Everyone in heaven hated the new girl. In her former life she’d been addicted to jello shots and pool halls, and, where most of the people in heaven come from, those sorts of things are frowned upon. But I didn’t mind her much. Sometimes she said things that were mildly funny. But mostly I hung around her because everyone in heaven hated me, too. In the lunchroom one afternoon I asked her if she wanted to come home with me for the weekend. The trip would be long, and I could use the company, and it seemed like the kind of thing you’d do with someone who was kind of your friend. As we got in the car, God said it was the first time he’d ever seen her smile. She spent the whole way down talking about the telephone repairman who found her facedown on the bedroom carpet, and I nodded and smiled and said things like “That’s crazy” or “My goodness, then what did you do?” When we reached what used to be my apartment there was a “for rent” sign in the window. I knew from experience that the door would open even if they’d tried to lock it, and from the looks of things it was obvious they had yet to send the maintenance man around to clean up. The new girl, not wanting to get into trouble, stayed behind on the sidewalk while I surveyed the damage done by the living—the stray shoe propping open the closet, the empty spaces where the furniture used to be. Out in the courtyard the neighborhood children had taken to calling my dog, “Wally.” They led him around on a piece of twine, and he seemed content in a way that made it clear just how easily things can continue on without you. Lighting the first match was my idea. Letting the whole complex erupt, I’d tell God, was the new girl getting carried away.
What I Told God
art by Karen Prosen