Life Everlasting

I approached the gate, silver and majestic against a shimmering glow. It was like a light I had only imagined before only finer still. Blossoms wrapped around the gateway, curling and lovely as only scented blossoms will themselves to. Not one edged in brown spots marked for death. All were fresh and welcoming to a weary traveler like myself. Just as I was about to put my hand upon the latching bar, which was not locked, a voice spoke up from behind me.

“Hey! You’re not going in there are you?” Was it a man’s voice?

I had not seen anyone these last few miles of my journey. I turned to see indeed a man come forward dressed richly in many shades of red. The color life itself I thought. He had heard me.

“Yes, I be of the living.” The man in red spoke a velvet tongue.

“Who are you?” I asked, obvious annoyance in my tone. “And where did you come from? What road have you traveled? I’ve traveled alone these many miles only other beggers by my side.”

“I walk among the living. Have you not seen me there?” His query formed an accusation.

“No I have not seen you among the living. And, why should I not go within these majestic gates of silver and pearls and heaven scented flowers?” He offer his hand to me; a jester that binds, I thought.

“Should you not bind to the world of the living?”

“Why do you care?” I asked. “Do you have water for my thirst, food for my belly? Where have you been brother these long hard miles? You look fit for a fight.” My temper was about flair when another robed man appeared inside the gate.

“Greetings brothers. Won’t you come in and join us? We have enough for all.” His voice was deep, bright and and seemed to ring throughout the land. But no one be me and the fellow in red stood outside the gate.

“Oh aren’t we generous? Why don’t you open the gate and feed the multitudes of living death.” Scold the man in red.

“That is your job is it not A-tum? It is you who promises to care for your sons and daughters in the life. But we would not deny you a home here – with us. Come.”

The robed man inside the gate was kind and masterful. I felt moved and stepped toward the gate. Others came to join the man in the white robes trimmed in azure. From behind the gate it seemed they gathered from nowhere and everywhere all at once. I thought they would move to open the gate but they did not. They simply stood their ground and reached for me as the man in red had. I stood rooted in front of the Great Gate.

“See, I told you. You’re on your own in there. They beckon but not one moves to open the gate,” called the man in red named A-tum.

“The gate is not locked but you must unlatch it yourself. It’s really quite easly done,” said a woman in a lovely lavender tunic trimmed in gold. “You’ve done the hardest part already. You found your way here.”

A delicate veil of gold grew upon her head right before my very eyes! Even in my exhaustion my jaws dropped and my eyes felt like fat marbles dangling from their sockets. I gazed, jaw-slakened, in awe and fear. A-tum seized the moment once again.

“I told you. If you stay on your present course you leave the world of the living,” he warned.

“If you don’t stay on your course you will die in the land of the living,” called the man in the white robes with blue trim.

Was that a statement of truth? I could die right now! I was frightened by the possibility. I began to step away from the Great Gate. Backing away toward the land of the living.

“Mandrake, do not back away!”

The woman with the golden veil called me by the pet name of my grandmother, – Mandrake. How did she know? Who was woman that smelled like flowers? I could not see what was behind the veil.

“Just lift the latch!”

She gave me a start and I retreated in earnest. As I moved away, the man in the white robes, the woman in the growing veil of gold – all of them began to fade slowly from my sight.

“We can’t do this for you,” called a fading echo from behind the gated roadway.

I turned and ran towards the man in the red robes. His smile gleaming. His manner triumphent. He stood alone with his arms out-stretched. I halted my retreat. He was a solitary entity.

“Where the others?” I asked.

“What others?

“The beggers who befriended me along the way?”

“They didn’t make it,” said the man in red smiling still.

“What do you mean they didn’t make it? Where are they? I can’t be the only one.” I was all a panic now. What had I done? What was I doing?

“No you are not the only one to make it to the Pearly Gates of Silver and Bloom. But you are the only one right now. Do you know what happens if you unlatch that gate?”

“No,” I said backing away slowly. The man was positively glowing red!

“You will know life no more. Never again will you know victory over defeat or feel the cool breeze across your sweating brow. Never again will you know the ache of a love lost or feel the heat of anger. If you continue on through that Great Gate, water will never touch your lips again!”

“Then you have water?” My speech sqeezing in my parched throat. My back now against the Great Gate. My shaking hands searching for a latch that I know was there as A-tum moved closer, glowing more red. My thurst cracking my throat.

“No I don’t have your water. You must get that yourself,” he bellowed. “Just like all the others in the land of the living.”

“The othersâÂ?¦what happened to the others?”

My hands had found the latch. I began to finger it open with my left hand. A-tum, in his red robes, was almost upon me. Just as soon my road-worn clothing began to smolder. I felt trapped between hell and a hot spot.

“The othersâÂ?¦” I was shouting now. “What happened to the others here in the land of the living? They died!” His spittle flying like sparks – flint against a rock, now felt upon my clothes. All aflame now and backwards still, I lifted the latch to the Great Gate and fell backwards onto a golden path trimmed with nurtirums, alyms, blue bells and lavender. A trumpet sounded and a multitude of beings surrounded me with great fanfare and applause as I lay there naked in purple cooling flames that burnt nothing but my rags. Warm hands found their way to my shoulders and arms – helping me to my feet.

The man in the white robes with the blue trim was the first to greet me with an embrace of no small measure. His eyes bright and warm. His hair a silvery blue. Then came the woman in the golden veil. It wasn’t growing anymore only shimmering and thorugh her dancing lights I could see, very clearly, her eyes, smile her joy. When she looked upon my nakedness, robes of my own grew upon my body. I now felt light and amazingly refreshed. I was without thirst, hunger or fatigue. My delight must have shown greatly because now the Lady of the Golden Veil approached and spoke kindly to my heart – without moving her lips!

“Mandrake – welcome to the land of life everlasting.”

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