Some religions said it was inevitable I’d find myself here. They just didn’t get much else right.
All of the descriptions of “here” vary wildly, of course. I never would have recognized the afterlife from any description I’d ever heard. For a few minutes, I didn’t even recognize where I was.
I looked found myself in surroundings that were so ordinary, the interior of a vaguely industrial-styled building. I’ve feel like I’ve been here before. Everything looks familiar: the echoing halls, lockers, and stairs. I can’t quite… This is my high school!
The obvious first hypothesis arrived in a flash. It’s a dream. Why else would I be inside a building I last saw more than thirty years ago? There’s the trophy case, and the photo of the ’79 Division Champions team with goofy-looking seventeen year old me in the second row.
That didn’t explain the surfacing memories of the ambulance, two EMT’s, the gurney, the searing pain… Oh, please no no, not another stroke.
I rocked my forehead against the cool glass of the trophy case. Annie, I’m so sorry. Dwelling on the opportunities lost forever, feeling sorry for myself, feeling lost and confused and frightened. Swimming circles in an emotional whirlpool, for subjective centuries.
She stood at the bottom of the stairs. She was wearing the ubiquitous Levis, red sweater, carrying schoolbooks, her blonde hair crimped in a style from the 70s. Déjà vu, I knew this face, once upon a time…
“You don’t remember me, do you?” She grinned. “That’s okay. I didn’t remember you either, until I got the assignment. We had a brief thing thirty years ago. Think sophomore year. I’m Terri.”
Flash again, got it. “Terri Jenkins, right?”
“I was once. But I went by my married name, Crenshaw, when I died.”
I really didn’t remember all that much about Terri. Thirty years, lost track after graduation, and I was never one for reunions and such. She was a KISS fan in a very big way; she gave me a Peter Criss poster once. I gave her a half-dozen guitar lessons. Just a few other impressions, most of the details long lost after thirty years. I’d heard she married a banker and became a kid’s fiction writer, but that part might be wrong.
I have the green dragon of envy about that one, if it’s true. I’m not sure anyone would call me a “writer” posthumously.
“What sort of assignment?”
“Wondered when you’d pick up on that. Follow me.”
Terri led me upstairs and around the auditorium, through the stage entrance, and onto stage behind the curtains. My favorite Les Paul sat at center stage on a guitar stand.
She gave me a short hug and whispered, “Play Black Diamond for me,” and stepped off stage right.
The curtain parted, and I saw a handful of older versions of my graduating class, and mostly empty seats. The spotlight came up, I bowed to the audience, and I began picking the intro.
Wrote this one for fun, because the challenge intrigued me. It’s semi-biographical so…run now.
Story requirements: (from a challenge issued to Chris Milam)