Nin lifted a yellow highlighter and a book from her left wing and passed it to Tory. “Here, you’ll need these. Now pay attention; you have much to learn,” she whispered.
Tory wiggled onto the cool metal chair, placed the book on her lap, and held it down to keep it from floating. The book was oversized with feather light pages. “How could anyone pay attention sitting on these icebergs all day long in school? They need cloud puffs.”
“No cloud puffs down here. Not even many chairs – look around. ”
About twenty young men and women parked in wheel chairs or recliner beds stared at the front of the room. Some stared into space. Some slept through Jingle Bells. Red and green balloons rose from their chairs. Matching garland looped across the walls. A spruce tree, decked out in gold balls, white lights, and red bows, cheered up one corner of the room. Blue and gold garland glistened above a plastic menorah’s light bulbs in another corner. A strange scent of chocolate covered bleach filled the empty spaces. Blinking lights hung over a sign reading United Cerebral Palsy Center for Learning.
“Looks like a party.” Tory danced around her chair and tried a new position upside down.
“Don’t you ever stop fluttering? You’re an angel not a butterfly.”
“Open your book to page 3,740,002. These are all the actions of believers today in this zone. Here, we have our own map. Our job is to highlight the actions that God wants to reward. A few people here…”
“You ain’t nothin but a hound dog…” A karaoke machine flashed the words and speakers blasted fuzzy background music.
Tory’s mouth dropped open. “Hey, I thought he…”
“He did. This man’s name is John. He’s impersonating…to entertain.”
“John’s audience doesn’t look entertained.” Tory balanced her highlighter on her halo.
“He may not sound angelic under that crooked wig, but look at the man to your right. He can’t move much of his body, yet his finger is tapping, and a corner of his mouth is smiling.”
“Does John have a family?”
“Yes, a wife and five healthy kids. They’re waiting for him to come home for Christmas Eve. Flip back a page and read the conversation he had with his wife.”
“The pages floated over. Here it is.” Tory read their words…
“Do you have to work tomorrow?”
“Yah, I’m staying late for their holiday party. I’ll try to come home in time for church.”
“It won’t be as nice for the kids if you’re not here for dinner.”
“I know, but these kids don’t have the life our kids have. I want the party to be special for them.”
“You can stop there. See his heart?”
“Yep, shining loud and clear. Should I highlight this page?”
“Yes. Now skip ahead three pages.”
“Is that the woman we’re going to highlight?” Tory pointed to a woman wearing a flowered uniform, wiping milk dribbles off another woman’s chin.
Nin nodded. “You’re getting the hang of this. Keep watching. Her name is Elsa.”
As John belted out an Elvis rendition of “Joy to the World”, Elsa held the woman’s twisted hands and clapped them for her. The woman hummed along in grunts and squeaks.
Tory picked up her highlighter and covered half the page in yellow, the other half in tears.
Nin smiled. “One more to go before we move to the next zone.”
Tory looked around the room. Nothing she could see deserved a highlight.
“Watch the man in the recliner chair.”
“He’s sleeping. What’s to watch?”
“See his hands open? Look at his cheek.”
“A tear. Is he sad? Is he in pain? Maybe I should nudge a nurse to help him.”
“No, slow down a minute. He’s praying. Turn to the next page. He is praising God for sending his son to die for him. He is happy he’ll have a new and glorious body in heaven someday.”
“I get it now. We have to highlight the hearts that love.”
“You’re learning quicker than I expected.”
An ambulance siren called from down the road.
Nin winked at Tory. “We’re done here. Ready to go?”
Tory leaped off her chair. “Yes! Remind me to thank the Lord for not making metal chairs in heaven.”
“He heard you.”
They chuckled and slipped the yellow highlighters back in their wings.
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