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2nd Place: 'On Meeting God' 

When the end came, she wasn't ready, though the jagged lines down her thin white arms might have told you otherwise. The pain was gone, she was sure of that, but beyond that, she didn't know what else to expect. She wasn't even sure if she could move, or if she even were a "she" anymore, maybe no longer a person but a being without borders or edges. She blinked and then realized that she could still see, though everything was foggy and blurry in a pixelated way.

Movement. She could feel a slight breeze moving across her skin, but it blended with her body in a way that the air moving was like her moving as well. She began to notice muffled sounds, and then a voice. A face came into focus. A light face, with dark ringlets of hair and wizened blue eyes. A familiar face, yet she was sure she had never seen it before. The face was looking at her expectantly, as if waiting for the answer to a question she hadn't heard.

"Are you God?" her voice sounded strange and far off.

"Do you think that I am God?" the patient face replied.

She paused, unsure how to answer. Bits and pieces of her life before started flitting about her brain, confusing her and derailing her train of thought. The premonitions. The visions of a new Christ child to be born to her. The ability to heal. How her touch had brought comfort to so many people.

She must be in Heaven, for she had heard God calling her all her life.

"Sarah?"

Her name. It sounded so foreign.

"Do you think I am God?" he asked again.

She looked hesitantly into the pools of clear blue innocence before her and answered.

"Yes."

"I see," he replied.

Was this some kind of trick? Did God give answers in the form of riddles? Was this not God himself, but an angel or — Oh God! — the devil trying to trick her?

"You are God, right? I am in heaven?" she asked in an uncertain, wavering voice.

"We'll answer those questions in a moment. Do you know why you are here?"

Did she know why she was in Heaven? This didn't make sense.

"Because of my work. My healings. Because I followed your word." She knew this must be right.

Silence.

The face faded from view for a moment, then returned. His eyes were different now. They shone with a deep concern, and a pity that he was trying desperately to hide.

"Sarah, I want you to listen carefully. My name is Dr. Richards. I am your psychiatrist. You have been in my care for the last three months. You are at Presbyterian Hospital in the psychiatric ward. You had a severe manic episode and hurt yourself badly. You are here to rest and get better. Do you understand?"

His words were becoming lost in the voices in her head. He is not a doctor. Do not listen. He is the devil trying to trick you. Run. Run. She tried to move but her arms and legs felt like lead. She struggled against the restraints in the bed and yelled for God to save her. Two heavy-set nurses burst into the room and held her down against the bed so hard that it was difficult to breathe. The second nurse, a dark woman with soft brown eyes, turned her body and injected the needle into her backside. Everything slowed down and voices became like echoes.

"God? God, where did you go?"

She thought she felt an angel brush her hair from her eyes. Then nothing.

Sarah Klapprodt is a successfully unemployed writer living in Charlotte with her husband and four children.

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