Story inspired by the following prompt: After you die, you are judged on the number of times you’ve made people happy and how many times you’ve made people sad or angry.
The book lay before me, far larger than any I had ever seen before, and open to page 105,742,811,232. The pages were impossibly thin, to the point where they should have been see through, and still the book towered twice as tall as me when closed. My page was in the back of the book, as I was the most recent to have died.
On the left, the page read “Happy”, and on the right, the page read “Resent”. I smiled, seeing that there were far more tick marks on the left hand page than the right. The golden gates would be opening for me today.
“Oliver Michael Iglesia-Tyler,” Read a man dressed in a white robe, pronouncing my name clearer than I had ever heard it. That was the way it was meant to be pronounced, and I felt my soul stir in reaction to it. Behind him, a group of twelve judges looked on, radiant light showering over their faces.
“Present,” Announced my guardian angel when I was at a loss for words. Already she had carried me up into the clouds when my soul had left my body, told me of the coming trial.
“Oliver,” continued the man, “It appears that you have spent your life making a great deal of people happy.”
“Yes, sir, your honor. Yes I have.”
“For instance, March 11th, nineteen eighty three. Do you remember what happened then?”
And suddenly, I did. And I stirred my feet in the clouds nervously, kicking up cotton balls of air.
“Yes, sir. Yes, I do.”
“It was in the high school parking lot. Not many people liked that runt of a kid, Jimmy was his name. Everyone picked on him, didn’t they? And they all felt a little guilty on the inside for it. But you helped alleviate that guilt, didn’t you, Oliver? You made them all a little happier, when you kicked Jimmy after your friend tripped him. Remember how everyone laughed? Yes, I’d say you made everyone watching happy.”
The man took out a lit candle, and burned away a row of hashmarks in the happy page. Behind him, one of the glowing faces dimmed, and my throat closed as I recognized Jimmy staring at me.
“Sir, that was so long ago, I’ve become a better man.”
“Have you now, Oliver? What about here, in the Resent side. I see a mark that almost happened. Yes, June fifth, two thousand and four. That was the day that you almost told your friend, Mark, the very same one that tripped Jimmy so long ago, that maybe he should stop drinking so much. That maybe his wife should stop showing up to church with black eyes. But you didn’t, did you? Were you afraid, Oliver? Of his Resent? Of his unhappiness?”
And the robed man shed a tear, one crimson red, that fell onto the Resent side where the mark should have been.
Behind him, the light cleared from the second of the twelve’s faces, and I saw Mark’s wife, still with a black eye.
Then the man asked about the time I had been nice to my sister, telling her that she should keep the money that she had stolen from work when she was crying from regret. That it was OK for her to do it, and how I said it was OK when she did it again. Or the time I didn’t punish my son for bullying at school, because I knew he’d be unhappy to see me do it, and I too had been that way at his age.
The robed man continued, reading down each of the marks on the page. Some were good. Most weren’t. When he finished, himself and twelve unmasked others stared at me, and I was at a loss for words.
“Nice doesn’t get you into heaven, Oliver. Neither does the easy way out of situations that makes people happy. No, what get’s you into heaven is doing what is right, even if it makes someone hate you for it. You have to stand up for a cause.”
The figure paused ,looking dowm his nose at me. Then he spoke.
“Heaven takes guts.”
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