My watch has stopped and I’m frantic. Pretty soon people are going to begin their ascent, and I run the risk of being late. That’s nothing new for me; I hold a master’s degree in tardiness, a foible that has left me the object of scorn at family gatherings since it’s hard to sit down at a Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey. With such a shoddy track record, I’m relegated to bringing the lima beans to the annual gathering.
I peek through the blinds to see if any of my neighbors are starting their climb toward the heavens. I wonder if Mrs. Abernathy is going to bring her poodle with her since those two are inseparable, the proud pair parading around Vicksburg in matching outfits. I can’t see her leaving Peaches behind to face the Tribulation. She wouldn’t stand for any rampaging demon from some fiery pit mussing Peaches’ coat, putting her out of contention for a best-in-show medal at the Vicksburg Dog Show. If she’s heading up with Peaches in tow, replete with matching wings and halos, I just don’t want to get stuck behind any animal if it’s a long ascent.
I cautiously open the door, letting a sliver of light creep into my apartment. I should embrace this moment, but I’m not sure how to prepare for such a life-altering event. The Rapture presents some problems, not the least of which is what to wear. I don’t want to be seen in Heaven with some grimy sweatpants, the drawstring fraying which significantly raises the possibility of unintentionally mooning someone in the Seraphim. However, I don’t want to be shoved into a three-piece suit that will make the afterlife uncomfortable, especially during those infinite days of summer. Or will I experience seasons? Will I never see the gentle arc of a maple leaf as it makes its climatic descent onto the forest floor? It’s certainly a lot to digest right now. As for the clothes, I think I’ll opt for Rapture casual.
Now, the Rapture should be a cause for joy, but my mind is fretting over the people I may meet as I make that journey. My ex-girlfriend, the one who dumped me for a swarthy pawnbroker, is bound to be among the lifted. She’s been born again so many times, her birth certificate has stretch marks. I don’t think she’ll be too happy to see me, though. In her estimation, I didn’t have Rapture credentials. In fact, she often said that I could have been a proprietor of a fruit stand in the Garden of Eden.
Still, I want to be a good Rapture ready. I think I led a good life and believe I can contribute something useful. I’m handy with a trumpet.
I race around my apartment searching for a clock. As I turn on the television, the digital display clearly reads 5:45 pm. I glance out the window and don’t see any movement. Perhaps I need a better perspective, the Rapture too big to be contained by my narrow view.
I open the door and the sun is begin to dip behind the mountains. I shade my eyes as I see a figure walking toward me. Emerging from this sunset is Mrs. Abernathy, her ever-present Peaches walking at her heels.
“Aren’t we the cutest pair of cherubs you ever seen in your life,” said Mrs. Abernathy, encouraging Peaches to wiggle his halo as she passes.
I turn around and walk back into my apartment, Peaches' shrill bark ringing in my ears.
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