Brad Pitt Forgave Me
I didn’t expect to get inside but the ancient gatekeeper, slumped against a post and propping an elbow in his other hand, waved everyone in without making eye contact. The first thing I saw was all the babies, swaddled in the arms of white-robed angels. I should have been nauseous knowing I was responsible. Maybe I was in shock.
Kids older than 6 or 7 mingled with the rest of us, following instructions to search the banners for our birth years. I identified my queue by the size of the mob. The tail end of the baby boom, 1955- 1964; so many people that each birthday had its own table. I finally reached December 18.
Waiting in line, people asked each other what happened. Was it an attack? Armageddon? I knew, but I wasn’t talking.
Eventually I registered and was assigned to a group of 12. Great. Small groups. Maybe this was actually Hell. There better not be role-playing.
We found a place far enough away from the din to hear one another speak. A handsome, blue- eyed gentleman sat down beside me. I squinted, shook my head and reopened my eyes to his sardonic smile. “You OK?” he said.
“Oh, um yeah. You, you’re—”
“— Brad Pitt.” He extended his hand as if this were a business meeting. I said the only thing that came to mind. “I’m so sorry.”
He frowned and opened his mouth. Before he could speak, a voice bellowed through the clouds. “This is the largest one-day intake in history. To keep things moving, each small group will divide itself into 6 pairs. He is delegating each of you to forgive or condemn your partner on His behalf. You have 10 minutes to tell each other about yourselves.”
“I’ll start,” Brad said. “There probably isn’t much you don’t already know. I’ll deny adultery, but you won’t believe me. I’ll admit to alcohol-related problems. I’ll even admit to doubting this place existed.”
“To be honest, I know very little about you. I never paid much attention.”
I got right to the point. “Have you ever killed anyone, even unintentionally through carelessness?” I wanted him to say “yes” so I could forgive him and set a precedent.
“No. Now tell me about yourself.”
“I made a terrible mistake at work yesterday. I was in a hurry to catch my train and I figured I’d have time to fix it today, so I let it go. I should have at least told someone before I left. It—”
“Listen,” Brad said, sweeping his arm in a wide arc encompassing the crowd. “Considering the big picture, a clerical error isn’t any huge deal. You’re forgiven. I’m going to find my kids.” He took off before I could explain.
That’s how I got into Heaven, without ever telling anyone I was the one responsible for the big picture, for all these people – all those babies – being here today. The one who pushed the button.
Kathy Sanford lives in upstate New York and coastal Georgia with her husband and two senior coonhounds. After retiring from a career of bureaucratic writing, Kathy has returned to her childhood aspiration of creating fiction. She has been a regular contributor to Mercurial Stories Weekly FlashFiction since Volume 1, Issue 32 and is surprised to find herself participating in online short story challenges and contests.