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It Only Gets Worse

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On the day of your birth, your mother, a devout Catholic, bestowed upon you the name Leticia. A name meaning happiness, she hoped it would act as a blessing to ensure that your life would be filled with only good things. And you did live like that, for a while. You were a goody-two-shoes with a strict, but financially comfortable upbringing. With a private school education, and a perfect GPA, you had had a bright future ahead of you.


If only she could see you now.


You were laid out on the bloodied gurney. The lights above you were blindingly bright. The sterile smell of ill-circulated hospital air filled your nose as you were lowered out of the ambulance vehicle and led into a set of big glass doors. It seemed that orders were being barked from all sides as nurses quickly surrounded you, rushing you to an emergency operation room. 


Your leg pulsed with pain as your vision blurred in and out. You could feel yourself dying, but there was no pain. You were calm, only feeling sorry that the efforts other people took to get you here had been a waste. You briefly pondered the thought of an afterlife, before your vision faded to black for the last time.




The first thing you noticed was that you were alive when you woke up. You had fully expected to wake up dead, or not at all. Slowly blinking open your eyes, the next thing you noticed was how stark white everything was. And yet your eyes didn’t hurt at all. In fact, the warm whiteness was a comforting feeling, as opposed to the harsh cool white of the hospital lighting. 


You sat up, realizing you didn’t have any tubes attached to you. Looking around, it barely registers that you don’t recognize where you are. The room itself is spotlessly clean, with minimalist decorations and a wide, open window to the left of the bed. The pale wooden door in the upper right hand corner of the room was huge, like it was made for giants. The bedsheets-- which happened to be your favorite color--were the only thing that contrasted with the room’s theme.


Remembering the pain before your death, your eyes dart to your leg. You were shocked to see it was perfectly in-tact and absolutely painless. You let out a huff in surprise. 


Swinging your legs over the side of the bed, you struggle to stand. You attempt to steady yourself on the nightstand as you hobble to the open window to hopefully get a better idea of what the heck is going on.


Peering outside, another gasp of shock escapes your lips as you take in the sight outside. Every building in sight was made of a glittering white marble. The streets were perfectly paved, perfectly straight, and shockingly clean. And there were bikes. Lots of bikes. People were lining up in traffic on bicycles, and actually following the traffic light signals. Frowning, you wondered why there wasn’t a single car in sight.


You weren’t a dummy--You understood quickly where you were and what happened to you. This was heaven. You thought of your mother, briefly, wondering if she had made it here as you had. Ultimately, you decided you’d prefer if she wasn’t.


“Well, look who’s out of bed! How are you feeling, sweetheart?”


Your head whipped around to find the source of the voice. Standing in the doorway was a tall man with a handsome face, blonde hair and blue eyes. Your eyes shot up to the neon white halo on his head and the giant white wings folded behind his back. 


Suddenly you understood why the doorway was so wide. 


Your jaw dropped open. Not sure how to react, you stared dumbly. He chuckled at your blatant expression of amazement. 


“You know, it never gets old watching fresh meat see their first angel,” he said with mirth. “It’s the only thing I can never predict about this routine.” He strided over to your spot by the window and held out his hand. “My name is Luke. I’ll be your guide for today, Leticia.”


Not wanting to be rude, you politely shook his hand. Despite seeming friendly, you were a little suspicious of him. “Um, sorry. But how do you know my name? And how did you know I woke up?” You took note of the fact that his grip on your hand tightened just a bit, before he finally let it go.


His eyes never left yours as he chuckled in understanding. “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but you’re in Heaven. Nothing goes down without the big guy knowing about it first,” he said. He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder to a blinking red light in the corner. “It also helps that there are cameras everywhere up here.”


Sure enough, there was a small domed camera on the ceiling’s corner. You’re not sure how you didn’t notice before.


Immediately you questioned the need of such a high level of surveillance. Figuring that a guide was supposed to answer such questions, you voiced your thoughts. 


Luke paused before smiling wider than he already was before. It looked painful. “You’d be surprised how many people think that landing themselves in Heaven means they get to let go of all inhibitions. It’s just to make sure that people continue to live the way they did when they were alive.”


It struck you as odd, but you had a feeling that you should drop the subject for now.


Sensing your submission, Luke grabbed your elbow and pulled you to the door. “Well now that you’re awake, we’ve got a lot to catch you up on! First things first--Let’s get you a halo and some wings!”


“Huh? I don’t just have them?” you asked, looking above your head to confirm that you had nothing up there. You were actively trying not to tense at the physical contact, and wondered if all angels were this touchy.


He burst out laughing, then quickly covered his mouth with the hand that wasn’t holding you. “My apologies,” he mumbled through stifled laughter. “I’m sometimes caught off-guard by the weird rumors you humans come up with about us. Uh, no, you don’t just...get them. You’ve got to sign up for them. Think of a halo as your personal social security number, and your wings as a driver’s license.”


You nodded, quickly catching on. Not knowing where he was leading you, you decided it was best to take  note of your surroundings. Your room seemed to be part of an apartment complex. Every wall in the building was white, and the only few traces of color were the pale wooden doors and green potted plants at the end of the hallways. You figured Luke must live in the same building, as he was able to come greet you on such short notice. Taking the elevator at the end of the hall all the way to the first floor, you saw your room was on the 9th floor of the building, of which had 20 floors in total. 


Leaving the elevators, you enter the lobby floor. You smile at the pretty receptionist behind the help desk, who smiles back kindly. Luke, preoccupied with getting you to your destination, doesn’t notice your look of shock as you both step out onto the street. It was a lot bigger than you had initially surmised. And the bicycle traffic looked even worse down here.


You take in the sights, eyes filled with childish wonder. At this point, you had been walking for awhile, and you wondered if he would seriously hold your arm the entire way there.


You didn’t have to wait long to be proven right, because a few minutes later you are stopped in front of a large building with Roman columns at the entrance. “Here we are,” he announces, breaking the silence. “This is where you sign out a pair of wings and get your halo. Stick close by me, okay?”


Sarcastically, you wonder if it would even be possible to get lost, considering he hadn’t let go of your arm the entire walk there.


He led you inside, and you were immediately greeted with the sight of thousands of wings, all different shapes and sizes, lined up in rows on the walls. It reminded you of the shoe shops you would frequent when you were alive.


There was no one inside manning the building. You were about to ask Luke why, but you noticed a blinking red light on the ceiling. Another camera. That explained it--There’s no way anyone would steal in Heaven, and especially not if there was always a person watching.


You walked up to one of the rows and inspected a pair of wings. Luke looked on, explaining the process. “Basically, you can pick any pair you want. You only get one chance to choose though, so think carefully about what you want. Most people choose the large pure-white ones. It’s kind of a standard.” He unfurled his wings, showing off his 12-foot wingspan. “I ended up getting an extra-large. I feel like it matches my personality more, you know?”


“Those are huge,” you agreed. “I don’t know...I think I’d prefer something smaller.”


He smirked and shrugged. “Well, you’re free to pick whatever you want. I should let you know that there is a bit of a stigma against angels with smaller wings, though.”


“What? A stigma? What’s wrong with having small wings?”


“Well, it’s kind of silly,”  Basically, it’s harder for angels with small wings to fly. They’re drastically slower than the rest of us. And on top of that, they’re usually chosen for weird jobs because they fit in tighter spaces,” he explained. 


Undeterred, you turn back to the wings on display. You could hardly tell the difference between egg-white, off-white, and pure-white, so you focused mostly on getting a size you were comfortable with. 


You walked along the aisles, being uncharacteristically picky. For some reason, you had the nagging feeling that you wouldn't exactly be fond of actually using your wings. Something about the thought of your feet leaving the ground left your stomach churning.


You stopped when you came across a rather small pair of wings. They were by far the smallest pair you had seen so far, reaching a wingspan of 6 feet. You grabbed them and held them up for Luke to see. 


“Are those the ones you want?” he asked skeptically.


Shaking your head, you replied “Actually, I was wondering what size this is? Can it go any smaller?”


He nodded slowly, before pointing to the far end of the aisle. “That’s the small size. If you want an extra-small, it’d be all the way down there. They stuck it at the end because hardly anyone wants them.”


You placed the wings gently back on the shelf before making a beeline to where he pointed. Indeed, the wings were incredibly petite, boasting a 2-foot wingspan and barely taller than your shoulder.


You grabbed them and spun around. He looked a little puzzled, but after confirming your choice, he helped you place them on your back. You weren’t sure how it worked--and neither was Luke, he admitted--but as soon as it was placed near your back, the wings snapped into place.


Having completed that task, he led you into an adjoining room that held the halos. These, he informed you, were all the exact same. You quickly grabbed one, and he again helped you place it on your head.


“The halos are detachable. We had to make them detachable, due to an incident a few hundred years ago that I’d rather not get into right now,” he said. “Let’s just say we all made the switch to these newer versions as soon as we could.”


Your curiosity piqued, but you didn’t ask for any more information on the matter. 


After finishing up with that, he returned you to your apartment. You bid him farewell as you left him standing outside the door. 


“Thanks for being such a big help, Luke. I’ll see you around--” you said as you tried to push the door closed, but felt it stop halfway. You looked down and saw he had stuck his foot in its path. Confused, you met his eyes again. He was smiling widely. You hadn’t noticed before, but it seemed as though his mouth had too many teeth.


“Sorry,” he interrupted. “But before I go I do have to tell you that the tour technically isn’t over. I’ll actually be here tomorrow to pick you up for the second phase.”


You tilted your head, letting your confusion show in your expression. “Second phase of what?”


“Of getting you integrated, silly! Tomorrow you’ll be selected for a job,” he informed you, his eyes scanning your face. “Don’t worry though, it’s not a big deal. Just try to rest, because tomorrow will be a long day.” He paused, still staring at your face. You began to feel uncomfortable. 


“Well, see you!” And with that, he turned and walked into the room across yours. 


“Y-yeah, bye.” Oh, so that’s where he was staying. That’s awfully close.


Closing the door, you noticed there was no lock, before making the assumption that it was probably because there was no practical reason for one. Everyone up here was good, after all.


Your mind wandered to some of the questions burning in your mind, most notably if you would ever find out if your mother was here. You had assumed you wouldn’t care to know, but the fact that no one has let you know struck you as odd. Surely, people find their families in Heaven? Why haven’t they said anything?


You wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else if you kept thinking about it, so you decide to keep those thoughts in the back of your mind. Deciding to heed Luke’s advice, you detach your halo and change into the pajamas left for you in the closet. Finding the materials to make a cup of tea in the mini-kitchen of your apartment, you settle down for the night, comfortable in knowledge that from here on out, things could only get better for you.