Even before I could turn around, before I could even see who had spoken, I already knew who it was. The voice gave him away, the way with which I heard what he said revealed his identity. I didn’t hear the sentence, it resonated through my entire body, it took over my whole being, in a certain way it seems that I, myself, had said what I heard. But I knew I hadn’t said anything, so there was only one option left:
I always thought that, if I ever spoke to the Creator, I’d have much more trouble to formulate a sentence. I always thought I’d go into shock that would put me in a coma… No, I’ve never thought of that, just kidding. Pure and simply ’cause I never believed there would be a creator, specially the Creator. But, given the circumstances, I think I did pretty well.
I think all that in the blink of an eye, which is the same time it takes me to turn around. When I turn around, I see the celestial park disappearing before my eyes. When I finish the half turn, I’m in a completely different place, but I know too well I’m in my room. I see my bed, still messy (the way I left it the day I killed myself). The duvet semi-tangled, semi-folded, showing that, when I got up, I threw it aside. The part that covered my torso is more folded than the part that covered my legs and feet. The pillow is at the center of the bed, and I can see the little valley in the mattress (the result of years sleeping alone in a queen size bed). The sheet is white, and I know that underneath it there’s a layer of plastic (which I have no idea what it’s for). The pillow is stuffed with feathers (probably synthetics, or from a lesser noble animal than the goose) and it is wrapped in a white pillowcase with black details. The pillowcase matches the duvet, my parents’ responsibility. I’ve never liked pillowcases, don’t know why. The mattress is over the platform of the bed, and the platform is directly on the floor. There’s no actual bed.
The walls are white; ice, actually. It’s my fault. I always preferred ice to white. There’s a slight difference, but being able to say my bedroom reminded me of the cold has always pleased me. Even that I’d never said that to anyone. There’s little furniture, almost inexistent, actually, the closet is nothing more than a giant clothes rack, all my clothes are hanged. Really, everything, even my socks and underwear. Hangers with hooks are very useful in this situation. I never liked folding clothes, so my parents got tired of seeing everything thrown around on the floor or on the bed, and changed the expensive closet they had bought to pieces of iron that my father welded himself. The sneakers were on the ground. I look at all my clothes and see that 90% of them are black, 9% are white and just one per cent have other colors. And when I say other colors don’t think I’m talking about red, blue or green, think about dark blue, extremely dark (so dark it could easily be mistaken for black). I never liked other colors, not even my sneakers escape the black and white rule.
There’s a nightstand by the bed way bigger than most nightstands. It’s because it was projected to serve as support for my TV. When we moved, I didn’t want a TV in my room anymore, rendering that furniture useless. But, since I liked it, I changed for the old nightstand. With its size, I could put more things on it, like books, notebook, tablet, cell phone, fan, even a blanket. It was my trinket box on the bedroom. On the other side, there was my furniture with the computer, just a table with no drawers (I’d built it with my father, and none of us are woodworkers, we couldn’t have done anything that wasn’t considered simple). My computer, with the TV that I used as monitor, the mouse and keyboard were still the same way I had left them.
That was my room on the day of my death, before I died. Maybe in the moment I was dying. I remember my parents put my body in my bedroom, after taking my out of the bathtub. And that would have disturbed the order in which it was. I had spent too much time in my bedroom, I knew when someone had been there. And, in that state, only I was capable of leaving it. The details give away that I had been the last one to use it, like the bottled water above the stand (which I’d made gluing several layers of paper card with superglue) in the exact position that “hides” the small coffee stain I spilled someday. Or the order of the pens and highlighters on the pencil case, only I got worried about organizing by size. That was my room, and definitely I had been the last one to be there.
After recognizing it, I look at God. It’s a huge and imposing figure. Although is the same we see in paintings (toga, sandals, white beard and hair, and a glow that surpasses the celestial glow) its grandiosity it’s much greater than any representation. Not ’cause of the artist’s fault, but the truth is that it would be impossible to represent Godly grandiosity.
How are you? – He asks me.
Don’t you know? – I feel an asshole for answering that.
I was just trying to be friendly…
I know. I’m sorry… - I try to make a joke. – I just hope I don’t have to pray for forgiveness.
Then, what I thought to be impossible to happen, happens. God laughs. I made God laugh.
Holy forgiveness is much more about wanting to be forgiven than doing something… - Then, he looks at me, and I feel good. – But it was a good joke.
I think it’s the first time someone says that to me.
I was never very funny. – I moan.
Never? Or have you never show that side of yours to others?
I just look at God; he knows the answer, I do too. I look into his eyes, he looks at mine.
Why are you here? – I know, but I want a confirmation?
You have questions, and I’m the only one who has the answers. – God smiles.
Isn’t a little arrogant of you to think you’re the only one with answers?
No… A little, but it makes sense that I’m the only one.
Even though most questions follow a pattern, the truth is that only I could explain them in a way you’d understand.
God looks at me, and I understand what he means. God is in us. That’s why only he can answer in a way I’ll understand. An angel is not me, he doesn’t understand. The explanation of anyone who isn’t Him may generate doubts, ’cause only the Creator knows us so well as ourselves. In essence, we are Him and vice-versa. That’s why I’m in my room, He knows it’s my perfect place in whole creation, the only place I truly feel good and as myself.
Shall we begin? – He asks.
Sure. – I answer. A silence follows; for a moment I forget I’m the one who should ask questions. – Before going to heaven and hell, where was I?
Stuck on Earth, you hadn’t completely accepted you had died. But that changed when you saw your body being burned, for you understood there was no turning back. There, you saw you were truly dead.
And why did I go to hell?
Because you thought you deserved it.
It wasn’t because I had killed myself? – I didn’t even understand why I’d done the previous question, I knew why I had gone to hell. But God’s answer made me understand that no, I didn’t know the true reason why I’d gone to hell.
No. Heaven, purgatory and hell exist, but are molded by each person. Each one goes where they think they’re supposed to go. You remembered suicide was a sin, and sinners must go to hell. Therefore, you went to hell.
What do you mean, molded by each person? – It was getting interesting.
You hate heat, and hate being naked in front of strangers. These two elements are torture for you, and the worst someone could make you go through. You projected in hell a place of suffering, therefore, it made sense that it was hot and you were naked. On the other hand, in heaven, the place you projected as paradise, you turned physically and on the clothes you were wearing everything you always wanted to be. And also, you adjusted the thermostat to a temperature that seemed perfect to you.
So the people who seemed to be freezing in hell were in fact like that, ’cause they projected as torture to spend eternity in the cold. And in heaven, anyone who was feeling hot was because they thought elevated temperatures were perfect. And that’s why I was never able to get used to the heat. – Everything began to make sense.
I stopped and looked at God, his creation was enormous, complex and too intelligent. I couldn’t help from feeling surprised, He had done too perfect a job.
Is hell below the Earth? – I laughed, the question was stupid.
If you imagine so, then, it is. – He also laughed.
Why did I have such a great time in hell?
Because you projected that fun things could only happen in hell. Concerts, casual sex, getting drunk, being a movie star. Your idea made of hell a place of torture and entertainment…
Different from heaven. I projected a place of happiness and perfection, but that isn’t fun. Pure and simply ’cause I thought everything that was fun is a sin, or something like that. – I interrupted God, it’s weird and bizarre to get to get to this conclusion. – The same goes to premature ejaculation and the feeling of being less free in heaven?
Yes. The feeling of freedom is because you always believed that turning your life to God meant depriving yourself of things. – God didn’t seemed to be angry, not even hurt; actually, I’m sure he didn’t even mind being interrupted. – And you projected casual sex as a sin, and as a torture, and premature ejaculation…
So those things weren’t going to happen in heaven?
In heaven you’d always do the best in your life. But always with the same person and only after marriage.
I don’t know which is the best choice.
I know you don’t.
We laughed. It’s weird to know there’s Someone inside you, but it’s even stranger how I don’t feel violated, or exposed, or ashamed.
Why did Lucifer ended my suffering? – That had been bothering me for some time.
Because of the ego. He didn’t accepted someone surpassing it, so he spared you the sadness and that’s why he opened himself.
Why couldn’t I get any answers in hell, not even the feeling that I was going to get?
There would be torture if you got answers, or if you new that at some point your doubts would be answered. – God smiles, proud of his work. I just can’t say if his work is my, hell, Lucifer or creation itself.
Why is there seven circles and seven lords of hell, but just three kingdoms and three archangels?
Because everything you ever read focuses much more in hell. You knew there were circles, or, at least, believed that’s how it should be. You knew the names of the seven lords, just as you knew the seven sins. – He makes a pause and looks at me, looking entertained. – While everything you knew from heaven was the name of three archangels.
I really should have studied more about heaven and religions in general.
Why are restaurants in heaven and hell so similar, but different?
Because they are echoes. They are the same, but projected differently. You imagined the restaurant a certain way, and took that to heaven. The difference is how you thought you’d be treated. When you entered your version of restaurant in heaven, you remembered the version in hell, and, for a moment, heaven and hell coexisted in your mind. That’s why, even in heaven, you suffered a minor torture.
Why don’t people argue in heaven? – Maybe I’d find out the brain wash was actually real, I don’t know what I’d do if I was right.
They do. But not in your version of heaven. Deep down, you don’t believe a discussion can be harmless, to you, every discussion leaves negative marks on a person, your belief is that someone will always end up hurt, sad. If there were arguments in heaven, it wouldn’t be heaven.
Why didn’t the angels saw me as a sinner?
Because in your version, the angels only see the positive aspects of a person, they see only the desire to redeem themselves, and stop being sinners.
Does destiny exist? – I didn’t know if I wanted to or not.
If you believe…
I stopped asking questions, and just faced God. The conversation, the questioning, actually, was almost at its end. I had just two more, maybe three questions. But they were questions that really mattered.
How can a suicidal live in heaven?
Before choosing, you need to know what I’m offering you.
I’ll choose where I’ll go? – That took me by surprise. – But I’m a sinner.
To enter heaven, you just have to repent. But if you can’t forgive yourself, you can go to hell to suffer. Or you can go to purgatory, in case you don’t want to suffer or forgive yourself.
So that’s what he meant with “you only have to choose”. – I felt obligated to smile, a smile that turned into laughter, a laughter that turned into a fit.
There was only one last question:
You say heaven, hell and purgatory are my projections… - Which explain the emptiness of purgatory, since I have no idea what is that place, or what’s in there.
Exactly. – God confirmed, smiling in a way that made me understand where I wanted to get.
So it’s possible to alter them? Leave everything I think it’s fun in hell, but take away everything I believe it’s bad. Make hell a heaven.
In theory. – God smiled, a smile that, if it wasn’t in His mouth, I’d swear it was a trickster’s smile, a rascal’s.
Imagine a ball. I bet you imagined a three dimensional circle, am I right? – He was, as usual. – Now imagine I say to you a ball is actually a cubic object. And what you know to be a ball doesn’t exist. What would be your reaction?
I wouldn’t believe. – I took a chance.
Because I k now what’s a ball and what’s a cube.
And how do you know that?
Because I learned that.
Exactly. You spent your life hearing, seeing, reading a ball it’s a ball and a cube is a cube.
And what’s that got to do with heaven and hell? – I thought I knew, but I was never good at guessing.
It’s the same thing. You already have a conception of what heaven, hell and purgatory are. Deep down, really deep, you have a vision of what they should be like. And the fact you saw them with your own eyes doesn’t help. – He stopped and took a deep breath. – In theory, you can change your mind, your conception, but it’s practically impossible. Once something is so deep rooted in you, once an idea, a vision was carved in your being, it’s practically impossible to be removed. Specially after seeing it’s true.
So heaven will always be heaven and hell will always be the hell I saw? – That wasn’t good.
And I have to choose between them?
Will you help me? – I wanted, I needed help.
No. After we finish this conversation, you’ll be alone for the first time in your life.
Because the choice has to be yours, completely and totally yours.
I fell silent, I was thinking about how important was that choice.
You know what those places offer. You know the advantages and disadvantages, choose wisely.
And, then, as soon as he finished the sentence, God disappeared. I felt alone, alone as I had never felt before. Specially because I was actually alone as I’d never been in my life, and death. Well, it didn’t matter, I had to do something. I had a decision to make. I had to choose.