There is an empty shelf. And then they come, to fill the space. To the left, a series of books appear, short stories, really.
Each slim volume, representing what we consider the best part of a life. Nobility. Love. Sacrifice. Achievement. Joy. Passion. They may reflect all of a life lived, or perhaps just a mere fragment of who we are, but they are.
To the right comes the balance. These books are the other side, each short story conveying the harder part of a life lived. Tales of challenge, despair, and loss of meaning. Of hate, of bewilderment, of denial within and without.
Slowly, the books shuffle themselves on the shelf, to rearrange an order than will determine what one will experience in the arc of a solo life within this reality. I watch my shelf place stories of acquisitions here. And over there, a story of love lost, where I expected it to be.
Without all these stories, these chapters that fill one’s life, one’s purpose is incomplete because those who live solely on the left or the right will never learn the full lesson of each tale. Each book finally slots itself where it need to be, and I reach for the volume at the far right, and open the book of death.
I am in a hospital waiting area. The windows are dark in this space, and the room is filled with people I know. The world outside is cold and unforgiving, and there are murmurs about violence on the streets. In many ways, this appears to be more of a shelter than a waiting room, but inside I know we are all waiting for help.
As I gaze around the area, something about the space seems odd. Those of us who wait seem to be ever changing, the total amount of lives never diminishing but with new individuals taking their place. The seats remain full yet I never notice when someone comes or when someone goes. The hallway doors to the floor never seem to be in use, and glass elevators seem to bypass this floor, never stopping to take anyone away.
There is a sliding glass door across the reception area, but it is labeled for emergency use only. There is a large group of patients sitting by that door, all dressed in white gowns. They are tall and appear very powerful, not looking ill at all.
And then I see through the glass door a woman knocking desperately on it, trying to get in. She is dressed in black, and she is wearing an odd-looking hat, three-pointed in black and white. She continues to pound on the door, but she is ignored by the receptionist and the patients in white. There are others behind her, and while many of them glance at her, they walk onwards.
She continues to find a way to our space, and finally I watch her struggle trying to force open the door. It opens an inch, then two, and she begins to slip unto the hospital floor. Suddenly, all the patients in white rise, and they form a barrier between her and the waiting area.
I can’t see what is happening, and the noise on the floor begins to increase, so I can’t hear what she is saying. After a moment, the patients in white move to sit down, and there is no sign of the woman. The door looks securely sealed once again, and there is no one on the other side.
The other side. I can no longer sit and wait. I move to walk down the hall, past that door, to see what other portals exits exist here. As I walk away, I remember that I still have my cell phone, so I decide to make a call once I find an alcove somewhere, to see who I can meet when I leave this place.
But the receptionist sees me slipping away, and asks where I am going. I turn back to face her, and she tells me that I need to go back in my chair, it’s almost time. She also asks if I turned over my ID and all my personal possessions. I lie and tell her I don’t have anything on me, and decide to go back to my chair and await the right time to reach out for help, for guidance.
I sit down in the chair, and realize that all those who were there before that I knew are gone. The waiting room now only has a few people waiting, and all of them are asleep. The receptionist focuses on her paperwork, and as I watch her I realize that I am moving.
No, not me, the chair. The chair begins to rise, and I find myself slowly approaching the high ceiling. I cover my head, fearing the impact, and then I find myself moving through the ceiling, lacking form, are rising into water. I begin to panic because I don’t know how to swim. But I continue to rise and see a bright light above me. I struggle towards the light, wondering if my phone will survive the immersion, so that I can still call someone when I reach the surface.
And then I find myself standing in a large hallway, soaking wet, surrounded by people bustling all around me. And then my Guide arrives. He tells me that I won’t need my phone anymore, that there are towels and dry clothes for me, and he is very happy to see me. He is dressed like a character out of the Renaissance, with a peaked hat and a pointed beard, and he waits while I get changed.
Then he tells me that there are others who want to see me, and there are also those that I’ll want to see. We walk into the marketplace, and there they are…