Levi worked many months on the project of his home since he had been resurrected. He wanted to build a house for eternity—a house mimicking Earth’s systems. One that would be able to self-maintain, self-regulate, and would last forever. Looking at the 3D model, when seen from above, you could not see the house. As in perfect camouflage, the house’s roof would be covered by plants and it would merge with the local vegetation. You would have to take a closer look to see the domes spread out through its surface. Seen from behind, it would appear to be an elevation in the ground like a small hill. From the front side, it would look like the hill was sliced in half and had its interior dugout. Put simply; it would be one big two-stores-down cave with a massive glass facade and cupolas for light and ventilation cloaked in green grass and trees. A very peculiar house, but Levi was happy with his creation, and today he had received permission to build it in a beautiful area in the middle of the Wallkill forest. Anne was in love with the house, and Levi was excited to tell her the good news about the permit. Once they started dating, Levi often hosted dinner for family and friends together with Anne. That evening Levi invited his grandparents, Lee – his old friend from his School For Resurrected Ones -, and Lee’s girlfriend Avy.
“So, Anne. Tell us about how is school. How are you enjoying it?” Rachel asked.
“Yes. How are you coping with Jacob as your instructor?” Levi asked, teasing Jacob. Jacob raised his eyebrow and looked at Levi in mock-disapproval and grinned.
“No. Of course, Jacob is great.” Anne replied to Levi’s teasing.”I’m having lots of fun. My only problem is to collect pieces of my brain from all the mind-blowing moments every single day. It is just, wow”.
“It’s crazy, right?” Avy added.
“Yes, I mean,” Anne continued. “The trip to the Old World Museum, seeing all the events that took place before the end of the world as I knew it, that was…”
“Wait, wait,” Levi interrupted. “Are you guys already doing the field trip to the museums? Isn’t that supposed to happen towards the end of the course? In my class, it took us months before we had these trips.”
“Oh, yeah. You’re right. I remember,” said Lee confirming Levi’s recollection.
“He, he,” Rachel giggled.
“What?” Levi asked. “Don’t tell me they changed the curriculum?”
“No. No change of curriculum,” Jacob answered. “It just happens that Anne is attending a different class than you guys did.”
“What you mean?” Lee asked.
“Well, remember that we have different groups and…”
“No, no, no.” Levi interrupted again. “Are you saying Anne is in a faster class than I was? But she is also a scientist, and she was not a religious person. Why is she in the faster class?”
“Yes, I was not religious,” Anne responded, “But I was a spiritual person, I mean, I had my spirituality.”
“What? Since when?” Levi asked, perplexed about not knowing that about Anne.
“Remember, when I got my diagnosis? When we learned that I had cancer, and all the plans we made for our lives together were over?”
“Of course, how could I forget.”
“It killed me before it took my life. That made me question the meaning of everything, couldn’t accept what was happening to us, I needed answers, something that would help me cope with the miserable days we were going to face together. It was then that I reconnected with God.”
“I had no idea. How come you never told me this?” Levi asked, not believing what he heard.
“You know why,” Anne said. “You always were a secular-minded person. For you, there were only reason and science. I didn’t want you to think less of me because I had chosen to believe in a Creator.”
“I’m so sorry, Anne,” Levi said, holding Anne’s hand across the table. “I had completely forgotten that I used to be that guy. Please, forgive me.”
“It’s ok. There is nothing to forgive. We didn’t know any better.”
“And, that is why Anne is attending a faster class,” Jacob said. “The condition of Anne’s heart and her predisposition to spiritual matters seemed to have played a rule in her qualifying for it.”
“Huh,” Lee reacted as he had just understood something.
“I’m proud of you, babe,” said Levi. “That explains a lot. You were the one dying, but I was the one being consoled by you. You were so strong. And, now I know why.”
“I love you too,” Anne said, throwing Levi a kiss.
“Oh, you guys are so cute,” Avy said.
“I have a question,” Lee said, killing the moment. “What is the difference between the slow and fast classes, exactly?”
“The introduction to the Creator and his creation is kept short. That is the main difference in the faster classes. And, you might remember, that was a big chunk of your curriculum.”
“Sorry for the hard time we gave you, Jacob. And thank you for being so patient with us.”
“Yeah, sure.” Lee thought.
Avy was born in the New Earth, as were her parents. She was fascinated by the School For Resurrected Ones and everything else about the past and its history. Avy had many questions about Lazarus and was excited to talk to Jacob about it. After dinner, they kept talking at the table, while Anne and Rachel had a conversation in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Levi and Lee were outside in the balcony. Lee looked uneasy. Something seemed to be bothering him.
“Hey, man,” said Levi. “Avy looks to be a nice girl. But what about your ex-wife? I know she was resurrected around the same time as Anne, right? What happened?”
“Susanne? Yes, around the same time, but she attended a faster class, I think. I mean. She is done with school already, while Anne is still visiting museums.”
“Oh, wow. Really?”
“Yes. I didn’t quite understand that before, but today all made sense after Jacob’s explanation earlier. She was really into her spirituality when we were together. She was all about the Bible, loved God, and – yes, she was the real deal I guess.
“Are you serious?”
“Huh, I didn’t know that. How is she doing?”
“She is fine. We talk. But I don’t know, man. You and Anne seem to be doing ok, but don’t you sometimes think that she is a completely different person? That you don’t really know her?”
“Sometimes. But, all the new things about Anne are awesome. She did change, but for the better,” said Levi looking at Anne.
“I see. Yes, for us, it didn’t feel the same as it does for you guys. We talked and everything, but we are ok with the fact our marriage has ended in death. Besides, Susanne has changed too much, you know?”
“No, I don’t. How you mean?”
“Like, she has become obsessed with everything about this system. The new government, the spiritual realm, she is fascinated by the whole thing. Before, animals were her life. Now, all she cares about is public service. She has even volunteered her free time to work in public building projects, helping at Lazarus, and this and that. Hey, I love this place, ok? I truly appreciate being here, and I am as grateful as the next person. But, I don’t know. She is so involved with it. I guess it was just too much for me?”
“‘She has different interests than you. Is that it?”
“You could say that, yes.”
“She isn’t really obsessed about it, is she? Not more then you are obsessed about the animal world anyways, right?”
“Probably not,” Lee grinned. “But, you know what I mean. It would not work. And we are ok with that.”
“And, to be honest, it is not only Susanne that changed. Everything else is so different too. Sometimes I really miss some of the things from the old world.”
“Really? Like what?” Levi asked a bit concerned with Lee. He had never spoken like this before.
“You know I love big cats, right? I have studied lions my whole life. Here, I keep studying them, and I feel like I don’t recognize them. They are not the animals I fell in love with. For example, lions eat grass now. They have even changed their physiology, did you know that? They can eat flesh still, but to catch him doing it is as rare as seeing an old-man in today’s world, right? And what is that about? Why do animals get old and die?”
“Um-hum,” Levi kept nodding and listening.
“I mean, look at Jacob. How old is he? Two hundred? Three hundred? I don’t know. My animal friends, they live longer, right? But, eventually, they get old and die. Why? Why can’t they live forever as well?”
“I see,” Levi tried to understand. “Are you saying that they are living creatures just as we are, and they should have the same rights. Is that what you are saying?”
“Yeah. I guess so.”
“What about plants?”
“What about them?”
“Well, they are also living creatures, aren’t they? Should plants live forever as well?”
“Plants are different from animals, my friend.”
“Yes. So are we, right?”
“Yeah, okay. I just feel for the animals I guess. That’s all.”
“I have a friend at work that I want you to meet. He used to work at a project in the Old World that studied and protected marine turtles. In the New Earth, he has traveled the whole planet following them and put together several books about his research. Beautiful work with all that is there to be known about marine turtles. He has an entirely different opinion and a very interesting view of the changes in animal life. I think you would enjoy talking to him.”
“Yes, sure. I would like that.”
“Nice. I will set it up.”
Anne was still very impressed with what she had seen and learned at the Old World Museum. The tour helped her understand what sort of person was given a chance to live again, like herself, and what kind was not. Her parents were millionaires, big shots in the gun industry, and very influential in politics. When the world declared war on religion, it was a great opportunity. More guns needed to be produced to fight terrorists, as religious people were then labeled. And, of course, it would not be a fair fight if the enemy would not be able to fire back, which meant more demand for their product. But, when finally religion was down, many realized they had just killed their goose of golden eggs and lamented it. Anne knew her parents, and she never agreed with their nationalist values and their capitalist way of life. She was at peace with the fact that her parents didn’t make it. But, Martha was like a mother to her. She still struggled to understand why she was not there. She wanted to know what happened to her.
“What about Martha, Rachel?” Anne asked. “I know the short version of the story. But can you tell me more about what happened to her?”
“Ok, Anne. I will tell you. But you have to promise me not to tell Levi just yet, ok?”
“Yes, sure. What happened?” Anne asked craving to learn more.
“After Levi died, Martha lost her faith. None of her idols were able to protect Levi, and she was convinced that religion was a complete waste of time. As you learned at the museum, once the governments of the world turned against religion and made it illegal, she felt vindicated and saw her hate against religion justified. In time, many were persuaded to believe that religion was the source of all humankind’s problems. Religion became the nation’s common enemy. More and more people became fierce opposers of religion, and Martha was one of them.” Rachel paused and took a second. She was overcome with emotion.
“Hun-hun,” Anne nodded encouraging her to continue. She got closer and put her arm around Rachel.
“It didn’t take long until she turned on us. We tried everything we could to help her. To reason with her, but she would not listen. Right at the beginning of the attack on religion, when the time came for us to hide and get ready for what was yet to come, we still tried to help her.” Rachel’s voice started to fail, but she continued. “She said she had changed her mind and would join us. When we met with her at the appointed place, the police appeared out of nowhere and took all of us in custody. She turned us in, her own mother and father, betrayed us to the authorities.” Rachel took another break. There were no tears, but it was still hard for the words to come out.
“Oh, Rachel. Really?” Anne said incredulous at what Rachel was saying.
“That was the last time I saw my daughter. We tried everything. There was nothing else we could have done.” Rachel said.
“I had no idea. I’m so sorry, Rachel. I can’t imagine how hard it was for you.” Anne said giving Rachel a hug.
“I don’t want Levi to remember his mom like that. I’d rather for him not to know what she did. At least for now.” Rachel asked.
“Yes, of course. I won’t say anything.” Anne agreed. “But, thank you for letting me know. It helps me a lot to understand it better.”
“Don’t worry, child. I know,” Rachel replied with a smile.
“Can you tell me more about what happened afterwards with you guys. How was it for you right before the Final War?” Anne said still eager to know more.
“Ok. Let me see,” Rachel said. “So, after we got arrested,” she continued.
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