University of Wisconsin–Madison

Death: A Short Story

Peter’s eyes slowly opened and for the last moments of his life, saw his family before him. His wife, Susan, sat on a chair by his side holding his hand, while everyone else stood with somber faces around his deathbed.

“Pete..?”, said Susan with hesitation in her voice. Peter let out a light wheeze and smiled.

“I’m still here, honey” he said with a light squeeze of her hand.

Peter raised his eys and glanced around the room. His eyes locked with each of his four children, and then with each of his eight grandchildren. He gave a contented sigh and said with a half smile, “You guys don’t have anything better to be doing now?” His grandchildren responded with tear-soaked laughs before wiping their eyes. Everyone felt the urge to say something, but Peter seemed like he didn’t need to hear them talk, their presence was enough. Susan gave a sideways glace to the bedroom door.

“Honey, Father Mark is outside in the kitchen… He’d like to come in and talk to you.”

“Why? I barely know him.” Peter said, perhaps a little too forcefully.

“Please, he’d like to read you your rights.”

“What, am I under arrest?” Peter deadpanned, causing his grandchildren once again to burst into awkward laughter.

Peter’s youngest son knelt beside him and said quietly, “Jeez dad, just go ahead and talk to the guy for a minute. It’ll make mom happy.”

“No.” Peter said strongly. “Try to understand, please. I want to end my life feeling proud of all that I’ve done, feeling proud to be with my family in my final moments. You all know who I am, and that I am not a religious man. What I most strongly believe is what I see in front of me right now, and what I feel to all of you. When you miss me and wish I were back with you all, don’t just imagine that I’m in a better place. Instead, feel happiness at the times we spent together. I do not fear death because of possible punishment from a God. If he really does love us and made us, then he’d apprecaite all that I’ve done in my life. What I do fear in death is that I will never be with you all again. But be happy because in my short life, I got to enjoy it all with you.”

Peter’s daughter wiped her eyes, and Susan gave him a reassurring squeeze of his hand. Susan looked into his eyes and saw his life slip away. She tried to take comfort in his words, but still worried that he might not join her for an eternal life in heaven. If only he had accepted Jesus…

From his throne in Asgard, one of the nine worlds of the great tree Yggdrassill, Thor let our a ferocious roar and grasped his hammer in anger.

“Why must they continue to defy me?!” yelled the true, supreme ruler of all, Thor.

“It is most unfortunate, my Lord” Loki stammered from the throne to Thor’s right.

“I agree” Thor said, calming down. “I have done so much for them. I gave them life, I protected them for every rogue god who has tried to smite them. They used to worship me as I had commanded. They provided sacrifices and toasted my name, but now they spend their days worshipping these false gods. Those charlitans convinced the simple people of earth to stray from me, the one true God.”

Thor stroked his long beard thoughtfully.

“Sending humans to the world of the dead is so taxing to me; Hel is an awful place to go when they could just as easily be here enjoying paradise in Asgard.”

Thor lifted his cup and paused. “At least I won’t have to for much longer. To Ragnarok!”

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