She opens her eyes.
(The handsome young man's eyes are flickering across the screen. He looks... disoriented.)
Chantal is also disoriented. That's such a list of... strangely specific yet oddly broad things? What about the size of the theatrical performance? How singlehandedly do you have to end slavery? Maybe they simplified it for the presentation. Probably they did.
"You know how some people pull into the breakdown lane when there's traffic, and they say 'eh, nobody's watching'?" Jazz hands. "Surprise!"
A chuckle ripples across the audience.
"Anyway, when your time on Earth has ended, we measure your life, beginning to end, taking into account everything you did - everything you thought nobody saw - and we decide: were you a good person?"
"The answer, in your cases, was a resounding yes."
No it wasn't! It couldn't possibly—
She glances nervously at the young man sitting next to her, in case he has a better idea of how to react.
He doesn't seem perturbed. He notices her looking at him and gives her a reassuring smile.
...okay. She does her best to be reassured.
"And what happens to the people who didn't measure up?" Johanna asks rhetorically. She shakes her head. "Don't worry about it! The point is, you're all here because you lived a good life. Maybe you weren't always perfect. But you came pretty close. This is your reward. And - in case you were wondering - you won't be alone. You'll spend the rest of forever with your true soulmate."
The crowd gasps and murmurs.
"That's right! Soulmates! They're real! One of the other people here is perfect for you - and you get to be with them. Forever."
It's incredible how reassuring that isn't!
"So, welcome to eternal happiness. Welcome to the Good Place."
A final slide pops up, with a picture of two adorable otters. "Sponsored by: Otters holding hands while they sleep. You know the way you feel when you see a picture of two otters holding hands? That's the way you're going to feel every day."
The handsome young man looks at Chantal appraisingly, then says, "I'd like to talk later - didn't really get a chance to. If we turn out to be soulmates, great. If not, maybe we can get frozen yoghurt or something. See what the fuss is about. Alright?"
"Okay," she says, with a nervous smile.
Johanna shows up. "Ready to meet your soulmate? I really think you're gonna like him. Actually I know you're gonna like him, because it's literally inevitable!"
"I had a couple of questions for you, actually," Chantal's seatmate says to Johanna, entirely unperturbed by her teleportation.
"You can ask Janet," she says. Then she and Chantal are standing in another part of the field, facing -
- a man Chantal has met before.
"Hey!" he chuckles. "Uh. I - this is not the best first impression but I've definitely forgotten your name."
"—that's okay, I forgot yours too?" No wait that's a stupid response which sucks. Well, too late now.
He bursts out laughing and tries to scratch his head, with a momentary flash of irritation when his suit jacket limits his range of motion. "Thank God. Does that also mean you forgot what a clown I was in school? -Ari," he says, going in for a hug. "I'm Ari."
Oh. She's being hugged now. This is fine. Yes. Soulmate hugs. A perfectly reasonable and normal event, which only a crazy person would object to.
"I'm, um, Chantal. Sorry." Wait why is she sorry? Just sort of for existing in general? That's not a good enough reason. She is doing being sorry wrong.
"Chantal! What a pretty name. Um - you seem maybe a little overwhelmed, which makes a lot of sense - Johanna, can you show us to our house?"
Oh he's so thoughtful. Hoo...ray.
"If you're sure you don't want to meet your neighbors?"
Ari shrugs. "I'd rather my soulmate be comfortable. We can meet the neighbors later in eternity."
"Alright, Prince Charming."
They're standing in front of... a house.
The house is... tall. And pretty. Actually it's very pretty. Enormous windows sparkling in the sunlight, artistically placed vines (are they fake? she can't tell), things going on with white brick and stone tile that someone who knew more about architecture than she does would probably understand. A set of four curved steps leads up between a pair of thick stone half-walls to an arched double door with, again, huge sparkling windows; the doors are almost more glass than wood. Above them sits an even more enormous window, stretching from just above the door all the way up to the roof, through which an elegant crystal chandelier gleams like an exquisitely beautiful glass spider.
Tentatively, she ascends. The steps are a little too broad and the half-wall a little too short for it to be any use getting up them.
Inside, the house abandons the imposing stone-and-brick aesthetic for a more modern take on austerity. A pristine white carpet stretches the whole width of the disturbingly open-plan first floor, from the kitchen on the right with its spotless white countertops to the living room on the left with its angular white couches encircling a coffee table made of what seems to be a single sheet of glass bent over into a sideways U. Straight ahead, twin staircases spiral up in opposing gentle curves, framing a central area which her brain keeps insisting is the lobby even though houses should not have lobbies; in her defense, there's a potted plant and one of those long backless couch things you find in malls where people are only supposed to be able to sit down for two minutes at a time. Behind that, more windows look out on the worryingly immaculate backyard.
She stands there frozen, afraid to go up the stairs because if her—their?—bedroom has this many windows she may find herself jumping out of one. There's too many windows. And not enough walls! Where are the walls! Are there bathrooms in this house? Do they have walls???
Ari looks... concerned. "Um. This is... very nice. Will we be able to... adjust it... to our personal taste, by any chance?" He laughs self-deprecatingly. "I mean, I'm- I was an architecture student, and I can't think of anything more satisfying than, uh, living in a house that I designed..."