The screen flickered in front of me with small letters in the center…”Game Over: Try again? or Exit?”
I looked around where I was standing. Everything was pitch black except for the old TV in front of me and the controller in my hand. My lungs hurt. My head hurts.
I think I’m bleeding.
I could taste the pavement in my mouth and the smell of exhaust and burnt rubber remained in my nostrils. I tried to remember how I got there. Was I in an accident? I closed my eyes tightly, trying to kick start my brain.
It’s coming back to me. I think…the last thing I remember was stepping off a curb and looking to my left…and something hit me from the right…there was a noise first…was it a car horn? Was I hit by a car?
Oh God, am I dead? Maybe. But they say you don’t feel any pain after you die…so, am I almost dead?
I took a moment to look around again. Everything was still black except for the TV screen which seemed to be growing impatient with my lack of a response.
In front of the TV appeared a sheet of paper.
Sweet, someone’s giving me a clue. Is it God? Wait…if I’m dead or almost dead, shouldn’t I be seeing God and a light and be filled with a sense of peace? Hmmm…..
The paper gave simple directions.
“You have to make a choice: Try Again, or Exit?”
Thanks for the help.
Maybe this is my chance to re-live my life. If I click Try Again, I get another chance to make everything OK. I can right my wrongs, I can plan for the future, I can save more money, maybe go back to school, maybe I could possibly give church another shot and be a decent person. Maybe trying again wouldn’t be so bad.
Does everyone get this choice? Is God just playing with me? Or Is this just that neurotransmitter thing in my brain giving me what I want to see right before I die?
Wait…what if Try Again means that I have to start over in life as a completely different person all together? I could skip all the pain of my past and all the crap I had to put up with and really live a different life, maybe even be successful.
But what about everything that made me, well…me? Would I get to have the same loves again? Would I still get a nice family this time around? Would I still have all the knowledge and talent that I have now? Would I have the knowledge of my former life? What if I envy my former life? Would my heart beat the same? Would the color blue still look like the color I remember it to be? Would music still sound the same? Would I still be a fan of Alice in Chains? What if I still remembered all of the people in my former life…would I get to hear about how much they miss the old me?
The paper in my hand starts to shake. New words appeared: “You have 1 minute to decide before I decide for you.”
Huh, no pressure at all.
It would help if I knew what “Try Again” actually meant.
Do I want to actually try again? Did I even like life when I was in it? Yeah, I think I did.
I lifted my hand and pointed the controller at the screen. I pressed the button and made my choice.
The darkness started to crumble and beams of light shot through. I squinted as my eyes readjusted to the brightness and my soul felt renewed. The floor shook and then everything was gone.
I have no idea where I am.
I heard someone clear their throat behind me.
I turned around to see who it was and realized I was now in what looked like a private study in an old house. A man sat in a chair with a book in his hand.
“I didn’t expect you to be the quitting type.” He said “Why did you choose what you chose?”
I thought hard for a long time before answering.
“I didn’t quit.” I said “If I would have come back to the same life, I think I would have forgotten that moment in the dark room. I would have talked myself out of it being a significant thing, and forever it would have been just that dream I had on the way to the hospital. I wouldn’t have changed.”
“Interesting…” He replied “What if you would have come back as someone else?”
I thought for a moment and then responded again “I looked at my choices and realized that I had a great life as me. I think that deep down, I would have been heartbroken if I ended up as a different person. Somewhere within me I would remember all the great things that I had in my first life and then compare everything in my new life to that. I think I would have had more regrets and even though the memory of me would have lived on in the lives and minds of others….It would be gone in me. I wouldn’t ever want to forget myself.”
The man looked at me and started to smile “It’s good that you liked yourself that much. I liked you a lot too, I’m glad you’re here.”
“So you’re happy that I chose to exit?” I asked.
“Well,” He started to laugh “I actually didn’t give you a choice…”
“Are you freaking kidding me?!” I half yelled at him “Then why would you even make it look like I had a choice?!”
“You’re surprised by this?” He continued while laughing even harder “With all those odd and inexplicable times in your life, you don’t realize that I really get a kick out of just messing with you? I had to get one last existential crisis in while I still could…you’re quite an amusing person to watch.”
I was floored.
“Wow, you’re kind of a jokester.”
“Welcome to Heaven, kid” He said as he stood up and put an arm around my shoulder. “We have eternity to talk, but there are a few people waiting outside of my door that have been waiting a long time to see you.”