“The poor, wee girl. Rose, Rose, can you hear me, love?”
Rose’s eyelids fluttered. A stark, white light stabbed into her eyes and she shut them again. But in that brief glimpse, she’d seen the blurry faces of two women peering down at her.
“Rose, are you with us, pet? Open your eyes, there’s a good girl. You don’t have much time.”
“Rose!” The other woman spoke this time, sharper in tone. Rose opened her eyes and studied the faces bent over her. Both were older women, about seventy perhaps, with fly-away white hair and white flowing gowns. As Rose struggled to her feet, they broke out in relieved smiles.
“Good girl. Och, Wilma, she looks so pale, the poor lassie.”
“Everyone who comes here is pale, Lily. I wish you would strive to be less foolish.”
“All I said—”
During this exchange, Rose glanced around at her surroundings, and recognized nothing. Flat, barren land, seared in that glaring white light, stretched to every mist shrouded horizon. Not another living thing in sight. She breathed in the cool, pure air, and frowned at the strange, spongy surface beneath her.
“Where the hell am I?”
Both ladies regarded her with shocked expressions, and the one whose name seemed to be Wilma said, “Now, now, Rose. This isn’t the best place to be using bad language.”
Rose blinked. “I’m sorry. I meant—where am I? And who are you? How do you know my name?”
“My name is Wilma and this is Lily,” the taller woman answered. Lily beamed, her pale blue eyes warm and welcoming behind her glasses. Rose found herself smiling in return. Wilma continued. “You’re dead. You’re outside the gates of Heaven, but you aren’t allowed to go in.”