Thursday, June 25, 2015

Short Story: Sally in After

Sally in After


Sally didn't like being sick, staying in the hospital for months on end for treatments that made her feel worse than her original malady had. She remembers her parents and grandmother and her brother standing around her bed crying, holding her hand, but she was so tired. She just needed some sleep.

When she woke up something was very different. She just felt that she was in a different room and then she noticed other things. There was no respirator on her face, there were no noises of the machines pumping air and beeping all the time.

Then suddenly she realized that she felt perfectly fine. She wasn't sick anymore! She sat straight up and looked around. “Mom! Dad!” where did they go?, there were just here. Then a nurse in white with a pink vest came to her bed.

The nurse looked at her eyes and ears and asked “How do you feel?”

“Fine! I feel good. I want to go home, are my parents here?” Sally asked looking around and in a hurry “They were just here, they were crying, but tell them I'm well now. Hurry.”

The nurse suddenly looked a bit sad and held her face for a moment like some people do. “Oh honey, I guess you really don't understand yet”

“Understand what?”

“There is no easy way to say, it. Just have to tell you bluntly. You died” she told the girl “This is After”

“Is this heaven?” the girl asked

“Not yet, darling, but it's closer” the woman said “You'll understand better after you go to school”

Sally looked dubious. “I'm dead but I have to go to school? ha. Tell my parents to come and bring me home now”

“Poor child” the nurse said “You will understand everything when you go to After school. By the way, what did you die of?”

Sally was starting to get scared that the nurse was telling the truth, tears were forming. “Cancer”

The nurse nodded slowly “Were you sick for a long time?”

“Since I was 5” she answered quietly, unsure of everything.

“It's sad. You have moved on to After and your parents will miss you, and you will miss them, this is all very normal” the nurse said seeing Sally start to cry. “I'll let you alone to grieve for a good long while”

True to her word the woman went on and saw to others who had arrived in After. When Sally had about cried every tear she could, she watched the nurse comfort the new arrivals, some of whom seemed to have died under pretty traumatic circumstances.

Later the nurse introduced a couple who said she would live with them for a while, during which she would attend the After school. Sally was given a nice room but somehow the trip to the new home seemed to disappear from her memories. As if she had been transported from the 'hospital' to their home without passing anything else.

It was kind of strange. The room looked a lot like her room back home in 'Before', there was even a similar stack of coloring books and dolls with just a trace of difference. Sally opened the closet and there were already three dresses in her size. Pink, blue and yellow. Her favorite colors.

Okay, even a ten-year old would find this strange, she told herself. She went out and down the stairs and walked to the couple who were at the dining table drinking from tea cups.

“How did you know what my favorite colors were? How did you know I liked coloring books? How did you already clothes in my size?” she asked with her hands on her hips.

“Did your parents ever show you old pictures of the family? In albums?” the woman asked “Maybe a pink one with a white heart?”

Sally was stunned. How did they know her family had an album like that? There were several photograph albums on the shelf by the stairs. The pink and white one was.... dad's parents. The grandma and grandpa she never met because they died too young. Dad was still a teenager when they died.

Then suddenly she noticed these people looked exactly like the pictures in that album.

“Grandma? Grandpa?” she asked, they nodded and embraced her and they were all crying together.

After a while they were just talking. Grandpa wanted to know about his son, her father. How he was doing, if he still fished at the same spot on the river.

“Yes! He took me sometimes. Dad thought that maybe the peace and quiet of fishing would make me get well” she said, looking at her feet. “Dad tried everything to make me better”

After a long while she fell asleep on the couch but they were still there wen she woke up, she embraced them and cried again for her parents, her brother and mom's mother. Then something crossed her mind and she looked up at them.

“Why are you still here, in After? Why haven't you moved on to heaven?” she asked them, they smiled to her and grandmother said “Because you need us. How would you have felt if no one you loved and who loved you was here waiting? Too sad.”

“You will understand everything when you go to After school. Do you want to be here when your dad or brother or grandmother come here? Don't you think they will need you to comfort them?” her grandfather said

“Are you angels?” Sally asked

“No. Humans do not become angels, but that doesn't mean we can't be angels for those who need us”

“Once you are ready, you won't need us any more. Then the two of us will move on” grandmother told her.

“But I just met you!” she protested

“We feel the same way, but we will all be together next time” her grandfather said

Sally nodded. “I'll do my best in After school. I'll be here waiting for my family, I really want to see them again. Just not too soon”

“I still find it weird that I died and I have to go to school before I can to heaven” she said before going to bed on the couch, with her head on her grandmothers lap, who was stroking her hair lovingly.

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