Second Heaven

By , Germantown, TN
The first thing he noticed was the grass. He rolled over to itch his left shoulder, where he looked at the yellow-brown leaves of saw-grass that were surrounding him. He was too much in shock to comprehend the strangeness of the fact that he was lying in a field of saw-grass. He looked down at his clothes. To his surprise, his polo dress shirt was still spotless and wrinkle-free, and his tie was still tied around his neck in a sturdy knot. His slacks were straight and immaculate, and his dress shoes had stayed unscuffed. He put his hand down and levered himself into a sitting position. He wiped the grass off the side of his shirt and looked around. Off in the distance, he saw mountains stretching across the entirety of the horizon. Golden saw-grass stretched as far as the eye could see. Trees and shrubs were spotted all over the landscape. He lifted himself up and walked to a nearby tree, where he sat back down and leaned against the trunk. He looked around, trying to figure out where he was. He determined that he was in the middle of Africa, but he was not sure where to be exact.
“Hello there son,” came a voice off to the man's right. He jumped up, startled by the sudden appearance of another person. He looked over to see a shriveled old man leaning heavily on a stick. The old man's wrinkles were defined as if drawn by an artist, yet he had a youthful energy around him. His gray hair was long and ungroomed, and his beard was the same. His clothing was torn and beaten and his back was hunched over at a slight angle.

“Um... Hello,” the man was able to stutter out.

“Don't worry son, I know you are confused. Sit back down, breathe. I will explain to you what you are seeing,” said the old man to the confused man. The man moved uneasily then sat back down, leaning against the tree trunk.

“Am I dead?” asked the man. A smile crossed the face of the old man.

“No, not yet,” he said to the man. The man looked up at the old man with a face of pure confusion.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I go by many different names,” was all the old man said in return. The young man just stared at the old man, who was gazing off into the field. He decided it would be no use to ask again, so he continued.

“Am I in Africa?” asked the young man.

“Well, technically, yes you are. But here it is not called Africa,” replied the old man. The young man once again looked at the old man with a confused face.

“What do you mean, here? Is this not earth?” asked the confused man.

“This is not earth, son. You are in heaven,” answered the old man. The young man, surprised, was lost for words. He stayed quite for many minutes, starring into the distance.

“I thought you said I wasn't dead,” said the man, slightly emotional.

“You aren't,” replied the old man.

“Then why am I here?” the young man yelled. The birds who had been resting in the tree flew off in a frenzy. The old man did not answer, but looked at the young man as he panted, wiping tears from his eyes.

“I don't believe you,” said the man.

“Why is that?” asked the old man.

“Because, there's no humans here,” said the emotional man, “How can this be heaven if there are no humans?”

“Ah, I almost forgot,” exclaimed the old man. “You see, this is not the only heaven. This is the second that has been designed. Humans are not allowed here.” The young man stared blankly at the old man.

“Well... why not?” asked the young man. The old man giggled to himself, then sighed. He stared at the tips of the mountains off in the distance.

“Because of how they treated the first,” replied the old man.

“What do you mean? What did they do to it?” asked the young man.

“You should know. You live on it, you can see for yourself what humans have done to it,” said the old man. Once again, the young man gave the old man a blank stare.

“Are you saying that earth is... heaven?” the man asked.

“Yes, I am. Earth is the first heaven, and this is the second,” said the old man.

“But... I don't understand,” said the young man. “How can that be?”

“Well, when the first heaven was made, it was decided that nothing would control the animals on it. Unfortunately, humans abused this right, rising above all other animals. They began to destroy them and the land. They destroyed the gift that was kindly given to them. So, it was decided that another would be made, one without humans, where the gift of life could be fully enjoyed. Humans were left to do what they want with the first heaven,” said the old man, perhaps a bit of anger in his tone. The young man sat speechless. His eyes were fixed directly on the old man, and his brain was working faster then a motor.

“Is there any possible way we could be let in? Humans are good at change, we can change!” exclaimed the man.

“No, there is not a way. Humans were given a chance, but they could not handle it,” replied the old man. “Son,” he said, “I don't want you to forget this. Bring this with you, keep it in mind.” The young man shook his head. The old man turned around and began to walk away.
“Wait!” yelled the man, “If humans aren't allowed here, then why are you here?” asked the young man. But, all the old man did was look at the young man with a smile and giggle to himself, then continue to walk. The young man began to run after him. Suddenly, a shock ran through his body. The ground shook, and he fell. He felt another shock, then he passed out.
“ Mr. Smith? Mr. Smith? Please tell me if you can hear me!” a frantic voice said. He opened his eyes and nodded his head. Mr. Smith was in the back off an ambulance. He was shocked back to life after a devastating car crash.





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