In the glow of the harvest moon, I’m joined on my walk by all the members of my family—connected not by blood, which is arbitrary, but by belief, which is the most tenacious bond there is.
I stop to inhale, filling my lungs with brisk autumn air; the mingled scents of the various flora please me. I turn to Claudia. The unmistakable sincerity of her smile touches me.
“Lovelies,” I say, resuming my step, “There is, perhaps, no more contentious disagreement than that over what happens when one dies. For as long as man has appreciated the impermanence of his life on Earth, he has found incompatibility in his and his neighbor’s understanding of the afterlife.” I furrow my brow. “A growing number even believe that nonexistence is all that awaits us upon death!”
“Lies!” the lovelies exclaim.
“Yes, yes,” I say, nodding. “You,” I motion to the group with an open hand, “have accepted the Truth that no one else will know.”
“Elijah,” someone from behind me calls out. I recognize the voice as Joel’s.
“Please tell us again how you came to the Truth.”
“Alright,” I say. “Years ago, as I contemplated the most important of questions—what happens when we die—I enjoyed what I thought for some time was a profound, radical insight. I realized that while living existence is one wherein the will of the individual is restricted by the laws of nature, existence after death is not hindered in this way, and that whatever a soul imagines manifests as reality.”
“You can’t just will the destruction of your enemy! You need to make it happen!” Thaddeus blurts out.
“That’s correct, Thaddeus. That much, anyway. As you all know, considerable further thought not only allowed me to realize that I was mistaken about the afterlife but also carried me to the indisputable Truth.”
“Were you ashamed for being wrong?!” Thaddeus and Esther holler in singsong.
“No, I was not,” I affirm. “Most people would suffer great shame upon realizing that their most deeply held belief was incorrect, but this was not at all how I felt in that moment. I immediately understood that my erroneous belief was a necessary step on the path to divine revelation.”
We arrive at our destination, and I turn to face my family.
“Ours is the one true religion, my lovelies.”
As I look upon them, I recognize that no one else will ever know our Truth and that ignorance will reign for as long as the wretched continue to reproduce. The sad fact that most “people” would be denied entry into paradise plagued me for the longest time, but finally, finally, I’m able to let it go; we—the blessed, the chosen, those with eyes wide open—will show the world, not in cruelty but unavoidable necessity, its utmost mistake in rejecting the Truth.
I approach Claudia and gently place my hand on her cheek. In her eyes, I see that she is ready. I take her hands and, with love—I’m bursting with pure joy—lower her down to the ground. I take a moment to admire her blue eyes, which contrast so strikingly with her heavily freckled face.
I turn to Jonah, and we grin at each other like loving brothers reunited after a lengthy separation. I bring my hand to his cheek and see that he, too, is ready. Easing him down next to Claudia, I have to suppress the desire to shout in excitement; despite being more blissful than ever before, I realize that such an uncontrolled expression would be unbefitting this moment of most consequence.
Fulfilling my duty as the shepherd of my flock, I tenderly place the remainder—Lydia, Tabitha, Thaddeus, Abigail, Joel, and Esther—in their places, shoulder to shoulder, backs to the ground. I then confidently, eagerly take my own place at the end next to Claudia, where I will be able to, ever so briefly, appreciate the ascension to paradise of each of my kindred.
I close my eyes and smile, pleased by the timely whistle of the coming train.