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In H*ll they are luxurious. Everyone lives in a mansion. The mansions contain endless rooms. They are elegant rooms, decked with only the finest. They have whatever devices might please them. They eat whatever they want, as their pantries are ceaselessly stocked with delicacies and delights. Outside on the grounds, the land never seems to stop. The greenest of grasses is dotted only by other looming structures. It is the perfect life.
In Heaven they are simple. Everyone lives in small adobes. Families huddle together under a single top. There is not much in the homes, just a few commodities. They have clothes to cover their backs and books to read. They eat so they are nourished, maybe a bowel of rice and some vegetables. Outside are their gardens. They tend to them, so that there is just enough to sustain them. It is the life they chose.
His eyes opened. He was lying in bed. He felt something odd. Odd didn’t quite seem like the right word to describe it, but then he had never felt something like this before, so how should he describe it? His body was totally relaxed. That was one of the benefits to a tempurpedic mattress. Yet, there was some sort of pang in his stomach. Maybe it was hunger. But he had never been hungry. Anyhow, it went away as fast as it had come, so he brushed all thoughts of it aside as he emerged from his covers.
Her eyes opened. She was lying on some old pillows. Next to her on the left was her sister. On the right was her brother. Next to her brother, her parents. Her muscles were a bit tense after lying in the same position for several hours. But she barely noticed it. After all had there ever been a time when she hadn’t felt at least a slight discomfort? She contemplated what she would make for breakfast. There was some bread left, that would suffice, and, she realized, half a jar of jam- a treat! Quietly, she rose from the roof.
He ventured down to the eating area. As he walked in, the door of the superduper opened. Cooked to perfection overnight, was a steaming plate of eggs Benedict, crisped bacon, and French toast. Yesterday it had been the most marvelous pancakes instead of French toast. He ate at his leisure, and then sauntered out, onto his lawn. There was no place for him to be. But he liked being outside. He never saw his neighbors outside. He supposed they liked being inside. He never really saw them at all actually, but that was to be expected.
She sliced what was left of the bread into five slices. She found the jar of jam they had canned a few months back. It was strawberry! She scraped the sides of the jar with the knife and spread a thin cover onto each slice. She walked out of the humble hut, while she waited for her family to wake. A dozen other huts were perched on the same roof. Learning wouldn’t start for a few weeks. So maybe, she could go visit her friend later. It was only a roof over. She would cross the connector to get there.
Well that wasn’t quite true. He saw his neighbors on the netterwork. The socializer had introduced them. By taking his information, it was able to match him up with friends. They must have become friends because they lived in the same district. He had other friends that enjoyed eggs Benedict like him. He had seen these friends once off the netterwork. They had invited him over for a picture taking. Later the pictures had gone on the netterwork. But besides that, he had never seen any of his friends off. About ten counts before the picture taking, he used to see people off every day. He knew they hadn’t been friends of course- after all the socializer hadn’t put them together! He had been in youth, and like the other youths he had been a worker. It made sense- he was strong then. But after putting in twenty years of service, he got to decide whether he wanted to live in Down or in Up. Of course he chose Down. He would have a comfortable life in Down. In Up he would have to live with others. He would have to continue further service. No, Down was the right choice. He could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He had never had one regret.
She could hear her family stirring inside. A few moments later their mumbling turned into audible voices. Her mother stuck her headthrough the opening. “Thanks for preparing breakfast- we’re going to eat now.” She always made breakfast. But every day, without fail, her mother remembered to thank her. It was just a small expression of gratitude. She thought that her mother and father were very kind people. They had met in their twenty years of service. A lot of people, she was told, chose to live in Down after their service years. It was an easy life, and they could do whatever they wanted. It sounded like a good life to her. She wondered if it would have been the life she chose. But she was grateful her parents had chosen life in Up. If they had chosen Down, then they would never have been able to live together, that’s just the way it was. But they had loved each other too much to do that, so they chose Up. And then they had started a family. If her parents had not chosen Up, then she wouldn’t exist; neither would her brother or sister. They couldn’t always do what they wanted, but that wasn’t so terrible. She knew they never had one regret.
There it was again- that odd panging. And then at once he remembered. It wasn’t a clear recollection, more of a sudden feeling. It was the kind of feeling one gets after being triggered in some way. It was the type of feeling that couldn’t be placed, yet was so overwhelming that it overtook him. And then it was gone. Just like that. Frustration flooded every fiber of his being. He was trying to place his finger on something- or someone, from several counts ago. He didn’t know why. And he hated to think about it. He felt humiliated. He had never allowed himself to be susceptible to such inconveniences before. Mortified beyond belief, he trudged back towards the house where he could rest in peace.
Inside the warm home, her family sat down for breakfast. Her young insightful brother was chattering. From what she understood, he was excited because a speckled beetle had landed on his finger when he had stuck out his hand. Her older and wise sister just smiled tellingly in between bites of bread. Her parents were murmuring softly to each other. She could see love gleaming from their eyes. After they had swallowed their last morsels, they all tidied up a bit. There wasn’t much to be done, just shaking out a pillow or two, especially with five people helping. When there was no more work to be done, she slunk back out through the opening where she would wonder and think.
He didn’t know what got into him. He really didn’t. As though he hadn’t permitted pangs to unexplainably plague him twice already that day. Perhaps it was precisely for that reason that he did it. He would tell that to himself later, that the pangs had made him do it. That was the only possible, however humiliating, rationale that could explain, why as walked towards the house he looked up. He looked into Up. In pained him to think about it. It was only for a fleeting moment. But it was too long. He saw her. That girl. That d*** girl, who looked right back at him. What was she doing? Didn’t she know that he was by far, her superior? She lived on his roof. Granted, that was only an assumption, he had never actually seen her before. But once was enough. Now he had seen into those deep green eyes. He could not, however hard he willed himself too, forget those eyes, the eyes of another. And every time he tried to shake himself of those horrible eyes, the panging was back. He cursed the pangs. He cursed himself. But most of all, he cursed those retched eyes.
There was not much work to be done in the garden. She called to her parents that she was going for a walk on the connector. They asked her to be back for lunch. She said she would be. She put one foot onto the planked connector. It wasn’t really dangerous, but she couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if she were to fall. She would fall into Down, but then what? As she pondered, she cast her eyes down. She looked into Down. It exhilarated her- to think, another world! And then she saw a figure moving below. She saw him. That man. That curious man, who looked right back at her. What was he doing? She had never seen anyone from Down before. With a gasp, she realized that she lived on his roof. She stared into his eyes for that fleeting moment. She had never seen eyes like his before. Piercing and black, they seared her face. They did not gleam love like her parent’s eyes. They reeked of hatred. And it was only for a moment, so she almost missed it. But she caught it. Behind that hatred there was shame. She pitied that man. She pitied his shame.
In H*ll they have whatever anyone ever thought they wanted.
In Heaven they have whatever anyone ever really wanted