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Now That’s Rich 7 - Paradise Lost, Paradise Found

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I am but a child walking across an empty airport runway and wearily climbing the steps to the entrance of the plane.

“Welcome to paradise”, someone tells me. A pretty stewardess perhaps. A faceless someone in a white coat. Right now I couldn’t care who it is. I’m finally going home. That’s all that matters. Home is where the heart is, where my past, my soul is waiting. I don’t know why I left.

I give the voice a glance.

“If you’d so kindly follow me through this compartment here, I’d gladly show you your seat.”

It is a pretty stewardess. As pretty as they come, as pretty as I imagined her to be.

“You look worried”, she says.

“I am.”

“You don’t have to be. Just relax. You’ve been here before.”

“I have?”

“Yes. You just don’t realize it yet. Please just try and relax.”

Relax. Relax. Relax. I tell myself over and over and over again. I just can’t.

I find my seat. Beside mine is another.

Empty.

Just like my life.

I take my seat beside the window. She sits down beside me.

Empty no more.

“Buckle up, rest your head, close your eyes and enjoy your flight to paradise. It won’t be long now.”

“I-I can’t. Too many thoughts. Uh, don’t you have to well, I don’t know…”

“Don’t worry what you say here. No one can hear you. There’s just you and me, kid. You don’t remember do you? You don’t remember anything?”

“What am I supposed to remember? I know who I am. That should be fine, no?”

“Do you remember me?”

“I think so. You’re one of the white coats.”

“Yes, that’s what you used to call me. Well, it doesn’t matter who I am. I’m here to help you. So, what did you want to say before?”

“Well, uh don’t you work here?”

“Here on this plane? No.”

“All right, forget I said anything. Can you tell me where we’re going?”

“This plane is taking you from lost paradise. From a life of despair, of hopelessness, of death. To a new life. A place we call paradise. ”

“There is no paradise.”

“That’s what we thought all along. But we found this plane.”

“This plane is paradise? Who is this “we” you speak of?”

We argue in circles. I look out the plane’s oval window. I see no ground below us, no water. Only sky. I don’t remember taking off.

“This plane is in between paradise lost and paradise found. We are the white coats, the ones who did the experiments on your brain. Have you never wondered why you were so intelligent? No child of eight speaks as eloquently as you. Your way with words is astounding. You’re a success where we have failed many times before.”

“I-I don’t remember much. I’m sure I never met many children while you…”

“Destroyed your childhood?”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it so harshly. You must have had your reasons.”

“The ends justify the means? In this case, I am impartial to neither. Yes, it is true that our survival depends on it.”

“Then why now?”

She begins to cry.

“Because you never were given the chance to feel love. Not from your parents, not from your siblings, no love from your friends because you had none. Your family died.”

“I should feel something but I don’t. Is there something wrong with that? Why did you tell me?”

The flesh underneath her eyes has turned red. She wipes the tears from her cheeks and smiles at me.

“No. There’s nothing wrong. You didn’t know them. They died while you were very young. I was with you when…when we found you. I took care of you during the experiments. I told you because I…because I…”

“Because you love me?”

“Yes. I lost my family too. Then I found you. A baby amidst the rubble.”

“I apologize if I don’t share your sentiment.”

“I don’t expect you too. You were never shown how. I am the one who should be apologizing.”

“What for?”

“Because now you know.”

I sensed regret and hesitation in her voice. Something was wrong.

“I can’t come with you to paradise.”

I was mad. I don’t know why. I’ve never felt anything for anybody before.

“So I’m left alone again!”

“That’s why I apologized. This plane resides in between time and space. The tests we did when trying to figure out how to leave lost paradise and enter this new found paradise proved to be unsettling.”

“It’s ok. I don’t know what came over me. How so?”

“We’d always send two people. After the first few tests we’d get no response. We kept on trying and then one day when we sent two more people, one of them replied. The message was horrifying. One of them, the one who did not have the brain alterations, had burst upon arrival.”

Her head drops in her hands and she begins to cry again.

“Then why…”

“I had to come with you. I had to tell you that I loved you. I had to tell you that I cared. Most importantly, because the experiments we did on your brain made you forget what life was like in lost paradise and someone had to tell you. Someone had to show you. We don’t have much time.”

“Show me.”

She reaches into her bag and pulls out books. She hands them to me one by one. The titles pass by quickly. George Orwell. 1984. Stephen King. The Stand. Alan Moore. V For Vendetta. She tells me these books are what life was like in lost paradise. A life lived in constant fear, in constant struggle, of media manipulation and half-truths; a life lived at the will of totalitarian oppressors. She tells me of paradise. She welcomes me to it. We begin to descend. She tells me to look out my window. I see the sun shining brightly in the sky. I see the people on the ground walking freely, I see them exchange smiles. She tells me that it is time. I hold her tightly and tears flow from my eyes. She bursts. I remember.

“Welcome to paradise”, someone tells me.

It’s her.

”You look worried”, she says.

I am.

“You don’t have to be. Just relax. You’ve been here before.”

I guess I have.

She sits down beside me. Empty no more.

“Do you remember me?”


Now I do.

I don’t remember taking off.

I swear.

“The ends justify the means?”

In this case they do.

“Because you love me…I had to tell you that I loved you.”

I love you.

It all falls into place. I understand now. Thank you.

Be back in two weeks. Your comments always welcomed. E-mail or post on the message boards.

R.F.


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