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What We Keep

Notes from the Afterlife


What To Expect


Addendum, Subsection 3: Eternal Marriage

First of all, the Mormons are right. You are married for eternity. This applies to everyone, not just Mormons. You are married to everyone you ever married.

As well as to anyone to whom you ever said, "I feel as if I am married to you." Or married in a non-legal ceremony, using for instance an old license plate. Or lived with on that pot farm that upset your mother so much. The official memo is that it's the intent that counts. All marriages are considered binding by both heavenly and infernal authorities, despite your second thoughts.

As a result, the Assistant Undersecretary for Eternal Marriage has had to issue the following supplemental guidelines to the welcome packet.


Please note that visiting hours between the departments have been extended. This is mandatory, as all marriages are considered sacred, and must be given equal time. And no, I don't know who decided that, so please don't ask me. I myself have two spouses in each realm, of varying genders, and I consider myself to have gotten off lucky at that.

Your guide will show you the stairs and give advice on tactful compliance. For instance, on no account compare your spouses to each other, even if they have been demanding lately and shown an excess tendency to weep when you visit. I am not responsible for her touchiness, and it has nothing to do with the rib roast incident at Christmas just before she died. Although in retrospect it might have been better if I had hidden the car keys so she could not drive off in wet snow and hit a garbage truck. And I admit I did remarry rather quickly, although of course I had no idea it was an actual marriage. You say these things to people all the time under the influence of passion and some tequila. Then it turns out that if you considered you were married, you were married. Furthermore, only one of you has to have thought so.

And in any case, she never told me about the Las Vegas wedding, and now here he is with about fifty women attached to him, all trailing broken promises like cheap perfume. A number of them apparently overlap, and a decision is still pending on whether you can be married to two people at the same time, and if not, does one of them get a pass? And why should anyone be rewarded for bigamy, which is a sin, instead of for marriage, which is sacred, is what I would like to know. These issues require steady judgment and frankly that's been lacking around here.

So I can't emphasize this enough. Keep your spouses separated. It helps if they live in opposite realms, and that is actually more common than you might think, but people do pass each other on the stairs and make chitchat. The regrettable incident just last week was a result of that.

So if you pass another spouse on the stairs, do not strike up a conversation. Do not ask for intimate details. If you do ask, remember that women will talk about anything, so if you ask you have only yourself to blame.

If you fail to make appointments with the appropriate spouses, appointments will be made for you. You will receive a card. These cards will not catch fire, although they can be damaged by for instance biting them in half; and although it is also possible to roll one up sufficiently to stick up someone's backside, that is an idle threat and there is no use in attacking the messenger. I do valuable and necessary work here. It's no point making a joke of it. I have always had an organized nature. If that made it difficult to live with an antique colander collection and 340 dolls with Medusa-like curls and beady eyes, plus their spare parts, I am sure you can understand that.

I repeat, do not allow your spouses to interact. Sexual practices are no one's business but your own, even here. If you had an unspoken yearning to be spanked, or tied up and made love to by someone in a pirate costume, you should have mentioned it at the time. Lack of communication is the root cause of most marital difficulties, and I am sure you can understand that a woman who is too shy to open her eyes in bed is not going to be very effective at stating her needs. There is no point in becoming hysterical later because it turns out that someone else was better at suggesting these things. Furthermore, it is physically impossible to damage someone in this realm, although you can give them a headache. And going off to sulk with Mr. Las Vegas Quickie is just childish.

Understand that your spouses may have made unwise choices before or after they met you, and that your own extras are probably no prize either. If you are horrified to discover that your spouse also married someone who was ugly, older, stupid, of the wrong or possibly indeterminate gender, or otherwise highly different from yourself, well you have a long time here to get over it so you might as well start.

However, all things will not be made plain to you now that you are here. You will not know any more than you did before, if that was what you were counting on. For instance, you will not know why the garbage crew was working on Christmas.

Understand that people who are grieving do very odd things.

Understand that your spouse may feel to blame for it all. Understand that your spouse is doing the best he or she can and the three-way incident had nothing to do with you, and your spouse probably did not realize he could end up married to them. Both of them. Understand that we all have to follow the rules although that assignment appears to have been an error, and they don't like him either, and we all hope the records can be corrected.

Understand that the Las Vegas husband was a surprise.

Understand that none of us knew what we were doing at the time. Understand that if we had, we might have done it anyway because human nature is unreliable.

You can put that down to predestination if you want to.

Here's your appointment card. Please don't be late.


First published in Phantom Drift 3: Rewiring the Weird, October 2013

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