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Conversations with God
prose [ ]

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by [jaw ]

2011-12-15  |     | 

I am dying. It is Canada Day and the irony is that my dear Esperanza and I landed in Canada, sixty years ago today. My lovely wife, our three children, and their children surround the bed. The great grandchildren are being entertained in the living room, their parents having decided that it is inappropriate for the little ones to witness my death.

I am comfortable, there is no pain, it is simply that my eighty-nine year-old body is worn out. I close my eyes. I am tired. I will nap for a while I think to myself as I drift off. I dream of the local Fair and the chip wagon, my one vice, then I see a light at the end of a tunnel. I expect this; it is a natural part of the dying process and occurs as the brain begins to shut down. This is the end I know, and I expect nothing but the end of being, for I am an atheist.

Imagine my surprise at what happens next.

I find myself in a white expanse, unblemished except for an emerald recliner. I approach and see a woman is sitting in it with her feet up and a laptop before her. She is dressed in what appear to be grey silk pants, and a billowing white blouse. She looks up from her computer and when I gaze into her green eyes, I see eternity in their depths.

“Good afternoon Eduardo,” she says, with a warm smile on her face. It is a face that contains all races, for she is not Latina, Black, White, or Asian, rather she is all those and more. She is every woman.

“I am God,” she says with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

I pinch myself, but there is no pain.

“You cannot cause yourself pain here.” She checked her laptop then looked back up at me. “An atheist I see.”

I nod, wondering what else she might discover on it.

“Nothing important Eduardo, but I did need to know your religion, as each one has its own domain.”

She points and I follow her finger with my eyes. I now see a long line of doors that I am sure were not there before.

“This is the afterlife Eduardo, you can’t expect things to work as they did when you were alive. Atheists and agnostics are in room 12.”

I feel a certain amount of trepidation about passing through that door, but God smiles at me and gives me a benevolent, encouraging nod. I turn the latch, pull the door open a fraction, and peep in. Antonio, and Ramón, two close friends of mine stand near the entry chatting. They had preceded me to this place, one by a year and some days, the other by a few weeks. Antonio had gone camping and drank from a creek, silly old coot; he ended up with a case of beaver fever. Old and weak it killed him. Ramón had a massive heart attack while making love to his wife. What a way to go!
They turn and see me.

“Hola Eduardo,” Ramón says, “come in, it’s good to see you.”

“Let us show you around,” Antonio adds.

There is no torment or pain, but there is a good game of whist, a fine bottle of cognac, the best Bloody Caesars I’ve ever had, and butter tarts that melt in your mouth. And a library… well two libraries. I ramble through the first one and discover every great book ever written.

“All translated into my mother tongue,” I gasp aloud.

“Shhh,” the librarian hushes me. “They are not in Spanish,” he explains. “They have all been translated into ‘afterlife,’ the language here. Now please be so kind as to speak quietly. Others are trying to read.”

I drift out after a day or a week, I’m not sure, and look across the hall at the second library. The sign over it reads:


I am impressed and cross the floor, which gleams like glib ice. I amble down a few isles.

Browsing, I lose all track of time and I may have meandered around for days. I decide that I will pick a volume, take it to one of the comfortable recliners at the end of the rows, and read. By coincidence, the book was on bathtub races and explained in minute detail how to construct and race a bathtub. I find myself absorbed in the finer points.

When I look up from the tome, I hear Leonard Cohen playing in the background, and God is sitting in the seat next to mine with the table between us piled high with ancient looking books, parchments, a pile of memory sticks, and a glass of ice wine. The stacks look like they should topple over and though they teeter, everything remains in place.

“I am God after all,” she says.

I peer around the pile of books. “Yes,” I agree. I clear my throat. “A question if I may.”

“Of course,” she replies.

“I have family and friends that are not agnostics or atheists. Is it possible to see them?”

“Oh yes. The librarian can direct you to the correct door, but be sure to pick up a visitors pass when you go into another domain. It is likely your friends will be in the Catholic territory. It is overflowing with Bluenosers these days, they have the best Digby chicken in the afterlife. If you go there, you must try it and be sure to take a twenty-sixer of good Canadian Rye whisky in exchange.”

I sit back down and wonder if I should rather have asked if it is possible to visit only with people I like. God gives me a wink, a knowing smile, and an almost indiscernible nod.

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