4: Arturo’s Choice

I entered this short story in a weekly fiction competition; the photo below (Unicornio, by Salvador Nunez) was our only writing prompt. To read the winning stories, and other entries check out Flash! Friday.

unicornio-salvador-nunez
“You’re dead of course,” the old man said, and Arturo nodded.
“Now, what that means is that this isn’t a dream, you can have the angel, the unicorn or the magic carpet, but you can’t have it all.”
“That’s not what I was lead to believe.” Arturo said, as somewhere below the table he could feel hot sand beneath his toes. The bitter disappointment he had initially experienced had waned now to sleepy apathy. At first, Arturo had pushed the wine away, but the old man had no interesting conversation, and so far the wine, and the view, were all that appeared to make up heaven.
“You know it’s strange,” he said, as he felt for the brim of his hat.
It was the first piece of his Halloween costume; the last clothes he had been wearing when his wife had seen fit to fire those bullets into him.
“It’s just that I was always taught that when we die, we go to a better place, if we’ve been good, and a bad place, if we’ve been bad. What then, is this place?” He laughed, “it’s like nowhere at all.”
The old man grunted.
“Do you want a gift or not? I haven’t got all day. People die every second. Not everyone gets to be so lucky as you.”
“Lucky?” Arturo asked.
“Lucky,” the old man replied.
Arturo contemplated his choices. Finally, when he had grown tired of wearing the old man’s patience out, he said: “I’ve made my choice.”
“And?”
“I’ll take the shovel.”
“Why?” The wooden face contorted into a tortured shape.
“I’d like to see my wife,” Arturo replied, amazed at how the words no longer burned in his mouth.
“Hell’s that the way,” the old man said in disgust, motioning at the ground with his chin.
Arturo picked up the shovel, and began digging.

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