He found it perplexing that someone with no concept of death, hunger, or fear — the driving forces of man — would be called upon to watch over them. Every waking moment they rushed from trivial task to fleeting pleasure, trying to beat the clock hanging over each of them. Despite their hurried lifestyles, many of them still found time to beg God for pointless things or forgiveness for the sins they invented. It was endlessly entertaining of course, especially when he found an individual of exceptional interest.
As he gazed upon her, he was overcome with emotion such as he had never felt before. Time may not be relevant to him, but “never” was entirely within his grasp. It and “forever” were concepts that surrounded him at all times. New emotions tended to consume him and his brethren on the rare occasion they occurred. It turns out that even the divine are susceptible to obsession.
She was strong-willed, confident, and well-intentioned. Every action she set out into the world was a positive karmic catalyst, sending waves of goodness in all directions. Others whom she encountered passed her good deeds on to those around them. Their goodness beat back the heavy opposing natural forces of selfishness and exclusion. She was truly beautiful.
He suddenly wanted her more than anything he had ever wanted before. He knew limitless pleasure and peace in his world, but knowing she was not with him made it feel somehow incomplete. He knew she would love it in his world. Earth was a dreadful and oppressive place for anyone, and he felt that she had enough goodness to be spared any more suffering there.
He began to put effort into freeing her from her earthly pain with gifts of opportunity. He gave her several opportunities each of her days to grasp his hand and move to the light, but she failed to see them at first. After a few opportunities were missed, it seemed like she was actually avoiding eternal bliss. He couldn’t fathom why this woman would turn away from him.
Bound by determination and frustration, he doubled his efforts. She was given several opportunities every day, no matter where she went or what she did. She wanted him to bask in anticipation by playing this coy game with him, but he wasn’t going to hold back his seductive dance.
And then, the game ended.
Victoria spent her days like anyone else, doing her best to be fulfilled in her life. She tried to make it a point to do something nice for a stranger every day. It made her feel good, and would often cheer her up on even the toughest days. She didn’t think herself to be anyone special, but she had always believed that you get what you give in life.
Today, she accomplished her good deed by bringing a sandwich and bottle of water to the homeless man that she always passed on her way to work. He thanked her for it, then asked her for money until she walked away. It didn’t bother her if people didn’t appreciate her deeds sometimes. She was doing them for herself, really. She began preparing her mind for the presentation she ha—
She gasped for breath as she picked herself up from the pavement and brushed the dirt from her skirt. It happened so fast that she had to recount everything now as if it were a dream she had just woke from. A taxi cab sped through a red light just as she entered the street. She felt the burst of cold air blast past her as the side view mirror came within inches of her hip. Victoria had never felt herself react so quickly before, but she had apparently jumped backwards just in time. Her heart continued to pound until she arrived at her desk, but the event continued to haunt her for the rest of the work day.
On her way home, she had calmed down when she made it to the subway station. Walking down the crowded city streets made her nervous, even though she knew what happened to her earlier was unlikely to recur. When her train neared, she stepped to the ledge. Suddenly, a stroller struck her from behind and she stumbled forward. The woman pushing it grabbed the back of her jacket and pulled her back away from the tracks just as the train passed in front of her face. The woman’s repeated apologies faded into the background as Victoria quietly sat in her usual seat at the corner of the train car.
These kinds of things had never happened to her before. She had come within inches of death twice in one day. As much as she tried, she couldn’t stop thinking about it. After only a couple hours of sleep, she awoke the next day. She used her normal morning routine to push through the fatigue and fear. She walked to the train station and sat in her usual seat, quietly relieved that everything seemed normal. The sounds coming from beneath her seemed like they were different than usual, but she dismissed the thought as paranoia. Without warning, her world went black and she felt her body rise from her seat and throw itself violently into the wall.
When she regained consciousness, she was on a stretcher next to an ambulance parked a few blocks away from her work. She saw emergency personnel running frantically in all directions, body bags on the ground, and crying people all around her. Red and blue flashes blurred her vision and made her head feel worse than it already did. Later on, at the hospital, she would learn that 43 people died on that train.
Victoria didn’t return to work for a long time after that day, but the accidents continued anywhere she went. She spent nearly as much time at the hospital as she did at home. She rarely slept. Days and weeks would pass in blurs of fire, flashing lights, white ceilings, blood, and smoke. She wouldn’t believe the nurses when they told her it had only been 2 weeks since the train accident.
That night, she seethed in her hospital bed. The second degree burns from her apartment building burning down pulsed dull pain through her limbs despite the sleepy potion of pain killers sweeping through her veins. She began to wonder why she even ran from the burning building at all. Why did she fight back when she was mugged the day before? Her life was out of her control, and all she was surviving for was more pain. When she made her decision, the pain faded away from her body as she walked toward the window.
The air flowing past her burnt flesh was cold and refreshing. The concrete below was a welcome end. Suicide turned out to be the one way to escape the game in which she was an unwitting pawn.