Time to Choose

Two characters in a hospital room: Jack and an Angel of Death

Jack: Old white man in a bed, with tubes and life-support systems, late at night, quiet, dim lights, no one moving around. Jack wakes up and notices a person sitting in the bedside chair.

Angel of Death: Middle age person, man or woman, dressed for informal anonymity, probably somber, any ethnicity, notices Jack is awake and says:

AD: You have a choice.

J: What?

AD: You can take with you into the next life all you have learned in this one. Or not.

J: Who are you?

AD: An angel of death. I’ve come to make sure you understand a few things about your transition.

J: You’re The Angel of Death?

AD: Not “The angel,” “An” angel. I work for “The Angel of Death.” I’m here to give you a choice. You can take with you into the next life all you have learned in this one. Or not.

J: So there is a next life. And I have a choice?

AD: Yes. We call it a “next life.” It’s more related to recycling.

J: Recycling?

AD: Yes. All your physical self cells get totally recycled of course, matter itself is neither created nor destroyed on earth, you know. Just re-arranged. But your brain-self, your soul, some call it, is portable, sort of. You can take what its learned, or not

J: Seems obviously smarter to take it.

AD: May seem obvious, but wait. Before you sign on the dotted line, so to speak, let me explain a few things.

J: Okay

AD: When a baby is born, it takes ten months or so to say their first words. Think about that.

J: Okay

AD: You have to start all over learning to talk, and that’s just an example.

J: Okay

AD: Newborns have to learn things like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking and running, from absolute scratch. Everybody has to learn them. No matter if you take it or not, you’d have to learn the basics.

J: So why would I choose to take anything with me?

AD: Good question. At this end of your life you have a perspective not available at the beginning. If you’ve learned truths about human nature and life on Earth, you may take those with you into your next life at an intuitive level.

J: Yeah.

AD: But, if you have unresolved burdens, feelings of guilt or shame, those will also be in your brain, at an intuitive level, and also may rise to the surface at some point.
As you can see, your content, both positive and negative, will go with you. If you choose to take it.

J: All or nothing. That’s something to think about.

AD: That’s why many folks choose to start all over clean.

J: I see.

AD: The problem with starting over clean is you won’t have that storehouse of accumulated experiential wisdom that might be useful in your next life.

J: Oh yeah. That could be a problem. I guess.

AD: Darn right it could. Let’s say you feel like you were dealt a bad hand for some reason. Say you’ve always had bad luck. You’ve been sick or unhealthy. You were injured accidentally early in life and have suffered much pain and struggle. You want to start all over clean, and get a better chance next time.

J: Sounds reasonable.

AD: Maybe at first it sounds okay. But, if you’ve handled your trials and tribulations pretty well – overcome your challenges and felt loved – you may want to keep that much gained-ground. What you learned and the strength you built may be helpful in the next round. Or may not be.

J: Maybe not?

AD: Yes. It’s hard to tell what you might need in the next round. It all depends.

J: Depends on what?

AD: Timing, I suppose. When you get your next assignment, it may be in a time that isn’t like this one. ’Hard to say when life will take you back. Or where.

J: I’m not sure I understand.

AD: Well, it is very complex. Frankly, the clean slate is often the choice picked by folks who’ve had a hard time staying out of trouble, who sometimes have regrets, if you know what I mean.

J: Sometimes?

AD: Yes. It’s a tough choice. We call it a mulligan. When those folks come through again, and they haven’t made any progress, still misbehaving and such, we sometimes point out that a clean slate only really helps if you’re remorseful and motivated to do it differently next time.

J: This is kind of off topic, but how many of these conversations have you done?

AD: Today?

J: What? Okay, today.

AD: You’re my fourth. But, I’m a rookie.

J: Rookie?

AD: Yes. This is my first year doing this.

J: Really? What’s your daily average?

AD: Oh, I guess ten or twelve. Daily and nightly combined, I might add. Some folks have a hard time making decisions. I’m trying to get better at explaining things.

J: Oh, I think you’re doing fine.

AD: Thank you. Speaking of which, do you have any more questions or have you made a decision?

J: Uh, no. Let’s see. Let me get this straight. I can choose to take the full content of my brain with me into the next life. Or, just start over from scratch. And even if I choose to take the contents, I may not actually remember everything I’ve learned?

AD: Right. It usually stays in your sub-conscious. Most folks occasionally have intuitive feelings about things, all kinds of things. Those feelings are actually information packets from past lives.

J: Packets?

AD: Yes. I call them packets.

J: Like a CD or a thumb drive?

AD: Yes. But, they don’t have any substance. Memories have no physical weight. Neither do thoughts.

J: Oh, I see what you mean.

AD: Sometimes, fear has a little weight.

J: Oh my. Really? I’m afraid of several things.

AD: Like what?

J: Well, let’s see. Snakes. I have no desire to touch them, even the tame ones, and yuck, I don’t even like seeing a picture of them. Does that count?

AD: Yes, of course. But, it’ll make a difference if you were ever actually bitten by a snake, or if you only have been taught that snakes are dangerous and you believe it.

J: It makes a difference?

AD: Yes. If you’ve been bit, that could cause a trauma.

J: So? What does that mean?

AD: Well, maybe not much. But, sometimes a trauma can be a source for loss of some spirit, or a deep feeling of depression. It’s like scar tissue on your psyche. It may be no trouble at all. The whole system is totally personalized. Every person has their own unique set of experiences to take or leave.

J: That’s good.

AD: Yes. Makes it really important for each person to choose.

J: I can see that.

AD: The other really cool thing is if you have found in this life a satisfying or productive path that you really liked; if you’ve become an expert at something, found soul- satisfaction, that sort of thing, then you may want to hang on to that hard-earned evolution.

J: Evolution?

AD: Things either evolve or devolve, Jack. There’s always motion. It’s life.

J: So. Like Karma? Sort of?

AD: The Karma analogy can be useful, I think.

J: Does it mean that the next life will be easier? Like a reward?

AD: Maybe. But maybe harder. Like a challenge or a lesson.

J: Oh. Not necessarily an advantage.

AD: It depends entirely on how you feel about this life, the one you’re leaving. If rising to challenges in this life was manageable, maybe even fun, then maybe you wouldn’t mind challenges in the next, which may or may not occur.

J: May or may not?

AD: Yes. Never can tell.

J: Hmm. Let’s review. I can take the contents of my brain with me, or not. If I do, it’ll be deep in my sub-conscious where I may or may not be able to access it. And if I can, it may or may not be helpful in the next life.

AD: Yes.

J: That’s a lot of “may or may nots.”

AD: Yes, it is. That’s why I’m here.

J: Are you the only one?

AD: Only one what? Assistant angel of death?

J: Yeah.

AD: Oh no. Folks are dying all over the world all day long. There may be thousands of us, maybe millions.

J: Really? And everyone gets to choose?

AD: Yes. I call it the GCO.

J: G C O?

AD: Yes. Great Cosmic Option.

J: Huh. Never heard of it.

AD: Oh. I just made it up. The real name is Death. Every living thing will die and be recycled. And that knowledge is embedded in all living things. All life is born knowing it will die someday. But, deep inside, all life wants to keep living as long as possible before death. The more life, the better.

J: Makes sense.

AD: Yes, it does. My job is to give folks a chance to choose whether they take their experience with them. Or not. So, what do you think? Ready to make the choice?

J: Hold on a second. I think I want to take it. I think I’ve gained some wisdom. Certainly I’ve developed a few skills, like on the computer and stuff. Are there computers in the next life?

AD: I have no idea. Depends on timing.

J: Timing? Again?

AD: Yes, timing, as I said, when you get recycled. Time seems linear to you, but it may not be. I’m not sure. My training did not include much coverage of the timing issue.

J: Training?

AD: Yes. Angel training. I’ve taken advanced courses.

J: Really?

AD: Yes. But the specifics of time and timing were not thoroughly discussed in any of my course work.

J: You don’t understand time?

AD: Right. I understand some things about it. It doesn’t slow down or speed up. It’s just there. While you’re living, you can’t go backward or forward in it. After death, I don’t know. That part never made much sense to me. My job is just on this side of the transition. Maybe there are Angels of Life on the other side to help you get re-born.

J: Really?

AD: I don’t know. I said “maybe.” If there are, maybe they’ll find you. Like I did.

J: How did you find me?

AD: That’s restricted information. Let’s just say it was a matter of timing.

J: Timing?

AD: Yes. Your time to go is approaching and you have a choice to make. Ready to choose?

J: Wait. Not yet

AD: You have another question?

J: Yea. If I choose to take my contents with me . . . I can’t believe I’m using the word “contents” like this . . . if I take it, will my computer skills give me an advantage? Even though they’re deep in my sub-conscious, as you say?

AD: Again, Jack. You seem to be looking for an advantage. You are trying to “get ahead.” I think that is probably a good sign for your next go-round, but I can’t guarantee your packet will give you an advantage over others, if that’s what you want.

J: So you can’t give me a straight answer on that? Why not? You’re an angel.

AD: Angels are usually designed for one task. We’re not God, you know.

J: Yea, but didn’t God design you and send you to me?

AD: Well, yes and no. And, I don’t actually know the answer to that. All I know is you have a choice to make and I can explain that choice. But, some of your questions have to do with being human, which I’m not. So I can’t answer them.

J: You look like a human.

AD: I know, it’s a trick. Angels are different. I’m sure of that. And my job is just to get your official decision on the big question. Are you close to an answer?

J: Getting closer. Just one more question.

AD: Okay, one more.

J: When I make my choice and give you my answer, is that the moment I die?

AD: Mmmm. I’m not sure. There’s a distinct possibility you may already be dead.

J: What? When did it happen? I didn’t feel a thing. I’m not dead, I’m talking to you.

AD: It does seem that way, doesn’t it? And that was two more questions. And some other stuff. You said “one more question.”

J: And you didn’t answer it.

AD: I know. It’s quite difficult to explain to physical humans the way things work in the rest of reality. It’s like you are in a bubble, Jack, and you are about to pop into the next one. Would you like to take your contents with you? Or not? The decision has to be yours. Need a little more time?

J: Would that be possible? Could I have another day or two?

AD: I don’t know. I could check.

J: Would you please?

AD: Sure.

Angel of Death gets up quietly and leaves stage. Lights go down.
end

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Dan Morris

Dan was born and raised in Little Rock, AR. Educated piecemeal over 41 years at 6 universities and colleges, including the San Francisco Art Institute, Pratt Institute, and a BFA from Millersville University. Having a paternal grandmother and sister who were and are professional writers, Dan naturally started making art as a youth and never stopped. He worked as a graphic artist for over 40 years and started writing fiction around the year 2000. Currently, Dan is the Artist-in-Residence at Eureka Springs School of the Arts and belongs to a writing group that meets regularly at WCDH.

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