Discover more from The Elysian
I think I'm in the wrong heaven
A short story about the afterlife.
This is a short story written for my prompt to write an afterlife!
I died, but somehow I wound up in the wrong heaven.
You know that moment when you spend your whole life believing something only to realize it’s not true?
Well that’s exactly what happened to me.
I spent my life praying on the alter of capitalism. I worked a good job, made a lot of money. I even founded a tech startup, took it public, and got so rich doing it that I started investing in other startups and taking them public, which made me even richer.
I had the whole thing: the mansion in San Francisco, the second home in Park City, the cover of Forbes magazine when business was good, the corporate trials when it wasn’t. I was worshipped like a god and treated like a villain. I had heaven and hell both, and I supposed the afterlife wouldn’t be much different.
But you know what they say: you can’t take it with you. Oh how my wife would have laughed to see me now—wearing this toga. No one here knew that I was once richer than God. No one here could tell what I really was: a capitalist suddenly living in a communist world.
That’s right. Heaven is communist. Or maybe it’s hell, I can’t tell. Everyone is very nice, but no one cares about my life. We don’t talk about the “before” times here, just the now. And everyone is just… equal.
It’s kind of boring if I’m honest. I mean it’s beautiful: there’s a trickling stream, mountains filled with waterfalls, and we live in these white marble cities that climb into the sky. We don’t even have mosquitos, just birds singing all the darn time. We have no need for windows or doors here.
But we also don’t have to do anything. Like, we just have enough food and we don’t have to work so we just have SO MUCH free time. I’ve tried everything at this point: pottery, painting, gardening. I got into hiking for a while, but when you’re dead you don’t really need to exercise your body—the whole thing just felt kind of pointless.
I do spend a lot of my time with the neighbors, we’ll picnic by the stream, or have dinner together in the courtyard. We have the best charcuterie boards and the best wine you could drink. I know it sounds like a life of leisure, and it is, but we don’t even need to make the food, it’s just there. Back at home, even my Italian Grandma spent her whole day making pasta. Here we just eat it.
And the conversation is rather dull because it’s not like any of the things we used to talk about on earth matter here. What’s the use pontificating on the future or talking about the perils of politics or even talking about our jobs or what we want to do with our lives? We don’t have any of that here. It’s just… well this is life, and we’re all here, and we all have the same things and do the same things—what else is there to talk about?
After a while, you start to get bored. You need to find something new to do, some way to use your time that feels enjoyable.
They say you get used to it. That eventually you don’t care about the trappings of life. But I feel aimless. Like I need a goal or something to work toward. For a moment, I tried to get really good at sculpture. I thought if I could achieve mastery at something that would give me purpose. But it’s not like anyone’s going to buy my stuff–there’s no money here. And because no one is any better than anyone else, it’s not like you can achieve greatness.
I get it, I get it. I could do without the ego, and maybe that’s why I’m here. Honestly, it’s kind of nice not having to try so hard anymore. But what if I kind of liked it? What if it was nice trying to do something. Anything. Having something to work on and having some kind of motivation or ambition to achieve it. Not to impress anybody, but just to have a dream to reach toward.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, and I get what they are trying to do here—life is good and everything. But maybe it was never supposed to be?
I’m sure this is somebody’s heaven—I mean it truly is beautiful here—but sometimes I wonder: maybe there was another heaven I was supposed to go to?
Maybe I wound up in the wrong one?
This one turned out so funny to me. I meant to write about a paradise, but I wound up wondering if I would even enjoy it.
On the one hand, I do think we could all stand to step away from the trappings of life. When I’m camping without cell phone service I enjoy such peace and solitude—nothing in the “real world” seems to matter out anymore.
But eventually, the solitude is too much—it becomes isolation. And the peace becomes overbearing—almost boredom. I crave connection, being around other people. And I crave work, something I can use my mind for.
I think life is always keeping this tension, between solitude and connection, peace and work. We need something to do but not too much. We need something to be part of but not for the wrong reasons. This fiction followed leisure too far. To when it stopped being leisure anymore.
An afterlife means not having to be alive, and that means freedom from all the consequences that come from surviving. But maybe making our own food, moving our bodies, working to make money, devoting oneself to a craft or an art—maybe that’s all part of the fun of living!
And maybe the fun of living is different for everyone, which is why I also wondered whether there might be another heaven out there. One that’s more mine…..
Thanks for reading!