She wakes to a wall staring in her face- a wall made of iron or something that looks metallic. She stares at it and for some reason tears roll down her eyes. Why? Why is she crying? She ponders. And then the memories slowly like a Lagos traffic, begins driving in. Ominously, her present situation begins to dawn on her. She stays still, letting the tears run freely. She’s like that for a long while, then she hears legs shuffle behind her and abruptly turns to see a man and a boy of about eight. They are both staring at her.
“Wow, those are some real red eyes. Hope you got all the tears out? Doubt they can help you now.” The man says with a shrug. She ignores him, sitting with her back to the wall she rests her head on the wall. Staring around she realizes they are in a kind of elevator. There’s the door but no controls.
One would think now wasn’t the ideal moment to socialize. Obviously not the man. “You’ve probably realized where you are.” He continues stubbornly. “That should explain the tears. You’re killing the atmosphere now though. I mean look at this little boy, you want to stir up emotions in him?”
She stares up at the kid. He is silently staring back at her, with huge innocent and calm eyes. How is he so calm? How are they so calm?
“You think I care?” She retorts. The boy doesn’t blink.
“Oh?” The man has a smirk around his lips. “Seems someone has already figured out which road she’ll be taking after this ride.”
She sighs. “You think anything we do here would change anything?”
“I doubt.” He says with a hardened look on his face. “That’s why I’ll rather not spend my last few moments in this… calm temperature… crying and all. I’m saving that for, you know, the whole fire and brimstone part.”
She grimaces but stands up. “There might be hope to go the other way you know. Depending on which book they use.”
“Really?” He retorts bitterly. “You ever heard that saying, ‘while there is life there is hope’? Well the catch phrase is while there is life.”
He then stares at her from up to down like though really seeing her for the first time. “You know, I used to think at this point we’ll at least have lost our clothes.” He smiles slyly.
“Definitely fire and brimstone for you, regardless of books or tenets, pervert!” She retorts, but still manages a smile.
“Damn, how I wish I had a smoke right now.” He comments offhandedly.
“Why are you in a hurry? Plenty smoke where you’re heading.”
“Ah! She’s finally caught up with the humor.” He grins at her. They are both silent for a while, then she softly gazes at the little boy.
“Your son?” She asks him.
“Hell no.” He grimaces. “Thankfully most of my family are still there.” He gestures pointing up.
“Does he even know where he is?”
“I guess. He was here-” He gestures around the room, “-before me. He kinda calmed me down.”
She stares at the boy who calmly stares back at her. “Then why isn’t he saying anything. Is he dumb or something?”
The man laughs. “No, no, he doesn’t speak English is all. French or something”
“You hear French?” She asks the man.
“Thought you said he calmed you down?”
“Yeah, the way he was calm. I figured if a little child can overcome the depression, why can’t I.” He slumps and sits on the ground. “He’s probably going the other way after this ride though.” He stops and stares solemnly at his feet like though having an inner battle with his emotions. She slumps and sits beside him, the tears resume their flow on her face.
“How… how did yours happen?” He inquires in a hoarse whisper.
She blinks beneath the tears and wipes her face with the back of my hand. “Illness. Was in the hospital for months. I had thought… I just thought…” And she breaks up into weeping, the emotions letting lose.
He purses his lips, still staring quietly at his shoes. The little boy sits quietly beside her and takes her hand, slowly her weeping subsides to low moans.
“Mine was a truck. Ran into my car. I had all these New Year resolutions and stuff. Like, the new year’s already right there… And then, and then a truck out of nowhere decides to act Final Destination.” He laughs a mirthless sardonic laughter. “I bet you tho, the truck driver is in a similar lift like this right now, having a similar experience.”
He whistles softly and bows his head. They sit silently, heads bowed in silent mourning.
“Bienvenue Madame” The young boy whispers softly.
They both raise their heads and see that there is now a fourth occupant in the lift. She is a frail and very old woman. She is lying across on the floor staring at them through withered eyes. And then suddenly she bursts into laughter, loud and cackling it seems to shake the room and for the moment make them forget their woes.
“Now calm it granny,” The man says. “What’s so funny?”
“They had already brought out the glasses and the champagne,” She giggles. “They were already toasting. I swear I think I heard ‘Happy…’” She laughs again. “’Happy’ I didn’t get the ‘new year’ part. But they were all smiling and shouting. And ‘Happy’… what better word is there to sign out on?”
The man grins, empathizing with the old woman’s humor. “But damn that grim reaper must be some meanie. I mean couldn’t he just wait two seconds so you could say you reached the new year? I mean why the rush, you’re how old… 120?”
“92,” She corrects.
“Well you did live long enough. I hope you lived well too granny, cause that body of yours don’t seem fit for fire and brimstone reception. Plus how will you gnash your teeth when you don’t have any?” He says with a lopsided grin.
“Why,” The other lady points up suddenly with a ferocious stare. “Why are they the lucky ones?”
“Not lucky,” The old woman whispers. “Favored, blessed, graced… Not lucky.”
“Favored,” The lady whispers.
“And many of them are ignorant to how lucky- favored they are.” He says quietly. “I used to be ignorant too. They better not waste the privilege.” He sighs and the emotional wall that he seems to have been struggling to keep up fails as tears slowly roll down his eyes.
And for some reason they all stare up at the door. Slowly the door begins opening. They all rise gingerly.
The lady grabs the man’s hand nervously. The old woman stares at their locked hands and smiles wryly.
“What?” He asks.
“Was just wondering, were you two the first here? Alone?”
“Granny!” They both scream at her.
The door opens fully. There’s a bridge ahead and at the end of it stands an angel.
“You know,” The old woman whispers through a giggle. “I used to imagine that at this point we’ll at least all be naked.”
Regardless of how bad your year went, or how many dreams and plans went unfulfilled, count it a joyous thing that you made it to the new year alive. Focus on the positives, celebrate life and celebrate God’s mercy, grace and favour that has kept you thus far.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!