He walked. Well, floated. It wasn’t so much a tunnel as a black bed sheet with a hole punched in it, attempting to smother him. Then, he was through the hole.
There, gathered at the end of a cloud, his parents waited. Their arms were open.
“Oh thank god!” his Mother cried. She put her arms around him. Held him tight. His father stood back, smiling.
“My baby!” his mother began to cry. Frank looked around. There were more people there. Recognizable noses, eyes, chins, receding hairlines. His family.
He stepped back.
“We didn’t know if you’d make it here, because, well.” His mother’s voice trailed off as she placed both hands around his wrists.
“But,” she smiled, “it seems it’s not so big a deal. Come!”
She turned, but Frank didn’t move. He was looking around.
“Where is Sara?” he asked. His mother turned. It was the dog-died look. He knew the answer.
“We haven’t seen her dear. She, well, maybe–”
Frank’s father put his hand on his wife’s shoulder.
“She maybe what?” Frank asked.
“Maybe, well, you know, hell,” his mother squeaked out before his father could stop her. His father hung his head. Frank frowned, then almost laughed.
“Sara is the last person who’d be in hell. What about David, where is David?”
This time his father turned around.
“He isn’t here baby,” his mother said, softly.
Frank frowned and it stuck. “No, he was a child. That doesn’t make sense. He couldn’t be in hell.”
His mother sighed. It was a sad sigh. The rest of his family made busy with each other. His father turned back.
“Frank. Are you sure David died?”
“What? Yes! They found his things, his DNA was everywhere.”
Frank felt his mind switch off. As it did whenever he began imagining his son in that house; tortured, buried, then eventually, burnt. He felt like throwing up. He pushed the thoughts aside.
“No,” he whispered. “No, he is dead.”
“Okay,” his father said, holding up his hands. “Look, it’s just we thought that about Aunt Milly. You remember?”
Frank vaguely remembered an aunt who’d died in some boating accident.
“Well, turns out she was living large in Paris. We only found out when we were called for her arrival. Just last year.”
Frank’s mother snorted her disapproval. His father gave her a look.
But, Frank wasn’t listening. He shook his head. “No, David was a boy. Not some crazy old lady. No. Who is in charge here?”
“Your mother, as usual,” his father said. His mother nodded.
Frank sighed. “No. I mean, this place.”
“Oh, the angels,” his mother said with a smile. Frank nodded.
“And how do I talk to one?”
“Oh,” his mother smiled, “you just whistle.”
And at that, she whistled. The air beside her stepped aside and a young man stood, smiling.
“Howdy,” he chirped. He was pale.
Frank cut her off. “My son. Where is he?”
“Oh!” the angel smiled. “Hell.”
His mother’s face fell. His father put his arm on Frank’s shoulder.
“Right,” Frank took a breath, “take me to hell then.”
“Righto!” the angel said. At that, both Frank and the angel vanished; just in time to miss his mother crying out, “wait!”
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