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art by Jason Stirret

Heaven

Janet Shell Anderson likes to read and write flash fiction, has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for fiction and for the Micro Prize for short fiction. She is an attorney.
Murderers have a special planet they go to when they die. Kepler 22b. Oh yes. Attorneys who represent them don't know that. Well, no one really knows that.
I know all about it now. I was accused of murdering Harrison Reed, Esquire.
So here I am on Kepler 22b, a fine, fat, blue world.
It rains here endlessly, is spring endlessly. No winters of discontent, the green silk rains come down. No one ever dies in such a rain. So this is paradise.
I tell myself every day when the blue world turns on its fat axis and spring goes on forever that Harrison, my partner in my law office, my first, last, and forever love, the boy I met in Contracts when we were twenty-three, Harrison is not dead. The rain whispers I never shot him, never shocked the entire Nebraska bar, never went to a farm on a rainy April day, never fought with the pot-bellied, bearded, stubborn tenant farmer about three riding horses, never swore my clients had a right to possession of those animals. The rain says Harrison never intervened and just for a second just for a second just for a second stepped into the line of fire.
This rain in paradise says there never was a trial.
Harrison was my lover and unfaithful and that kept coming up. Did I defend myself? Was that possible? Was I competent? Was I condemned for Harrison's murder?
I remember him falling in the green farmyard, the tenant farmer looking so surprised, saying, "How drunk are you, lady? Do you know you just shot that guy?" A redbud tree in bloom stood beside the barn.
Alice Percival was only a paralegal, a bleach blond, bitchy. Harrison hired her. Slept with her. I could not believe it.
I shot him six times. I shot her too, later, after the rain stopped, when she was asleep in bed in her small house on J Street. It was all justified. The spring rain that whispers here as it whispered there, whispered "shoot," and I did. That was my closing argument.
I was sentenced to death by a judge who almost failed Torts when we were in law school together. He had wanted to be a Congressman.
The redbud on Kepler 22b is just barely blooming and the trees are fuzzed with green, so it is not possible, and the rush of cars coming down the slick streets, spraying people standing waiting for lost buses, it is not possible, and it is spring spring spring on the fifth planet around the yellow yellow sun and it is not possible Harrison and Alice are dead. It's 2012 in the dreamworld of Kepler 22b, and I see daffodil stalks rising from black, wet earth almost as if time had not wound around and left millions of us here, eons from home.
Everyone on Earth hopes for resurrection, immortality, metempsychosis, transmigration of souls, endlessness. The millions of murderers transported to Kepler 22b, suddenly and irreparably, have achieved that. The courts have sent us here, unknowing. This is where every single person sentenced to death on ordinary Earth has gone.
Go to Lincoln, Nebraska. Check out the penitentiary on South 14th Street. Charlie Starkweather was electrocuted there in 1959 after saying "Let's get on with it." He used to be the garbageman on my block. And presto, he came here. Still a garbageman.
I estimate, and I'm a lawyer not an astronomer, we're 600 light years from Lincoln, Nebraska, give or take a few. A good way. A nice fat blue planet with a nice fat yellow sun and around and around we go. New Eden we call it.
I practice law.
It might as well be Hell.
But today, I have my wish. It's raining. Spring rain. It falls on the pools among the lily pads that have no lilies yet; concentric circles spread. Fish rise to the disturbed surface; bare tree limbs with green fuzz are mirrored on the silky water. Daffodil stalks thrust up out of wet, black earth, and there is the smell, the ever heavenly smell, the perfect smell of a wet April morning world come alive.
Earthworms wriggle on the pavements of Kepler 22b.
I would not dare kill one.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 25th, 2013

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