She missed her footing and slipped off the cliff.

                         Recognising the hard truth of her impending death and of the approaching ground,                           she pleaded with the universe for rescue.

                         And now she was conscious, trying to open her eyes.

Chapter One - Heaven

She found herself in a dark wood, with no path under her feet.

But fear turned slowly to excitement and then joy.

The forest slowly revealed itself - towering trees, animated by the wind, swirled around her in a world of enchantment. She inhaled smells of bracken and soil and felt strangely at home.

Then a wonderful certainty came to her – she was in Heaven!

That’s why she couldn’t feel any pain.

Her scream for help, just before she died, left a faint image in her mind. She could observe it objectively. And laugh at it.

Now, it felt like no more than a dull, clawless memory. Just like the memory of her life.

Life had been like a game. A complicated game with only half the rules explained. And she, as with all humans, had been an amateur, making brave attempts to gain advantage – and usually failing.

But that non-sense didn’t matter anymore.

For all the bleak years of her life she had endured the struggle. Now she understood why people toiled for painful hours on their knees in front of icons. If this was their reward - it was worth it.

There was the sound of a babbling brook which had bitten a channel out of the flinty rock and remained concealed in the undergrowth. She followed it as it descended gently, letting the dampness from stray fronds darken the hem of her skirt. The sun coming through distant branches warmed her and urged her forwards.

She sang, and for the first time, she enjoyed it. The sound of her voice felt like cherry brandy and pan pipes, as if an elf had whispered some words into her ear and made her better.

The picture changed as she explored this bright new world in her mind.

She moved on and ended up on the stony shores of her childhood picnic spot. It was a bright hazy day and there was the background noise of families on the beach.

Lying down, sh...

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Nonita Thomas
Jan 17 2021

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