I was late leaving work on Friday evening, and my car was all steamed up on that murky November night. I know I should have started the engine and let it run to clear all my windows before leaving, but I was bursting for a wee, and wanted to get home quickly, so I just mopped the mist from a big circle in the front windscreen, before I set off into the fog. Why my demisters chose not to function properly that night, I have no idea. All I know is that I couldn’t see a thing properly. I turned down the car radio. I always think that if you can’t hear, you won’t be able to see properly either. That’s probably a ridiculous conclusion to draw, but that’s how it seems to me.
Anyway, I made it to the roundabout, as my windscreen started to clear a bit more, but my side window was still all steamed up. No problem, I’d wind the window down. Wrong! Electric windows can be temperamental. Well, mine can be anyway. I inched forward, following the car lights in front of me until I reached the junction. A quick glance to the right, and I was off. I can’t say that I ever saw the truck lights, let alone the truck. Bang! That was it. Everything went black after that.
Next thing I knew, I was hurtling along a kind of wind tunnel, tumbling around as I went. I felt like I was in a tumble dryer, without the heat. A bright light at the end of the tunnel was getting bigger and bigger as I went. I must have passed out after that.
“Well, you are here now. You’ve arrived safely,” said Amanda.
“Where am I then?” I asked, startled. “What are you doing here?”
“You’re in heaven.”
“I can’t be!” I exclaimed. “Not if you are here. I must be in hell!”
Amanda and I had never seen eye to eye at school, and nothing about that situation had changed in all our later encounters. I usually tried to avoid confrontations with her, but it was hard, so hard to keep my temper.
“No, don’t be daft! That’s where you’ve just come from, silly. This is Heaven,” she said. “Or rather it will be when you go through those gates over there.”
I hadn’t spotted the gates before, or had they just appeared out of the blue? Yes, out of the blue. Everything was blue. Everything except Amanda and the shimmering gates, which were hanging around in mid air. There seemed to be no beginning to the blue, and no end. It just went on and on into eternity.
“Well what now?” I asked.
“It’s my task to show you around the place, before I go back.”
“Go back? Go back where?” I asked.
“I’ve not yet earned a merit to stay in Heaven forever. I apparently wasn’t good enough last time, so I’ve got to go back and do it all again,” Amanda said dolefully. “I just hope they pick a better body for me this time. I was too fat last time!”
“What? What do you mean you weren’t good enough? I know we didn’t get along, but I didn’t think you ever did anything really bad. Did you kill someone?”
“Oh no, I wasn’t as bad as that!” Amanda replied. “Those baddies get sent back straight away, no choices. They get sent to dreadful places to teach them a lesson. Nothing cushy like being put in prison. They’ll really have to suffer this time. No, I just had uncharitable thoughts, and I subscribed to the excesses of the materialistic world. But I get to choose where I go back to, and I’ll probably go back to the same place. I had such a good time last time I was there.”
“Well, that’s silly!” I retorted. “That means you’ll have learned nothing, and will have to keep going back again.”
“Is that so bad?” Amanda asked.
“It would be for me, ” I replied. “I was hoping for a much better life on the other side. Anyway, where are all my family and friends? Why aren’t they here to greet me?”
Amanda smiled smugly. How well I remember that smugness that she always used when she had got one over me on Earth. I wanted to swipe the smug expression from her face. Could I give her a swipe up here, and get away with it?
“They’ve all gone back,” she said.
“No, my mother wouldn’t have chosen to go back,” I said, horrified.
“Well, I guess she just wasn’t good enough to be allowed to stay either,” Amanda replied. “She would be made to go back.”
There was obviously no hope for me.
“Well, I guess if I have a choice, and I’m forced to go back, I’ll go back to Cornwall. Not to where I was living. I like Cornwall, spent a lot of holidays there. My mother will have chosen to go there too.” I thought I’d got it all worked out.
“Oh, it’s not that easy,” replied Amanda. “You’ll be in a long queue for Cornwall. How about Northampton? They’ve got vacancies there. You could go back almost straight away.”
“I don’t mind waiting in a queue for Cornwall.”
“Okay,” Amanda said. “I’ll take you to the end of the queue.” She led me through the gates and on into the blue.
“Here we are. I’ll have to leave you here though, I’ve just had my call. There’s a body ready for me. See you in the next life, maybe.”
“But………there’s nothing here, except all this blue!” I protested.
I turned around, but she was gone…………..
“Hey, anyone there?………..Anyone?……………..I don’t really mind going to Northampton…………..”