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Can I Wear Jeans in Heaven
Hailey’s new wings twitched slightly as she tried to sit still. She had tried to read the pamphlet on how to use the wings, but it was too boring. Now she sat with her hands in her lap, occasionally glancing around at the other people hovering about the waiting room. Most of them were old people, although there were a few people who looked about fifty. Only five others looked any younger than fifty and even they were at least twenty. “Hailey Bugouf” a woman at the front desk called
Hailey sighed and pushed herself out of the chair, she slowly walked over to the big white desk. She leaned onto the countertop and laid her rosy arm against its white surface to absorb its warmth. Hailey was still a little cold.
“I have two forms for you to fill out” said the woman from under the counter “The pink one must be as detailed as possible to go in the record book” she produced a white clipboard from somewhere unseen. “Keep the forms until I call your name again. I’ll take them off your hands before you go up.” She smiled pleasantly, for someone who is always is around dead people.
Hailey noticed that her lipstick, the pink form, and the glossy covers of the informational pamphlets were the only sources of color in the room, everything else was a blinding white.
Hailey headed mechanically to her original seat and glanced at the forms. The pink form had five short questions with plenty of space to write in detail, the next had thirty yes or no checklist questions. Hailey started with the Pink sheet.
#1 How did you die?
She still had a clear image of her death, it had only been that afternoon…
“I had just dropped off the girl I was babysitting at her dance class.” Hailey wrote “I was sitting in my car re-applying some lip-gloss before I did some grocery shopping. Then a ford F-150 ran the red light and crashed into my door. I felt glass shards digging into my chest and the twisted mangle of my door crushing my legs. I struggled to move because the heat from the grill was boiling the flesh of my elbow, but I was caught and the glass in my chest was starting to pinch my lungs. A stranger from the sidewalk was trying to free me and when he did he laid me on the pavement and tried to keep me in a conversation until the paramedics arrived. I knew it was too late I felt liquid seeping into my lungs and my heart beat slowed to a melancholy pace. I interrupted him and said that I loved my family, and that I was sorry for the pain. I died in his arms, in front of a dance school with twenty or so girls staring out the big outer window, including the little girl who could have been there with me.” Hailey paused for a moment recollecting her thoughts “I’m glad she wasn’t.”
Hailey hadn’t looked up in a while, the story numbed her senses and put her in a daze, so when she surveyed the room she saw about three new people had come in, including a girl who was about her age. Hailey smiled and got up to sit next to her. She was very beautiful with skin like roasted coffee and a white wrap around her head.
“Hi, I’m Hailey” Hailey said sitting next to the girl.
“I’m Ebere” the girl replied setting her clipboard on her lap to shake Hailey's extended hand.
Hailey was surprised that Ebere understood her, the language scribbled on her pink form wasn’t one Hailey understood. ‘Maybe she is from South Africa,’ Hailey thought ‘or English is her second language’. Then a red and bright blue pamphlet caught her eye,
Everyone speaks the same language in Heaven
Well that answered that question.
“Well, if you don’t mind… um…how did you… you know— get here?” Hailey stuttered
Ebere looked back and shook her head “I do not mind” She looked straight into Hailey’s eyes “But would you share first?”
Hailey started telling her about the crash, she was almost as detailed as on the form (with a few exaggerations mixed in). As Ebere took a deep breath and started to tell her story.
“I died in Chad” Ebere began “My mother, my three younger siblings, and I were living in a refugee camp there. We had left our farm in Darfur, we left it there and we left out father’s grave there too.” Ebere took Hailey’s hand for support “The Janjaweed just shot him, he wasn’t doing anything! He was just outside when they were!”
“I am so sorry” Hailey said, stroking her back. ‘I can’t believe I watched two hours of Paris Hilton’s leaving jail party on the news and yet nothing about this’ Hailey cursed America’s media.
When Ebere’s cries subsided she felt strong enough to continue. “I went out of the camp to get firewood with my two younger sisters and my younger brother, Tabansi. The Janjaweed wait for people to leave the safety of the camp, and they ambushed us. They pulled my brother away and said to him ‘You can kill your older sister, or we will kill all of your sisters while you watch. Your choice.’ He looked so frightened, they handed him a machete and pushed him towards me. I told him to kill me, if it would save the rest of them. I held my breath and tried not to scream because I knew he had no choice”
“I’m sorry” Hailey whispered, that was really all she could say.
“It is all right. At least with the Guardian Angel priveliges I can watch over my family.”
“Guardian Angel privileges?”
Ebere smiled and rubbed the tears from her cheeks “Second page, third question up”
Hailey flipped to the white checklist page on her clipboard and there it was
#27 Would you like Guardian angel privileges?
Hailey looked up just as another stream of light came through the doorway. The new arrival came in like the others, she was also about seventeen, but she looked like more of an Angel. This girl was bald and had blond eyelashes and no eyebrows, the light bounced off her pale skin making her glow. Ebere stared and Hailey gawked as the angelic creature went to receive her paperwork.
When the girl turned around Hailey waved and pointed to the chair next to Ebere, the girl smiled and walked over to them.
“Hi, I’m Chole”
“I’m Hailey” Hailey said pointing to herself
“Ebere” Ebere said briefly looking up
“So, you guys mind sharin’ why you’re here?”
They shared their stories, Ebere’s shocked Cole and Hailey’s dazed her. She took in a breath and began her own story.
“I was born with Leukemia. I had bone marrow transplants when I was a few weeks old. The chemotherapy started when I was two, and when that didn’t work I started radiation therapy, I was four. I was immediately started on Hydria when my system was old enough to handle it. Then the doctors paired it with Gleevec. Gleevec was recently dubbed the ‘miracle drug’ and it seemed to work for a while. I lived past ten! But an infection came and I got too sick, life was always a battle I thought I could fight and win. But in the end it was too hard.”
They all sat and scribbled quietly after that. Chole wrote what she just said on the paper, Ebere flew down the checklist. And Hailey took a break and twitched her wings again to get the blood, or energy, or whatever they ran on pumping.
As quickly as she had finished the second page there was a question Ebere was stuck on.
#3 Do you wish eternal suffering upon those who did you wrong?
“Hey girls” Ebere asked Hailey and Chole “What did you write for number three on the pink page?”
Hailey was surprised that Ebere was having trouble with that question, people forced her younger brother to kill her with a machete the answer seemed so simple.
“I don’t think I can torture a disease” said Chole returning to her own work.
“And I think the driver was severely injured in my crash, so that’s sort of been handled” Hailey responded “But hearing your story I think I would want to smite the Janjaweed solders”
“Yes, I thought of that too.” Ebere said “But than I thought again, those were only three of the solders. Lives do not matter to these men even if three of their own died they would not stop killing. so all I would have done would be killing three people. And I would bee like them”
“Don’t say that!” Hailey whispered “Those men aren’t exactly innocent”
“No, but still. I just want it all to end, the hate the war and that is what I want to focus my forever on.” Ebere said
With the question aborted they both returned to work.
In the chair next to her Cole had found her own struggling question.
#2 Which member of your family would you send the most strength to deal with your loss?”
“Guys?” Chole said “I need a little help”
“What number?” Hailey asked
“Number two on the pink sheet” Chole said
“What about your mother?” Ebere asked
“That was my first intention, but she already has strength, my dad.”
“That’s exactly what I thought,” Hailey exclaimed “So I chose the little girl I was babysitting”
“The one who could have been in the crash with you?” asked Chole
“Who was your next choice?” Ebere asked
“My big brother, then I thought that he’ll be strong for himself. Well at least on the outside.”
“So who’s left?” Hailey said
“My little Sister Annie. You know she was always my little entertainer, she would come to the hospital and sing for me and that would always make me feel better.” Chloe’s eyes were tearing up and Ebere lay a hand on her shoulder “She’s probably in the hospital waiting room right now, waiting for me to come out of surgery, -- waiting for everything to be OK”
“Looks like you found your answer” Hailey said tenderly
“Yeah” Chole said wiping her eyes “I think I did”
Hailey had been there the longest and she knew that the lady up front would call her name any time now, she wanted to make a good impression because this one lasted for eternity! The last question had caught her off guard. One tiny checkbox had sent her mind into a spiral,
#30 Did you have enough time in life, yes or no?
She didn’t want to bother the other girls with this one because she needed to do this on her own. Hailey thought about time was it measured by years? She was only seventeen this afternoon when she died. Was time calculated by moments? During the school year her life was basically school and during the summer it was the beach, sleeping, and late night reading. ‘No’ Hailey thought finally coming to a conclusion ‘Time is feeling, the love that defines us, the trust that binds us, and the knowledge of who you are that runs deep in you heart. Time is anything and everything I felt when I was alive, and it keeps going! Even now I can feel a bond with these girls feelings are eternal so time must be eternal, in some ways at least.’
“So yes” Hailey said triumphantly and a bit loud “I had time”
Ebere and Hailey looked equally triumphant with their success they both smiled and laughed with Hailey. They had known each other for so short a time yet they couldn’t help but feel the bond that connected them.
“Hailey Bugouf” the lady called once more.
Hailey leapt fro her chair and skipped halfway across the room only to turn around and wave to her new friends,
“See you in there!” she shouted nervously before turning to face the lady at the front desk.
Hailey handed the lady her forms and watched her remove them from the clipboard and slip them into a white envelope addressed to many names. She placed Hailey’s envelope on a large stack and slipped around the back of the desk to a door.
“Come along hon,” she said sweetly “I’m just opening it.”
Hailey went to the lady’s side and looked up at the sunshine filtering through the clouds outside the door.
“You just fly up to that cloud right there” the lady said pointing “There’s a big gate up there, you can’t miss it. But before you go, is there anything else I can do for you?”
Hailey looked down at her feet which were hidden by her long white dress.
“Yes,” Hailey whispered tensely “Can I wear jeans?”
The lady’s red lips parted and she snapped Hailey into the Lucky jeans she had been wearing that afternoon, and a new fitted white tee-shirt. Hailey did a little jig to help her settle back into her jeans and she felt something in her pocket. It was a shard of glass, Hailey looked at the lady with a grateful smile.
“Well, eternity is a long time, we don’t want to forget today do we?” the lady said
“No, we don’t”