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All I saw was a bright light. All I heard was the car radio blasting Katy Perry. All I felt was nothing.
* * *
I feel like I am on top of the world. I, Jane, am a licensed driver in the state of Georgia. I worked so hard to study and get my license the first time around, unlike my best friend Samantha. She is the total opposite of me. She hates school, church, and anything to do with being good. But, I think I do a pretty good job of keeping her on track. Even though we have different aspects and life goals, we just somehow click.
Now we are driving on a barren, deserted, country road to get to the mall to show off my new card, but all I can think about is my dad. He died when I was 13 years old. He was my best friend and the only one in my family who liked Sam. (probably because they were both die-hard-Cardinal fans.)
Once we arrive, I quickly get out of the car and slam my door so Sam doesn’t see my eyes tearing up. But, as always, Sam notices like any annoying best friend.
The mall is a blur of silky clothes, outrageous price tags, and hysterical laughter. Except for me. I am usually the life of the party, but today I just want to get home to my peach colored room and my annoying dog who licks feet.
Driving home is the last thing I am focused on, but I should be focusing on it the most since I just got my license. But, who cares? I am just driving in a two lane street in the middle of a dried up, boring cornfield.
I know Sam is just trying to cheer me up, but she is going on and on about what she bought at the mall.
“Shut up!” I finally say. I know that I shouldn’t have been so rude, but the girl is on my last inpatient nerve.
“Fine, I won't talk. But you have been acting weird all day, Janie.” says Sam, sounding frustrated with me. She reaches over and smacks the button to turn on the radio, Katy Perry is blaring in the background.
She glowers out the window with one of her I'm-so-mad-that-I-could-bite-your-head-off looks. But, suddenly she seems mystified by something in the cornfield. What could be so intriguing in a cornfield? Sure, she could have been cloud gazing, but there is one problem! It is a cloudless day!
The next thing I know is a bright light then nothing. No pain, no noise, no smell. I feel nothing, but it is the worst feeling in the world.
Then a huge bolted, gate materializes. It is made of black iron, and I can see my face in the curvy bars, like someone has polished it recently. But, why? There is nothing around me but blank whiteness. Even behind the gate, that is see through, there is nothing.
It then slowly screeches ajar with an awful high pitched creaking sound that makes me conceal my ears. It unveils a marvelous, gallant, clean city. It can’t possibly be an earthly city. Then I realize what it is and brake down crying. It is Heaven. This is Heaven and I'm not ready to go yet, I know that. I haven’t done enough with my life. I haven't gone to college or accomplished any of my dreams and goals.
Suddenly there is a hand on my shoulder. A rough, but warm hand that I have missed and haven't held in three whole years.
My dad, wearing a bright red Cardinal T-shirt, stands above me.
“Come on, stop crying Jane,” he says in his deep, rich voice.
“I missed you so bad,” I choke out between sobs.
“I know, but now we can catch up,” he denotes sounding like he doesn’t have much time.
“What's the matter? You sound like you need to be somewhere,” I say suddenly alarmed.
“Nothing's wrong, you just have to make a big decision, but don't worry, I know you'll make the right one. So, you can either stay with me where there is no pain or sorrow in the beautiful city, or you can go accomplish your dreams on Earth. I just want you to know that I know that you can make the right choice,” he finishes with a gasp of air and a relieved sigh. I knew that he just wanted to get everything out, so he didn't have to go through the emotions later.
I thought it over. If I am right, I will hopefully see him again. I make my decision.
“I'm sorry, but I can't stay. I hate leaving you, but I know that I will see you again. I love you, dad,” I say it fast, so I won't start crying.
“I'm so proud of you, Janie. You could never make a wrong decision. I love you, too!! Now hurry up!”
We say our heartfelt goodbyes and I know that I would miss him, but I know that if I stayed I would be unhappy.
Suddenly the whiteness outside the black gate is the dried up cornfield. I kiss my dad on the cheek and run through.
* * *
My mom is crying, there is a doctor, and Sam.
We are in a private hospital room together and it smells like bleach. I told her my whole story, from beginning to end, leaving out nothing. To my surprise, she believes me instantly.
Later that night, when Sam thinks I am sleeping, I look over at her and she is reading the Bible. Unfortunately, she sees me glancing at her.
She walks over to my bed and sits by my feet and puts her feet by my head.
“Janie, your story is amazing,” she says sounding unlike I have ever heard her talk, “It opened my eyes, Janie! But, if you want me to go to church with you, you better get me one awesome dressy outfit 'cause I have not one nice shirt,” she says, sounding like she is joking, but I know she isn't, because best friends just know you.