The First Story I Ever Wrote Was About Me Becoming Roommates With Abraham Lincoln In Heaven
The first fictional story I ever wrote was about me dying and then becoming roommates with Abraham Lincoln in heaven. Truthfully I’d probably written a couple other short things or ideas that could pass as stories before then, but this was the first one I can still recall today. Pretty vividly, in fact, I think because I was so proud of it at the time.
Anyway, I was staying with my grandma for a few days and I had recently become really enamored with the idea that after I died and went to heaven I would get to meet a bunch of historical figures, and some of them might even want to be my friend. So I sat down and wrote my first story. While the story itself is long gone by now, here’s everything I remember happening in it.
The story was called “Hello Mr. Lincoln” and I even illustrated the cover, which was my disembodied head floating next to Abraham Lincoln’s disembodied head with angels and clouds and the gates of heaven behind us. And then in big letters “HELLO MR. LINCOLN” which is what the story was called.
The premise of the story was that one day I’m killed in a massive earthquake. (I was deeply obsessed with natural disasters as a child, especially earthquakes. It just blew my mind that earthquakes were even possible.) So I die in an earthquake and then I go to heaven and in heaven there are these giant, white, pristine apartment complexes that everyone lives in and everybody’s assigned one roommate. The roommate I’m assigned is the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln.
Of course I’m honored to live with Abraham Lincoln but at first it’s not a great fit. We’re from two very different eras, with different customs and whatnot. For instance I loved the band The Police and he thought they were awful. That kind of thing.
Over time however we become closer and open up to each other and he begins to realize that I’m really funny and smart and nice. And before you know it we’re basically inseparable, going to hockey games together (I had to explain hockey to him) and cooking meals together and The Police even grow on him eventually, so we listen to The Police a lot.
The drama of the story happens one day when Abraham Lincoln is at the supermarket buying groceries (we alternate buying groceries every week and this week is his turn.) In the story I made a point to note that grocery stores in heaven were enormous and everything was delicious and cheap and name brand only (my mom insisted on buying Kroger’s Dr. K soda which was supposed to taste like Dr. Pepper but didn’t.) Abraham Lincoln’s in the produce section when he looks up and who does he see? John Wilkes Booth, his assassin. Come to find out, John Wilkes Booth repented his sins after dying and God forgave him and permitted him into heaven. For obvious reasons, Abraham Lincoln is not ok with this.
So then everything’s thrown into turmoil, including my friendship with President Lincoln. I try to explain to him that God’s nature is mysterious and that while he has a right to be angry with God for letting John Wilkes Booth into heaven, he might need to learn to forgive him in order to move on. Abraham Lincoln takes this to mean that I’m siding with John Wilkes Booth, which I’m not, but it creates a lot of tension in our apartment and I wonder if our friendship will ever be the same.
Then out of the blue one day, John Wilkes Booth shows up at our apartment wanting to talk to Abraham Lincoln. I tell him he shouldn’t be here, but then much to my surprise Abraham Lincoln is like “No, come in, I want to talk to you John.” So the three of us sit down at the table and have a long conversation wherein John Wilkes Booth sincerely apologizes to Abraham Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln accepts his apology. They shake hands and Abraham Lincoln is grateful to me for mediating this important breakthrough moment for him and the bond between the two of us is stronger than ever. The end!
Except not really because after I finished the story, I was so happy with it that I decided there was more to this. So I wrote a sequel called “Goodbye Mr. Lincoln.” (This kinda gives away the ending but bear with me.)
“Goodbye Mr. Lincoln” picks up some years after the events of the first story and in that time, President Lincoln and I have become best friends in heaven and we’re frequently joined by my two other very good friends — who were my favorite actors at the time — Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin, who died in a plane crash. The four of us do basically everything together and everything is perfect.
Then one day, back on Earth, my mom is killed in a massive earthquake. So my mom comes to heaven and gets filled in on the whole set-up (big apartment complexes, one roommate) and she assumes, rightly so, that she’ll get to be roommates with me, her son who she misses very much and regrets not being nicer to and getting him a Power Wheels car like he always wanted. But I already have a roommate — my best friend Abraham Lincoln — which I tell her.
So my mom’s heartbroken and Abraham Lincoln is terrified at the thought of losing me as a roommate. I seek advice from my friends Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin who are split right down the middle about what I should do.
In the end I tell Abraham Lincoln that, while he’s been such a good friend to me, I have an obligation to my mom that I can’t ignore. He’s upset but ultimately understands my decision and gives his blessing. I pack up all my stuff and move in with my mom. But now Abraham Lincoln needs a roommate. And guess who it ends up being. That’s right: John Wilkes Booth. My story ends with Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth being roommates in an apartment complex in heaven.
When I was finished with these two stories, I showed them to my grandma. I was really nervous about what she would think, and I remember that her expression was hard to decipher. When she was finished she paused for a bit and then for reasons I didn’t understand then, but do now, politely suggested that we leave the stories at her house and maybe not show them to my mom just yet. That seemed fine to me.