In the afternoon sunlight, the gold and silver blocks that composed George’s residence glowed. Their shine seemed to go on for miles, into the sky and maybe beyond it. The golden gates were wide open and a group of people were streaming through them. George himself was outside greeting the arrivals.
While it did seem as though quite a few guests were coming to the occasion, when stacked up against the entire afterlife population, the event really was as small as Grandpa had told me.
To be this close to something so grandiose—the spectacular house with all of its stunning decorations—was something I had never dreamt about before in my life. It was, in a way, intimidating; I didn’t know what to expect, how to act… I started to become a little too nervous about this simple gathering.
My Grandpa patted me on the back, getting me on my way. “Off you go, then. You have fun, Jordan!” He waved goodbye, smiling, then started to walk away. I was on my own now. Before I ventured any farther, I heard a voice call out of the crowd addressed to Grandpa.
“Brandon, why don’t you join us tonight?” I recognized it as the voice of George.
My Grandpa did a full ninety-degree turn on the spot, completely taken by surprise. He smiled after pulling himself together. “Thanks! Don’t mind if I do!”
My Grandpa ran over to join me, a huge grin on his face. As he said, meeting the leader of the afterlife was a privilege extremely hard to earn. The two of us went inside, probably just as unsure as the other what exactly we would be doing today.
As we stepped through the gates we were greeted by another spectacular sight. There were fountains depicting angels emitting water in an arc above us, though none of it was falling down and soaking us. I assumed George used his powers to hold it in place. Dotting the courtyard’s perfectly green grass were beautiful stone statues of saints, with appropriate labels to them on their pedestals. Maybe he had built them himself, which, at this point, would not shock in me in the least.
And if we hadn’t been astonished enough just yet, we entered the house itself through a giant set of wooden double-doors with intricate carvings; and gazed in amazement once again. There were eye-catching tapestries composed of multiple colors and depicting various scenes and environments, usually biblical or other mythical scenes. Golden streamers were hung across the roof which arced towards a large window that shined on a beautiful pattern on the marble flooring. Pieces of art populated the walls; I actually knew some of them, but others I did not. Too our left and right were large staircases leading to a second floor. Like the outside, the main colors here were silver and gold.
The crowd of people seemed to be moving towards one large, open doorway which led to an equally large room, though some stood around socializing outside of it. Upon gazing inside this room, I noticed numerous tables were situated in this part of the building. It stretched a long ways back, with a flat roof and many party streamers. At the far end was a stage with a podium on it. My Grandpa and I, seeing as mostly everyone else was getting situated at the tables went to one around the right-hand corner of the room close to the stage. A woman and a girl of my age were already sitting there.
I couldn’t help but feel I had seen the girl before, but I knew she wasn’t familiar to me in any way whatsoever. A quick memory flashed into my head of a girl I knew in a previous life… I could barely even remember who it was or what life it even was that she was in. I was successfully brainwashing myself.
She looked up and our eyes met. She smiled, then went back to chatting with the woman who I guessed was probably her mother. My Grandpa leaned back into his chair, still grinning. Since our tablemates didn’t seem they were up to chatting with us, my Grandpa and I started out own conversation.
“In all of my time here, I have never been to George’s residence, at least inside of it”. He looked around once more. “It’s more stunning than I ever would have pictured”.
“It is pretty incredible” I commented, too dumbfounded to express how I really felt.
The woman across from us chipped into our conversation. “First time in here too?” she asked us. She had curly black hair and sharp facial features.
My confidence had risen today, and with my memory going away, I no longer needed to hide the fact I was a new resident. “First day in the afterlife too” I replied.
She gasped. “You look like you’re only sixteen!” she said surprised. It was odd how she didn’t seem to be too saddened by it, and said it with the motherly voice of “I thought you did well on that test!”
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m sixteen”.
She gestured towards the girl by her side. “My daughter came in just yesterday”. That disturbed me. She said that as though the girl really didn’t matter at all.
I turned my attention back to the girl. She was… very pretty… I will admit that. It was her first day in the afterlife too… and she wanted no part in our discussion at all. She was obviously really saddened… and I felt myself feeling sorry for this girl I didn’t even know. Not everybody had a rotten life like mine that one would rather want to forget than recall, or maybe she was just like me and death continued haunted her like a bad memorial. Then again, with this woman as a mother, I’d be looking the same way too. I grew very silent.
“Truthfully, I just want to forget” I said, sighing. In saying this, I hoped that the chat would end.
“I wish I could” the girl spoke up, her voice barely a whisper. I was surprised that she had talked, and now I looked at her again. She had long, smooth blonde hair and a sparkling pink dress, and a perfect face, nothing wrong about it at all. One of her eyes was a sparkling blue, the other a dark green. Never before had I seen a human with such features. Again I was reminded of another girl in my life, but I still couldn’t recall who exactly it was. I don’t know why… but I wanted to get to know whoever this girl was. I didn’t like seeing people sad, and her demeanor showed that she was in a worse place than me.
The woman stood up. “I’m going to serve myself some food” she said. She looked over at the girl. “Want anything?”
She shook her head. “No thanks”.
My Grandpa stood up as well. “Come to think of it, I didn’t have a big lunch” he said.
“You can go ahead Grandpa. I’m not very hungry right now”. Truthfully, I thought I would say hi to whoever the girl opposite me was.
My Grandpa nodded, then walked off to a winding line near the left-hand corner of the room. It was only me and the girl who I barely knew and who was incredibly quiet it would seem.
Surprisingly, she spoke to me first. “You seem to have forgotten so easily” she said. She looked up at the ceiling, tears forming in her eyes. “I wish I could… it’s just not that easy. I had a great life… and lost it all in a matter of seconds”.
I took a deep breath. I didn’t expect that she would bring up this subject to me and broadcast her feelings to a stranger. I soon made up my mind I would help this girl, since I felt, in a way, we were connected. “You know, I had an awful life. Terrible” I said.
She looked back at me. “Really?” she asked.
“I hated it… I couldn’t bear it”.
“It’s just someone like you… you seem nice… I would think you’d have a great life”.
I smiled on the inside; a compliment directed towards me was a rare occurrence. It seemed as though this girl understood how I felt, in a sense. “The exact opposite, actually. I was beat up and mocked all of my life” I continued.
“That sounds awful…” she responded, her voice trailing off.
“One of the people that was always after me got drunk and hit me with a car… and then I winded up here… I bet it was on purpose…”
The girl got up and sat next to me. I was starting to become a lot more comfortable with her. “People get treated badly all the time in the world. It’s just not fair that people like you lose everything because of it”.
I bowed my head. “I had a life, lost it… but now I’m just throwing it all away. I found out that crying and remembering everything in my past life didn’t make me feel better. It would just throw me into depression”.
She nodded. “That’s what I want to do... but I can’t…”
I remembered that the first person I met in the afterlife was my Grandpa, an incredibly nice man. He was my friend, he was family.
“You just need a friend” I said, giving her a suggestion from my own experience. “Someone who likes and cares for you. I have my Grandpa with me, and you have your mother, right?”
The girl shook her head and spoke solemnly. “She’s actually… not… my mother. She’s just some person I met. When I got here… she was outside my… house I guess… with a bunch of people. She came up and decided to take me in as a guardian. We’re not related at all, and she’s doesn’t care for me all too much”.
I couldn’t think about what to say for a second. “I’m sorry to hear that…”
“You have your grandfather at least. I don’t seem to have anybody... I feel lost, unsure what to do”. She sighed. “I just want to know what to do”.
This girl seemed to be a mirror reflection of how I felt when I first came into this world. She felt as misplaced and confused and saddened as I had been. All that she needed was a friend, someone to help her forget. I didn’t have too many friends myself… only Kyle, Phil, Vernon, and Grandpa. As I thought about it, I did want to be friends with this girl. I believed that we could both help each other forget, move on. We wouldn’t be going back to Earth anytime soon… someday, sometime, I’d have to find a new life… a fresh start.
“You seem like a great person” I said. “You should know you have a friend, one who was just in your place”.
She looked up at me, the sadness no longer evident in her eyes. For the first time, we both shared a smile, acknowledging each other. It must have been my fate walking into this party and meeting this girl. Suddenly, I remembered I had forgotten something very important.
“I can’t believe I forgot to ask!” I exclaimed. “What’s your name?”
“Amanda” she answered, still smiling. “Amanda Gregory. What about you?”
Amanda. Something in my mind told me that I had known someone with that name back on Earth. I couldn’t put a name to a face I couldn’t recall. It was as though my mind was playing tricks on me and trying to tell me lies… just to mess with me. Earth didn’t matter anymore… I needed to focus on what WAS here.
“Jordan Abbey” I replied, coming out of my daze.
She nodded, the smile disappearing from her face, and was replaced by some nervous demeanor. “I was just wondering… do you want to… hang out some time? Like the After Café or something?”
I was shocked by her invitation. Was I being… asked out? On a date? I never thought that there would be someone in the afterlife that would want to be with me. “S-sure!” I said, stuttering. “I like that place myself”. We both look at each other with anxious smiles.
With that, it appeared as though I had just earned my first real friend in this new world. Amanda seemed to be a kind, compassionate girl, and I wanted to help her as she helped me move on from past lives. Of course, I was happy that she had accepted me, but now very worried… if I was going out with her, what would she expect? How should I act?
“Thank you” she said suddenly, breaking the quietness established by our reception towards each other.
“Thank me?” I asked, curious. “What for?”
“For being my friend when I thought no one could” she said quietly, starting to smile. I returned it, and we simply sat enjoying each other’s company for a while.
My Grandpa had returned from the line, but he left to another table, winking at me. I knew exactly what he was doing; he wanted me and this girl to get ‘acquainted’, something he did often as sort of a joke, sort of a respect for my privacy. I’d rather him stay, but I guess he didn’t want to sit down at our table somewhat randomly while we were talking.
Amanda and I kept talking for a while, discussing about our interests and joking around and such. It was nice having someone like her around, and I was excited for tomorrow and every day we could spend together.
“Excuse me, everybody!” a loud, cheerful voice rang from the crowd of people. I couldn’t see where it came from, but I recognized it instantly as the man who had welcomed me to the afterlife, the man who was hosting this party.
George walked onto the stage at the back the room with a huge grin on his face. He seemed like a very nice guy that could get energetic and lively at a party, as evidenced by how he took the steps two-at-a-time and seemed to skip to the podium. Tonight, he wore a silver suit with gold designs on it, including a long, flowing cape.
“I appreciate you all coming for tonight!” he continued, his voice magnified enough to carry well in this large room. “You came to hang out and have fun, and we all have plenty of time to hang out and have fun”. This statement was met by various cheers. “I’m saddened, however” he continued, “that I forgot to redecorate. I need to learn to be much more generous to my guests! I’ve learned recently that silver and gold just doesn’t go with me”.
With a flick of his fingers, the room almost instantaneously altered into bright green and blue colors, with white decorations. The crowd of people applauded, me included. What an impressive display! His powers were pretty unbelievable; just being able to switch a room’s color scheme in less than a second was remarkable. That and holding water in place.
Even George’s clothes had obeyed this color-changing command; the suit was now white with blue designs and a green cape.
He brushed a speck of dust invisible to the eye from his shoulder. “Not too shabby” he commented, procuring a laugh from the mass. His attention then turned back to us. “Now, I bid you, carry on with your socializing. But just be aware that dinner has arrived!”
Seemingly out of nowhere came a table full of delicious foods! It appeared suddenly, most likely courtesy of George’s magical powers. However, I didn’t feel like getting up and I rather wished to spend time with the new friend I had. The line seemed to consist of everyone other than the two of us in a matter of seconds, further supporting my argument.
My Grandpa silently asked me from his table if I was hungry. I shook my head no and continued talking with Amanda.
She was very talented as it would seem: a member of the honor choir, honor band, and many more honor-level classes and activities. She said she was a great artist, and that her house was covered with her own works. She went on to describe many more aptitudes she possessed. I could never hope to be able to sing, play an instrument, or paint a picture. It’s not that I didn’t get out much or just wasn’t smart… I just didn’t have the talent.
When asked all I could do… I had a rather short list.
“Well… I’m a good writer I guess. My friend’s dad was a publisher. He was actually looking over my book before… all the craziness”.
“You got a book published?” she exclaimed, impressed. “I’m awful at writing” she continued with a laugh. “Never really got good at it. I’m just… terrible!”
“Almost published” I pointed out, though I felt as though this comment shot down her compliment.
“It could have gotten published after you died” she replied, nodding.
“Maybe…” My voice trailed off. Her statement made me wonder… maybe I had gotten my book out there! Maybe it did wind up in bookstores everywhere, selling by the hundreds, maybe even by the thousands! For the first time in a while, I wished to be back on Earth just for a split second to see if I really did succeed.
“I could never sing or play an instrument or paint. All I can play is a few notes on a recorder, but that was a school requirement and I don’t think it counts. The only drawings I ever made were just pen sketches”.
She blushed slightly. “Thanks… oh! Do you have any stories with you?” she asked me.
I shook my head. “I wish I could get them, but I have no way of doing so”.
“No, you can get them. Pretty easy, too”. She said this very matter-of-factly, and I was stunned.
“I don’t know much about this place, but I’m guessing that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon so…” I told her honestly, doubtful of her claim yet curious at the same time, wondering if it could be true. She had only been here almost as long as me, which isn’t much time at all. How could she know so much in the first place?
“Just take a collection trip” she told me. I swear that everybody in the world could read my mind.
“A… collection trip?” I inquired, asking for more information.
“Yeah… my guardian told me. All you have to do is go to a collection house, say you’re gonna go collect some of your past items, and that’s all there is to it”.
I leaned back in my chair satisfied. That was an incredibly easy process! To get some of my stories, even those rough drafts that weren’t even too good, would make me feel so much better. It wouldn’t necessarily help my mission to discard all of my memories of my past life, but I think it would be fine if I kept just a few belongings.
I knew exactly where I stored them too: an old lack shoebox under my bed. If no one has messed with it already, everything should still be located there.
“Well… thank you! I’ll definitely have to do that” I said, nodding.
She smiled again. “Maybe you could share some with me?”
“I’d be honored” I said with a laugh.
We sat in a peaceful stillness.
“You feel hungry?” she asked me.
I shook my head.
“Neither am I” she responded.
We sat down in silence one again for a bit until she reached into one of her pockets.
“I forgot that I had this with me!” she exclaimed. She laid a paper out on the table. “I got this from a collection trip of my own”.
I stared in awe. It was a beautiful painting depicting a river with bright trees and other vegetation dotting the banks of it.
“Wow…” I said, barely able to say that much.
She shrugged. “Just a rough draft” she said.
“Wish I could show you some of my stories” I said.
“You know I’m interested” she replied.
“So I just go to the collection house and that’s all there is to it?” I asked for clarification.
She nodded. “It really is just that simple”.
“Well I know what I’m doing tomorrow then”.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder, and I turned around to go see who was trying to get my attention. I saw George standing beside me, grinning.
“I see you two are having a good time” he commented. “Can I bother you for a word?” he asked me. I admired his manners.
I looked over at Amanda. She didn’t seem to have a problem with me going.
“Ok, I’ll come” I said.
George nodded. “Great! Just follow me”.
George led me out of the giant dining room and back into the central room. This room was changed into different colors as well.
“So are you liking your time here?” he asked me.
“Yeah. It’s wonderful”.
“Glad you like it. Didn’t I tell you when you first came here that you would become much more used to your surroundings?”
Both of us shared a laugh. It was funny that I could laugh about stuff like that now.
We walked up the red-carpeted stairs I had seen before and into the first room that appeared at the top of the steps.
George closed the door behind him.
“So what is this about?” I asked him.
He was silent for a long time. When he turned around to face me, he looked much less happy.
“Well, before this nice chat begins, let me begin by saying that this will sound very ridiculous and most likely make no sense to you. Nod if you understand”.
I nodded. George took a deep breath, coughed, then proceeded.
“I’ve seen wild cases in all of my years acting as the leader of the afterlife. A drunken man shoots a hooker in a bar. A grandma goes ninety on a freeway and crashes into a semi. A guy parks near a bridge and trips over a rock and falls over”.
“Stabbed to death, ran over, beat to death, you name it, I’ve seen it” he continued.
“The thing is…” he said, his voice trailing off.
He became silent again.
He took a few deep breaths again to regain his composure, then continued. “I’m not sure you know your family history too much, do you?” he asked me.
I shook my head. “Only vaguely”.
“Didn’t expect you to. Well, you see… if you looked back…” his voice trailed off once more.
He started tapping his foot. “I’m just not sure how to tell you this…”
I gestured for him to go on. “What is it?”
“I told, it’s ridiculous”.
“Just say it, then I’ll judge what I think about it”.
“I’m your great-great-great-great-grandfather!” he blustered out.
Stunned, I did a double-take, slapped myself, blinked a few times, then looked around the room. “Huh. Still here”.
“Didn’t I tell you?”
I shook my head back and forth rapidly. “I don’t believe this” I said plainly.
He nodded furiously. “Yes… I am”.
He started pacing around the room quickly.
“You and I… are related?” I stuttered. “Impossible, improbable, and various other words prefixed with –im”.
He paused in his pacing, and pointed at me.
“You felt different from everyone else… detached from the world…”
He waved his arms. “Didn’t you?”
I nodded slowly. “Everyone was different from me… or at least mostly everyone”.
George nodded back and kept pacing.
“There’s reasoning behind that. It’s not because of you”.
“Wait a second, there’s a reason why I had the social life I had? There was a reason I had the friends I had? There was a reason why I was bullied continuously without help?”
“Unfortunately… yes. Your personality and such was not of your choosing, even if you felt like it was”.
“What the hell…” I muttered, dazed beyond belief.
He strolled at a fast pace towards the wall opposite me and picked up a large paper lying on a table.
“I knew when you were born something was strange about you” he muttered, unfolding the paper.
“You were different… too different”.
He waved his hands. “You see, you come from a very religious and very well-respected family”.
“How could I… of all people… be related to you? Or this family? It’s not like we’re very religious or-“
“Your ancestors were”.
“Still, how the hell am I related to you?”
“A long story” he said, showing me the paper.
It was a family tree of my family, dating back to the tenth century! I gazed in awe at the ancient paper. This wasn’t just any old paper, but my history.
I saw one name that sounded familiar--by that, just the first name--George Herphan.
“Our last names are completely different. You probably never heard of me” he said.
“I’ve only heard someone mention a Craig Herphan”.
“My brother” George explained.
I stumbled back into a chair, senseless and completely taken off-guard.
“You told me… in less a few minutes… that you and I are related” I said, my mind still trying hard to comprehend whatever I had just heard.
“I think I need some time to really comprehend this…” I said, taking a deep breath.
I never would have guessed the leader of the afterlife himself would be related to me in any way. Now I understood why he wanted to see me; I was part of his family, and I had just died. I guess he wanted to get to know me, or just be as my Grandpa was and be extremely upset. At this point, I wasn’t quite sure.
“Yeah… I probably shouldn’t have rushed my explanation” he said, breathing heavily. “Well there you have it; we’re related”.
I shook my head. “I can’t believe it”.
“I can’t believe seeing you here in the first place”.
“Why’s that?” I asked him, getting curious.
He started to deliver another explanation. “Herphans and their relatives were blessed in a church that they would be untouchable to evil. We were very devoted to the church, so that was their gift. The thing is, the blessing actually worked, contrary to anti-religious beliefs; I lived to one-hundred years myself”.
“One-hundred? You look barely sixty”.
“Afterlife magic” he explained.
I brought the conversation back. “So, I should be… untouchable?”
George nodded. “Yes. You can’t be bothered by evil at all”.
I thought back to how I died, though it was hard; my memory was close to being completely erased. I was killed by evil, no doubt about that. I was killed by a drunken asshole sounds more appropriate for an individual such as Hunter.
“So I shouldn’t have died is what you’re saying” I suggested. He nodded in response.
“You should have lived for a long time. Very long time. But somehow, you are in front of me right now”.
I started piecing things together for myself. Some long time ago, the Herphans and their relatives were blessed to be untouchable to evil. Yet I had died somehow. The blessing was probably in ancient times. It could be possible that the blessing was wearing off… just my luck that it started to wear off when I came to life.
“The blessing is wearing off” I muttered.
George pointed at me. “Exactly! You have the brains of a true Herphan”.
“So, yes, I suspect that the blessing is wearing off. Somehow, it has begun to deteriorate and make the family more vulnerable to villainous entities. Without our protection from the blessing, we will be wiped out”.
“Wiped out? George, evil doesn’t come around twenty-four seven just to kill us”.
George shook his head. “You don’t understand”.
I agreed with him. “I’m finding it rather hard to keep up with all of the information I’ve been given too fast for me to fully comprehend. So yes, George, I do not understand”.
George sighed. “Sorry about that, but time really is of the essence. If the blessing has started to wear away, then it will wear away quickly. It needs to be renewed with the utmost haste”.
I walked over to George, a new thought appearing in my head. “Wait… why exactly do you not do this?”
“This calls for another explanation” George said, exhausted. He went on. “The leader of the afterlife has the ability to allow people up to one week of life on Earth. However” he said, holding up a finger. “People can leave the afterlife only on time”.
“So you already left once I presume”.
“Indeed. Therefore, Jordan, I need your help to renew the blessing”.
“Let me get this straight, if I may… I came here to party and meet new people, on your invite! Now all of the sudden I’ve been given a mission to go back on Earth and go renew a blessing. Back to an Earth that I now feel glad leaving”.
“I get it, it’s hard to fully internalize this information. I promise, just let it sink in for a moment and the awkward feelings will pass”.
I said nothing, so George continued. “This is an important assignment Jordan, and you’re the only person I can trust to carry it out”.
He seemed to get slightly annoyed by this point. “Listen, it’s for the good-“
“I hated my life!” I exploded suddenly. “I don’t want to go back on Earth. I want to forget it all, leave it behind”. The outburst shocked even myself.
“This isn’t about you, Jordan” George responded coldly. “This is about your entire family. Without the blessing, your parents suffer. Your uncles and aunts suffer. Even those cousins that have barely been granted life--will suffer. And it will all be because of you”.
I took a few deep breaths. “I… I don’t know”.
“It’s not that hard of a job. Go to a church, renew the blessing, and that’s all there is to it”.
I stood silent for a minute or two, thinking about if I should go forth with this or not. Truthfully, I’m not sure why I didn’t immediately jump for this. I didn’t want to be the one that killed off the family.
I nodded. “I’ll do it”.
George smiled. “I knew you’d be up for it”.
“As I said, your task is simple” he said. “There’s a church you need to go to, a few miles from your old house. Speak to a priest to get the blessing renewed, and that’s all there is to it”.
“So, what do I need a week for?” I asked him.
“There can be… complications” he said.
My eyes widened. “You’re telling me now that there are complications with this… why was I not told of any ‘complications’ before? You said it was easy. You just said it.”
George sighed. “I just need this over with. The longer we wait, the more the family becomes vulnerable”.
“I want to know the complications” I said, my voice strong. “I’m not doing this unless I know what the problems are”.
He waved his arms. “Alright, alright… there are a few anti-religion folks that swarm around that particular church trying to close it. They can get a little rough”.
“Anti-religion people”. I sighed. “Of course”.
“Hopefully they won’t cause much trouble”.
“Yeah. Let us hope that these anti-religion people don’t come after me with guns and knives. That would be unfortunate”.
“Sorry for the unexpected twist” George responded.
“I’ve had enough of those for one day” I said.
George gestured towards the door.
“You should go back out” he said. “I don’t want to ruin your night this evening”.
I sighed. “Little late for that” I muttered.
“I’m sorry for the quick explanation. I’m sorry for having to tell you all of these things in a short time. But if I didn’t, the whole family would be dead in less than a week. That’s how vulnerable we are to the evil of the world. With the blessing repeated, we will be safe”.
I nodded. “Yeah… sure”.
I opened up the door and walked out, half-slamming it on the way out.
So… in a matter of minutes, I learned I was related to one of the, if not the most powerful man in the world. I learned that some blessing kept my family together. I was assigned an assignment that would probably end up with a knife or a bullet in the back of my head. And now I was expected to still have a good time?
That definitely was not going to happen.
I started thinking about what would happen when I got back on Earth, what I would do… apparently all I had to do was walk into a church that was surrounded by anti-religious folks. I could always sneak in through the roof or something, I don’t know. Maybe just walk in through the front door.
If I innovate, it shouldn’t be too hard at all. What was I thinking before? This should be a relatively simple task. It could be possible to finish it in one day and then just be able to chill on a beach or something.
I walked down the stairs and headed towards the giant hall that the party was being held in. I opened up the now-closed doors and looked around for Amanda. She wasn’t anywhere to be found, though. I located my Grandpa over at a table near the middle of the room.
I sat down next to him.
“So, where have you been?” he asked me. “That one girl had to leave. She wanted to remind you about the After Café”.
I nodded. “Okay”.
He continued on my absence topic. “So where did you go off to?”
My Grandpa was part of the family. This did concern the whole family, so I think he deserved to know.
“George needed to talk to me” I said.
“About what?” he asked me.
“Well… there’s this blessing that was given to our family to protect us from evil. But now, it seems to be wearing off”.
“So he told you about the blessing then” he said, nodding, showing he understood. “How could it be wearing off?”
“He doesn’t know, or he refused to say” I responded. “Anyways… he’s sending me back to Earth”.
Grandpa chocked on the water he was drinking. “Back to Earth? I don’t think that’s ever happened before! What do you need to go back for?”
“To renew the blessing” I explained. “George can’t do it because he’s already been to Earth once, and you can only go back one time”.
“So he chose you because you’re younger and more ‘nimble’ I suppose” he said.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. But he told me to go tomorrow”.
My Grandpa didn’t speak much afterwards. Maybe he was jealous that I was getting back to Earth, or just plain sad because he wasn’t. I did feel bad that he couldn’t get to go back, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
“You’ll have to tell that girl you won’t be seeing her then” my Grandpa said.
“But I still want to meet her. I don’t know, but something about her reminds me of someone… and I don’t know who”.
“You’ve barely been dead for a day! How could you forget so easily?” he asked me.
I could only shrug. “I’m not sure. It was just easier for me than it is for other people. Most people”.
“You always told me everything was okay in your life, yet here you are forgetting it as easily as a broken nail”.
I had always avoided telling my Grandpa that my life was absolutely terrible, but it looks like I have no way out of this situation. I couldn’t predict his reaction… and I still didn’t know how to tell him.
“My life was awful” I whispered, my voice loud enough only for myself and Grandpa to hear.
“Awful? How so?” he asked me.
“I was teased and beat up all of my lifetime, seemingly nonstop” I responded. I got it over with as quickly as I could.
He was stone silent for a moment, then shrugged.
“You’ve been hiding that from me… for all that time” he said, obviously upset.
“I didn’t want to worry you” I explained.
He shook his head and went back to eating the food that was still on his plate. I felt awful having to admit to my own grandfather that I had lied to him for all of my life about my life situation. I wasn’t sure how to make him feel better. My mind was rapidly trying to come up with a comment that could make his spirits rise, but I couldn’t come up with anything good.
“We should get going” he said, standing up. “It’s getting late”.
“Grandpa, I’m sorry, but telling you that my life sucked would just make the both of us feel unpleasant”.
We walked out of the house with no words exchanged between us. As we went out the door, I took one last glance around the interior of the house. George was standing on a platform overlooking the front door. He nodded at me, then walked off into a room next door. I followed my Grandpa’s path out the door.