Once you get past the rotten stench of decay… The place really isn’t so bad…
I sat in my chair for nearly half an hour, after I got my ticket. I didn’t mind. The seat was, honestly, pretty comfy and the music they played was soothing. It kinda reminded me of elevator music. The walls were a bright baby blue that complimented the white tile flooring. The chairs we sat in were crimson leather with oak for support, and on the ends of each row I could see a decorative ficus plant in a brown clay pot.
As far as sitting rooms went- this was pretty decent.
There were others here too; some making idle conversation, while others sat with their faces enveloped in a copy of Death Weekly. There is a whole stack of this month’s issue on the table by my right. The cover showed a lifeless child with cartoonish x’s drawn over each eye. Below him, a tagline read ‘Who died? Who did it? … Page. 42!’
The sight of it gave me goosebumps, not because he appeared to be thirteen years old at the most… But because…
I’m only a few years older than him, I think to myself, and it’s then that that I can see just how diverse the ages in the room are. While there are a large quantity of elderly people, I can also see kids my age- as well as even babies and toddlers. The sight of it both seemed to comfort and discourage me at the same time.
Across the room, I see the receptionist viciously typing away on her computer. After a few minutes, her eyes trail up toward mine and she smiles. After a small wave, her eyes and hands return to their duty. She is-was- maybe in her early in her early thirties, with South American skin and long braided hair that trails down to her back in perfect formation.
She was very nice to me. While I wasn’t sure just how I had arrived, she seemed to be the only one to notice. One second, I was a living, breathing, being. A member of the world. A part of it.
… The next I was in a room full of seated strangers, each waiting to enter through a white door that read ‘Final Judgement’. It was there, just a few feet away, that I saw her assisting another gentleman from a distance. The flailing of his arms and the rising tone told me that he wasn’t too happy, but she didn’t seem too bothered. She sat quietly while he bellowed, replied calmly, and then sent him to fuming to his seat when the ordeal was over.
She looked up at me, and after assessing my situation, she happily ushered for me to come over to her. I stepped forward, cautiously at first, but my worry had been completely dissipated by the time I reached the little booth.
“Hello, sweetie,” She said. “How are you feeling?”
“Pretty dead.” I responded.
I expected to her to react negatively- maybe make a sour face or stick her tongue out in disgust- but instead, she giggled.
“Don’t worry. We get a lot of that around here. So, how did you go?”
I thought about it for a moment, but when nothing came to mind, I shrugged and said “I dunno.”
“It’s okay,” she said. “That happens from time to time. We can look it up in your file. What’s your name?”
“Ethan Mcallister.” I said.
She typed away, and after a few beeps and boops from the monitor she said “Sorry if it takes a moment. We just got dial up.”
“It’s alright.” I said. “Wait ‘til you get Netflix. You’re gonna love that.”
She laughed and after another minute, my file popped up. Glancing from the screen and back to me she said “Oh dear.”
There was no smoke on her face this time.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
“It seems you suffered from a brain aneurysm during your school play…”
I was confused. “Wait… What’s a brain aneurysm?”
“It’s like a balloon in your brain.” she said. “When it pops, it’s usually fatal.”
At those words, I froze.
I remember now…
We were putting on a show that our drama teacher, Mr. Burtch, had scripted himself. It was called ‘Fall of the Great’, and it was about a historical warrior named Alexander The Great. When I found out I was cast to play the lead- I was so excited. I rehearsed my lines almost every second of everyday to perfection.
The whole play had gone smoothly, until the third act.
I walked center stage, holding a cup to toast my latest victory. It wasn’t until I I drank it, that I would realize it had been laced with poison.
I stood, knees bent and hands gripping my gut as I shouted. “What suffering lay dormant within me?!”
But before I could make my dramatic fall, someone in the audience shouted. “It’s probably your bad acting!”
And before I realized what was being said, I felt a hard-but-squishy object make painful contact with the side of my face.
“So this brain thing…” I attempt to ask. “It just killed me?!”
“Mhmm.” she confirmed.” Just minutes after you were struck by that member in the audience.”
I didn’t respond quickly. Only thought.
Not about life or death. Not about the play, or how anyone felt about it.
My eyes met with the receptionist’s and I asked “What did they hit me with?”
She turned to her screen, then back to me. “Apparently, it was a tomato.”
“Ouch!” I said. “Tomatoes freaking hurt!”