shoelace, as much to avoid eye contact as anything. When she straightened up, something
in the distance caught her eye, shimmering like a mirage. She squinted, not sure she was
really seeing what she thought she saw.
“You know, now might be a good time for you to tell me what it was like to live in
a castle,” she said.
Andras shook his head, sadly, as if Irene had disappointed him. “You cling too
much to the past. Forget the trappings of life. Free your mind from these longings, and so,
free your soul. Only then will we be able to escape these shackles and enter Heaven to
rest at the side of God.”
Why did he always have to argue about everything? “For God’s sake,” she said,
exasperated, “just answer the question!”
Irene pointed to the hulking structure in the distance. “Because,” she said as
Andras whirled around to see what she was pointing at, “correct me if I’m wrong, but that
looks like a castle.”
“Wow!” Irene said, her eyes roving over the dark, crenellated structure hulking in
the far distance. It gleamed dully, the color of burnt blood in a fading afternoon sun.
“What the hell do you think that is?”
Andras grunted. “As you said—Hell.”
Irene frowned at him, but her lips quirked in amusement. “Why do you have to be
so negative? It could just as easily be Heaven. God is supposed to live in a palace,
right—the whole ‘my father’s house has many rooms’ thing? A castle is just a type of
Andras gave her a dry look. “Does that look like Heaven?”
Irene was on the verge of agreeing that the castle did not in any way look how she
imagined Heaven when it shimmered, as if the fading sunlight had been redirected by
mirrors. Light rippled across the castle’s surface and the dull, dark, burnt-blood color
transformed into gleaming, bright, silver-white. Crisp white pennants flapped from the
corners as if whipped by wind. Irene thought she could hear them snapping crisply.
Irene looked at Andras, and he looked at her. His expression made it clear that he
had seen the same transformation she had. It was as if the building was trying to trick
them into coming closer.