HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY – Reunion in Heaven by author Sue Ellen Melo #Author’sCorner, #Romance

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY – Reunion in Heaven by author Sue Ellen Melo #Author’sCorner, #Romance

Reunion in Heaven

By Sue Ellen Melo

“That’s it! I quit!” Miranda Jefferson told her boss at Windows on the World. She wasn’t even sure why she had come to New York City let alone taken a job as a waitress at some fancy restaurant. She certainly could think of more exciting things to do with her life.

“We’re sorry to lose you.” Dennis, the restaurant’s manager, told her. Miranda shrugged at the lie. She wasn’t that great at the job, a little too sassy with the demanding customers, a lot too awkward with managing multiple plates and glasses. He was probably rejoicing at her departure.

Miranda turned and headed for the door.

“You’re not going to finish out the shift?” Dennis sounded more than a little irritated.

“Do you really want to see how many glasses and plates I can break while I’m dreaming of the Florida beaches I’m heading for?” Miranda smirked as she tossed back her chestnut hair.

“Go on then, get out of my sight.” Dennis said, pulling out his cell phone to ruin someone’s morning to have them take her place while Miranda slipped into the rest room and changed out of her white apron, little black cotton dress and stylish, black dress shoes, exchanging them for jeans, a light blue sweater patterned with falling leaves of green, and a pair of scuffed, brown boots. She returned to the restaurant and dropped off her uniform and name tag in Dennis’s office then took the elevator to the ground floor of the World trade Center. As she stepped out of the elevator, she glanced at the cheap, pink, Princess wristwatch to judge how long she had to get back to the closet she was renting, grab her guitar and suitcase and get to JFK. 8:45, she had plenty of time before her 2 O’clock flight. Then the low background of early Morning New York City was punctuated by a huge explosion. Miranda looked up.

“What the Hell!” someone said. Miranda picked up her pace heading for the door.

“It’s okay, everything’s safe,” the doorman called out as people began to stream toward the exit. Many turned around and headed back inside but Miranda kept going. She stepped out into the bright sunshine and looked up into a cloudless sky.

“A plane just flew into the tower.” Someone yelled, “Get away from there.

Miranda turned her head trying to see what they saw, then her world went black.

Miranda felt herself becoming light, as if she were floating. She looked down to see herself lying on the ground. Next to her, she saw what looked like a rag doll with blonde pigtails. People were running everywhere. Then she felt herself standing in a tunnel of light. There were so many people there, people she didn’t recognize, all dazed and confused.

The ragdoll was at her side, standing and staring up at her with large, grey eyes framed by a fringe of dark lashes.

“Where’s my Mommy?” The ragdoll said. Miranda realized it was not a doll. It was a frightened and confused little girl.

“Where the Hell are we?” Miranda asked no one in particular. Everything felt weird, different somehow. She recalled the glancing blow and everything shifting. Something about a plane. Was she dead She wondered.

“Let’s go find Saint Peter, he’ll know where your mom is if this is Heaven.” Miranda said, taking the child’s hand, “I’m Miranda, what’s your name.”

“Bekka,” the child said, “Mommy’s name is Rebecca just like mine. Mine is shorter since I’m short.”

The little girl flashed a broad grin at the joke. Miranda felt a pang of envy. She had never been teased by her mother. All her mother ever did was point out what she was doing wrong. Even when she left her father, there was no question of Miranda going with her. Her mother left the child and husband that disappointed her and only kept her perfect daughter.

Miranda glanced about looking for the figure she had seen often enough in the paintings on the wall of Sacred Heart Catholic Church when her grandmother had dragged her to mass. She couldn’t make him out, for that matter, she didn’t see anything that resembled pearly gates. They were in a sundrenched field of wildflowers. There was music but it was unlike anything Miranda had ever heard in her life, clearer and beautiful, like a thousand melodies wound into perfect harmony. Yet no one was sitting around in white playing harps.

“What does your Mommy look like?” Miranda asked. She wondered if any earthly description would be helpful here.

“She’s pretty, with long gold hair and she’s wearing her favorite green dress, so she’ll look good for Daddy when we get back to California.” Bekka said, “Why did the plane fall out of the sky?”

Why indeed,” Miranda wondered.

“Miranda, there you are!” Miranda glanced around then blinked in surprise as she spotted her twin sister Melissa coming toward her.

“What are you doing here Melissa?” Miranda gazed with wide eyes at her twin.

Melissa’s jet-black ringlets fell past her shoulders, and she wore not a gown of white but a frilly pink party dress.

“I was on my way to an opening when I came here,” Melissa explained, noticing the direction of her sister’s gaze.

“Wait, you’re dead too?” Miranda wanted to know.

“I’ve been here for six months. Let’s get this little one to her mother, things are a bit chaotic here today. We don’t usually have this kind of influx.”

“Her name is Bekka, her mother is Rebecca,” Miranda explained, “Bekka, this is my sister Melissa, if anyone can sort out this situation it is her.”

Melissa blushed then turning, she motioned for them to follow her to a man with thick grey hair and a long beard.

“ST. Peter, this little girl got separated from her mother on the journey,” Melissa explained. She gave ST. Peter the information Miranda had supplied, and the older gentleman consulted a large book. He pointed to something Miranda couldn’t understand.

“Thank You ST. Peter, This is my sister Miranda, may I take her with me while I guide Bekka to her mother?”

“ST. Peter was quiet a long moment and then he smiled.

“Come on. Your Mom’s found a nice, shady tree to wait for you under.

“They have trees in Heaven,” Miranda thought to herself, “Then again, why not, God would want to have some of the things he created with him up here wouldn’t he? He wouldn’t just create everything and leave it all on Earth. Especially not with our tendency to ruin anything beautiful.”

“I told you she would find you,” an Elderly woman said, standing and beckoning to the little girl, “Let me see my great granddaughter.”

The child blinked, she still seemed confused. Then she saw her mother and her face lit up.

“Mommy!” Bekka ran toward a pretty blond woman sitting in a rocking chair under a large elm tree. A mixed breed dog lying beside the woman perked up his ears and raised his head at the child’s joyous voice. The elderly woman moved two embrace woman and child. Miranda looked around to see a lot of similar reunions taking place. Husbands and wives finding each other and embracing as though they hadn’t seen each other in forever, parents and children shedding happy tears at finding one another.

“This really is Heaven?” Miranda said, gazing at her sister.

“It sure is, I still can’t believe I’m really here.” Melissa said, shaking her head, “After all the things I did, the dirty tricks I played to knock out competition for parts or photo shoots. The way I broke the heart of a guy whose dad was the head of a modeling agency. Mom thought he could help me. I dumped him when she changed her mind. I was a bitch! But I did enough good, and God got that I felt bad about my poor choices and really wanted to fix it, He thought I deserved to be here.”

“From the clips Mom would send to taunt Dad, I had the idea everyone loved you and was happy to help you on your way.”

“No way,” Melissa said, dropping onto a patch of grass and plucking a daisy. Miranda sat with her.

“Every time I followed Mom’s advice, I could hear Dad in my head telling me “You know that’s not the kind thing to do.” Or “You know how to treat people better than that.” But I was so afraid of bringing down the Wrath of Mom. Of listening to her list of what she had done for me. She reminded me any time I balked at her guidance, that she had taken me out of my no where life so I could shine.”

“She didn’t want you to be like your loser sister.” Miranda said, running her fingers absently through her hair.

“I was so jealous of you,” Melissa said. She looked down at her hands which rested in her lap.

“You were Jealous of me!? You were the one attending the opening of that Donny Walberg film on the arm, of one of the Joanis brothers, wasn’t it? Jet-setting in Mexico at glamorous resorts.”

“The picture of me with a heart throb was Bobby, Mom’s boyfriend, and my agent’s idea. I wasn’t with him. Bobby arranged the situation with his management. He thought it would boost the buzz around me. All it did was put the guy I mentioned before through Hell. He thought I was making a fool of him. My trip to Mexico was the last straw. He said I wasn’t making us a priority. He said he felt I was using him, and I was. Mom was telling me all the while I needed to aim higher before I got serious about a man. I’d have killed to go to a party where my main goal was to have fun and not to be seen, or to be able to just decide I liked a boy and not have to evaluate what he could do for my career. To be seen the way Dad sees you.”

“You wanted to be the ugly duckling klutz he got stuck with who was only really good at getting in trouble?”

“Dad thinks you’re brilliant, I know that now. That’s why he worked 3 jobs to make sure you could have a good college experience. He practically chartered one of those sky writing planes to tell the world that his genius daughter was going to work for Micky Mouse. He’s freaking out I’m sure right now because he knows where you work.”

“I had just quit,” Miranda said quietly. “If I had just been a little quicker about getting out of the building. If I hadn’t stopped to look up. I might be calling Dad right now and telling him I was fine. Then, there’s Chris. We’d finally stopped dancing around things, finally stopped playing games.”

“You put that silly watch back on as a way of letting him know just how much he meant to you.” Melissa gave her sister a warm smile. “Love is the most precious gift in the world. When you find it, you need to grab on and not let go for anything.”

Miranda toyed with the watch, which was indeed still on her wrist. Even here in paradise. “I wish I had the chance to tell Chris I was in love with him. I always had been.” Miranda said at last.

There was a long silence while the sisters sat in contemplation.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I’m sorry I burned all those letters I sent you when I found where Dad put them. Mom sent them back, unopened.”

“I read them,” Melissa said, “Nothing you do on earth escapes Heaven’s notice. So, I’ve been able to read them all. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to remind you that you were smarter than any of those popular girls. That even though they didn’t pick you for their sports teams, they were happy enough to pick your brain before class. You told them what they needed to know instead of suggesting they do their own homework. Acting like that made you the better and smarter person.

“You don’t think you would have been one of those popular girls?”

Melissa considered a long moment, thoughtfully chewing her lower lip. “I hope I would have remembered that you were the other half of me and treated you the way I would want to be treated.”

A warm breeze blew up and suddenly a man appeared in a circle of white light. He didn’t look like the statues from the church, His beard was dark and full, his hair was longish and instead of fine robes he wore simple coarse tunic and britches, with sandals on his feet. Yet even in this different appearance, Miranda knew who he was. She started to get to her knees, but Melissa placed a restraining hand on her arm.

“Jesus is our brother here, we don’t need to bow down to him, here we are all one.”

Jesus smiled at the sisters.

“Our father is well pleased with your act of kindness.” He began. “This is a sad day for our father. Seeing his children perform such wanton acts of hatred. Yet he is heartened by the kindness many are showing down there.” He focused on Miranda then, “There are a great many prayers being lifted for you. You are well loved.”

Miranda felt tears welling as she thought of her father, a hard-working dreamer who continued to do what he could to give her the best life possible, even when she screwed up time and again, and Chris, her best friend since she was ten. The one she had run crying to when her mother and Melissa had left for New York City, the one who introduced her to Crown Coke and Bluegrass Marijuana and taught her how to drive. They had gone to dances including the prom, but they had mostly dated other people. They fought, made up, and fought many times. They were finally beginning to understand that they had quarreled because neither of them really wanted the other one to be with anyone else. They had been going to try. There were other friends, there was her grandmother who even while she disapproved of many of Miranda’s choices, never gave up on her. Miranda felt herself drawn into the light, held in the warmest and kindest embrace. She knew that not only was she loved in the life she had left but, in this place, as well.

“It’s time for you to go back,” Melissa said, breaking into Miranda’s thoughts.

“What?”

“It’s not your time to be here yet.”

“If it’s not my time, why did I come here? Why did I get to see you, to see Him?”

“Someone needed to help Bekka find her mom.” Melissa said, “You’ve always been quick to help others, whether it’s working a double shift with a 102 fever and a pounding headache because someone’s mother was rushed to the hospital, taking the credit for the unflattering portrait of Sister Mary Martha because the real artist’s father would have beaten her black and blue, or getting yourself booted off the debate team so that someone who really needed to pad his resume so he could get a full ride scholarship to Loyola, you have always stepped up to do what’s needed, even helping a lost little girl in Heaven. Now she is where she needs to be. It’s time for you to go back. You need to fulfil your purpose in that life. There are people praying for you and waiting on you.”

“I just found you, I just found out you didn’t hate me and feel well rid of me.” Miranda felt fresh tears falling down her cheeks.

“You’ll see me again,” Melissa said. She got to her feet and held out her arms.

“You have been the joy in Dad’s life. Chris is a keeper, as true as they come. No matter how hard it is when you get back, hold on to these moments of pure joy and to the memory of what I said. Love is a gift not to be squandered. I’ll be waiting for you.”

Miranda blinked her eyes, she hurt all over, opening her eyes was enough of a chore, she couldn’t even think about moving anything else.

“I’ll get the doctor,” a woman’s voice spoke from her right side. Someone squeezed her hand.

“Welcome back, Miranda, please don’t scare me like that again.” A familiar male voice spoke.

“How long?” Miranda’s throat was parched, and it hurt to talk.

“3 days, you’ve been in a coma. Don’t worry though, your dad and Grandmother know you survived, they started driving the minute I called them I think.” He held a glass of water to Miranda’s lips, and she drank greedily. “I’m so glad I took that early flight out to surprise you. The airports are still closed. As soon as we arrived, we heard what happened. I knew you had gone to give notice and I was so afraid you were up there.”

“The plane in the tower?” Miranda tried again to speak.

“It was so much worse. There were four planes. It was a miracle you made it out. Even then, the doctors gave you 1 to 99 percent chance of living. I guess you showed them.

“Mr. Heatherton!” a new, gruff voice said sternly. “I’ll need you to step outside.”

“Don’t worry Chris, I’m not going anywhere,” Miranda said, “I have so much to do.” Chris released her hand and with an effort, Miranda reclaimed it, “Was there a little girl named Bekka on one of those planes, a little girl with Cindy Brady pig tails and a blonde mother named Rebecca?”

“I’ll find out.” Chris said.

When the doctor had finished his examination, Chris returned.

He told her about the event that was now being called simply 9/11 when fanatical terrorists took control of 4 passenger planes, crashing two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon. The last plane crashed in a field by passengers who by then knew what was going on and fought back. Their actions caused the plane to divert from its intended target.

“Thousands of people died and so many were hurt,” Chris explained, “So many families in so much pain.

“There will be quite a need for people to find happiness again. Probably a great many who aren’t sure that’s possible.” Miranda said.

“Disney will be closed for a while since no one can fly. That job will be waiting for you when you’re well enough.” Chris said, “I was so afraid we had lost each other for good.” He paused, stroking back Miranda’s hair which she noticed was considerably shorter. She supposed it had been cut while treating her injuries, “Oh, about what you asked, there was a little girl named Bekka Willis. On that first plane, a cop saw me studying the casualty list in the paper, he told me how they found her body next to a woman wearing a plastic , pink wristwatch and had assumed it was her mother until they started checking ides and realized the woman who survived wasn’t on the plane and in fact worked in the building after more searching, Eventually, they found her mother’s body. He said the husband broke down when his wife and child were finally found and could be placed together for him to claim. He’d been frantic that their girl would be all alone.”

“She’s not alone,” Miranda said dreamily, the doctor had asked the nurse to make some adjustments to her IV and some of that she guessed was an increase in pain medicine because her eyes were beginning to flutter. “She’s having a reunion in Heaven. That little girl is still surrounded by love.” Just like I am down here.”

Miranda let darkness and peace surround her even as the hand of Chris Heatherington, the man she had almost taken for granted, closed around hers. Love was a gift, and she would never let it go.

About Sue Ellen Melo Writer and performer in her own words…

I have always been something of a wanderer. I was born in Massachusetts and spent most of my life there before getting the itch to see more of the country. I currently reside in Louisville Kentucky.

The two constants in my life have been performing and writing. Sometimes, these two passions have intertwined. I co-founded an audio writing group called STAR Trek Audio Role-players with one of my dearest friends. I have also co-written two songs used during my time in the acting troop Imagine Blind Players, a company consisting entirely of blind individuals. I acted and sang in their production of California Suite. In addition, I appeared in two of the companies’ productions for Shakespeare in the Park and served as their social media coordinator, writing a blog Seeing My dream facebook.com/imagineblindplayers.

I have also been a part of American Printing house For the Blind’s Braille Readers theater. Currently I am working as a greeter at Actor’s Theater in Louisville KY and performing regularly in American Council of the Blind’s Community Karaoke.

Hear Sue Ellen in Community Karaoke and more here.

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Patty L. Fletcher

Bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled

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