When I woke up and plodded my way to the bathroom, the bathroom was no longer there. Instead, there was a soldier.
“Where’s my bathroom?” I asked.
“We had to move it,” he said. “You’ve been transferred. Someone else is living your life. You’re to report to the resettlement office.”
I opened another door and my dead grandmother sat behind a desk.
“You’ve been such a disappointment,” she said. “My generation worked so hard, and all you do is sit on your behind and play on that computer. So we gave your life to a kid from Guatemala, who will appreciate everything you’ve got.”
The walls were starting to melt around me like crayons in the hot sun. People in uniforms started taking away my furniture and clothing.
“Nana, why are you doing this? What’s going to happen to me?”
“You’re going to a refugee camp in Yemen. You’ll probably be dead in a year. But it will be good for you. You’ll learn something.” I started to ask her what good was learning something if you were going to be dead shortly thereafter, but suddenly I was falling down a massive hole in the ground.
When I finally landed, I was in Yemen. It was awful. There were flies everywhere and the whole place, even where they served the food, smelled like a toilet. I could hardly eat, and I gave away most of my food to the kids. I was always agonizingly thirsty, but unless I got to the spigot the day when the water trucks first arrived, drinking it made me puke. They gave me a job doing intake behind a desk. All day, every day and into the night, there was a line of sick and impoverished people in front of me, asking for me to to do something for them. My job was, if they were sick, to direct them to stand in another line at the entrance to the so-called infirmary, If they weren’t sick I usually pointed to the emergency food depot. If they were on the verge of death, I would direct them to what everyone called the dying field, where they could get a cot and die not lying on the ground. Sometimes I’d help them walk over there.
I got dysentery in six months. Someone took me to the dying field and gave me a cot. As I was dying my grandmother, wearing a nurse’s outfit walked up to me.
“You did well here,” she said. “You helped people. Giving your food to the kids was a nice gesture.”
“Is this where you tell me this was a test, and I passed, and I can go back to my life in California now?”
“No, the Guatemalan kid is living your old life. I’m afraid this is your life now. You will die among the flies and the vultures will pick at you. But maybe you will have seen what your country did to the world when you were playing on your Iphone.”
“Please. I’ll change I promise. Everybody deserves a second chance, don’t they?”
“These people never had a first chance, so why should you get a second? ” I put out my hand for her to hold it, just for a little bit, and to forgive me. She sighed and grudgingly held it for a moment. “You should have realized what was happening when you had the chance,” she said. “That’s all there is to it.”