It never meant anything… none of it did. I spent every day just waiting, waiting, waiting.
And now it was over. The End. The Final Curtain. At least… I
thought it was over. Something struck me; everything went black.
My breath was shot from my lungs, and my body stopped listening
to me. Then I forgot everything and remembered everything. My
mind was somewhere else, yet was in the same place. I wasn't in
my body; at least it didn't feel like I was. And then it all just
went black. And that was the end of it.
Then I woke up. My eyes snapped open and darted
around, but I all I could see was blackness. My breath came in
heavy gasping strokes, as if it were desperate and thankful. It
was cold; I was on a hard stone floor. I felt no pain, but I knew
that I had been hit in a horrific accident. I recalled how the
car had come around too quickly, how the driver's eyes had
widened in terror when he realized he couldn't stop, how he had
crashed into me at forty five miles per hour, and how my body had
hit the ground in a broken splendor. There was no doubt I had
been severely injured-I must have been comatose for a while,
considering I was now waking up perfectly fine. I thought I was
going to die when I saw that car, but it seems I didn't. I was
lucky, and I swore right then that if I survived I would make my
But that didn't explain the cold hard floor I was now
waking up on. I should have been waking up on a
mattress, not what felt like the floor of a dungeon. There should
have been lights… all I saw was a black emptiness. Something
wasn't right about this; that was as clear as day. If I had been
in a coma, this wake up would have been bright and white in the
intense glow of fluorescent lights. As my eyes began to adjust, I
saw that I was indeed in a room. It was a stone room with
seemingly no light fixtures or decoration. There was no
furniture. I had never seen anything like it before, so that
begged the question-where was I?
Had I been comatose, healed, and then kidnapped? Was
I currently in some extremely vivid dreamscape? If I had been
kidnapped, where was the assailant? What would they want with me?
I was just your normal twenty-two year old woman. I had no
knowledge, no money, no valuable connections a kidnapper could
possibly want. Clearly, they didn't want me dead; otherwise, I
wouldn't be waking up on this hard floor. It was then that I
realized I was still lying down. I likely should have been
standing up by then considering I had been conscious for at least
five minutes. So I did just that. I pushed myself up off of that
unforgiving ground, feeling a few joints pop here and there. I
was also somewhat achy-I must have been lying down for a long
Finally I stood. It felt good to stretch my muscles.
It was odd; I really did feel fine, other than what felt like the
soreness after a long night's sleep. I looked around myself,
waiting for my kidnapper to make himself known-or for
someone to make himself
known. It was so silent, like the quiet brilliancejust before a
powerful storm. The air was still all around me. As I stood there
for a long moment, it dawned on me that perhaps no one was
coming. It appeared I had some exploring to do. Perhaps there was
a door in this room. The darkness made it rather difficult to see
four inches beyond my face. I would have to feel my way around.
I made my way to the wall and began to run my hand
along it as I walked. The stone there was as cold as the floor, but that was no
surprise to me. I hadexpected
as much from this strange,surreal place. What I did not expect,
however, was the voice that I heard next.
"Calm down… you won't get out of here until you are
ready." A male voice said from several feet behind me. I stopped
short in my tracks, looking around for him. Suddenly, there was a
hand on my shoulder. My entire body shuddered under the touch.
There was no way this was the same man that had been speaking
before…that voice had come from at least ten feet away, and the
body that this hand belonged to was right behind me. There had
not been enough time for him to move.
"What are you saying? Who are you? What happened to
me?!" I asked in one hurried breath. His hand simply tightened on
"I will explain it all to you as soon as you accept
that you are dead…" it was the same voice from before, but now it
came from the figure that so authoritatively had his hand on my
shoulder. How had he gotten across the floor so quickly?
How could I be dead? I was perfectly fine… not to
mention I had seen no white light nor had I encountered God. My
life hadn't even flashed before my eyes. Wasn't all of that
supposed to happen when you died? I spun around quickly to face
the man that was speaking to me. His appearance shocked me. He
was the most handsome man I had ever seen. His hair was a shade
of chestnut brown unknown to me before. His eyes were the color
of a pure blue ocean, so bright they nearly lit up the darkness
of the room. His facial features were fine and beautiful, like
the features of a god from ancient Greece. Words waited on my
lips to protest him, but I was stunned into silence by the
piercing gaze this man set upon me. There was no way he was
human. How could he be, with features that glowed as if lit by
"My name is Azrael. I am the Angel of Death… and you
are Elayna Henson, are you not?" He asked, the stern expression
failing to leave his eyes. I backed away from him, certain my
eyes were wide with confusion and something bordering
onfear. Who was this
insane, beautiful man
who claimed to be an angel? He certainly looked like one… but how
could he be one? Why would an angel trap me in a place as dank
and dark as this one?
"You are trapped here because this is how you view
your life. You are also trapped here because you have yet to
accept that you are dead." His voice had very little inflection.
There wasn't much of an emotion, just a very matter-of-fact tone.
The scariest thing by far, however, was the fact that this Azrael
fellow had nearly just read my mind. His words were the answer to
exactly what I was thinking. But it still didn't make much sense.
How could I be dead after I had done so little in my short life?
"I'm sorry… this is how I view my life? What could
you possibly mean by that? I wasn't depressed… I didn't feel
trapped. I was just waiting for life to start… I just didn't DO
anything with my life. And that begs the question of how could I
have died when I had yet to really achieve anything? It wasn't my
time… there was no way it was my time…" My voice was hurried; all
of my questions came out one after another like rapid gunfire. I didn't understand. My
religious beliefs had always taught me that everyone had a
purpose in life. I knew for a fact I had not achieved that
purpose. If I were really dead, there must have been some
mistake-I hadn't had time to accomplish everything. I was only
"Just calm down Elayna…" Azrael spoke, his voice
interrupting my frantic thought process. The tones of his voice
now bordered on annoyance. "Yes you are really dead, and yes this
is precisely how you view your life. Just because it is dark here
does not mean you were depressed. It means that you felt that
your life meant nothing:therefore the place that you have come to
is nothing. Does that make sense?"
"Yeah, sure, but that still doesn't explain why I
died so young and with so much life left!" I was getting quite
aggravated at the elevated mannerin which Azrael talked down to me. I
wasn't a stupid child. I just wanted my faith explained. My faith
always, ALWAYS told me that I was meant for something more… not
to die because of a careless driver…
"Did you ever think that your purpose WAS to die?"
Azrael asked simply, setting his uncomfortable icy gaze upon me
"Did you ever think that maybe you were one of the ones meant to
fall so that others could stand?"
I attempted to make a snappy retort, but I could not
seem to get the words out of my mouth. I just stood there,
staring dumbly into his gaze. Azrael was right… I had never
thought of that. I just always had a plan. I was going to grow
up, graduate college, get married, start a family, and change the
world somewhere in the midst of it all. I never intended to die before I graduated college
or met my soul-mate. No. It was
simply impossible. I shook my head against the thought that I had
been born to die, closed my eyes against it, turned away from the
angel telling me this. I couldn't believe that-I wouldn't believe
that. How could someone with so much youth, so much potential, be
born to die?
"You don't want to believe me, do you Elayna? You
refuse to accept the fact that some people aren't meant to change
the world by living, they are meant to change the world by dying…
Elayna if you ever want to get out of here you need to accept
this." Azrael's voice had fallen to a more gentle tone, though he
was still speaking down to me.
"And go where!?! Tell me that! Clearly everything
else I believed is shot… so is there a heaven? Is there a hell?"
I set my eyes upon him, tears at their corners and fire in their
depths. I was angry. How could I feel otherwise? It wasn't fair,
none of it was.
"You are in limbo right now… and if you accept your
fate-your fate as God willed it-you will move on to greener
pastures. If you don't, however, you will be stuck here forever.
If you're smart you will listen to me and stop fighting what you
must know is the truth." Azrael grabbed my hand, his grip was
tight, and he turned me to face him.
"Prove it…" I said simply, wiping the few tears away
from my eyes. "Prove that I was meant to die… what would it have
been like if I had lived?" I demanded of him. I realized that I
likely shouldn't demand things of the angel of death, but it
seemed I was already dead. What did I have to lose? Certainly not
my life. That was already gone.
Azrael looked at me for a long moment, something
close to surprise registering on his face. Apparently he wasn't
accustomed to being questioned by the spirits (I guess that's
what I was) he guided. He finally seemed to make up his
mindas he sighed and then
turned me to face the wall. Azrael waved his hand in front of the
empty stone and an image appeared.
It was an aerial view of a street. Upon closer
inspection I realized that Gammon Street was right before my
eyes.. I knew that street well. It was the last one I ever saw.
As I watched, I saw myself. I was walking just as I had in my
memory; there was a smile on my face. I remember now… I was
heading to the mall for some new shoes. I turned to my friend who
was walking beside me, Garrett. He had made me laugh. I wasn't
looking. A car snapped around the corner, I didn't see it because
I was looking at Garrett. It was going to hit me… it was going to
kill me. The image showed it happening just as it had happened
when I had actually died. Then it changed. Garrett saw it first
this time. His eyes widened and he pushed me out of the way. I
watched myself fall to the asphalt and stare on in horror as the
man that had saved my life lost his own. I looked up at Azrael,
eyes tearing up again as I saw Garrett die.
"That's only the first of the changes that would have
happened if you'd lived… Garrett would die. Keep watching, and
see the path your life would have taken." Azrael motioned to the
image that revealed several people crowding Garrett's broken form
and crowding me. I was unharmed save for a few scrapes, but I saw
my heart break on Azrael's movie screen. The screen moved forward
to Garrett's funeral. I was there. Garrett's sister, Anabeth,
gazed over the cemetery at me, her eyes killing me with their
hatred. It was clear she blamed me. Suddenly the vision flashed
to my dorm room. I was sitting in the corner sobbing. It was
clear I blamed myself. Then my semester grades appeared. I had
flunked out of college. I went home to my parents. They met me
with understanding but disappointment. Months passed. I lost
several pounds and looked sickly. I never returned to college. I
took upa job waitressing and
eventually moved into a small apartment on the bad side of town.
Azrael's movie skipped ahead to show me married. I looked a
little better physically, but I never smiled when I saw my
"Azrael why am I so…" I began to ask, but Azrael
simply motioned for me to cast my gaze back onto the sad tale
playing out before me. Soon I understood why I was so unhappy. My
husband-some unfamiliar black haired man I had never seen
before-yelled at me, cussed at me, occasionally swung his fist.
We had one child, a daughter. She witnessed this. She was a
victim too it seemed. Clearly she felt no confidence in herself.
Azrael showed me several fights like this.
Then the picture before me became something new. I
was in our bedroom with my daughter. I had a gun in my shaking
hands. My daughter was staring at me, wide eyed. She was probably
only ten. She had the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen.
They were shining with tears. I looked up, met my daughter's
gaze, and shook my head slowly. I sent her out, she didn't move.
I put the gun to my head and pulled the trigger.
A loud horrified gasp escaped my lips as I saw the
scene play out. I thought it was over, I looked away. Azrael
placed his hand on my chin and made me look at the screen. The
little girl screamed in terror. When her father came home, he
looked at my body in anger. He roughly grabbed the little girl by
her wrist and dragged her out of the room. They left. She was
terrified of him; I could see
it in those shining emerald eyes of hers. I didn't see what
became of her, I didn't want too. The movie stopped abruptly. I
looked up at Azrael.
"Is that really…?" I asked, my voice thick with
tears. I covered my face, buried it in my hands. Azrael's hand
found its way to my shoulder;
it was a comfort this time. There was no authority to his
touch. "Th…that… was h...horrible..." I managed to choke out
through the sobs.
"You asked to see it Elayna… that's not all there
is…that was only your life. Now watch Anabeth's." He
instructed. I expected him to nudge my face upwards, but he gave
me a few moments to calm down. When the tears had slowed down, I
turned my eyes back up to that wretched screen.
Azrael's image showed Anabeth after the funeral.
Anabeth was a beautiful seventeen year old girl. She was in a
friend's bedroom. The friend was not anyone that I had ever seen
her with before.. There were discarded beer bottles all around,
and a bottle of vodka was in her friend's hand. Anabeth
hesitantly took a deep gulp of it, a small tear forming at the
corner of each eye from the alcohol's strength. It was the first
time she had tasted it. Her eyes were puffy and red; it was clear
she had been crying. Her friend felt for her; I could see that
much. The girl pulled out a syringe and handed it to Anabeth.
There was an exchange of words. With a fearful movement, Anabeth
injected what was in the syringe into her arm. I knew it had to
be drugs. Heroin or Meth, I couldn't tell which from Azrael's
screen. I let out a small audible gasp that Anabeth had tried
drugs even once. The next scene shocked me even more.
Anabeth stood alone in an alleyway. She was a little
nervous. She hadn't changed much physically from the scene
before, but she stood huddled with a coat around her slender
shoulders. Anabeth looked around quickly, waiting for someone to
show up. That person did. It was a sleazy looking man, at least
four years older than Anabeth. He grinned, a disgusting wide-toothed
grin, at her as he took her
arm. Anabeth walked with him into an old motel nearby. She was
certainly not happy, she was definitely afraid. But she went. I
didn't want to know what happened as they passed through the
door, but I could guess. Several minutes later Anabeth walked
out, her hair was messed up and her clothing was ripped. She was
shaking. In her hand she held a small bottle of liquid. As soon
as she was out of the room she shot up more drugs. They came from
the bottle she had carried out with her.
"Don't tell me Anabeth resorted to…." I asked,
wide-eyed and fearful.
"What else do pretty young girls trade for drugs when
they have no money?" Azrael said simply, a sadness evident in his voice "There is a
little more…" he added. I turned my eyes from his beautiful face
to the horrific images on the screen.
Anabeth was shown sitting in her room. She had lost
an immense amount of weight;her
body little more than bone and skin now. She had scratches all
over her face, and her cheeks were sunken. It was clear now that
it been meth that she had become addicted to. Those scratches
were undeniable. She pulled another bottle out from underneath
her dresser. Anabeth also pulled out a bottle of hard liquor. She
drank a large amount of it. Anabeth shot up with meth again.
After several minutes of shaking, she fell upon her mattress,
looking as if she were asleep. I knew she wasn't.
Her mother found
herlying stone still on the mattress. She felt desperately
for a pulse, but there was none to be found. She screamed and
grabbed her daughter up into her arms, holding her close one last
time. Her father heard her mother's scream, he came bolting in
and fell to his knees near his wife as soon as he processed what
had happened. He looked closely at the bottles; cursing, he threw
one across the room. The screen went black.
"I think you know what kind of effect having to bury
both children within a year would have had on Garrett and
Anabeth's parents. They would never have been the same again."
Azrael said gently, looking down upon me. "I know this is hard to
see, but this is truly what would have happened had you lived…"
I was standing there in stunned silence as Azrael
spoke to me. My mind couldn't process what I had seen, and my
heart was broken by the images I had been shown. I bit my lower
lip, trying to think it all over. The horrors my life would have
caused… it would all have been my fault had I lived. Even though
I knew it hadn't happened, knowing that it could have was enough
for me to rethink my ideas on the meaning of my life, or more,
the meaning of my death. It was a very mixed feeling. I was
bucking against the idea that my only purpose was to die, but I
was thankful that I had died. Anabeth didn't deserve that life,
Garrett didn't deserve that death. I wouldn't have wanted to live
that way either, leaving that daughter alone with that horrible
man. I was still having difficulty though. Why did I have to lose
my chance at the world? I loved the world so much… why did I have
to be the one so quickly ripped from it?
"Elayna… I can see that you are accepting what
happened, but perhaps you would have an easier time if you saw
the changes your death has made? Would you like to see what good
your sacrifice brought to the world?" Azrael asked. I nodded. He
motioned to the screen once more. "Remember Elayna, this is what
truly happened on earth, what is happening now, and what will
happen. This is real."
The image was the street again. The same that
happened in the first video happened, except this time I saw the
car and knew I was done for. Garrett was a few feet behind me,
and the car missed him. I fell to the ground. I could tell the
exact moment I died, my entire face blanched. Garrett let out a
loud cry of anger and sadness. He took my body up in his arms,
commanding someone to call an ambulance as he desperatelytried to bring me back to life.
The driver got out of the car and ran to Garrett. Garrett knocked
him to the ground. The driver staggered backwards. I could see
that there was an exchange of words, but I could not hear them.
The ambulance arrived. The paramedics rushed out. They went over
to body and checked for a pulse. There wasn't one. They tried
defibrillatingme back to no
avail. After several tense moments, they turned to Garrett and
shook their heads. There was no chance for me.
It was odd, as I watched myself die, I wasn't upset.
I accepted it-the experience was almost a catharsis of sorts. I
even smiled a little to see how hard Garrett had fought for me.
He stood up, allowing the coroner to take my body. Something had
changed in his stature; he had
made some kind of decision. After calming people at the scene,
Garrett walked away.
My funeral. My parents were desolate, as would be expected. Garrett and Anabeth were
there too. Anabeth held her brother's arm, calming him. At the
end of the funeral, Garrett walked over to my parents and spoke
to them. They smiled and cried and embraced him.
"Azrael what did he say to them…? What made them so
happy?" I asked, my eyes linger on the screen in hopes of seeing
my answers. Azrael didn't have to say anything. I saw a trial.
Garrett, my parents, and the driver. The jury came with a
sentence of "guilty". Garrett and my parents looked satisfied.
"The driver was sent to prison for two years for
vehicular manslaughter, but that's not the most important
detail." Azrael narrated as the story continued on. Several
months into the future Garrett graduated college with honors. The
story moved ahead again.
Now it showed Garrett shaking hands with the governor
of our state. On the podium by the governor was a law called
"Elayna's Law." I smiled, knowing it was after me and that
Garrett must have done something to push it through.
"Elayna's Law, well, your law, will prohibit lights
from turning green until fifteen seconds after the crosswalk
changes from the walk signal. It also makes the punishment for
vehicular manslaughter harsher,
though it was passed after the driver was sentenced. The driver
that killed you still has only
two years, but this type of death will happen far less often,"
Azrael informed me, "Now that's the most direct effect of your
death, but here is something that might make you happy."
The image reappeared following Garrett. He met a
beautiful woman; she was successful just like him. After a
perfect romance, they married. My parents were at their wedding.
It seemed that they had stayed close with him. They looked like
they were doing well. I suppose
they must have accepted my death and tried to do their best.
Garrett and his wife had two wonderful children. They grew up
secure and happy. It also appeared that Garrett and his family
traveled a great deal and truly lived their lives to the fullest.
The story ended with Garrett's children graduating college and
going off into the world. It warmed my heart to see such a happy
"Azrael… I understand now…" I said, smiling broadly
as the last images faded from view. It made sense now. "I hate
the fact that I am dead, but only the coldest of hearts could
have ever wanted what would have come had I lived. I wish I had
had more time in the world, but sometimes… I guess we just have
to move on when it'sfar past
our fair share of any given thing." I looked at Azrael, wondering
if I was understanding what I needed to understand topass further on.
"Elayna…I know its difficult to die when you feel
like you had so much left to do, but you have to understand that
we don't always understand the lot we are cast, and we never have
a say in it. Fate is a finicky beast. She chooses who she wants
to live; she chooses who she wants to die. Most importantly,
though-she gives us all a reason whether she has deemed that we
live or die." Azrael spoke quietly, placing his hand between my
shoulder blades and beginning to lead me down a hallway that had
just appeared. I could see now too. It wasn't pitch black, there
was a small amount of light in here. "Besides Elayna, your
journey is nowhere near over yet. You seem to be forgetting what
lies beyond death. You have a beautiful world awaiting you, and
there is far more to explore and experience there than there ever
could be on Earth."
I smiled softly at the thought. Azrael was right-it
wasn't over yet. I may have ended my time in the physical realm,
but there was so much more for me waiting just around the corner.
So perhaps my lifelong belief that I was meant for something
greater was indeed true, I just hadn't understood its full
meaning-I was meant for more. I just hadn't figured out
yet that "more" was to be obtained after death. With that
comforting thought now in my grasp, I allowed Azrael to lead me
down the hallway and into the beautiful valley thatlay just beyond. It was time I found
out what my "more" was.