Impatient. That’s the first word most people use to describe me. My friends always tease me for how easily annoyed I get when waiting for our food at a restaurant. Well, they would tease me. When I was alive that is. I’ve been dead for quite some time and now I guess I’ve been damned to my own personal hell. The universe’s biggest waiting room, the DMV on steroids, or what everyone else likes to call it — purgatory.
I’ve been waiting in this godforsaken place for years. I’m trapped in one large room with plain white walls, and rows and rows of an endless amount of gray folding chairs facing the only door here. And the dead occupying the other chairs don’t make my situation any better.
Every once in a while, a small, angry woman with a nasally voice throws open the door to call out the next one of us to be judged, and of course there is absolutely no order to this. I’ve seen so many people come and go. Every time someone who’s only been here for a few days gets called, I lose another ounce of my sanity.
I let myself get my hopes up every single time the woman opens the door, and every single time I’m let down once again. No one knows what happens once you get past that door, and no one has ever come back to tell us. Some of the people here are so afraid of what’s on the other side that they make a massive scene once their name is called. The woman has even had to drag some people from their seats after they beg and plead to be left alone. Why the hell they would want to stay here any longer is beyond me.
I know it’s either heaven or hell I’m facing once I get called, but I don’t care where I go at this point. I just want to be freed from this waiting room and this uncomfortable gray chair. Every dreadful second seems to pass slower than the last, and still, I wait.
The woman throws open the door again. I roll my eyes and look back down at my lap. I’ve been here for so long, there’s no telling when I’ll get called.
“Daniella Hart!” she shouts. I look back up at the door.
“Daniella Hart!” she says again, angrier. I have never been so filled with joy at the sound of her horrid little voice. My prayers have been answered. I’ve finally been called. I jolt out of my seat and sprint through the open door.
“Just wait here and he’ll be with you shortly.”
You’ve got to be kidding me. I was stuck in that waiting room for what felt like ages, and now I have to wait for someone to come and tell me where I’m going.
I’m in another plain white room with two more boring gray chairs facing one another. There’s another door on the opposite side of the room. Locked. I sit on one of the two chairs, and, you guessed it, wait.
After a few hours, a man walks in, closes the door, and sits down on the chair in front of me.
“You must be Daniella,” he says, adjusting his glasses and glancing down at his clipboard.
“Yes, yes, that’s me,” I say, “can you please just tell me where I’m going so I can get the hell out of here already.”
“Somebody’s a little eager,” he says. I roll my eyes and lean back into my chair. This might take a while.
He starts flipping through my papers, questioning me on the most trivial things I’ve done, some I don’t even remember.
“And, you’re known to be a little impatient?” he questions. “You’ve done some pretty interesting things when you’ve lost your temper.” He then begins to list every single time I’ve absolutely lost my shit over waiting for too long. I just roll my eyes in response.
“So you died after getting hit by a train,” he says. “How did that happen?”
“I was in my car and one train had already passed by and the guard rails weren’t lifting and I had an appointment to get to, so I went through them. The cars in front of me wouldn’t move and I didn’t see the second train coming.”
“Guess you didn’t make it to the appointment anyway,” he chuckles, shaking his head. He finally stops questioning me, and now he’s going through my papers, for what I hope is the last time.
“Well,” he looks up at me, “where do you want to go?”
I can’t help but let out a little laugh. After all this time I’m being asked where I want to go? Lord give me strength.
“Heaven, right? Isn’t that where everyone wants to go?” I say, wishing for this to be over. He gives me a sly smile.
“Well, my dear, patience is a virtue,” he says, “and I’m afraid you’ll have to learn it before you’re allowed in.”
“What does that mean?” I ask.
He ignores me and stands up. I get up to follow him as he walks toward the second door in the room. He opens it and gestures for me to walk through. I step over the threshold and my stomach drops. In front of me stands a never-ending line of people disappearing into a distant horizon.
“What the hell is this?” I snap, turning to look at the man from before. I am met with nothing. The man, the room, and the door are gone. I turn back around and the woman standing in front of me turns to face me.
“Where are we?” I ask, already dreading the answer.
“We’re in line,” she says and turns to point at the horizon; “the gates are somewhere up there.”
I wish I was in hell.
Cameron A. Tobias writes in Los Angeles, California. She is studying English at Loyola Marymount University.