The old man approached the gate, still confused at his presence there. Not sure how he got there or where he was he raised his hand to knock on the gatehouse door when it opened. A bearded man in long robes and carrying an iPad stepped out and greeted the old man.
“Well, hello! We’ve been expecting you.” As he began sliding his finger around the iPad, he chuckled, “Check-in procedure is much faster now that Steve arrived.” The old man looked around and was still confused. “Where am I,” he asked the bearded man. The bearded man raised his glance from the tablet, “Well, you’re here, of course.”
The old man, through furrowed brow, asked, “Where is here?” The bearded man laughed and closed the case to his tablet. “Ha, well, that’s been a source of controversy for a while now. Let’s just say, it’s whatever you make of it. Now follow me, you’re all checked in.”
The gates opened and the old man saw people, young people, walking around with smiles. Everyone was smiling. When he passed through the gate, he felt better than he’d felt ever in his life. He looked down and his stomach was flat, his legs strong. He saw his reflection in a store-front window and he recognized the young man standing there. But it’d been a long time since he’d last seen him.
He started to turn and say something but another familiar face was in the reflection, standing across the street, just over his shoulder. He turned and looked at her, then the bearded old man. The old man placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and spoke quietly, “No more pain, no more sickness, no more suffering. She’s been asking about you since she arrived.” Tears filled the man’s eyes. “I had to make sure the kids were alright first,” he said.
The bearded man smiled. “Well, don’t you think you’ve kept her waiting long enough?” He watched as they met each other in the middle of the street. They touched each other’s faces then embraced before walking away, hand in hand. Suddenly, they broke into a run, still holding hands. The bearded man smiled and turned back towards the gate.