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Seven Minutes in Literal Heaven

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Darcy woke up in Heaven.

Which, on the list of place she never thought she’d be, ranked pretty high. Then again, judging by her surroundings, it might not be Heaven. After all, this was a coffee shop. A fucking coffee shop. People were chattering to themselves and your typical hipster music was playing over the stereo. It smelled like coffee and something baking; on the whole, it was pretty normal. But the people’s conversations were all indeterminate muttering, Darcy couldn’t make out a single word. It was bright and sunny out one window, with a light speckling rain out the other. She jumped when someone sat down in front of her. Darcy stared, squinting at the newcomer. It was a woman, hair slightly greyed but with dark knowing eyes and a warm demeanor about her. Darcy was pretty sure she wasn’t an angel, but she still felt like a good, warm presence. She smiled,

“Hello, Darcy.”

Darcy leaned back from the table a bit in nervousness, “Hi?”

“I’m Maria.” The woman held out her hand and Darcy, on instinct, shook it. As Darcy looked around curiously, the woman said, “Yes, you’re dead. Sorry about that.”

“O…kay. I’m dead. And in Heaven. Kinda thought there’d be more Heavenly Host, golden gates, dead dudes judging my life choices.”

Maria laughed, “Things have changed a little since then. But that’s actually Heaven, proper. This is a bit like the boulevard in front of Heaven.”

“Purgatory?”

“Not quite. It’s a, a waiting point, I suppose.” Maria said. Darcy waited but there were no more forthcoming details. Maria was looking her over, as if trying to memorize her. Darcy leaned back in her chair, this time trying to get comfortable as she folded her arms behind her head,

“So, Maria, if I’m waiting, what am I waiting for? Do I need to take a number to get into Heaven?”

“No. You’re waiting until you make a choice.”

“About if I want to die?” Darcy asked. Maria shrugged. Darcy stood up from the table, grabbing her purse that was hanging on the back of her chair, “Alright, well, I don’t want to die, so I’ll be on my merry way back to Earth then.” She walked to the door and tried to open it, but it didn’t budge. She tried again, and nothing. She looked back at Maria, who nodded to the chair across from her. With a sigh, Darcy walked back and sat down, leaning back in her chair and propping her feet up on the table.

“So what’s the catch?”

“You don’t want to die, fine. But you have to figure out why you don’t want to die. A specific, worthy reason that you do not want to die.”

“Because I’m not ready yet! I have shit to do!”

“Like what?”

“You know, stuff!” Darcy shouted as she threw her hands up. Maria nodded,

“I know, but what kind of stuff?”

“Important stuff!”

“Like what?” Maria asked again, leaning forward a bit. Darcy opened her mouth, but nothing came out. All her reasons for living, and they’d all suddenly fled her mind. She closed her eyes and concentrated hard. Slowly, something came floating back.

“Jane…” she said. She didn’t know who the name belonged to, but she knew the name was important to her, “I have to help Jane.”

“Good. What else?”

“I…I have a paper to finish. A doctorate on…” The exact subject escaped her, but Maria didn’t seem like she was going to press for details. Darcy kept thinking,

“There’s…a pepper. No, Pepper. Pepper needs me to help with…with…” It was there, just beyond what she could reach. It started as a concept, a thing. A favor to a friend. Then, she’d gotten close, gotten involved. Fallen in love. But who did she love? Darcy could feel the shape of it behind a dam in her mind. A person, a whole existence that she had known every intricate detail of, just behind the dam. Darcy pushed at it and pulled and broke it down until suddenly it all flooded into her mind. Her eyes flew open,

“Tony!” She jumped up, “I have to get back to Tony.”

“Why?” Maria asked and Darcy had a feeling this was the most important reason of all,

“Because, because I love him.” She hadn’t told him yet. All those nights cuddled together in a dark room on a big bed, she’d never told him even once. She needed to tell him. Maria stood up and when Darcy got a look at her, there was something hauntingly familiar about her. Maria stepped forward and pulled Darcy close, hugging her before she stepped back and kissed her forehead,

“There you go, my darling girl.” As the world started to fade to white around Darcy, the edges of her vision fuzzing, Maria said, “Tell Tony Howard and I love him very much.”

 

Darcy sat up with a start, wincing at the pain that was still in her abdomen. Tony held her hand, crying and smearing the dirt that dusted his face. She tried to speak, but her voice came out cracky,

“Tony…” He looked up at her, eyes wide. She smiled weakly. He made a small noise of dismay and leaned forward, kissing her deeply and all over like the first time they’d kissed. Darcy pushed him back a bit so she could get some air.

“How long was I out?”

“Seven minutes. We thought…I thought you were…”

“Yeah. Well, it was a close call.” When she got a look at Tony’s eyes, she gasped. Dark eyes. Maria’s eyes. Darcy sat up slowly, wincing as she became more aware of cuts and bruises. She looked at Tony and said, “Tony, did you know a Maria?”

“What?”

“Just answer the question.” Darcy said. Tony answered, confused,

“Maria was my mom.”

“Thought so. Met her. Nice lady. She asked me to tell you that she and Howard love you.” It looked like Tony shut down at those words. Darcy knew this was a very emotional moment for him and she cared, she really did, but she still felt like she was dying a little and the pool of blood surrounding her wasn’t doing much to set that concern to rest. Tony stared at her before asking quietly,

“You met her?”

“Yeah. Pretty cool. Listen, I know we have a metric fuckton to talk about, but can we get me to stop bleeding out in the middle of the street first? Kinda high on my priority list.” Tony nodded and yelled a paramedic over who’d been tending to someone else wounded by New York’s yearly alien attack. Darcy suddenly remembered why she had come back. She grabbed Tony’s hand,

“And Tony?”

He looked down at her. Darcy tried to smile through the pain,

“I love you.”