I had always walked by the side of the lord, and loved Him with all my heart, and so I was not afraid of either life or death.

Though, I must admit, I was afraid when the man - Mitch Simkins I was told - had me backed into an ally, pointing a knife at me.

"Take your clothes off!" he growled, cruelty in his podgy little eyes.

"Oh lord, I am full of fear!" I whispered, shaking.

"DO IT!" Mitch roared, lunging at me.

Trembling with terror, my 17 year old hand fumbled with my buttons and zips until I was naked, shaking more with fear than cold.

Mitch slammed me up against the wall and brutally raped me as I bitterly wept for comfort and protection.

A light distracted me from the horror I was suffering as a man appeared, watching me with sorrowful eyes.

"I'm with you." he told me gently, comforting me.

When Mitch was finished, he sneered at me.

"You won't live to tell a soul!" before shoving the knife in my stomach and fleeing from the scene.

I fell to my knees in agony, crying with misery.

The man knelt next to me and placed his hand in mine.

"My name is Andrew. I'm the angel of death, and I'm going to take you home. God is waiting to welcome you with open arms. He is waiting to hold you as you weep and wipe away your tears."

These words were immensely joyful to me and I leaned into Andrew.

"It hurts." I mumbled, cold and tearful.

"I know." he nodded gently, holding my wound. The pain eased and before long, it was completely gone.

I found I could stand and I was dressed in white, comfortable clothes.

I was confused, but then I looked down.

The sight horrified me.

My body was black and blue, and the stab wound was awful.

I shivered with disgust.

"Come - the lord is calling." Andrew told me softly, taking my hand.

As we walked down a tunnel, curiosity overcame me.

"What's He like?" I asked.

Andrew smiled.

"Everything you imagined Him to be. Good, loving and merciful."

A thought came, making me afraid.

"I never repented of my sins. Is it too late?"

"God knows your sorry, and He has already forgiven you. He just wants to hold you and give you comfort, like you prayed for."

Emotion overcame me and I breathed out to stop myself from crying.

"Then the lord is truly wonderful!"

"Thank you!" a strong voice said as we exited the tunnel.

Andrew grinned and knelt, bowing his head.

In awe, I knelt next to him.

Hey, if an angel was kneeling, I had better too!

"Ah, Josie. You have suffered greatly and lost your life in the process." God said, His body becoming apparent. Andrew and I were kneeling at His feet.

The memories came back all too suddenly, and I cried bitterly.

God crouched in front of me and pulled me into a loving hug.

I was filled with so much emotion and devotion, weeping was all I could do as I was overwhelmed by the intensity of His being!

"Sshh!" God whispered, wiping my tears away.

I calmed down and just knelt there, unable to do anything else.

"Come." God said, taking my hand and lifting me up.

I obeyed and followed the lord as he guided me through heaven.

"You don't need to sleep, but many people still like to, for the comfort. You can do anything you like here, no charge. This is your sanctuary and your home for always. Oh, and there's a few old friends anxious to meet you." God was saying, smiling happily.

Just then, a joyful yap made me freeze.

A black Labrador came rushing up to us.

"Lizzie!" I squealed, opening my arms like I used to.

Lizzie had died when I was ten. We had had had her since before I was born, and she had been my best friend every second we were together.

She jumped up, anxious to greet me.

I knelt and hugged her tightly. Her fur was soft and shiny, and she smelt the same as she always did.

Happy memories flooded my mind as I held tightly to my cherished pet.

"Oh thank you!" I mumbled, glancing at God.

He nodded His head, eyes twinkling happily.

After several minutes, Lizzie and I calmed down long enough for God to introduce me to two female angels.

"This is Monica and Tess. They will be with you as you adjust, and will take you to meet your passed relatives and friends. For now, I must leave. Andrew and I have business to attend to. An execution from death row."

He turned to leave, but as He did, I said,

"Um, lord. May I quickly ask you something?"

"Go on."

"Well, that man…who…"

"Mitch Simkins." God nodded, his eyes fiery for a second.

"Yes…what's going to happen to him?"

God thought for a minute.

"Well, he will be caught in three months. He will be found guilty of rape and murder and sent to death row. Then he'll await MY judgement."

I shivered.

"Will you forgive him lord?" I asked gently.

His eyes went soft.

"Can you forgive him Josie?"

"His actions led me here." I answered quietly.

God smiled.

"Ah Josie. If he asks, then I will forgive."

I looked down.

"I never asked…"

God held my shoulder.

"You have always walked with me and have at least tried to obey my commandments and teachings. Your slip ups were purely accidental.

Mitch, on the other hand. He had never walked with me, and his sins were for his own gratification at the expense of your innocence and dignity. Then he took your life so he wouldn't be caught. Even if he escaped justice on Earth, which he won't, he could never escape me. You understand?"

"I understand lord."

"Good - now I must go."

He left with Andrew, while I stayed with Monica and Tess.

"Hi!" Monica greeted in an Irish accent.

I loved the Irish accent!

"Hello!" I smiled back, absently patting Lizzie on the head as she leaned into my leg.

"Welcome home." Monica said, shaking my hand.

"Thank you." I nodded, still in awe.

"Do you have any questions baby?" Tess asked in a gentle yet loud voice. Perhaps this angel could sing well?

"Um…well, is it true time here is different than on Earth?"

"No baby, but time doesn't matter anymore, so sometimes it seems like a hundred years have passed without you even realising an idy bidy day had gone."

"Cool. Hey, can we still see living relatives? Like, visit them as ghosts or something?" I wondered, watching the two angels intently.

"Hmm. I think we would have to ask the father that." Tess suggested, as Monica nodded in agreement.

Just then, Andrew passed and quickly greeted us.

"Monica. Tess. Oh, Josie. God told me to pass the message, 'yes you may, if you go with Tess and Monica.' but you might get upset."

I giggled. God was awesome!

"He also said thank you for the compliment." Andrew finished, smiling as he left.

I burst out laughing, much to the amusement of Tess and Monica.

"Ok baby, God had a reason to warn you. You're going to see your family and friends crying and miserable at your loss." Tess explained me gently.

"I know." I nodded, feeling sorry for them immensely.

"Ok, let's go then." Tess said, leading the way to a special room.

There was a portal-like thing in the middle, with a keyboard next to it.

"Right. New England, today." Tess was saying, typing noisily.

The portal lit up and we stepped through it.

We stepped out in the middle of a cemetery. A funeral was taking place.

My funeral.

I watched silently as the people entered the small church.

With a nervous look at Tess and reassuring glance from Monica, we entered the sacred building.

I was shocked at how many people were there. I didn't realise so many people cared.

My mother and sister were there of course, held tightly by my brother.

Close friends were gathered close by.

Then there were people I was not expecting.

School teachers, parents of children I had babysat, and even a girl called Amanda who had bullied me about believing in God.

She looked terribly ill and was weeping.

I was confused.

"She didn't care about me!" I exclaimed.

"Oh she did baby. See, deep down she believes in God herself, but is frightened of the lord. She took out her fear on you and ridiculed you for your unwavering belief. She really just wanted help." Tess explained gently.

I was stunned and looked down, ashamed for not helping her.

"You didn't know." Monica comforted me, noticing my guilt.

"It goes to show though Baby, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." Tess finished softly.

Then the service began.

"Today we come in sorrowful mourning to remember and honour the life of Josie Black. She was faithful in the service to the lord and loved God with all her might. She always tried to obey Him. Josie was far too young to join our Father in heaven. She was brutally forced there at the hands of a troubled, corrupted man. But she was surely welcomed by our lord, and we have comfort in the knowledge she is gracefully living by God's feet, and kneeling in awe at His glory. She will be sorely missed by those who knew her, from family to acquaintances. But be content my brothers and sisters - the lord said 'blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted' and we are comforted with the fact we will see our sister again when we pass to live with our lord. Rest In Peace Josie."

Someone was suddenly hysterical.

My heart ached when I saw it was my mother.

She was bitterly weeping, totally inconsolable.

The tears of Steve and Amber flowed with hers as they held her rocking body tightly.

At this scene, I began to weep myself and fell to my knees.

"Ah Josie." A voice said as a hand was placed on my shoulder.

"Oh God!" I cried, heartbroken at my family's distress.

"The priest was right Josie. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Look at how they hold each other in their distress. If one did not weep or hang their head in sorrow, do you think they would be comforted by others?" God asked gently, wiping my tears away again.

I realised He was right of course, and calmed down by the grace of God.

Breathing out, I stood up and smiled at the lord.

"Thank you." I said humbly.

He smiled and nodded gently.

"Monica, Tess. Amanda is your new assignment. She hears the words of the priest and believes. But she is still too afraid of me to come any closer. Please, teach her how to ask me to walk to her, if she cannot find the courage to walk."

Tess and Monica bowed their heads with understanding, and silently left to stand behind Amanda.

"Come on Josie - let's go home." God said, taking my hand.

And we did. As we stepped into the portal, I glanced behind as Tess and Monica talked, watching my old bully and wondered.

But that's another story…