The Afterlife

Alex wakes up with the droning sound of the heart monitor filling the hospital room. He looks around to find surgical tools such as scalpels and tongs sitting on a counter behind his mother who is sitting next to him.

“What happened?” he asks her worriedly.

She is crying and looking at him laying in the bed, but she doesn’t answer him. Tears continue to stream down her red cheeks and onto the tiled floor. Her irritated eyes are filled with sorrow and pain. Alex sits up to reach for his mother’s hand that rests on her face, only to realize that his hand goes right through her head.

“Am I dead?”

He slowly gets up from the bed, only to find his body still laying there, pale and stiff. Cuts and bruises cover him, and a gasp escapes his lips once he realizes what has happened. The last thing Alex remembers was being in the passenger seat of James’ car. His lips part slightly and breathes in sharply once he remembers his friend who may not have survived either. He walks through the closed door of his hospital room to search for him. A crowd of doctors and nurses rush through him without noticing and turn into a room a few doors down. Curious as to what is going on, Alex decides to follow them, so he tiptoes down the hall and peeks through the small window on the door.

“James,” he whispers once he sees his friend laying there, flat lining, with similar cuts and bruises covering his body. He can hear the muffled beep coming through the door, and it stresses him out. His hands begin trembling in fear for James. If he were alive, sweat would be dripping down his face. Doctors and nurses are running around the small room, carrying tools and medications, trying to resuscitate James. Their shouting mixed with the heart-wrenching beep from the heart monitor creates a feeling Alex has never felt before. So much tension, stress and worry for James. He thinks about all the things he still has to live for, and just hopes that James will be okay. After a moment, James finally takes a deep breath. Alex lets out a sigh of relief when he sees his friend wake up. Alex turns around, wanting to go back to his mother, yet finds nothing but darkness. He turns back towards James’ room, but that has disappeared into darkness too. Alex sighs. So, this is the afterlife.

He begins walking forward to where James’ room used to be and further into the darkness. It seems as though he walks for miles with no change in scenery. His surroundings are bare with no smells, sounds, or views. He continues walking forward as there is nowhere else to go, and a blue light starts to grow in the distance. Alex begins to run towards it, excited that it may be heaven or his grandfather that passed away last year. He had been wanting to say his final goodbye to him. As Alex approaches it, he sees a partially transparent room with a large crowd talking to each other. The wall facing him seems to be non-existent, so he cautiously steps onto the clear blue floor, thinking that he may fall through, but finds that he is standing safely on it. The crowd falls silent, and they turn their heads to Alex who is standing nervously at the edge of the room. From the back of the crowd, a man shouts, “He’s here!” Everyone begins cheering happily at Alex’s arrival, giving him pats on the back and handshakes.

Alex asks the old man who is greeting him.

“Who are you?”

The man replies while shaking his hand, “We are your future!”

“But aren’t I dead?” Alex asks bewilderedly. The man begins laughing at Alex’s confusion.

“Of course you’re dead, Alex!” he says. “We’re all here to help you plan your next life,” he explains.

“You mean…” Alex’s voice fades while he thinks. “Reincarnation?”

The cheerful man wraps his arm around Alex’s shoulders to guide him through the crowd of people. As the last row of people breaks, a small group sitting at a round table appears, all smiling excitedly at Alex.

A blonde woman at the table says, “Welcome back!”

“Have I been here before?” Alex asks the group while sitting down on one of the blue stools surrounding the table.

After noticing his face fills with confusion and fear, the woman asks Alex, “Do you not remember us?” Alex remains silent, embarrassed that he does not remember this place.

“What about James?” the woman asks in an optimistic tone.

“My best friend?” Alex asks to clarify. The woman nods her head rapidly to confirm.

“He’s alive, but in the hospital,” he replies sadly, worried for his friend. He lowers his head and looks at his translucent hands. The woman lets out a sigh of relief and leans back slightly on the stool.

“Good, everything has gone according to plan.”

The old man then pats Alex on the back before speaking.

“I’m Benjamin. We met back in 1940 during the war, where I died for the first time.”

“The war?” Alex questions. “I think I remember running from the missiles and feeling scared and hopeless.”

“He’s beginning to remember,” the lady shouts in excitement.

“In my next life, can I live a little longer?” Alex asks the group. “I don’t remember why I wanted to die when I was seventeen.”

“James suggested it,” Benjamin says. “He’s supposed to become a motivational speaker because of this.”

“Oh! Right!” Alex says once he remembers.

“I just finished a long life,” Benjamin begins. “I won’t mind dying earlier this time.”

After what feels like hours of planning Alex’s next life, they have concluded that he will live into his nineties and marry Shanna, the blonde girl, at the age of twenty-two. Alex will become an engineer at NASA and have a son named James at the age of twenty-nine. They figure that because James would die that year, he could reincarnate as Alex’s son.

“You’re about to be born now, Alex,” exclaims Benjamin.

Benjamin and Shanna follow Alex down a long hallway with a white door at the end. Alex opens the door to see a bright glowing light gleaming through the archway. He begins to tremble with a mixture of excitement and worry as he thinks about the possibilities of his next life. He shakily turns toward Benjamin and Shanna to say goodbye.

“In another life,” Alex says while grinning.

“In another life,” Benjamin and Shanna respond synchronously.

With that, Alex walks slowly through the bright doorway, into his next life.

ABIGAIL BANDA is a first-year student at York University studying Communication & Media. She grew up in a small town in Ontario where she has always had a passion for writing. She began with picture books at the age of 5, and is now writing a fantasy novel series.