“What was your life like?” I said to the man one ahead of me in the queue of judgement. “I was like a man possessed,” he said as we waited. “How do you mean” said Mr Safe, namely me, now mourned with clean piety by a wife, relatives and various friends, as we waited; me and this newly met soul, to discover the shape and texture of our individually constructed eternities. Your Heaven or Hell, it transpired, are tailor made to provide either exquisite pleasure or suffering to the individual: judgement is a bespoke service from which there is no escape.
“I could not stop the words.” he continued. “I had morsels of praise but my diet was mainly indifference, sometimes mixed with embarrassment. I would talk to anyone, long after they wished I was gone, and eat at cafe’s pretending I was welcome and part of the community. Really, I was trying to express an idea: to get a concept on the page,”
“What concept” I rashly asked, because even the newly dead, with eternity before them have finite patience, and mine was tested.
“The concept of natural and emotional wilderness” he replied. “That manners are what we wear to make ourselves bearable to each other and ourselves. That iconoclastic indifference erodes the heart of each culture, and the pretence that this isn’t so is the foundation of every building, built to glory the individual.”
I found myself smiling as he said this and said, “And you found you had some difficulty making money from this vision.” He snarled at me, as if he had somewhere left to stalk off to, but now there was nowhere else to go. Right or wrong, wise or foolish, we shuffled forward to learn our fate, and nothing we thought or did now would alter that.
It was a curiosity of the arrangement that we were allowed to chatter idly with others in the queue and even hear what the angels said about their lives, before receiving our own sentence and reward. Those in front would drift slowly towards their designated experience and they too, would learn what would become of you.
At last our bitter author stood before the angels, to hear their observations and they said, “You have been brave and fearless, and not ducked the cost of your observations and for eternity you will be bathed in the recognition and companionship you craved for your entire life. Proceed in peace and Love.”
I was slightly taken aback and still trying to make sense of what I had heard when the voices of angels began speaking in my head. “You have lived a mealy mouth life without engaging in any serious wrong-doing; hiding behind a fearful superiority, clinging to accepted opinions and ignoring anything which might disturb your peaceful existence. You lived among those you might have rescued but were not sufficiently moved to help. You will now experience their life in eternity. You will experience what you chose to ignore.
As I fought to make sense of what I’d heard, and felt the first touches of that isolation which was to mark my designated experience I looked up and saw my colleague in the queue stare back at me. His fading figure seemed lit by golden light. He had heard the sentence, and I could see compassion flooding from his eyes. He, who had lived with isolation all his life, could not save me from a fate he knew too well.