I looked over at Solon, whose face had turned whiter than white.
He looked as terrified as I felt.
I screamed, “Hold on! Don’t fall off! We have to stick together!”
As soon as I said that, the eagles changed course out of nowhere, descending as rapidly as they had risen. I felt like I was back on a roller coaster at Six Flags Riverside as my stomach lurched up and down with every change in direction. Beaks pointed down, these birds shot straight toward the ocean at an alarming rate. The surface of the water was coming at us faster than my eyes could take in. Solon yelled out to me, “It’s gonna be okay. Just, whatever you do, hold on tight to that eagle. We’re gonna crash into the ocean soon. I love you, bro! We’re gonna be okay.” It was as though Solon had taken Mom’s place by trying to ease my fears.
“Hold your breath when we hit the water and kick like crazy to get back to the surface,” I screamed, remembering what it felt like to plunge deeply into water.
As the eagles careened toward the water, I closed my eyes and inhaled what, in my life, would have been a last huge breath of air before we crashed through the water’s surface. To my surprise, the massive impact did not hurt like it would have on Earth from that height. In fact, I felt nothing at all. I opened my eyes and saw Solon beside me. His eyes were as wide as I imagined mine to be.
“That was wild!” We exclaimed, almost simultaneously.
“Where are we?” I asked, looking around. We were floating on the ceiling of a church, but not one I remember ever seeing before. It was huge, with seating for five hundred people or more. The space was relatively empty, except for a string quartet and a French horn player playing softly at the far side of the room. They seemed to be warming up, just as Solon and I had warmed up with our instruments before concerts. The quartet’s music was so beautiful that it made me want to cry. I wondered if we were still in our afterlife or back on Earth. The inside of the church and everything in it were misty, every object’s outlines slightly blurred. While we watched, people gradually filed into the pews, everyone with solemn looks and downcast eyes. The quartet played on.