Peyton attended church all his life. At first he went with his parents. He'd been going to church for as long as he could remember.
He heard many sermons about heaven and the world to come. Some preachers said it was a city made of gold and gemstones, with a big choir. Others said it was like a tropical island. He once tried reading Dante's Paradiso, but couldn't make heads or tails of the imagery.
Although Peyton enjoyed scenic parks and sunny beaches, a fllashy paradise wasn't what he had his heart set on. All his life he wanted to have a brother. As a young boy he wanted a brother. He pestered his parents, but for whatever reason, they never gave him a brother. He grew up and they grew old. It was too late.
He envied other boys who had brothers. All the same, he saw that some brothers hated each other or took each other for granted. If he had a brother, he'd make the most of it, but he never got the chance. That was a hole in his life. There's not a lot he wanted. Not something big or showily, but something small and ordinary. He was easy to please.
When preachers rhapsodized about heaven, he found it disappointing. Maybe that was their idea of heaven–and that was fine for them–but it left him on the outs.
The moment after he died, he found himself standing in his boyhood bedroom. He was young again. He went into the living room, then went outside. Everything looked just the same–only it was like walking through a mirror. Everything was the same but in reverse–kinda. It was hard to put his finger on the difference. But it still had the woods and creeks, ravines and meadows he used to roam as a boy. Where he used to pray and sing to himself.
Because he didn't have a real brother, he had an imaginary brother. He called him Chase. He used to talk to Chase as if he was really there. He took him along when he went hiking on the trails. A pretend brother made him feel both less lonely and more lonely.
But this much was real. He died. He was rejuvenated. It was bracing just to be young again. He'd forgotten what that felt like. The spring in the step. The crisp vision at a distance. The sharp hearing. In fact, there was something extra. Better than before. More vigorous.
As he rounded a bend in the trail, he saw another boy in the distance about his age. As they came towards each other, there was a look of mutual astonishment. It as Chase! The brother he always wanted but never had.
He couldn't believe his eyes! He didn't dare believe it was true. It took days for the reality to sink in. This wasn't a dream. No, this was for keeps.
As it turned out, he was in a parallel world. In this world, Chase was the only brother, and Peyton was the brother Chase always wanted but never had. God made them apart to reunite them in the world to come. Now they had a chance to do all the brotherly stuff they always longed to do but never had a chance to do in their former lives. Peyton was satisfied.