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I smiled at the nurse as she pulled the blankets up around my shoulders. Today had been a good day. My whole family had come to visit. We had had a small birthday party for one of the little ones in the basement of the nursing home. It had been the time of my life, and one of the few fun things that happened in this place. Trying to move to a more comfortable position made everything hurt again. I didn’t want to lose the ability to see my kids and grandkids, but I did want all this pain to go away. At this point, no amount of drugs seemed to made a dent in it. Dying of ovarian cancer wasn’t a fun way to go. Even with surgeries the cancer had gotten into everything. I was making it longer than expected, but that seemed harder on my family. I had already talked to them about celebrating my life when I passed away, but nothing is for sure once you have no control over it.
I stopped my musing and started doing my breathing exercises to try and fall asleep. Slowly the world faded away, along with the pain.
I opened my eyes. I was in the cottage my husband and I had built, lying in the clean sheets. The room was filled with all the flowers that I had loved to grow in my garden. I so wanted to look around at this magical place, but the fear of pain stopped me. I slowly moved my arm—nothing hurt. In fact, nothing was throbbing like it always did. Nothing was hurting me. I swung out of bed like I hadn’t in years and slowly walked out of the bedroom. The cottage was just as I remembered it in structure, only that it was still full of flowers. I turned the corner into the sitting room and saw a young man sitting at the table. I froze, unsure what was going on. Although I had made no noise I could hear, he turned around and smiled at me.
“You're awake? How lovely. I really do love this cottage, such a loving space, so free of pain.”
I stared at him in disbelief. I didn’t recognize him, but he somehow seemed familiar. He kept talking as I walked towards the kitchen, beside the table he was at.
“There is a pot of your favourite coffee just brewed, and milk in the fridge. Please make yourself a cup. Those always make you feel better. I know it has been a hard journey for you to get here but I am very happy to see you.”
“Who are you?” I asked the question not sure of what kind of an answer I would get. I was pulling a cup out of the cupboard when he answered me.
“You knew me as God, but I go by so many other names.” The cup fell to the floor. It didn’t break or even bounce. It just fell there, completely intact. I let the words he said sink in. God. I had been Christian my whole life, but was this what happened? I picked the cup up and put it back on the counter. I did the only thing I could think of doing. I offered God some coffee.
“Would you like a cup?” the words coming out of my mouth seemed foreign to me, but he smiled.
“You are taking this better then many, and I would love a cup. Just black though. I like to keep this creation pure.” I smiled at him and nodded, then set to work making both cups of coffee. As I did so, I kept looking around at all these flowers I recognized. Why were they here as well? Just as I closed the door having put the milk away in the fridge, I heard a noise at the front door. I walked the couple of steps to get there. I grabbed the door handle, then froze. What would be outside?
“Don’t be scared. You will have time to say hello to all your neighbours soon enough. They knew you were coming and there is a welcome party being organized by your friend Shelia. She has been doing it for years up here, some of the most wonderful parties. The whole block is your friends, but you can wander the city, or take the transportation to adjacent cities to meet new people.” I opened the door and was surprised by the diversity in houses, many of which I recognized as my friends’ houses.
I looked down at my feet. There she was, sitting just perfect. My cat Princess. I reached down and grabbed her. She had passed away years before I had gone to the nursing home. We had gotten her as a kitten from a rescue and she had been my companion through everything. Her loss had been hard on both my husband and I. I hugged her to my chest. I walked back into the house and stood staring at God.
“Why her? Why the flowers? Why this place?”
God just looked at me, then slowly smiled.
“Everything that is here in this house, or in your arms, was made just for you. I chose each one of these flowers just for you. They were made with no other intention than for your eyes to see their beauty. I helped you make this house just for you to enjoy. Here you have everything that I made just for you. And you never took any of them for granted. I loved you so much because of your love for what I made. I hope you will find this, your cottage home, enough to live in while you wait for your husband, and then wait for your memory to fade. The television there has videos of all your favourite memories if you wish to relive them. We have had to update our system over the years.” He smiled at his own comments. “Feel free to come and see me. In this community I am available in the church. Now please drink your coffee and enjoy. When you are ready, the party is at Shelia’s house. They are excited to see you again.” With those words he walked out of the house. I stared at the chair he had been sitting in. Princess meowed. I put her down and went to grab my coffee.
He had forgotten his coffee. I went to grab it for him, about to run down the street with it. As I went to grab it, I saw that there was only one cup of coffee on the counter. I laughed at myself. When they say he works in mysterious ways, they weren’t wrong. But I did have one burning question I needed answered.
I ran out of the house and down the street. He was standing waiting for me at the doors to the church, just three houses down. I walked up to him. Before I could talk, he raised a hand.
“It was for your oldest grand-daughter. She needed to see someone suffer and die from cancer. Otherwise she won’t go on to create the framework for a cure. There are some things that I cannot change, cancer existing is one of those. For every perfect thing, there must be a balance. But I can do some things. Because of you, your three times great grandchild will be cured of her cancer. That should answer your question.” He smiled and walked through the doors.
It answered my question. Thinking about it made me start crying. My suffering would change the lives of millions. I could die for that. There were so many more questions swirling in my head but they could wait. I picked myself up and started walking to what I recognized as Shelia’s house. I had long lost friends to see.