When I was a child I believed that when I went to sleep a witch arrived to carry me off to the land of dreams. The means of transportation was a clattering shopping cart, same as at Ferretti’s Grocery. The witch herself was somewhat craggy. She was downright geologic. In profile she looked exactly like a solitary volcano on Mars, as depicted on the poster on my bedroom wall from the Boston Museum of Science. The witch looked just like that volcano. Her hat was a Martian cloud.
After death the shopping cart ascended. The wheels ceased to clatter. The witch only went part way. In structure the afterlife resembled two parking garages, one on either side, extending as far as the eye could see. Worlds were stacked one on top of each other, all the way up and all the way down, innumerable worlds. Heaven and Hell (there were many of both) were not above and below but right beside each other. The shopping cart rose in a column of air between them.
Heaven was on the left side. Hell was to the right. Or else it was the other way round. (Was it possible my shopping cart was spinning?) Here was the crux of the problem: Heaven and Hell kept switching sides. Countless heavens, countless hells. You had to choose between them.
This was extremely difficult because Hell mimicked Heaven and did all it could to seem like a really good time. Hell promised homemade cookies, unlimited pinball and the company of the Strawberry Quik bunny. Not until too late did you learn that the cookies had pond slugs in them, that you were the ball in the machine, that the evil pink bunny would never ever stop tickling.
Heaven couldn’t help but seem a little dull. It was the sort of place you loved once you got there, like Aunt Pilar’s house, but without the cactuses.
Which to choose? Which was the real Heaven? Which was torture? I couldn’t decide. I wished the witch was still with me, perhaps she could advise.