Thomas O’Connell

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Hell Is Nostalgia

The young girl’s fear of Heaven comes from her fear of situations that are tedious. How can you convince a child that sitting around singing eternal praises can compare with earthly passions? You are bound to embellish. That is when the cottony clouds become mattresses you are allowed to jump on, and the unfathomable uncreated creator becomes a bearded old man who fills heavenly tables with sweets and lemonade.

I cannot deny that I wonder myself. While drifting off to sleep at night, I am comforted by the notion that when I pass, a patient dog and well-stocked trout stream will be waiting for me just beyond the pearly gates.

Hell is easier to describe, what with the tales of weeping and gnashing of teeth. But I do not believe in the flames. The process of fire was given by the creator and would eternally remind me of our heavenly father, even though separated from Him. Hell must hold some torture beyond flames, which we cannot begin to comprehend. Otherwise, the torment inflicted by the continuous burning of eternal hellfire would be no worse than the bittersweet agony of smelling an envelope from some lost lover to recapture their closeness by recalling their scent.

A librarian living by the banks of the Connecticut River in Springfield, Massachusetts, Thomas O’Connell’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in NANO Fiction, Hobart, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.

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Photo Credit: “angel” by Lutz,

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