The home next door to Nancy was vacant. Others were marked with a series of names and dates completely unfamiliar to her. Whole lives whose stories Nancy had no knowledge of.
Finally, she opened the door and flowers fell through the sky to her feet. Nancy watched curiously as they planted themselves into the ground and added to the many plants. They didn’t’ fall from anywhere in particular, just right out of the sky. Luke pushed his way into the house from behind her, reminding Nancy to stand up straight and head inside. Before she could, a buzz went by her ear and made her jump. A bee landed on the brim of her hat and she flailed her arms about to make it go away. She rushed inside and slamming the door behind her in a panic.
Nancy relaxed against the door behind her and breathed a sigh of relief. “I shouldn’t have picked the flowers,” she huffed, blowing a stray hair from her face. “How are there bees here, anyway?” She asked aloud. Then again, how was Luke here? Since Nancy had suddenly recalled her life and what had become of it outside the threshold of the house, she had a grip on the reality of the situation. Not that she was part of reality anymore. Everything was coming back in a blur, making Nancy’s head reel. Her life, her death, and where she was now. It was a lot to digest at once. Is this Heaven? She questioned.
Nancy looked around for any clues. Instantly she felt more at home as she saw a small table with a blue glass vase already filled with water. It was perfect for her freshly picked flowers. She set down her bag and placed the flowers in the vase. There was a fresh cup of coffee on the table which she picked up eagerly and sipped. She sat in the chair next to the table and savored the taste. It was delightful.
Nancy closed her eyes for a moment, anticipating to wake up from the dream. She blinked a few times to regain her sense. Everything was still there, exactly the way it had been moments before. But she had to admit, despite her doubts, the little house was roomier inside than she thought it would be. There was one big room with large windows on each wall, letting natural sunlight illuminate the place and provide warmth. The warm colors, abundance of plants, and sounds from outside made it feel homey. There was a small fireplace in the corner and a big comfy couch, complete with a neighboring stack of books and magazines on a bookshelf. All of which, she noticed, had been favorites of hers during her lifetime. And, she supposed, in death. On the other side was a kitchen set filled with everything she would need to make any meals, although she had yet to be hungry. She opened the fridge, which she noticed was already stocked with some of her favorite things.
There were three doors in the room, one had a calendar on it, and strangely, was locked. One day in October was marked with a red circle. She would have to talk to someone about that. Who, she had no idea. Surely, if this was Heaven, God had much more important things to tend to than Nancy’s locked door.
A second door went out the back of the house where she could see a large lake. It looked familiar, like the place her family used to visit every summer. It’s waters were a rich blue and it was surrounded by the clearest sky that seemed to kiss the mountain tops around it. The mountains went all around the cluster of hills and the lake, like a protective wall. The homes resided in the center of it all; deep lakes surrounded bright green forests, surrounded by low mountains, creating a series of naturally carved rings. This door was hard to part with but she pressed on.
The last door was ajar, and lead to a cozy bedroom with a bed, dressers, vanity, and a closet. Next to the bed was an end table with a picture of her little family of three. She toyed with the rings on her favorite hand, the left one. The whole house, Nancy realized, was covered with similar pictures. She smiled, picking it up.
As beautiful and quaint as her little home was, Nancy couldn’t help but feel there was something missing. The pictures were reminiscent of a life she missed and though they brought back fond memories of her husband and daughter, they couldn’t quite replace the people. Regardless of the quaint home and all its treasures, she was alone. Will it always be this way? She wondered, her smile fading to a frown. The one thing she did have though, was Luke. She returned the picture where she had found it and left to look for him.
Luke had gone out the back door, the one with the most beautiful views, and onto the porch. Nancy followed with a treat in hand, one she found in a box on top of the fridge. Luke took it greedily and it was gone in one second. Death hadn’t changed him or appetite, either. “How long have you waited here?” She asked the dog, “What have you been doing all time alone?” He gave no response other than a head tilt to the side, as she suspected. It was relieving to know that the rumors were wrong, dogs did in fact come to Heaven. As well as bees. She scrunched her nose at the thought. As alone as she felt, Luke hadn’t had anyone when he came here and probably even had to find his own way. Perhaps it was good she convinced her husband to get a border collie, they were smart dogs after all. Unless, perhaps, the neighbors had helped and treated him well. The two sat in silence while she thought and looked out at the lake. The water was calming and shimmered like diamonds in the sunlight, drawing them in like a fire crackling under the stars. It was peaceful, yet it couldn’t calm the waves forming behind Nancy’s eyes, ready to crash on the shores of her cheeks at any moment.
After a time of sitting by the lake, the sun was starting to fall slowly from its peak and Nancy decided it would be a good time for a walk. She would have plenty of time to think and be sad later. Or tomorrow, or the next day. The two walked back inside and over by the door. Luke’s leash was hanging by the door and he eagerly sat as she put it on. Together, they bolted out the door.