The service bell was on a white table in the middle of the hotel’s reception desk.
My arms were full with one arm cradling a stack of standardized tests and the other arm carrying a bag with ice cream and crackers in it. I cautiously put the groceries down and rang the bell. The standardized tests were too valuable to put on the floor.
An elderly woman with silver hair pulled back in a loose bun walked out of a back room. “Welcome to the Pearly Gates. I hope you had a pleasant journey.”
“The Pearly Gates,” I screamed. “I don’t feel dead.”
The woman grinned. “Honey, Everybody says that when they first get here. You don’t feel dead when you’re dead. Let me get the Book of Life. It will tell us if you go to door one which is Heaven or door two which is the other place.”
I looked at the two doors. I hoped it was door one for me.
“What happened to St. Peter?” I asked. I thought that was his job to tell you if made it to Heaven.”
The woman pointed to her white supervisor badge. “Peter has gone fishing today. He gets two weeks vacation every year. I’m Saint Elizabeth. I’ll be helping you today.”
“Oh,” I said. “You’re John the Baptist’s mother.”
“Yes, that’s me, ” said the woman as she reached below the reception desk and pulled out a large, black book. “Let’s look you up.”
“Here you are. You made it. Please go to door one. You’ll love it there. Everybody is nice and you can eat all the pastries you want and never get fat.”
I knew I was going to love this Heaven. I imagined rows of sweets.
I waived goodbye to Saint Elizabeth and started to walking for door one. Elizabeth stopped me.
“You can take the ice cream and crackers with you, but you have to leave your stack of standardized tests here with me.”
“Oh, I can’t do that,” I explained. “I told my principal that I wouldn’t let these tests out of my sight. The state even had me sign a security agreement form. They make all teachers sign the form.”
“You’re dead, dear,” said Saint Elizabeth. “I’m sure your principal will understand.”
“No, You’ve never met my principal. She will be upset and then get really mad at me.”
“Suit yourself, “said Saint Elizabeth as she pointed to a few chairs in the lobby area. “Let me know when you change your mind.”
I sat down in the Pearly Gates lobby. I knew I wasn’t going to change my mind. I had signed a security agreement. I ate my crackers and ice cream. I read a magazine and then watched a news report on the TV. Hundreds of people walked up to the gates while I sat with my stack of standardized tests. After four hours, Saint Elizabeth approached me.
“Amee, I need to let you in on a little secret. It might make this easier for you.”
I leaned closer. What secret would a Saint tell an ordinary teacher like me?
“The devil is the author of all state standardized tests.”
I opened up door two and kicked the stack of standardized tests through it. I walked through door one to my eternal reward.
I laughed hysterically when I woke up. The dream was so funny. When I got to work, I told several of my coworkers about my dream. They also giggled. My principal assured me that if I died she would not be mad at me for leaving the tests unattended.