As an atheist, Andy sincerely believed that nothing came after death. She had found comfort in it, in fact. When one died, there was no more worry about earthly problems; all your affairs were in order, whether you had planned it that way or not. You literally could not be bothered anymore. It took Andy a while to realize that she was even dead. She felt herself float in darkness and confusion. If there was life after death, was this it?
It was strange, not feeling anything. She couldn’t blink her eyes. She couldn’t feel her hair, or her skin. There was nothing around her.
But if she was nothing, then what was there?
She was welcome, wherever she was.
Ah, but there was a set of scales before her. What were the scales for? Did they weigh your deeds, put your evil ones on one side and your good deeds on another?
She knew that one side was filled with the people you had loved when you were alive. The other side was filled with the people you hated. If you loved more than you hated, you got to move on. Move on where?
That was yet to be decided. She had not been weighed.
She saw, then, her grandmother stand before the scales. She had just died. Eight years ago was now. There was no time here.
Her grandmother’s scales were tipped towards love. Her grandmother’s entire family (include Andy? How was she there?) stood there, as well as several friends; dozens, hundreds of people she did not recognize. There were only a few people on the hate side, people Andy did not recognize. Andy’s grandmother disappeared.
But what happened if someone hated?
Before the scales were Adolf Hitler. Only a few people stood on the Love side, people Andy did not recognize. But the Hate scale was weighed down by the millions, more than six million, more than eight million. How many?
Racism caused that. To hate a race was to hate millions.
But to love — Andy saw Mother Theresa before the scales, and all the children she had loved weighed down the scales. Mother Theresa disappeared.
What about a child? And she saw a child of about nine, skinny and sickly. Not a lot of people were on the scales, but the child had loved more than hated. Was that any child? Was any child born loving?
Andy saw a child of about three crying before an empty set of scales. No, in order to love, someone must learn to forgive. This child was too small to learn to forgive. And so the child cried.
But the child’s grandfather appeared. He lifted the child up and claimed the child as his. The two of them disappeared. The grandfather was capable of love, and so truly loved the child.
But Nathan Bedford Forrest stood before the scales, and though he had been loved, the power of all he had hated — all the people different from him — so outweighed the many he had loved, that he was not chosen.
Could an adult’s grown soul be empty?
Andy looked and saw Eva before the scales.
Andy and Eva looked at the scales.
The scales remained empty. They waited, but nothing appeared.
Eva had to be sent back. Andy knew that this was the cause of ghosts. Eva was going to become a ghost. But then Eva was called back, by the hospital, by the emergency room doctors, who were working desperately to save her life. Eva had to go back, but she had been measured. Her worth was nothing. She was an empty soul.
This was why the ghosts responded so well to her. She was one of them, although she hauled a body around over top of her soul.
Andy called to Eva, in this timeless nothing. But Eva couldn’t, or wouldn’t, or didn’t, hear her. Eva went back.
Andy yelled, but there was nothing in this existence. She screamed. She felt. The scales were before her — she saw all the people she loved, her parents, her brother, Claire, her grandmother, Liz, Sarah, Michael, all the nurses who worked her shift, a few girls she remembered from college, that barista, that waiter, how were they there? She saw the three people she hated, the three girls who had bullied her mercilessly in fifth grade — she had been weighed and she could move on, she could feel herself being pulled.
She yelled for Eva again. She need Eva to know. Eva had to know that her emptiness could be fixed, she could be saved, she could move on, if only she learned to love, if she learned to forgive, if she opened her heart and showed it to someone else —
Andy’s eyes blinked. Slowly her vision cleared. She found herself focusing on a chart in front of her. It was a white board. Instructions for nurses on it. To her right, a wall, a door. To her left, a curtain partition. She was in a hospital. She felt as fluffy as a cotton ball, and wondered if she was high on morphine right now. She didn’t remember anything, really, except that Eva was in trouble.
Andy had been brought back to save Eva.