Norman ran behind Alice in the middle of a busy street with his camera. They reached a traffic signal which had just turned red. Huffing and puffing he hollered on top of his voice,
“Move, please make room for this charming lady here. Alice, just 40 seconds left, give me a gravity-defying pose. At the count of 3…1,2,3 go.”
Alice sprinted a little for momentum, and the next second she flew high in the air. Her legs flung apart in a perfect straddle split leap. Her eyes beamed expressively, and her hands slid proudly. She looked like an epitome of grace and elegance.
Click, click, click, Norman jumped hysterically.
“Yes, yes! awesome Alice and our ten-minute photo challenge is done.” He looked up from the camera, but Alice was nowhere. A commotion grew around them. He ran near Alice, to find her lying on the ground.
Just a minute ago she was Norman’s muse, and now the young teenager laid unconscious on the road, hit by a speeding bike. Norman stared aghast. He tried to wake her up but in vain. Soon an ambulance arrived, and she was taken to a trauma care centre.
Alice opened her eyes. But her head felt heavy.
“Ah! Seems like a double hangover. I need a hot cup of coffee,” and she sprang up on the bed.
She looked around but was all alone in the room. The walls were painted pink, and she sat on a lone bed in the room. The bed seemed as fluffy as the cotton clouds with blankets made of silk. She pounced a little with crossed legs, “Wow! This bed is so cosy. I feel like a princess from the fairy tales waiting for her prince charming.” Alice did a little dramatic gig standing up on the bed.
“But wait, what happened to me?” Alice pondered a bit to recollect the moment when she was photographed and suddenly hit by something. Everything happened so quickly, that Alice could not remember the turn of events quite well.
“Probably, I was badly hurt, and that is the reason for my headache,” she rubbed her forehead. “Then this should be a hospital. But, how on earth does this place look so royal, and sans the typical clinical smell of a hospital?” Alice stood up to reach for the door.
In a few seconds, she realised that the room had only four walls with no doors or windows. The fairy tale turned into a nightmare. Thoughts of kidnap, abduction, and abuse ran through her mind. Her heart pounded harder in her chest, and pearls of perspiration ran down her skin. She gathered her guts and screamed, “Help, help! Is anyone there? Please tell me where am I? Help, someone please help!” Alice banged on the walls in despair.
“Hi, Alice! Why are you hurting yourself?”
Alice heard a shrill voice from someone standing behind her. Terror gripped her soul, and she thought to herself, ‘How is it possible for someone to enter a room without a door? Was he already present here, hiding under the bed?’ She tied her fingers in a fist, ready to punch her abductor and turned around in dread. Her jaws dropped immediately, “Who are you?”
Alice stared flabbergasted, ‘How could he kidnap me?’
A young boy, who seemed just about ten-years-old stood in front of her. He held his hands out for an obligatory handshake. Alice obliged.
“ Welcome to paradise.”
“Oh, is this a five-star hotel, Paradise? Awesome! By the way, who are you? Do you know how I landed here? And please tell me where the doors are hidden.”
The boy started laughing aloud holding his stomach. He could not contain his amusement and fell on the ground rolling with laughter.
“What did you find so funny? Is this some prank? Come on, stop laughing, and tell me what the matter is,” Alice fumed.
“Okay, okay, don’t get angry. This place is actually a paradise.”
“You mean, heaven?”
“Yes, yes, heaven, paradise, etc.”
Alice frowned in disbelief, “Stop joking. Mom, Dad, Norman, is anyone there. Please come out and stop pranking. This boy is annoying me.”
“Annoying? I think you will take back your words soon.”
“Who the hell are you?”
“What?” Alice opened her mouth wide (to let many mosquitoes in).
“Yes, I am God. You met with a freak accident while doing your antics with Norman. And you died on the spot because you hit your head very hard. So now you are here with me.”
“How? I mean, you must be what, ten? How can you be God? You look awfully silly. I don’t believe you.”
“Oh! You earthlings never believe me,” he snapped his fingers. Immediately, the bed disappeared, and the room changed from a suite to a garage. Filth and litter strewn across the floor, it stank of rotten eggs.
“Yuck!” Alice pinched her nose.
“Disgusting! Do you think these tricks will make me believe you? You must be some child magician prodigy from AGT,” Alice rolled her eyes.
He snapped his fingers again, and Alice sat on a wooden armed chair. She found herself on the same busy street again. Everyone moved around in a hustle, but no one noticed her sitting on a chair in the middle of a street. Suddenly, a car came driving towards her. She wanted to move but could not get up from the chair. She was glued to it.
Alice screamed on top of her voice, “Stop stop. Someone help, I am unable to move.” The car came dashing towards her. Alice closed her face with her palm, but the car moved past her, crossing her body as if she did not exist.
She felt transparent. No one looked at her. No one heard her cries.
She heard a known voice from a distance behind her. She tried to turn around, but the person ran past her, shouting, “Move, please make room for this charming lady here.”
“Norman? Hey Norman,” she waved out to him, “Hey, look I am here.”
At that very instant, she saw herself running behind Norman and performing the same gymnastic move. And then, the accident occurred right in front of her eyes. Norman freaked out and ran berserk asking for help. Soon the paramedics arrived and carried her to the hospital, where she was declared dead at arrival.
Alice’s life came crumbling down. To be precise, her afterlife shattered into pieces.
“So it is real,” she sighed.
“I am indeed dead. That’s it. My ambitions drown in the deep sea. All the hard work and pain that I endured are wasted. I am just sixteen. How did this happen to me? What wrong did I do for this fate?” Alice fell on the floor wailing “What will my parents and friends do without me?”
“Oh, don’t worry about them. You will be present in their memories. They are done with a funeral party already, and now you hang on every wall of your house with upside down and acrobatic photographs.”
“How insensitive? How could you talk like this?” Alice continued crying out aloud.
“Here take this, you will feel better,” he pulled out two lollipops from his half pant pocket and offered one to Alice.
“Are you nuts? Come on, be serious, who are you?”
“I am tired of repeating. I am God.”
“How can God be a little guy licking a lollipop? Do you have a senior person of the higher hierarchy? Please take me to him.”
“Haven’t you heard the phrase-Children are God? So here I am, your God. You, humans, refuse to take anything literally and dive in to invent some weird inner meaning and analogies.”
Death itself was a lot for Alice to digest, and to add to that a ‘Boy God’.
“So, why did I die? Did I do something wrong? Or was it just past Karma?”
“I have a specific way of selection. You guys come up with so many policies and permutations of selection, ranging from democratic voting to meritorious choice. But mine, I picked up around a century ago, and I stick to it.”
“Is it? Then please tell me, how a sixteen-year-old, healthy and good at heart girl was selected?”
Licking his lollipop, “Simple, I just point my fingers out and say-Inky pinky ponky, father had a donkey, donkey died, father cried, inky pinky ponky” pointing his fingers at Alice, “Happy?”
“You mean I was randomly selected using a funny yet irritable rhyme. Then why do people do good deeds all life long, if there is no distinction between good and bad? Doesn’t good karma have any value at all? Are you crazy?”
“Mind your words. I am God. I can do anything, remember? See, the answer is simple, I am the one who made you, and gave you, your traits. So you are just puppets in my hand. I love playing around with the strings. People always try to change and advise others but forget who is playing with them all along. Anyway, that is my lookout. Come let’s look at your life in a nutshell and decide the future course of action.”
In a flash of a second, a portrait appeared on the garage wall.
“Egg-centric, a portrait by Mario van Miert. It’s abstract art. How does this relate to my life?”
“Isn’t it nice? Yes, it’s your life. I will embed this in his brain soon. He will hopefully get famous with it, let’s see.”
“Cool! So my life will be a painting in someone’s artistic brain. Thankfully I will be of some use. But what does it reflect?
“It just talks about a few events that happened in your life.”
“Oh, wow! Let me guess. The ladders represent how I reached new heights with each year. A reflection of the amount of hard work I put in. The broken ladder symbolises the start, then I went into a tunnel of hardships and slowly climbed up. I paddled through a few hardships and quite a few achievements to reach the top of my game. Right?”
“Wrong. Why do you think so much? It was just a reminder of the ladders you used for your gymnastic moves. And the broken one is the one you broke at your trainer’s institute. Remember?”
Alice rolled her eyes in disbelief, “So who is that man? I am sure I didn’t kill or hurt anyone.” Alice threw her hands in mid-air dramatically.
“No, no that’s the photographer Norman, he was actually ‘pinky’ while I was singing my selection song. Lucky fellow. Just missed the opportunity to be with me, with a word. Anyway, what I wanted to imply is that you expected a lot from the photoshoot and were dedicated too. But all Norman could think of was about your clothes, stripped red, and white that looked like table mat.”
Alice had had enough already. First, she could not believe that she had died, then that God is a kid and finally the weird and childish explanations he was giving about her life.
She folded her hands around her waist and stared at him, “Seriously, that’s all? I haven’t done anything good, and that sums up my life?”
“Don’t get disappointed, you have done good things too. See, the lone plant you planted as part of the school afforestation drive. Though the world is dying of global warming, yet, you did your bit. Also the one time you prepared a cup of coffee for your mother, see I have presented that too.”
“You are unbelievable,” smirked Alice.
“I am not done yet. Remember the class you attended in geography when your teacher said, the world is not flat?” he started laughing aloud, “Oh, you were too young, but this cube is what you imagined.”
“Are you done yet?”
“No, no. One thing about the portrait is true though. The clock with all the numbers haywire. You were never punctual or gave any regard to others time. So that one thing is not literal.”
Alice was angry and appalled, and to top it all, God’s behaviour was unacceptable.
“Ewww! What are you doing? How gross!”
His fingers played around his nose, plucking around, making small balls of dried mucous that he threw to the ground with style.
“What’s gross in this? Doesn’t every kid like doing it?”
“I am done here. Enough of all the explanations. Just tell me what is the next plan.”
“Don’t you want to know about the eggs and the sunny side up omelette?”
“You sure will have some lame explanation to it. I am a vegetarian, and I haven’t tried them at all. So whatever you say.” Alice was tired of the madness and his humorously silly take on her life.
“Oh, I was coming to that. That is your next life.”
“ So I will be a chef? Great. Thank you.”
“Chef? Haha, you watched too much of Masterchef Australia, but that’s not what you will be. You will be a chick in a chicken.”
“Chick in a chicken?”
“Yes, you will be born as an egg but will soon be sunny side up on someone’s plate,” with that he flicked his fingers for one last time.
“No, you can’t do that to me, nooooo…”
Soon Alice’s soul was locked up inside a sticky turbid liquid.
“Wake up, wake up, will you. You are getting late to school.”
He woke up sweating and the first thing he saw at the bedside table was the book his mother had purchased, Five People you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.
“Mom, I had a nightmare. A dancer was stuck in a garage with God in the afterlife.”
“Funny, so you were the dancer?”
“No mom, I was God.”
AGT – America’s Got Talent (Talent Hunt TV show)
Masterchef Australia – Cookery competition, TV show
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