The Second Chance Curse

Chapter 1

Waiting

 

The fog lifted. I didn’t know what was going on. One minute I was flying, the next I’m…well, here. The room, if it even is a room, is a pastel grey. The reason for my questioning of the possibility of it being a room is the fact that I could not see any walls, any doors, any windows, nothing. It looked like the room, or whatever it was, went on forever.

A large, ornate desk stood in front of me, holding simply a rich-looking pen in a pot of ink. The designs of the desk were breathtaking, depicting a tree with its detailed leaves spreading all around the sides. Also, artistically etched into this desk of power was a lamb curled up beside a lion. I didn’t understand the meaning, but the symbolism seemed to make the desk whole. The top of the table was pristinely smooth. Its top resembled the rings inside of a tree trunk, giving evidence to hundreds of years of life.

Now, I would have said all this aloud, as well as questioned my presence here, as I am rather blunt. However, there was something else in this room. And she was seated right next to me.

I’m not going to go into the exquisite detail of the chairs, use your imagination. I was much more fascinated by the young woman seated next to me. She sat positively straight, her slender figure imitating a wall: solid. Anyone giving her a passing glance might have thought this girl could’ve been easily broken. She was tiny and skinny. But as I stared at her, like the utter creep I was, I knew that was wrong. For this girl sat back straight, chest out, hands placed ever-so daintily in her lap, face poised forward. She had the body language of someone who can take you down while spouting Shakespeare. Or maybe that was just my impression of her. I might have thought her a statue if she didn’t occasionally glance over at me from the corner of her chestnut eyes. Her strawberry blond…red?…hair laid in graceful curls down her back.

Finally, I’m sure after having me gawk at her for far too long, she turned toward me. “Can I help you?” I took a moment before answering to study her face. Well, I was right about the chestnut shape of her eyes. They were deep hazel, almost green, and forceful. They seemed to peer deep into my soul. Ha, good luck with that, I have no soul. The shape of her face depended on straight lines. There were no curves on her face. Her nose was the only thing bent, and it was bent slightly out of proportion. Her mouth was small. Her ears were slightly crooked. Was I stunned at this young woman’s ugly? No! I was stunned at this young woman’s beauty. No matter what may have been considered unacceptable, it can create a beautiful picture. A pile of paints can create a masterpiece.

Oh, wait, I’m still staring, I should answer her. Who are you? Perfect. She just stared at me. Honestly, I didn’t blame her. I’ve been staring at her for however long, it was only right she would stare back at me. I wonder what she thought of me. What did she see in my eyes, in my face, in my body language? Probably only horrific things, I’m sure. But we continued to stare at each other, as if it were some sort of contest. A light slap of a file hitting the desk brought us out of our staring stupor.

A figure had appeared behind the desk, his face masked by the darkness. He was wearing a clean-cut grey suit, his grey tie molding perfectly with the fabric of his jacket. He sat down—I didn’t even know there was a chair back there—and said, “Well, I’m happy to see you’ve introduced yourselves to each other”. “We were getting there”, I replied, not quite thinking before I spoke. Whoops. The figure just sat there silently, and even though I couldn’t see it, I knew he was glaring at me. I thought he was going to turn me into a shrubbery or smite me with some magical ability. I mean, who knows what they’re able to do here.

Incredulously, the young woman spoke up; “I think we’re more interested in where we are, why we’re here, and how we got here. We didn’t quite have time to get friendly”. How forward. I like this girl!

However, I knew roughly how we got here. What I didn’t know was that this will happen. I still didn’t understand what was going on, but I wasn’t confused about how I got here. “I understand you must be confused”, the man stated. He hadn’t moved an inch. A chuckle came from the shadow where his face was. At least where I hope his face was. “Maybe”, he said, “Maybe she can help you understand how you got here”. He was pointing to me. I stiffened as the girl looked at me. “Well?” the man prodded. Making sure I shot him with the dirtiest glare I could give, I turned slowly to the young lady. This was not news I’d imagine I would ever have to share, but she clearly did not know what happened. What terrible information to give to someone who didn’t choose it…

“We’re dead”.

 

Chapter 2

The Realization

 

She stared at me in disbelief. I finally was unable to look at her, so I kept my head down. Suddenly, she exploded with questions, all directed at the man sitting behind the desk of power. He didn’t say anything, but his body language suggested understanding and even remorse. His head was bent a little forward, though I still couldn’t see his face. His hands were embracing each other gently and his arms were completely relaxed. His shoulders hunched forward slightly, showing the small weight he didn’t want to carry.

My companion ran out of breath and became silent. I looked over to see she had started crying into her lap. Well, I assumed it was crying as her shoulders shook a little with every breath she attempted to regain. She sat up after having her moment, and waited patiently for any of her questions to be answered.

The man shot his shoulders back for a boost of confidence and spoke, “I’m here to debrief you both”. The two of us glanced at each other, even more confused than before. “To start, yes, you are both dead.” “How?” she demanded. I cringed; I didn’t want to hear this. “Well”, he replied, “you were in an accident. And you died instantly, which is why you have no final memory”. I turned away from them both. Oh my, what a fascinating grey void we are sitting in. “She committed suicide”. Well, there it is. And now that it lay on the table to be judged, I was able to turn back toward them. She was looking at me. But to my surprise, it wasn’t judgement I was seeing. It was utter sadness.

He continued, “Now that we have that out of the way.” Thanks, mister. “I need to talk to you about what comes next. We are giving you a second chance at life”. We both visibly jolted. A second chance at life? No! Don’t they understand that I was escaping life? Didn’t a flying leap off a bridge show them I wanted nothing more to do with life? Why would I want to go back? “Well, maybe ‘second chance’ is the wrong way of putting it. Think of this, perhaps, as a job”. What?

He muttered to himself, “I’m doing a bad job explaining this.” No kidding. The man cleared his throat and opened the file, reading off one of the pages; “Ladies, you have been selected to live a different life with a purpose based on what we believe you can bring to Earth that you did not before. You will work together, yet individually, to maintain this goal. You will first be given your individual personas and undergo private interviews before being told collectively what your purpose back on Earth is. You will then undergo personal intensive training before working together.” I liked how many ‘you will’s there were in that statement. It was clear we weren’t given any choices. The man looked at us, as if waiting for us to acknowledge the paragraph he read off to us. I just threw my arms in the air; “Well, I’ll be damned if that didn’t clear everything up!” I wasn’t having any of this, but he simply turned to the next page in the file and said, “You just might.” Clever comeback, I will admit.

“She’s right, though”; the girl beside me was calm now; “that didn’t tell us anything other than we’re going to live a different life.” The man nodded, at least I think his shadowed head nodded, and straightened the file’s already straight papers. “Unfortunately, you have to go through your personal interviews first. Then, we will give you your collaborative…’mission’. Things will clear up after that, I promise”. The two of us were too confused to argue anymore. “Now”, he continued, “We’ll start with you”; he pointed to the girl. “And if you {he pointed at me} can just follow my associate here, you will be taken care of before your interview.” I looked past the man, but there was no one behind him. Suddenly, a hand landed gently on my shoulder.

The associate was a similar build, wearing an identical suit, his face masked in the shadows of the grey void. I would’ve thought he was a clone but the rich brown color of his hand told me he was not. Was he always there? The young lady next to me was just as stunned by the sudden person appearing, she was almost glaring at him. Questioning mentally what he’d do to me if I refused, I stood up. The associate removed his hand and started walking away from the desk. I followed. I looked back to see the girl staring after me, grateful for the sentiment in her eyes before she turned back to the man behind the desk of power.

The farther we walked, the more I became convinced we were not in any sort of room. We were in some sort of infinity; the associate and I could’ve walked on and on, never reaching a destination. I shivered at the thought. It didn’t escape the associates notice. “Sudden realization?” I looked over at him. The shadow had finally lifted and I could see his face.

His mocha skin was smooth, save for some freckles, easily missed if you weren’t observant. He seemed to have a perfectly oval shaped head, his natural curls cut close to his scalp. His mouth was large but was pulled into a small, sincere smile. And his eyes…they were so gentle. They were dark, but the soul behind them made them calm.

“Excuse me?” I replied, perhaps a few moments too late. “Well”, he said with a chuckle, “around this time, people get the sudden realization that they’re dead, and that they believe they are truly facing forever.” “Aren’t they?” He just smiled.

We continued to walk. “What was your sudden realization?” the associate asked. I glanced over at him. He kept his eyes forward but smiled; “Your realization wasn’t that you were dead. Those who kill themselves are dead before their heart stops. It’s no different for you. You knew you were dead. So, what was your realization?” I wanted to say something blunt and snarky, but the kindness on his face prevented me from doing so. “I think”, I started, “it was the thought of having to be myself even beyond death”. “Were you that bad?” I stopped. That bad? Did he not know about my past? Well, my past life. The associate had stopped as well, waiting for me to either answer or continue walking.

Nothing went through my head. I couldn’t think of anything to say, for the first time. It was a standoff, both waiting for the other to speak first. He did. “The fact that you feel remorse shows you were not as bad as you may think you were. Your life was complicated, but think of it this way: You get a second chance. They see something in you to afford you that opportunity”. And he kept walking.

Stunned, I shambled behind him. What could that have meant? While he was sounding profound and probably had a deeper meaning behind his words, I couldn’t understand. I feel remorse because I did terrible things. Being sorry doesn’t change the fact that the deed was done.

We walked a little longer before he spoke again. “Do you blame yourself for everything?” I wasn’t going to justify his question with a response. Of course I did. It’s why I killed myself. It was all my fault. “Even after what’s been done to you?” Again, unjustifiable question that I wasn’t going to answer. “I understand”. “What could you possibly understand about this?” I exploded. He didn’t flinch. The associate just smiled calmly; “People have been through the same things you have. Have done the same things you have. It’s an unfortunate part of the world. I have seen them, spoken with them. I may not know how it feels personally, but I understand that you are feeling these things”.

As an angry, blunt, sarcastic individual, I am not accustomed to feeling ‘calm’. I even doubted it existed at points in my (past) life. And when his words drowned my emotions in a ‘calm’ feeling, I wasn’t sure how to react. So I didn’t.

How long have we been walking? Five minutes? Five hours? Five years? I mean, it’s quite possible at this place. I know time supposedly meant nothing wherever we were, but I’m curious. As we continued to walk, more and more questions formed in my head. Where were we? Do we go by years here? Do we go by names? Is there food? Heaven, Hell, God? Whatever question I could have asked him turned obsolete when I unexpectedly spouted, “Did you live?”

The associate stopped. He was staring at me, almost confused. I just stared back; he’ll say something. “No one’s asked that kind of question before”; he continued to walk, with me right beside him; “Most people want to know the answers to existential questions.” “But did you?” I urged. He nodded; “I did. A very long time ago.” With a light sigh, he looked at his watch and turned around. “They’re ready for you.”

I glanced at his watch, wondering if time really meant nothing here. Wondering why he had it. But it was blank. No hands, no numbers, just grey. What was the point of it? “A reminder”, he said suddenly, shaking his wrist. Great, he was a mind reader as well. I should’ve known. “And I don’t read minds, it’s just a question everyone has.” That didn’t convince me.

I was about to inquire about it more when I saw we were back at the desk of power. That walk seemed a lot shorter. I blame the void. The man was looking quite pleased, but the young woman…I sat back in my seat. Her face read neutral, but her eyes were almost clouded as if she had witnessed Heaven and Hell ten times over. The associate placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. Before he could say anything, she stood up and walked with him. Looking back, I watched them disappear into the grey void. Then I turned and faced the man who, in turn, smiled at me.

It was time for my interview.

 

 

 

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