Fields of Barley, Vol. 5
(If you want to read this from the beginning, hit the Short Stories & Otherwise Link above)
“Mark, does this feel like heaven?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never felt like this before,” he said somewhat ashamed. There were times in his life where he risked his feelings, wore them on his sleeve, and put them out there only to be trampled and destroyed by others. So much so that he decided to stop taking chances and close his heart as tight as possible. Now Mark saw that when he closed his heart he chose not to live, to not experience life, and by doing this, he closed the door on any chance of feeling anything like he now felt. This realization that experiencing these feelings, that tasting even the smallest crumb of heaven and he chose not to embrace it, caused his heart to burn with despair.
Anna-Lisa’s look told him she understood his feelings. “Heaven is another word that means different things to different people. Like death, heaven is a word used by those still alive. We think of this place simply as home. It is where we began and where all conclude. It is home.”
Mark thought about this. It had been so long since he felt at home. Memories of his childhood came rushing back to him as he remembered his youth, of him trudging though the snow after elementary school to a warm house, taking off his wet clothes, and wrapping himself up in a warm blanket until the feeling returned to his toes. As he recalled this childhood memory he actually felt the soft, comforting material of the thick wool blanket rub against his arms and legs, warming them gently.
“Am I home now?” Mark asked because he wanted it to be so.
“Not completely; not yet.”
“Then, where is home?” Mark said looking around.
“Soon you will leave this place for another. You will be reunited with those gone before. They are glad you are here,” again her smile filled the room.
There are others? Who? Mark’s mind went blank. Does she mean those who’ve died? Are they really here? Is my father here—right here?
“Anna-Lisa,” he said, his tone showing the slimmest of edges. “Before I get to that, I need to know why I’m here.”
“You are here because you’re no longer there. It’s very simple. But to answer why you are now here with me, the answer is that your heart stopped while you slept last night and you died.”
The words circled slowly in Mark’s mind. His heart stopped; it just stopped while he slept. “How sad,” he said finally, a feeling of melancholy washing over him. It was his heart that failed and caused his demise, not some stupid teenager behind the wheel of a car texting his friends and paying no attention to the other cars on the road. He didn’t die by electrocution, or drowning, or even in a fiery airline disaster. Mark always thought he’d meet his end in a plane crash because he had a mild fear of flying. He often told others dying in a plane crash would be “poetic justice” though it never deterred him from flying.
To be continued...
NaNoWriMo Tracker: 5806 words today, 8764 total