I was born in London, England on the 19th December 1843 - The same day Charles Dickens published his book 'A Christmas Carol'
My father, Edward Johnson, who wasn't present at my birth, had the privilege of an amazing excuse - he was, himself - not allowing any of his servants to care to this particular task; standing in line with his five shillings waiting to purchase his unborn child a first edition copy of Dickens' most recent novella.
Perhaps this was why I held such an affection for reading; every time I opened a new book, I envisioned him stood outside our bookstore, with flakes of snow falling down around him. I could hear the crunch of boots under a blanket of white, puffs of hot breath mixing with cold air. My father blowing into his gloved hands to try to fight the chill. I could even smell his cologne if I concentrated hard enough.
My mother, Alice, I associated with kindness and practicality; if she wasn't taking care of our household - a lovely, recently built Victorian two story home... or managing her children - of that there were three; myself and my two older brothers Thomas and Albert. She would be busy with her 'upper class' pastimes including embroidery and reading.
She also had a deep love of music and would often perform to her children dancing around the piano. She had taught me at a young age how to play, and I would hold that skill with me until the day I died.
I always found it beautifully ironic how my life both began, and ended when London happened to be covered in snow; I was sure there were lots of people who were born in winter and also died in that season too, but I always liked to think the city had made sure the ground was white just for me.
My oldest brother, Thomas, had escorted me back home where I'd just had tea with my best friend and brother's wife, Rose.
It was already dark out, though it wasn't too late into the evening.
It seemed to always be dark in London though, so I didn't feel fear walking the barely lit streets with Thomas... maybe if I'd been more aware of my surroundings, and not laughing aloud at my brother recounting a funny story his eldest boy had done today, I would have heard the squeak of footsteps behind us.
"Yer purse, or yer life." A croaky, desperate voice called from behind us.
Thomas turned around faster than I did, and was already standing protectively in front of me before I could get a good look at the man who had threatened us.
"Yer herd me didn' yer."
"Yes. Of course," perhaps the man couldn't hear the quiver in my brothers voice, but I could. "If you would put the weapon down, I will —"
"Give it to me!" The man shouted, he sounded panicked, rushed even.
"Thomas." I whispered, frightened and trying to untie my purse with shaking fingers to hand over.
As Thomas half turned to take the purse, I heard the bang, and felt him fall into me before dropping to the ground.
I dropped with him and my legs turned cold. I, for a brief moment, thought it was the snow making my body go numb.
I was so focused on the last breaths of my dear, kind brother, I didn't realise mine were also running out.
"Thomas, I love you." I heaved, I could hardly move with his body lay across me, and was barely conscious enough to hear him whisper those final words back to me.
I felt his body get lifted, and rolled to lay beside me, while the man - who looked just as surprised at this turn of events as we were - snatched the purse that had spilled to the ground.
He looked down at us; lay side by side, bleeding out together and dying.
"I'm sorry." He cried, and I believed him.
***** 150 years later *****
I'm in the process of re dressing when I hear the unmistakable chime, ring in my ear.
"Well ladies and gentlemen, that's my cue. I'll be sure to drop by on Thursday."
I don't stop to look around the room filled with men and women in different states of undress, the heady scent of sex permeating the sizeable chamber.
Closing the door, I walk with purpose, passing room after room, door after door, all with different
headings across them.
Beaches, Memories, Families, Christmas, Shows, Forrests, Orgies, Games, Theatres, Easter, Library's, Waterfalls...
The rooms went on; Heaven had anything and everything you could think of; and these rooms could collide - so you could have family time at the beach, or watch a show at Christmas. It was up to you how you wanted to spend your afterlife.
I'd been here for over 100 years and hadn't inspected every room, every combination... and even if I had, they were ever changing, ever growing.
I continue through the hall, until I reach the big 'G' door, and without knocking, walk inside the chamber.
God was just as you expected her to be; and was one of my closest friends.
"You rang?" My voice had always sounded overtly seductive, it was sultry and soft without trying.
"Hello Birdie, I did, just for a catch up, you know how I like to make sure you're at your happiest."
Something wasn't right... she wanted something, I could tell instantly and raise an eyebrow knowingly at her.
"Fine, I wanted to ask of you, a favour if you will." She looked regal and impressive atop her golden throne.
"Of course, you're my leader and my friend. I'd do anything for you." I bow respectfully, but throw in a wink to keep it breezy.
"I want you to return to Earth as a human."
"No way." I state, my back going rigid and firm.
"You just said you'd do anything for me... and surely you're getting a little restless here after 150 years." She tilts her head and looks down at me, as if she knows everything...
"Didn't you just see what room I left?" I motion behind me, even though the room is many doors away. "How could I be restless after that."
She stares unblinkingly at me and in a bid to lose eye contact I run mine around her chamber; it's a magestic room and would leave me breathless if I had any in me;
Gold tapestries positioned all around the room and behind her throne. Columns in every corner, with beautiful detailed carvings, and the ceiling... was almost indescribable; it appeared to move and change, telling painted stories of life and death, different worlds and dimensions, how everything came to be and how everything was.
I could watch this ceiling all day.
A cough has me tearing my gaze back down and to once again stare into the eyes of my striking, glorious but also deeply annoying friend.
"It's only for a short time, you go down and help someone, someone who needs help... your help... and you'll be back before you know it."
"And who needs my help?" I enquire, purely for my own knowledge and not because I intend to go down and help this human.
"That's the thing, you can't know... you'll just feel a certain bond with this human, a connection." She's being cryptic on purpose and I try to recall if I'd done something recently to piss her off.
"No... come on, just send someone else. I've a pretty busy schedule over the next couple of weeks anyway... my books full."
"I'm ordering you to return to Earth." This wasn't God, this was Godzilla.
"It's not happening... find someone else, I'm not doing it... It's...Not...Happening."
"I can't bloody believe this."
I'm still fuming hours later, after I'd gone through a vigorous download of all things Earth since I'd died in 1868. It would have taken me longer, but my thirst for knowledge hadn't left me in death, and I had, on many occasions throughout my time in heaven, kept up to date with the world I had been born on.
I was now descending... travelling away from my cushy existence in heaven, back down to Earth.