I was particularly tired that night as I got into bed. The usual aches and pains that are necessarily included in the home stretch of life. I welcomed sleep which came quickly.
I was being gently awakened. The lightest of touches on my shoulder. I turned and looked up. The person was sitting beside me and his face was extraordinarily benevolent and friendly. His voice was gentle but extremely authoritative.
"It's alright, don't be frightened, it's alright."
I was unable to ascertain specific facial features except to make note that he appeared very, very kind.
"I've got what I think you'll look upon as good news. I'm here to offer you a second chance."
I wasn't at all afraid, so reassuring and good was his demeanor.
"I don't understand. Please excuse me but I don't understand you."
"Of course. Let me explain. You've been down on yourself lately, reliving old baggage, over and over. You're a bit worn down and out, exhausting your energy in trying to constantly refuel and stay on high ground." He was smiling now.
"How did you know?" I stammered. The smile became a laugh. Maybe I had insulted him.
"I know all about you. That's why I'm here, don't you see?"
I didn't answer, lest I offend.
"I've got a proposition for you. Listen to it carefully."
I was very awake in a very deep sleep.
"If you wish, you can awaken in the morning and be young again, in the prime of life. What's more, you'll be at the top of your chosen game. Everyone will know who you are and will be vying for your favor. You'll enjoy the best of everything. The world will be your oyster."
I was stunned. "Why me?"
"Because it's your turn."
"Oh, my God," I exclaimed, cringing at the liberty I had taken. "Yes, yes, I wish. I want it! I'll be able to benefit from my mistakes, avoid the pitfalls, share my happiness with those close to me and squelch the naysayers."
He paused. "Not exactly, I'm afraid. You see, you'll be someone else."
I let those words sink in. And then I got it, the full meaning of what he was saying.
"I would die in my sleep."
"As far as the You as we know You now, yes. But it won't be Your end."
I believe I kept blinking my eyes, struggling to comprehend it all. Oh, the glory of a second chance at life! But, what of my loved ones? Come sunrise, they would be mourning me and I would be unable to tell them no need. I would be unable to communicate with them at all. The selfish cruelty of it all. I found myself involved in the ultimate weighing process. My face cried out to him for help. But, he said no more. He had spelled it all out and now it was up to me.
And then he began to slowly drift away.
He had read my thought process to the fullest.
He knew my conclusion and wasn't at all angry or even disappointed.
I had decided to wake up as me.