The girl walked into death like she’d walked into a coffee shop: right into that thick inviting aroma that rocks one to sleep whether you choose to drink it in or not. There was only one door, easier than she’d expected, no riddles, no guards. She still had on the same clothes she’d left in. It wasn’t dark, but it wasn’t light either, like sun sneaking in through cuts in cool stone. She spread her arms and closed her eyes and ran fingertips along the unevenness of the walls like braille, trying hard to decipher a dream. Her life had been a single oval room, no corners to hide from the burning passage of time. She’d prayed for this all along, this lengthening hallway of the afterlife, this final relieving sigh.
Minutes passed – Heaven’s hour – and the hallway seemed to sway and stretch, reaching away from her as she navigated its barrenness. The walls weren’t changing; she felt no inviting breeze from a nearby ending. Death did nothing to stop her panic, the final ropes of life. She thought she’d be just a cavity now. Nothingness. The undulating residue of stardust. Something inside her was stirring. “Not now,” it whispered from her throat.
She woke in the same old chair at their same old dining room table. The pieces of paper she’d scribbled on and balled up and thrown onto the floor were now smoothed and neatly stacked in front of her, every single one blank, unused. Her cheeks were dry and when the movement came back to her fingers she found they were no longer wrapped around her husband’s pistol. Just then a breeze walked in from an open window. When she looked up her son sat just across from her, cross-legged with tiny elbows on tiny knees. Outside a car pulled into the driveway.