The Choice – extract

“You are here for a purpose. There is someone here who needs your help.”

“My help? How can I help anyone here?”

I was intrigued by the request, perhaps even flattered by it, but it seemed out of place. What could I do that Michael or one of his friends could not do a million times better?

“You can use your God-given talents, your brain, your intellect, your persuasion in argument and your capacity for looking into the hearts of others and seeing what even they do not always see about themselves.”

“Who do you want me to help?”

“A young woman whom you will meet soon. I have told her all about you.”

“What does she think I can do for her?”

“Nothing at all. She is convinced that no-one can help her.”

“And you think she is wrong?”

“It is up to her, just as your decision is up to you.”

I felt as if he were deliberately leaving it to me to draw out of him what he wanted me to do. Did he know already what my answer would be? Was it part of his plan to let me believe that I had a choice?

“What do you think I can do for her?”

“There are those who believe that she has committed a crime, a very severe crime. They think that she should be punished for it, the way that others have been punished by the wrong that she has done to them.”

“And do you think that she should be punished?”

“I believe that she has been punished enough – by herself.”

I was curious now. She sounded like the kind of defendant I had enjoyed representing at the Bar. A woman who may or may not be guilty of a crime of which others were keen to accuse her. And, even better, she had a conscience!

“Is there to be a trial?” I asked, as the pieces began to fall into place in my mind.

“Yes, there will be a trial, although it will not be the kind of trial that you are used to.”

“And will you be the Judge?” I enquired hesitantly.

“No, Lily, you have misunderstood the purpose of the trial. I have judged her already – a long time ago. I shall not be the Judge this time. She will.”

I was confused. It did not make sense. Was he playing games with me?

“You said you wanted me to help her, so I assumed she would be on trial.”

“You are right in a sense. Her soul is on trial. She believes it is lost. I want you to represent her in a way which will persuade her, and others, that it is not.”

His words were still unclear, although I was beginning to glimpse his meaning.

“How can she be the Judge and the Defendant at the same time? Won’t that entail a conflict of interest?”

He paused, and I feared that I might have asked too much. Then the silence was broken with:

“You use your mind well, Lily. I admire the way you follow thoughts through in a logical manner. That is one of the reasons why I chose to entrust you with this task – if you are willing to accept it. The soul you will defend, if you so choose, is not as practised in rational, abstract thought as yours. She has an intellect – as you will soon discover for yourself – but her intellect is limited by being too closely harnessed to her own experiences and emotions. She needs to learn to stand back, and observe herself, her soul, from an objective viewpoint. It is her only hope for salvation. That is why I want her to be the Judge, so that she can listen to what you have to say about her soul, her actions on Earth, her responses to her situation, as if she were hearing about someone other than herself. That way, she can judge her soul more fairly. Will you do it, Lily? Will you represent her soul?”

I needed time to reflect, but time was not something I had any more. I sensed that he knew what my answer would be, not because it was predestined, but rather because I had already decided.

“Very well,” I announced with a mixture of pride and excitement, “I shall do it! Who is she?”

“You will have heard of her. Everyone has heard of her. Her name is Eve.”