When It All Falls Down
Just a little higher, just a little bit higher, Ada told herself.
At sixteen years old, her body was not as slim as it used to be, despite her frequently malnourished state, and her chest had indeed developed, as well as the slight curve of her hip, which was only noticeable to the most observant of eyes.
Ada had been sold to Mr Marshall at the age of 6 and though he was not a kind man, he was also not unnecessarily cruel; if you could prove yourself to be of worth to Mr Marshall, then for the sake of his own self – preservation, no real harm would come to you. However, Ada knew it was solely due to chance that she had ended up in his custody, and there were stories about his colleagues that would never allow you to sleep again, once their crimes against the young children they sought use of assaulted your ears. Nevertheless, if she could have, Ada would have shuddered at the thought, but at that moment in time, she found herself in the middle of a chimney, that in all honesty, she had absolutely not right being within.
As the eldest of 6 children, Ada had always felt a keen sense of responsibility to provide for them all. Especially since, her parents were both petty thieves that had no business being parents at all, as they saw all their children as nuisances and once they were of a suitable age to be sold, subsequently saw no problem in doing so. Ada then chuckled to herself, it wasn’t as if she had so much of a problem with her parent’s “profession” as they liked to call it, but what really upset her, was the fact that even after all these years, they weren’t even any good at taking people’s possessions. If Ada’s parents had been as proficient at stealing as they were cutthroat, then just maybe, they wouldn’t have seen her and her siblings as such a burden.
Ada’s parents were so callous and greedy, that the times and places to which they sold their children, could provide just as accurate an account of the state of the labour market, as that of any experienced financer. For example, at the time of Ada being sold, a good chimney sweep was hard to come by, and so she could only assume that Mr Marshall had paid a pretty shilling for her, otherwise she would be rather disappointed. Moreover, the cheapness of her purchase wouldn’t disappoint her because her parents would have sold their eldest for so little, but because she was the hardest working sweeper she was sure Mr Marshall had ever had. However, in reality her parents had never cared about them, in fact they cared so little, that in order for someone to take their children off their hands, they probably would have accepted not much more than the dirt on the ground in exchange.
So, Ada trusted no one but herself, and that was how she had survived for so long. Whenever something went wrong, she had to fix it on her own, she lived from day to day and had quickly accepted her difficult life for what it was. She did however have an uncanny faith in God, and unlike most of the other riff-raff in her area, did her best to attend Church every Sunday. Since Ada really did believe in the idea of Heaven and Jesus coming down to Earth to pay for every sin she would ever commit before she had ever even committed them; her faith gave her the strength to fight, because if she was honest, she didn’t really have much else to hope for.
Her siblings were also relying on her to feed and clothe them, and after parents sold the other five to the Workhouse, she had cleaned chimney’s for free at dawn every day for a year, to buy back their freedom. Ada had then placed them in the nearest orphanage possible, but like with most things in her life, solving one problem only seemed to birth another. So, every morsel of food and every scrap of money she received went towards her siblings, so Ada was malnourished, not because Mr Marshall didn’t feed her, but because she used her wages and his food to feed five other hungry mouths instead.
Nevertheless, father time was hunting her down and he had a record that remained undefeated. So, even when using dirty rags to bind her chest, it was still evident that both her hips and chest had increased in size, but due to her lack of sustenance it wasn’t by much, but the proof was in the tight squeeze Ada was in currently. You see, chimneys stayed the same size unlike the children who swept them, which helped ensure that male chimney sweeps were preferred and in a far greater demand than their female counterparts. Furthermore, the measurements of the long hollow structures were precise, and you couldn’t afford to increase by even a centimetre either in width or height without suffering some discomfort. Unfortunately for Ada, she had increased in both dimensions, and she could just sense that her time in the profession she was forced into, was starting to run out.
In fact, just that day, she and Mr Marshall had had a lengthy discussion about whether she was capable of completing this particular job or not. Since, it was a challenging job for even the smallest boy, but Ada had been certain that she could do what was necessary, to maintain her position at the top.
After all, it was a matter of life and death.
Besides, Ada didn’t know why Mr Marshall was suddenly so worried, every job she had done since the age of 6 had been dangerous, and she liked to think she had become much savvier in the 10 years since. Nevertheless, doubt was starting to set in as she made her slow and steady ascent; Ada had always been confident in the past because she had known she was the best, as she had simply been more patient and had always done a much better job than a lot of the other boys. Her immaculate work wasn’t the result of some kind of in built resistance to the soot and dust that burned her eyes and clawed at her throat, as it travelled down the back of it to collect in her lungs. If anything, she was one of the most sensitive to all the dirt and dust and she had the raucous cough, that made an appearance in the few quiet moments she had to herself each day, to prove it. However, her mind always flashed back to her siblings during each and every job, so she soldiered on, making sure no one else’s proficiency could even compare to her own.
So, when Ada was younger she had felt invincible and others had also believed it to be true. However, now, it was her own body that was betraying her, and the result had been many sleepless nights, because Ada wasn’t dumb and she knew she had neither the standings nor the class, to aim any higher in the job market. In fact, Ada was incredibly smart and that had been a characteristic people had always underestimated in her. She had taught herself how to read and write from old newspapers and children’s books that people discarded in the gutters, but she had never found any use for such skills.
However, it was crystal clear to her that Mr Marshall could only extend his care so far, and he would soon have to release Ada from his service. So, as a young girl with no home and no family (that didn’t solely depend on her) the results would be disastrous, because even though Ada didn’t mind sleeping rough on the streets, and she had many rather basic, but effective self-defence moves, it was the financial poverty that would soon welcome her that terrified her. So, it was looking more and more likely that the brothel would become her only option, but it went against everything she believed in. The idea of selling her body made her shrivel up in disgust and despair but she had very few options, and Ada supposed she was pretty enough, besides, her self-worth and pride were not worth her siblings starving. So, she decided that she would work until Mr Marshall let her loose, and then she would do whatever it took to feed her loved ones.
Now though, Ada needed to put all plans of the future aside and focus on the task at hand. She kept her pace slow and steady, as she edged further and further up the chimney. In her concentrated state, she didn’t notice how loose some of the bricks were starting to become. Then all at once, bricks started falling to the ground one by one, wherever she put even the slightest amount pressure, and whether it was her feet or her hands, Ada just couldn’t seem to keep herself steady. In her ten years of experience this had happened many times, but it usually settled after a minute or two, especially since some house owners were notoriously cheap, and only replaced the bricks on the outside of their chimneys. However, on this day in particular she estimated it had already been three minutes, and bricks were still falling and crashing down into the depths below her. It seemed that none of the chimney had been replaced, perhaps since before she was born, and both her grasping and footing were quickly becoming more and more unsteady. Consequently, Ada slipped a few more times and barely caught herself, believing the worst to be over. Then, bricks from above her started to rain down on her, and she was unable to avoid them all, and one brick caught her on her left temple, and she was sent falling towards the cold stone floor. Subsequently, in that moment, she just knew she wouldn’t survive, and just prayed for the impact to be as painless as possible.
In her minute freefall, Ada prayed for everyone she had ever known, starting with her parents, and so the last thoughts running through her head were those of her siblings, just before her bones crushed against the solid stone floor. Her neck snapped on impact and in her last moments she felt nothing but overwhelming darkness. Then, a brilliant flash of light beckoned her over towards it, in the most enticing manner.
She never expected to open her eyes again, at least, not whilst she still resided in a physical body.
Yet, she couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Hello, hello, can you hear me?” A motherly tone questioned.
Ada’s vision was initially blurred and though it didn’t make any logical sense, initially she assumed that she must have survived her fall, and when her vision finally cleared, she realised that the explanation for her current predicament probably wasn’t that simple. A woman, if she could be called that, stood in front of her and Ada grasped at the sheets in shock, the moment she became aware of her presence.
“Hello, my dear, my name is Myra and I am sure you must have a lot of questions. Please feel free to ask me about whatever is on your mind?” She kindly suggested.
“Where am I?” Ada all but demanded.
“Perhaps that is not the best question to start with, let’s try something a bit more basic. What is the last thing you remember?” Myra suggested, her kindness unwavering.
“I remember trying to clean a chimney, then I lost my footing, and I was falling to the ground so quickly that I was sure that I would die, after being crushed upon impact. How am I still alive?” Ada questioned.
“You did in fact die, but you have been reborn. You are now in, what I believe humans know as Heaven.” Myra replied.
“Where is all the white? Where is God? Where are all the angels? How come I am not a spirit? I don’t remember going through any gates.” Ada said, drowning Myra in a sea of questions and seemingly random observations.
“Slow down child. I think humans have the essence of God correct, but here, we like to see Heaven as more of an idea, than a specific place.” Myra said simply, providing Ada with even more questions.
“You keep mentioning humans as if they are separate to you, so am I right in assuming that you aren’t human yourself? If so, I must ask you again, where am I? Ada demanded.
“You are on Vitros. Our planet is one of the many the Creator made, in order to give beings across the many Solar Systems chances at lives they never had, but greatly deserved. Those that have absolute faith in him are rewarded with a chance to be a part of him, in the sense that they become one with all of his creation. I believe humans think they are amongst one of the only beings in their Solar System, a notion I still find rather amusing to this day. You are rather odd creatures, so vain and fickle, but nevertheless those among you who follow the Lord become chosen. Your consciousness and spirit are subsequently transported to realms across the galaxy, and it is the same for those among you who are evil, it is just that where they go is not so pleasant. So, we here on Vitros speculate that there is a realm to suit every kind of life that creation has led.” Myra said.
Upon hearing that her consciousness and spirit had been transported, to what was supposedly her new body, Ada looked down. She had inferred that she had been given a new vessel to live in, and that was not as disturbing as it could have been for someone else in her position. As her new body seemed to be in perfect health, and it wasn’t like she would miss her old one, even if her skin was now purple. However, she would have to ask Myra for a mirror later, but for now, she would go on the assumption that she didn’t look that dissimilar to her. Myra had rich purple skin and jet black hair; and her features were very similar to a humans as far as Ada could tell, but her eyes were very catlike with bright amber irises. She was beautiful and elegant wearing a floral tunic with splits at the sides, revealing black trousers, and Ada would assume that this was the traditional dress of this new nation, unlike the plain black t-shirt and trousers she found herself wearing.
It seemed, Myra felt that she had given Ada enough time to consider both her and her newfound form and decided in that moment, to continue to speak.
“Come along child, I am sure you have many more questions about our way of life, so come and see it for yourself.” Myra instructed, as she led the way out of the room.
A few seconds later, Ada found herself shocked when the door seemed to open of its own accord as they approached it, no handle or doorknob necessary. She stared in awe at the open doorway, until Myra gently pulled her through it.
It seemed Ada had a lot to learn about this new world and she would thank God every day for putting her on it. However, she felt a sharp pang of guilt, as she thought about how she had left her siblings all alone. Her anguish was at least partially subdued by the knowledge that her siblings had each other. So, Ada could only hope that her younger siblings would keep everything she had said about God in their hearts, then maybe one day, they too, could find their own version of paradise.