Chapter 36: The Semicolon of a Life
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Falling like a feather through the golden sky, I was cast from the blackness into a world of skyscrapers and sunset. Unlike the dull greys of the city skyline I remember from Derrick's life, buildings made of towering gold stretched up into the horizon, detailed with such intricate patterns that one would need a microscope to see the beauty of it all. Cutting through the clouds, the towers seemed almost to compete with one another to reach the heavens.

As I slowly fell, I found myself gravitating toward the roof of one of those towers, clad with marble. I could see an older man wearing a cardigan, leaning against the railing, staring into the sunset. He wore a contemplative look as he witnessed the fall of the sun, fading into the purple-gold eventide. In this place, the heavens appeared like a cascading canvas of colour, an abstract artwork painted upon the sky - and as the sun fell slowly toward the horizon, the world only seemed to grow more vivid.

With a slow thud as I landed against the roof of the building, I stood before the older gentleman, as his focus remained upon the falling sun. It was a beautiful place, this heaven. His rugged black hair was streaked grey, and as the sunlight reflected off his dark skin and aged hair, I could sense a kindhearted compassion from him. I felt like I was staring at an older Vincent, worldly yet wearied by the passage of time. I wandered toward him, standing next to him and leaning against the railing - joining him. We stared across the sky, the endless vista drawing to a close the end of a life.

"I'm guessing this means I've passed on then?" The man said, still staring out across the horizon. 

"Yes, I'm afraid so, Derrick," I replied. "My name's Malarie, and I'm here to guide you."  

Watching the skyline, the man sighed with a heavy heart as he looked down over the railing - staring down sombrely at the cloud cover below. I had to admit, though, the choice of location seemed a little strange considering his life story. I would've thought it'd take the form of another place entirely. Perhaps a place that Derrick might have... well, wanted to be?

Instead, here we stood; a veneer of gold whitewashing the otherwise grey misery of the office building. I wondered why his heaven took that form, but I remained silent about it. I kept my thoughts to myself.

"So, this is what it looks like at the end," Derrick said.

"How do you feel about it?" I asked.

"I lived a good life," Derrick replied. "I've got regrets, same as everyone else on this Earth, but I got to say goodbye. That's a luxury that not everyone gets... I'm thankful that I got to have it before my end."

"You know, I don't want you to think of death as an end, Derrick," I began. "I'm here to help you, to begin a new life. Death is not a full-stop for the spirit's journey, but rather, a semicolon as it begins a new chapter; separate, and yet connected. Lives come to a close, but... the close of a life is not the end of a soul's journey, rather, simply the next stage of it."

As I leaned against the railing, I stared out at the clouds - following his gaze. They shifted below us, shimmering ardent and white mist gathering miles beneath. The silvered mist lingered listlessly, hanging in the sky as I stared down at it, snaking between the towering buildings as they permeated the whole landscape.

"I'm offering you the chance to reincarnate, to begin life in another world," I said. "How would you like to live, Derrick?"

He pondered it for a moment. Staring out at the sky, watching as the sunlight danced and shone through the twilight, he held his hand against his chin as he grew lost in thought.

"It's a tough thing to think about," he answered.

"You've got all the time in the world," I replied.

Leaning over the banister, he looked over the edge of the building, before stepping back a little. As he stood there for a moment, he sighed. I guessed, from the look on his face, that he'd turned up nothing in the way of ideas. I didn't blame him. Being asked, to consider so many different lives, so many possibilities in the matter of a few moments - it was a sheer impossibility.   

"I... I don't know," he replied. "I'd like to go back to my family again, but I guess that's off the table - isn't it?"

"Sorry, but you cannot return to the same world, and I cannot let you live you as the same species," I said. "I have to abide by that. I'm here to help you create new experiences, as a new individual."

"That makes sense," he said.

Staring up at the sky, the old man seemed to smile as he stared up at the heavens, watching the sunset begin to melt into the clouds. A look of sobered happiness accented his smile, the warmth of his joy seeming to radiate across the air of this place.

"You know, it's kind of fitting, being back here now," he said.

"Why's that?" I asked.

"You mentioned earlier, how death is a simply semicolon in the soul's journey," Derrick said. "Well, this place - this rooftop - it was the semicolon of my life. It was the place where I changed my path, decided to leave the old me behind. It was where I decided I wanted to be with my family. I decided here, I wanted to make a life worth living instead of throwing my life away."

As his eyes drifted back toward me, he wore that same warm smile on his face, as he stared across the rooftop. Sliding his foot against the floors of the marble rooftop, he seemed to tap his foot against the marble - listening to the rapid strikes as the noise of his footfalls resounded, billowing from the tiles and into the empty skies. Through the silent skies, the echoes able to drift off into the ether - uninterrupted in their flight.

"I think I'd like to stay here for a while," Derrick said. "I have a rough idea of how I'd like to live, but - if it's alright with you, I want to sit here for a bit. I'm not ready to leave just yet."

I stared out at the sky. Frankly, I was more than happy to spend an eternity here waiting - especially since I'd have to deal with Esmeralda's threats and the Boss's inevitable wrath when I got back. As I stood there, I leaned against the golden railing, and stared up at the vibrant skies - watching as tones of light swished through the skies.

"I'm here to help you," I smiled. "For as long as you might need."