Where do we go when we die ?
They are sitting on a couch.
Him – Did you see the postman, this morning ?
Her – You’re expecting something ?
Him – Not really… But I always hope for a miracle when I open the mailbox. To be told I won a competition I didn’t go in for. That an old and loaded aunt I didn’t even know about died with no heirs. That they awarded me the Nobel Prize in advance for my future work… Every day, opening the mailbox, I am like a child in front of the tree, on Christmas Day.
Her – That’s right… Growing up, we don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, but we still believe in the postman. Besides, there are some similarities… They both wear a uniform. They come by with a sack. They drop off packets, and you never get to see them…
Him – Well, the postman, you can see him on Christmas day, precisely, when he comes for his tips… (With a sigh) I hate Christmas. Every new year, there are less greeting cards in the mailbox, and more funeral announcements… (After a while) But why am I waiting for the postman as if he was the Messiah…? On the other hand, the Messiah’s father might very well have been the postman, right ? Because this story about the Immaculate Conception… Unless you believe in Santa Claus too…
Her – To get letters, you have to write some. Most people just receive answers. If you never send letters, don’t be surprised not to get any… I think I never received a letter from you…
Him (ironical) – Do you want us to write each other once in a while ?
She looks at him, wondering if he’s serious or not.
Him – What could we possibly have to say each other any way…? I would feel like I were writing to myself. Besides, we always write more or less to ourselves, don’t we ? There are people you write endless letters to… And when you finally meet them, you realise that you don’t have anything to tell them. No, definitely, writing has something to do with onanism…
She treats herself to a drink and lights a cigarette.
Him – You smoke now ?
Her (surprised) – Well, yes… I have been smoking for twenty years. Didn’t you ever notice ?
Him – Did you know that every cigarette reduces your life by ten minutes ? (She does not answer) How many cigarettes a day do you smoke ?
Her (ironical) – According to my calculations, I should have died six months ago. Maybe I am…
Him – The same with the mobile, right ? Not very healthy. They say that if you use it more than an hour a day, you are sure to get brain cancer. You better not go over your monthly contract… (After a while) By the way, you know what your daughter asked me this morning, while I was brushing my teeth ?
Her – No.
Him – Where do we go when we die ?
Her – What did you answer ?
Him – What do you think I answered ?
Her – I don’t know.
Him – Right. It’s exactly what I answered.
Her – So ?
Him – She told me : But dad, when we die, we go to the cemetery !
Her – And then ?
Him – Then, she went back to eating her corn-flakes. Apparently, she was happy to have taught me something; and a bit surprised that, at my age, I still didn’t know what was waiting for me… Incredible, isn’t it ?
Her – What ? That she asked you that ?
Him – No, that children are so able to accept simple answers to simple questions. A philosophy teacher would have spoken of metaphysics, immanence, transcendence, the whole damn lot… even God. Children are much more pragmatic. Besides, they are naturally atheist.
Her – They believe in Santa Claus.
Him – Well… Because theirs parents tell them that he exists, and that he will bring them gifts. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have invented him by themselves. If somebody told you that an anonymous benefactor would pay you a bonus at Christmas every year, you wouldn’t question his existence. But God never brought us anything for Christmas, and some adults still believe in him… Do you believe ?
Her – In Santa Claus ?
Him – What’s incredible, too, is that it wouldn’t scare her.
Her – What ?
Him – The prospect of being buried ! You and I… we are wetting ourselves… Why not her ? (After a while) I’ll have to ask her tonight what she means exactly by «when we die, we go to the cemetery »… What do you think she means by that ?
She looks at him, embarrassed.
Her – Well… that.
Him – What… that ?
Her – When we die, we go to the cemetery…
He looks at her, astonished.
Him – Then you believe that too…?
Her – You don’t ?
Him – Well, of course… I mean…
He laughs at her.
Him – Wait, don’t tell me that it’s as simple as that for you too !
Her – In a way… It is.
He looks at her, mocking.
Her – I don’t know, a while ago, you thought it marvellous not to worry about anything. To be satisfied with simple answers to simple questions.
Him – Well yes, but… You’re not five years old !
Her – Ok, then. Go on. I ask you the question : Where do we go when we die ?
Him (taken aback) – Well… It’s not as simple as that…
Her – I’m listening…
Him – I don’t know, it’s… as a fact of matter…
Her – Fact of matter..? You mean as a matter of fact ?
Him – Where do we go when we die…? We go nowhere !
Her – We go to the cemetery !
Him – Well, if you want…
Her – Even if I do not !
Him – But, look… We go to the cemetery, it doesn’t mean anything ! One can perfectly well go to the cemetery whilst still alive, have a little walk around, leave the cemetery and go get lunch in a Chinese restaurant. What does that mean, go to the cemetery ? Besides, one can die and not go to the cemetery. When they don’t find the body ! You see ? In that case, you can’t say : When we die, we go to the cemetery. Can’t you see that it is not as simple as you think it is ?
Her – Well… Then if your daughter asks you again, what will you answer ?
Him – I don’t know… (He thinks about it) I will answer… When we die, we go to the cemetery… usually. If they find the body… When you are alive, you can also go to the cemetery… But when you are dead, it’s for ever.
Her (coughing) – Yes…