount, and my breasts just the right size to complete the ideal hourglass shape. All in all, my frame appears just the slightest bit smaller, and my overall complexion is an almost mesmerising shade of cream. Blinking like a cartoon, as if what I’m seeing is going to disappear any moment, I snap myself out of it. Quickly grabbing my bra and pants, I slide them on as speedily as possible, stopping myself from being able to look at myself. My brain is scrambled. I always loathed my body, and each and every one of its imperfections. Yet somehow, now it is the way I always envisioned it would be to the point where I could feel happy enough to accept it. As I fumble around the tie on my bath robe I consider the possibility that my body could have taken the form of how I imagined it in heaven. In heaven, I thought of things I wish were different in my life. Not just superficial things such as my appearance, but more pressing issues within myself. Will everyone else see me the way I do now? I exhale slowly, the complications and possibilities of the events from tonight flooding my head. I place a hand on the cold door handle, ready to exit when my heart jumps a mile into the sky with sudden realisation. If this one personal issue has disappeared, could another have done the same? I think about the possibility, the likelihood of something so miracle-esque happening. It doesn’t take long for pessimism to kick in and remind me that absolutely nothing that is currently happening was ever likely, that all perceptions of realism and rationality have long since been disregarded, given the insanity of tonight’s events.
Could my mental illness be gone? I stay totally still for another minute or two, or three, frozen by the idea. The bane of my life, the spoiler of my entire existence, could it be gone? Vanished, resolved, forgotten, cured? Stop it, I tell myself. I could spend days thinking out the complexity of each possibility this apparent second life has brought and has yet to bring me. Right now, I need to stop. Shut down my brain for a while, calm down, and relax in the blissful unawareness of sleep. A much needed wave of relief rolls through me as I remember my newly regained ability to pass out and just dream. When I was alive before, dreaming was one of the only things I found myself able to look forward to. I would get so excited with the thought of the chance to forget the world for a few hours and experience zero reality. Please, let this feeling be authentic. Allow me that sanctity once more, just once more. I twist the door handle and take a deep breath. I don’t think even the boss back in heaven could possibly know what is happening to me, nor the consequences and inescapable realities of it. I wonder if he knows I’ve somehow made it back to earth; will he be trying to get me back to heaven? Reminding myself once more that now is not the time to even attempt to make sense of anything at all, I swiftly step out of the small, secluded bathroom. Even the simple transition from one room to the next brings a slight fear. The bathroom was safe, nothing but time spent with Cole existed in there as of now. Who knows what shocks await me now that I have left that comforting state of earthly limbo? Telling myself to stop over thinking, I clear my throat and brush away all thoughts, then head to Cole’s room.