The First Question They Ask in Heaven

By Zachary A. Bakht

The first question they ask when you get to Heaven is, Do you want to Jump? This is always the first question. Same for everyone.


This is the common response. Because obviously you don’t know what Jumping is. They know and they expect this—after all, it is your first day. But they’re not allowed to deviate from the script.

“You have the option to Jump ahead,” they explain. “To the future. When everyone you know, or at least care about, is here.”

Oh, most people say. And these new arrivals, they always want to know, Should I? Is that what most people do?

“The rolling 10,000-year average shows that 99.78% of all people Jump ahead. At least to the date when their favorite person arrives. For most, that’s a spouse, but that obviously depends on when you died. It can be a parent, or a child. For some sad few, a pet.”

Through the haze, one thing stands out more than anything else, usually: Pets? There are pets in Heaven?

“Of course. It’s Heaven. What kind of Heaven would it be without pets?”

You must forgive them for being curt. This is just a job to them, and they’ve been doing it an awfully long time.

Right. Can I at least have a look around, before I decide? most people want to know.

“Of course. It’s Heaven. You can do whatever you want, mate.”

On the way through the Gates, many stop. They turn back, call out: You said 99.78%?

“That’s what the data shows.”

And how long would it be? For me, specifically? Until he/she/they get here?

“For you…”

There’s a pause as they review the log.

“Only four years.”

You think I should?

“I don’t get paid to think. Don’t get paid at all, if we’re being candid. It’s Heaven. You think they’d let money in Heaven?”

They have a laugh.

“What I can say: Forever is a long time. You’re not apt to miss four years. Think that’s how most people look at it.”

Their reasoning is sound. Most people say, Okay. Why the hell not? And then: Am I allowed to say that here? Hell?

“Of course. It’s Heaven. Do whatever the hell you want.”

And with a cheeky smile you’re asleep, dozing on a velvety white cloud, somewhere in eternity.

Not you, though. Next in line, you watch this transpire; you observe the questions, analyze the decision.

 “Do you want to Jump?”

No thank you, you say.

“The rolling 10,000-year average shows that 99.78% of all—”

No thank you.

“I can check the log and give you an estimate of how much you stand to lose. Forever is a long time.”

A few scrolls and they’re shocked and you’re shocked to see it.

“Goodness. Why wouldn’t you want to Jump?”

When you explain, briefly, that it’s not about what you want, they try to tell you that it’s Heaven, it’s all about what you want. Everyone can have it their way. That’s quite literally the point.

“She’s got forty-four years left, mate. There’s not a single soul beyond those Gates that you care about. Don’t tell me I’m wrong, I can see it right here. This is your mind I’m looking through.”

They turn the terminal in your direction but the Heavenly glare is too much. The screen is a glorious rectangle of golden light. Or maybe that’s what they’re seeing too, but they know how to read it.

I’d like a moment to think it through, is all, you say.

“What’s there to think about?”

Pleasure and pain. Love and loss. The beautiful dichotomy that defines everything. Peaks and valleys. You could say any of this, but you don’t.

“Your choice,” they say, and wave you on.

You don’t turn back; they call to you.

“If you’re looking for a way to pass the time, try Tabulations. Real crowd pleaser.”

Heaven is more or less what you expected. Maybe that’s how everyone feels. Maybe it’s different, like a per-person sort of thing. You see what you want, they see what they want. There’s no reason to believe this, but no reason not to, either. No real reason for anything anymore.

You walk for a few minutes and end up where you’re supposed to be. That’s just how things tend to happen in Heaven. There are two lines: the people on the right are just waking up from the Jump. These souls, who knows when they died. They pressed fast-forward just outside the glorious Gates and now they’re up and walking again, returned from their peaceful, restful oblivion. They wake up and get in line immediately. No one seems to mind, though. Everyone is in good spirits. It’s like people at the airport, standing at an arrival gate, looking for the face of their most important person in the crowd.

For you, though, there’s no line. Your feet take you to the left. This is the line for new arrivals. The 0.22% of people who decide to do it live, to skip the anesthetics, if you will. Standing at the podium is another one of them, sleeping away their shift.

“They’re supposed to tell me when one of you comes in.”


“I’ll never get you Jumpless. Makes no sense. Did you know the 10,000-year rolling average shows that 99.97% of all the Jumpless decide to Jump within their first week in Heaven? That basically proves you’re making a mistake. It’s statistically significant. I checked three times.”

With you not saying anything, they talk to themselves. “Doesn’t even make sense. Just get it done and over with off the bat. I mean, you’re here forever…

“Are you serious?”

They look up from the glorious glowing rectangle, their face shimmering in gold, contorted and disturbed.

“Why? Are you trying to prove a point?”

I have no one to prove it to, is what you’d say if you said anything at all.

“You’ll jump,” they say. “You lot always do. Less than a week. I’m telling you.”

They hand you a key. It’s golden, ostentatious, overelaborate. And physical. Just when you were beginning to think that Heaven had gone totally digital.

“Walk that way,” they say. “Just keep walking. You’ll end up where you’re supposed to be. You always end up exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

The other line, on the right, they look at you. It’s like you have a Heaven FastPass. You almost feel guilty. But they’re happy—happier than you think you are, so what’s there to be guilty about.

From the podium, they shout at your back:

“Hey, if you need help getting through the next forty-some-odd years, try Tabulations! You could ask a million questions and still have a million more!”

Dying of a heart attack at twenty-nine years old is bullshit and you wonder if it’s sacrilegious to think so. But then you remember that you were never religious and you still ended up in Heaven, so maybe you need to come up with a new word for what you’re feeling. There don’t seem to be many rules here. Kind of a laissez-faire, have-it-your-way, all-you-can-eat deal.

The first choice they gave you was to skip ahead to the day your wife dies so that you don’t have to be alone, and for some reason you said no. Standing alone in your new, empty Heaven-House, you’re wondering why you did that. Apparently you can still feel lonely in Heaven. It’s not really a good feeling, but stops short of being a bad feeling—more a curious sensation than anything else. A gentle reminder that at one time you were human. It hurts, yes, but you’re not sure you’d get rid of it. If you did, would you still be happy to see her when she got here?

Your new home is a lot like your old one, only much more malleable. The walls are putty you can shape with your hands; none is load-bearing; all can be changed. Your body behaves similarly: Age is now an outfit, something to put on and take off at a whim. Somehow, though, you’re always you.

With time to kill you step outside to the glowing streets, content, for now, to join the indefatigable stream of souls that will pass night and day, assuming such constraints exist, just beyond your new window-walls. Everyone is moving: humanity, condensed into something that is no longer human, flows in streams and slips through every opening. Energy erodes the walls and creates new channels, shaping the streets, challenging the immutable nature of the Promised Land. It is curious, you note, given the general maladies of human nature, that Heaven should be so full. More people have made the cut than you would have guessed. Like our own souls, it appears, the selection criteria are flexible.

You’ve flowed along the stream of human consciousness an indeterminate amount of time and ended up at a shimmering, translucent structure that glows with an imprisoned sun, the word TABULATIONS running along the top in dripping, honey-gold letters. The place presents itself as some sort of multi-layered palace; human shapes emerge from the constant flow, the running river of human souls that carried your feet, and enter the palace as an unrelenting, equally consistent flow of human shapes flees from the same door, rejoining the literal stream of consciousness. So far, everything in Heaven is much more surface-level than you’d expected. The symbolism is elementary, at best.

A surprise, finally, when you step inside TABULATIONS. What appeared as a palace is really just one room, and despite the endless flow of souls from the river to the room, the room to the river, you are alone. This is unsettling but not quite distressing. You think that the door you entered must take everyone to their own room. You also think that it doesn’t really matter and you should stop thinking so much about it.

One of them stands behind a podium, much like outside the Gates and just inside the Gates, and you approach.

“How exciting it is to have a first-timer,” they say. “Using a 10,000-year rolling average, I can bet with 99.92% accuracy that your first question will be one of five common questions. What would you like to know?”

Well, what is this place?

“The center of Heaven. Here we keep a running tab of everything everyone has ever done in their life. We have exact, advanced statistics for every human soul that has ever existed. And that doesn’t count as your first question. What would you like to know?”

Was I happy?

“The data shows you spent 73.7659% of waking, active minutes in a state that we are comfortable defining as ‘happy.’ That puts you in the 94th percentile of all human souls. Congratulations. What else would you like to know?”

How many lies did I tell?

“You told 14,519 lies in your life. Adjusted for your lifespan, that gives you an Honesty score of 64.4445%, which is more honest than over half of all human souls that have ever existed. If you’d like to explore further, we have those 14,519 lies broken down by severity, intent, to whom you told them, and whether telling the lie had a positive impact on your life.”

Did I have a positive impact on the people around me?

“The data shows that 1 in 3 people that interacted with you came away from the interaction feeling better than before the interaction. That is considered successful. The average is closer to 1 in 7.”

The average for all people, or only people that make it to Heaven?

“Everyone makes it to Heaven, bud. Just takes longer for some than others. What else would you like to know?”

Is there life on other planets?

“This is Tabulations; we have exact, advanced statistics for every human soul that has ever existed. Questions like that are better suited for Speculations. What else would you like to know?”

How many miles did I walk?

“Your legs carried you 13,124.27 miles. Adjusted for your lifespan, that is above-average movement. Congratulations.”

How many times did I…

“You don’t have to say it out loud if you don’t want to. I can see inside your mind, right here. You should know this is a very common question, especially among male humans. The data says you did it 6,919 times. The longest you went without was 13 days during what you would call the year 2015. The most times in one day was six times when you were fourteen. You never surpassed three times in the same day after that.

“Is there anything else you would like to know?”

What was the worst day of my life?

“Ah, of course. This one requires a complex algorithm—fortunately, we have it ready. Did you know that this is in the top five most common questions in the past 10,000 years? It is asked at a higher frequency than ‘What was the best day of my life?’ We find that says a lot about the human soul.

“Using a complex breakdown of commonly felt emotions, we feel confident stating that the worst day of your life was November 17, 2008. On that day, you experienced an unusually high amount of what you would call ‘guilt,’ ‘anxiety,’ ‘stress,’ and ‘grief.’ The reasons for those feelings were multiple: (1) your childhood dog, Dexter, fell into your pool and drowned; (2) you received a rejection letter from the university you were hoping to attend; and (3) your mother was unexpectedly taken to the hospital for what turned out to be a minor cardiac event. Curiously, you blamed yourself for all three events, even though only one, the death of your dog, truly was your fault.”

Thanks, you say. 

“Dexter is here, if you’d like to see him. You can have him appear in your new home anytime you like. It will not interrupt his pleasure in any way to do this.”

The natural thing to ask, despite what the statistics say, is, What was the best day of my life?

They say, “That would be October 19, 2018. Your wedding day. On that day, you experienced an unusually high amount of what you would call ‘relief,’ ‘joy,’ ‘exuberance,’ ‘satisfaction,’ ‘excitement,’ ‘gratification,’ ‘hope,’ and, of course, ‘love,’ which is really a combination of the aforementioned emotions and a few others. Congratulations, it really was a wonderful day.

“Is there anything else you would like to know?”

When do I meet God?

“This is Tabulations, we have exact, advanced statistics for every human soul that has ever existed. Questions like that are better suited for Speculations.”

It’s not time for you to visit Speculations as evidenced by your feet—they take you back home. So that’s where you’re supposed to be. That seems to be the only rule in Heaven. Which has to make you think that maybe you never had a choice with the whole Jump thing, either. The podiums, the shining rectangles of data, the endless statistics—that’s nothing more than so much window dressing to facilitate the illusion that you’re making choices.

It’s been a long day, so you turn the TV on. There’s this master remote on your putty-sofa, your shapeable, boneless furniture, and the buttons just do whatever you’re thinking when you press them. The design of this remote, you’re thinking that it could really be just one button, then, but for some reason there are so many buttons. Like the remotes at home. It feels comfortable in your hand and that’s as good a reason as any to stop thinking about it.  

Television in Heaven is mind-blowingly awesome, and you’re using the word formally. It is so extremely impressive that it scares you a bit. You feel apprehensive trying to comprehend the power of what you’re witnessing. It might be the single greatest feature of Heaven, but they don’t want to advertise it that way because that just totally sends the wrong message.

You’re glad to see it because you have a lot of time to kill. Of course, you’re thinking of the forty-plus years until she gets here, but that’s when the real bid begins. Everyone here has time to kill. A literally endless amount of time stretches in front of you and every other soul. This is an oppressive thought. It stifles you. The weight of this reality is palpable. You’re wondering if they have Xanax in Heaven. Maybe this is why everyone chooses sleep.

Well, the TV, then.

What this TV shows, it’s just every moment in human history. You can pick any event and watch it how it really happened. You can see it from the ground-level, hearing every dirty detail; you can watch from above, craning around in your own personal sky-cam; they’ve got first person and third person and free-roam perspectives. If they put this on the Heaven flyers, people would behave much better. Heaven needs a new PR person.

Your first stop is D-Day, World War II, because you always fancied yourself a history buff. You want to see if it looks the same as the movies. It doesn’t. It’s much worse. It’s horrible. Why did you do this. You turn it off.

Maybe something simpler, then. You hit whichever button your thumb is resting on and the picture changes; bloodied beaches are replaced by your childhood home. The year is 1997. It even says so in the corner: the date, time, and temperature are part of the display. You couldn’t have found this date on your own, not on a calendar, but you know exactly what day it is.

Now you’re in the hallway, panning slowly toward your bedroom door. The production value is incredible. This has got to be 8k resolution or something. It’s more like looking at reality through an open window than watching something on a screen. It’s too HD to even look like the nineties. It’s so good it’s taking you out of the moment.

But then you see it. Standing on your dresser. An eight-inch action figure of Stone Cold Steve Austin. He’s wearing a black vest with skulls on it and jean shorts and knee braces and he’s even got a little Texas tattoo on his left leg, just above his little black boots. He is unreasonably muscular. Just completely jacked. He’s your favorite possession in the world and this is the last time you ever see him. When you get home from school, he’s gone. Your little brother, conveniently sick that day, claims he didn’t touch him. You don’t believe him and you hit him over the head with a checkers board. He throws up on your carpet and cries and you cry and you get grounded. For the remainder of your life, from this moment until you drop dead of a heart attack three weeks after your twenty-ninth birthday, you hold the disappearance of your Stone Cold Steve Austin action figure against him.

Now, finally, you get to see what really happened.

And you watch yourself, your child self, run into your room, shirt half-tucked, trying your hardest not to miss the bus again. Your elbow knocks Steve off the dresser. He tumbles, ricochets, lands in the little black trash can at the base of your desk, falling, with his massive, meaty, muscular weight, descending deep through stacks of tissue-clouds, dropping like a stone into a well, to land at the bottom, completely covered, hidden, buried in his own shallow, unimportant grave.

Two hours later your mom empties your trash into the bigger trash and doesn’t notice the Texas Rattlesnake himself getting tossed with the proverbial bathwater. It was all a mistake. Your fault, if anyone’s. This attack against you, the indignation you allowed to settle over your heart after getting grounded for simply making things even—well, it’s all been a great big misunderstanding. Even if it did harden in your soul and stay with you until you gasped your dying breath alone on the cold tile of your bathroom floor, somewhere in there, fluttering in the adrenaline-soaked passages of a brain fighting with everything it has to survive; even if it was part of the holistic set of neurons and synapses and gray matter that you always thought of as “you”; even if that indignity did attach itself as a black, festering wound to your anima, even if it was there as you reached out for your phone, trying to hold on to the light long enough to press 9 and then 1 and then 1, even if it died with you and was rebirthed with you again here in Heaven, well, that doesn’t mean it actually happened.

You’ve learned this now. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Heaven TV giveth and Heaven TV taketh away. You are 0 for 2 right now. You’re not sure what else you want to see. Digging into the past has brought pain and disappointment and nothing else. Maybe the next click of the remote will take you to the present day. That wouldn’t be so bad. See what’s going on back on Earth.

What you see is your wife. She’s sleeping on the couch. She has passed out on the couch after crying all day. This isn’t your couch, it’s your in-law’s couch. You can choose to go to sleep right now and wake up the day she gets here, but for her it’s forty-four years. No Jump for her. Forty-four long years left to get through. The sensations you feel, you can’t define them. It’s not that you’re sad, it’s that she’s sad. You can’t feel much of anything, but she’s still human, she still feels, and as long as she does, there’s some little part of you that does, too. Not the part that’s in Heaven, but the little piece that’s still down there inside of her. You almost wish she’d just let that piece go, for your sake as much as hers, but that’s an unreasonable thing to ask.

Time. Time is the only thing that can fix this. What you’d like to do is let her Jump instead of you. She’s the one stuck down there. If you can’t find a way to pass forty-four years in Heaven, where can you? But would she do it? Would she fast-forward the rest of her life to be with you again? In her current state, probably. You know you would if the fates were reversed. Just close your eyes, sleep, sleep, let the world move on without you.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere, but you’re too tired to figure it out.

Twenty-two years in and you’re halfway there. You are the 0.03% of the 0.22%. Jumpless and sticking to it. You’re seen as insane in Heaven—when you’re seen at all. An established, quiet routine helps minimize that occurrence.

Most mornings you have breakfast with your mom. She’s in her late forties and you’re a kid again. It’s better that way. For both of you. She makes you a couple Eggo Cinnamon Toast Waffles, the kind that look like four separate little waffles all connected, and you eat them the way you did as a kid, ripping each quarter-waffle from the total waffle, dipping it in a plate covered with maple syrup. Sometimes you spend a little time in your childhood bedroom, reading, and Stone Cold Steve Austin is always right where you left him.

If you’re lucky, your feet take you to the dog park. Dexter is four years old, in the permanent prime of his life. You’re usually 13 or 14 at the park. There are no aches, no pains in your body; no wonky thumb that only works sometimes, no lower back throb like the one that was becoming a familiar friend right before your heart betrayed you and left you dying alone on the bathroom floor. Dexter, he never minds taking a break from his pals. He’s always happy to see you. Every day is new to him. Basically, dogs are the same in Heaven. Most pets are. They’re one of the few things God got right the first time.

If you’re up for it, you can be twenty-one again, just entering your physical prime. There’s always a group of similarly-aged guys tossing a football around somewhere. You don’t need pads because no one can get hurt. But you can get out of breath. There’s no satisfaction in it without a little sweat.

There’s time to read, and plenty of books to fill that time. Any book you ever wanted. Books lost, books burned—they even have books that were never written. Ever wonder what happened after the last book in your favorite series? Or what about some side stories? How did Harry Potter spend his twenties? Desperate for a little more time with the lads of the Fellowship on their journey to toss the ring? Heaven Library has you covered. And it all comes directly from the real mind of the real author. 

There’s time to be you, any version of you, and when you get sick of being you there’s always Simulations where you can be anyone else. Tabulations, they were right about that: ask a million questions and their million answers will lead to a million more.

Occasionally, yes, you do turn on the TV. After a few clicks, you always find the same channel.

She’s older now. In her fifties. You imagined, at first, that the days were passing slower for her. Now you’re not so sure. It feels like very little has happened, you’re just getting started; yet, look, see what’s in front of you. How quickly her life is passing. She has only twenty-two years left before it all ends, or, all begins, depending on your perspective.

It’s your duty to check in. No one has said such a thing, but you know it to be true. After all, you chose not to sleep. Surely there was a reason for that. It was hardest in the beginning, watching her suffer, watching from a distance as she struggled to pick herself up and get going again. But she did. And you cheered for her. You felt joy. Honest, human joy, picked up and broadcasted across a great distance from that little piece of you she carries inside.

She remarried. It took ten years for that to happen. More than long enough, you thought. And you felt love. You felt it from her and for her; for you and from you. Guilt, also. But mostly love. You felt love.

And now, when you watch, you don’t feel as much of anything. It could be that you’re just so used to Heaven, its level-steady balance, its unassailable tranquility, its benzodiazepine-zen-bliss-state.

Or, you think, it could be that there’s less of you down there in her heart to receive it. Which is only natural. This thought would hurt you if it could.

There are other thoughts that cause you to stop for a moment. Most don’t have the power to even touch that piece of you that used to be human, that long-lost, deeply-buried, so-tightly-guarded speck of soul that still floats in the river of spirits. But there is one that can still reach you. There’s always one. The reason why 99.78% of all people Jump, and, of greater consequence, the reason why 99.97% of those who don’t initially Jump decide to within the first week. It’s that one question that can still torment you.

What you’re thinking is: Will she even want to be with me when she gets here?

You’re part of the current. More and more often you find yourself here, flowing with the rest. It is a very comfortable place to be. When you dissolve and lose yourself in the running river of souls you find a deeper peace than you ever sought. When you don’t have to be anyone, you can be everyone. Every other soul has something you lack; peace is letting those others fill your empty spots. There’s no time, nor need, to think when you’re flowing. Days pass this way. Weeks pass this way. It’s not the same as Jumping because you had to earn it.

Without warning, you’re you again, standing at the edge of the human river bank. Your legs are twenty-nine years old, as are the feet that support them. Your hands, yep, twenty-nine years old. Everything you can see is as it was the day you got here. How long has it been since you were any age? You can’t remember. Your mind, it’s not twenty-nine, it’s not even all the way yours anymore. That’s okay. Perfectly okay.

But right now, you’re you. All you. Only you. In a word, lonely.

In front of you is another structure. You’ve never seen this one. And you know, dipping your feet back into the current, that none of them have, either. Everything is shared in the current, and this place in front of you, it’s a blank spot in the elevated, commingled, formerly-human consciousness.

The structure is plain. It looks old, but not ancient. It signals no glory of a lost day. No splendor. It’s not the shimmering, translucent, multi-layered palace that is TABULATIONS; there are no magnificent golden letters, no endless stream of souls jumping in and out, from river to structure, structure to river. It is the opposite of impressive. Really, it could be an out-of-business Payless Shoes somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio.

In the window there’s a small, hand-written sign: SPECULATIONS. Next to it is a schedule with the days of the week to display the hours of operation. All is blank. It says NOW. That’s it. You go inside.

There’s another one of those podiums. Heaven loves podiums. Podiums outside the Gates, podiums inside the Gates, podiums in TABULATIONS. The difference is, this one’s empty. None of them stand behind it, smiling. There are dust-bunnies on the floor, not even swept into the corners. The cement foundation you’re standing on is cracked in a few places. No lights on the ceiling; a natural gray, end-of-the-afternoon ambiance slips through the front windows. It’s a bit cold. Maybe you broke a rule or something and got cast away from eternal glory. Maybe you actually are in Ohio.

“What would you like to know?” The voice comes from above and behind, beneath and ahead. It’s in the store and in your head.

Where am I?

“The sign in the window is pretty clear. This is a place for the unanswerable questions, not the extremely obvious, anyone could have figured it out questions.”

Oh. Well. Will the Jets ever win another Super Bowl?

“They won the year after you died. I thought you used the TV we gave you.”

Um. Is there life on other planets?

“Of course there’s life on other planets. Do you know how big the universe is? I really expected more from you.”

You know me?

“I know you all.”

When do I get to meet God?

“What makes you think everyone in Heaven gets to meet God?”

And now you’re wishing someone would have warned you that today was the day you’d end up at Speculations. You would have made a list or something. It’s always hard to think of life’s great questions when you’re on the spot.

Panicking, you ask, Are we all really here forever? Eternity? Is that real?

“The way you’ve always understood it, no. But it’s that way on purpose. The human mind was not built to properly understand the concept of infinite existence. As you become less and less human, it will make more sense.”

How long does that take?

“Different for everyone. You’re pretty far along. Or, you were, until I pulled you out so we could talk.”

Why me?

“Finally. I hoped we’d start there, although I knew we wouldn’t. I can see inside your head, after all. Have you ever even been to Cleveland? Why do you hate it so much? Nevermind. You want to know why you’re here. Heaven or Earth, the question is always the same: Why am I here?”


“This place is not like other places in Heaven. You can’t see it right away. It takes time for your eyes to adjust. The tricky part is, once you’ve been here long enough, you lose too much of your eyes to ever notice it. You need to be just barely human. Most people sleep right through it and never know.”

The Jump.

“Yes. The Jump. Wasn’t my idea, but I got outvoted. We have a weird sort of quasi-republic here in Heaven. Checks and balances.”

Like America?

“What an absurdly American thing to say. Did you really just compare Heaven to America? Nevermind. My fault. You didn’t ask about how things are governed in Heaven. I have digressed a bit from my original thought. Forgive me. It’s not often I get someone to talk to. In fact, you’re the first.”

Why me?

“You made a series of strange choices and ended up, by no effort of your own, at the right place and right time. That’s how most monumental things happen. I could see you still had questions. I can see that you still have them right now and you’re afraid to ask. But I must tell you that the state you’re in now is fragile. It will not last long. It would be wise to ask what you came to ask. It is very unlikely we talk again.”

Why did I have to die so young? I wasn’t ready.

“You didn’t have to, you just did. No one is ever ready. I can’t let that stop me.”

It wasn’t fair to her. She shouldn't have had to go through that. She was a good person. Why do good people have to suffer?

“What ever gave you the impression that any of this is supposed to be ‘fair’? That’s not even a word we use here. ‘Fair’ is a man-made construct. It does not exist.”

We had plans.

“That was your mistake.”

We were supposed to have kids.

“Apparently not.”

This is bullshit.

“That’s not a question.”

Why do bad people live long, happy lives while others are punished for their good deeds?

“You’re spiraling now. Going in circles. I already told you, there’s no ‘reason.’ That’s another thing your lot made up. Stop looking for meaning in everything.”

So I’m never going to meet God? He’s never going to have to answer for any of this? That’s it?

“You already have. Those faces behind the podiums, that beautiful, endless current of connected consciousness that flows, everything and everyone in Heaven…”

That’s God?

“No. I’m just kidding. But imagine if that really was the answer? I haven’t had a chance to tell a joke in a very long time. Forgive me.”

So you’re God?

“If you want to call me that. It’s not what I call myself, but it works. You don’t have to do the whole capital letter thing, by the way. I can see you’re giving me a capital G in your head. I don’t worry about that kind of stuff.”


“You seem disappointed. Should I be more nit-picky and egotistical? That’s what you all seem to expect. Don’t know what I ever did to give off that impression.”

Now you have one last question, but you don’t even know if it’s fair to ask.

“Go ahead and ask. I can see you deliberating. All questions are what you would call ‘fair game.’”

What have I even been waiting for? She’s moved on. Is she even going to want to see me when she gets here? Is it fair for me to expect that of her? By now, I’ve been dead and gone far longer than I was ever alive. Than we were ever together.

“That’s a loaded question if I’ve ever heard one. Let me try to start at the top. What you’ve been waiting for is an answer, and I’m afraid it’s one you’re never going to really get. I already told you what I think of that word you love to throw around. ‘Fair.’ Nothing is fair. It seems that the crux of what you’re asking is what will she want when she gets here. I can’t tell you that.”


“I’m not choosing to withhold information, I mean I literally cannot tell you. I don’t know what she is going to want. She doesn’t even know that yet.”

Then what can you tell me?

“That it doesn’t really matter. Look outside. Moments ago you were floating away, losing yourself. It was nice, wasn’t it? You had no wants, no desires, there was nothing missing from you. No reason to ever feel sad or lonely again. Those feelings, they stem from loss, they begin with desiring something we cannot have. And I can tell you, regardless of what or who she chooses, she’ll end up there too. Nothing of you is ever truly lost. It all comes back together in the end. You’ve been burdened by this piece of you that you left behind. That piece has shrunk and shrunk, and in turn the part of you that is human has faded. But it’s still there, just a little. That’s why we can talk right now. Soon enough, she’ll be here. The rest of you will be here. Because of that, we will never speak again. And you won’t want to. You won’t want anything at all. You will be complete. In time, all of you will be complete.”

And that’s it. Your big talk with God. The first human soul to ever hold council with Him.

Back outside, the structure is gone. It dissolved behind you as the door closed at your back. The flowing current of all that was once human is at your feet, ready for you to join. The others, they beckon. You want what they have, and they need what you have. It almost makes sense now. You can answer your own question. Why me? No reason. Could have been anyone. Because once you step back into that shallow rushing pool, we’ll all have the answer. 

No, no reason at all.

You put your feet back in, and suddenly, you don’t have feet. You don’t have a body. You don’t even really have a mind. You don’t have yourself anymore. The answer you have for them, you know it’s not the one they want to hear. What they want is the ending. A good, satisfying ending. Something to make sense of it all. To justify the beginning and the middle and all the struggle along the way. A poignant final statement that will make this time well spent.

But what you have to tell them is: God’s just the guy writing the story, and sometimes even that guy doesn’t know how it ends.