Gum.

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Back or Beyond. It's your choice.

Submitted: August 22, 2018

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Submitted: August 22, 2018

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It all started with a stick of gum. One small, insignificant, piece of gum. I bought the pack at the local Walgreens. I went into the convenience store to purchase toilet paper, and I left with toilet paper, candy, deodorant, and Monster Zero Ultra. The gum was an afterthought. As was the toilet paper when I realized at the checkout that I hadn't grabbed any. I popped a piece of the mint flavored chew in my mouth as I started my car, the small engine groaning in protest. My house was a good twenty minute drive from there, but I didn't mind. My car was my safe haven. A space that was entirely my own. I rolled my windows down when I got to the interstate, cranking the radio up, going seventy-five, smelling the sickeningly sweet wind, and I pretended. I pretended I was in one of those commercials were the family was prim and perfect. I pretended I was in a moody music video starring Fall Out Boy. I pretended to be happy. But the illusion came crashing down when I entered my neighborhood. The sun seemed to be blotted out by an ominous cloud that had not been there  moments before. A child sat on the curb outside my house, his head resting in his small, dirty hands. My car sputtered into the driveway and the child gave me a look before running off into the house. I took the keys out of the ignition and sat for a second more, soaking in the silence. Then I opened the door and heard a scream.

“Sam!!!” A tall figure came running out of the house next door to mine and jumped on me, knocking the air out of my lungs.

“Hey Sierra,” I managed to wheeze out, “How was your summer?” she took a step back before answering. That was when I felt it. The gum I had been chewing went right to the back of my throat. My airways cut off. I tried to breath but nothing went in and nothing went out. I could feel my legs turn into rubber but all I could focus on was trying to breath. My legs finally gave out and I fell to the ground, my mind going blank.

_________________________________________________________

Someone was sobbing next to me. I could hear their distress. I opened my eyes to find them but all I saw was white. I sat up, taking in my surroundings. I was at the end of a long white room, no furniture other than a white table and a white chair at the far end. Behind the chair was a single white door. I looked down at my apparel. White blouse, white pants. I walked to the table, noticing the two papers laying flat on it. On one, the word “BACK” was written in big black letters. The other was blank. Not a speck littered the page. I gently traced the letters on the former when I heard a click from in front of me. The door behind the chair started opening. A man strolled through and plopped down in the chair. No preamble or introductions.

“You are dead.” his voice reverberated through the empty room. My heart leapt to my throat and I realized what felt wrong. I had no heartbeat. “You choked on a piece of gum and died. It was no ones fault but your own. You've lived a normal life with normal people in a normal world. And now you get a choice. Pick one.” with that he pushed the papers to the edge of the table, closer to me. I peered down at them with resentment.

“What does the blank one mean? What am I going back to?” there were so many more questions running through my mind but the first was most important.

“Pick and find out. These papers tell you where you're going. Back or Beyond?”

“Beyond? Like, Heaven and Hell?” he looked at me straight faced, not revealing anything. I backed up. I wasn't going to decide my fate. I could barely decide which college I wanted to go to.

“Samantha. I need an answer.” his voice showed a rushed patience.

“Are they sad? My family. Is my mother sad?” My voice caught in my throat. He said nothing. I was about to ask again when I heard a sound coming from behind me. The kind you hear in old movies when someone starts up a film. I turned to see a screen against the far wall. On it images were flashing, my mother and father, crying on their knees. My baby brother graduating  kindergarten in a month without me there to tussle his hair. Sierra blaming herself for the rest of her life. I saw the pain and anguish my death caused those around me. Then I saw a smile. People were smiling on the tapes. My baby brother wasn't a baby anymore. In fact, he had a baby of his own. He was stretched out on a couch in a way that would make our mother cross, and he was telling a small girl why her name is Sam. I saw the good and the bad. Then I turned back to the table. What was the point in going back? I hated my pathetic boring life anyways. All the tears would dry up and the sadness would leave. The man raised his eyebrows expectedly. My mind was made up. I touched my finger to the paper.

Suddenly I’m coughing. Air is getting to my lungs and brain. Someone is shouting my name over and over but i’m far too weak to respond. My eyes flutter open and I take in the harsh contrast of colors. I’m BACK.

 


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