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The (Better) Good Place

I think I started this my senior year of high school. It’s a comedy novel about a woman who accidentally gets sent to hell instead of heaven. Didn’t get very far but had fun with it! I promise I kept everything the same except a few typos.

- Laura Silverman, author of Girl Out Of Water and You Asked For Perfect


Dr. Luce

“Number 42727932241. Dr. Luce will see you now,” the secretary calls out from behind her mahogany desk. Her eyes never once stray from the glossy pages of some magazine. I spot a headline that says “Man Gets Out for Good Behavior After Being Detained for Over Three Centuries.” A cherry-red, lacquered nail turns a page as I gather my things and stand up.

I clear my throat. “Erm…where do I go?” The same cherry red nail points at an unlabeled door to my left. “Right. Well. Thanks.”

Should I knock? Probably. It’s best to be polite in situations like this. I give three tiny raps on the door. A voice from within calls out, “Come in.”

The brass doorknob twists smoothly, and I slowly nudge open the door. Inside is an average sized office. Books line the shelves; my eyes graze over titles like Right and Wrong, Death Sentence—Been There Done That, and 101 Plans for Pain. The desk is cluttered, papers strewn everywhere. An encyclopedia is opened to the word Infanticide. On the desk, a gold nameplate says “Dr. Craig Luce.” Behind this nameplate, behind the desk, is assumedly Dr. Luce in a leather chair. His brown hair is cut short, sans any gel, and his green eyes are watching me appraise the room. “Please, sit down,” he says pleasantly, gesturing to one of the empty chairs in front of his desk. I sit down.

“Look,” I say, trying to keep my voice strong and level, “there’s been a mistake.”

He raises an eyebrow, but says nothing.

“I’m not supposed to be here.”


“I think you have the wrong person. I’m supposed to be, you know, up there.” I gesture upwards with my hand.

Dr. Luce pulls glasses out of the front pocket of his red, collared shirt. They perch easily on his nose. “Let me see…” he begins to shuffle through the dozens of papers on his desk. “What’s your number?”

I look down at the stack of papers in my own hands, neatly organized with a butterfly clip. “42727932241.”

“Hmm…not here…42726, nope….right…well…” He looks up at me, “Just one more second. I keep saying I’ll get more organized, but I’m just so busy. It’s a hectic job, obviously.” He presses a button on his telephone. The intercom buzzes through.

“Yes, Dr. Luce?” I recognize the voice of the secretary.

“Melinda, do you have the file for number 42727932241? Could you bring it in?”


He looks up and gives me an abashed smile. “So embarrassing. Can’t even keep track of my own clients. Well, you know, that’s what help is for.”

I nod and attempt to smile. Clients? I wouldn’t call us that. Not that I am one of his “clients” anyways. It’s just all a misunderstanding.

Melinda walks in the door, with a thick manila folder in her hand. I notice an engagement ring on her finger. People get married here? Huh. Well, I guess marriage is an eternal punishment. I chuckle out loud at my little joke.

“Thanks,” Dr. Luce says.

“Uh-hu.” Melinda shuts the door.

“All right. Yes. Number 42727932241. Charged with assault and battery twice. Almost 8 years in prison. Dropped out of school at 16. Mother blames son for her alcohol addiction. Robbed a magazine stand.”

“Look. There it is! The problem. Don’t you see it?”

He looks up, green eyes peering at me from behind the glasses. “What problem?”

“Mother blames son for her alcohol addiction. Mother blames son. Son. I’m a girl. Not a son. A daughter.”

“Oh.” He puts the file down on the desk. “Well that is a pickle.”

“You see. It’s all a misunderstanding. I should be up there. I’m a good person.”

He is now staring at the folder again. “Well. You definitely aren’t Samuel Reynolds.”

“No. I’m Amber Flannery.”

“Irish are you?” He smiles. “My old college roommate was Irish. His family moved from Ireland because they couldn’t find work during the potato famine….he was such a great guy…”

Teenaged Laura, hanging out in the orchestra room. This was very on brand for her in high school.

“Yes. Technically, I am Irish. But that’s not the point. The point is I’m not supposed to be stuck down here, and I want out.”

“Right. Well, this is a little mix-up. You seem to have the same identity number as this Samuel Reynolds guy. Common error actually, happens a few times every century.”

“You call that common?” I mutter.

“Haven’t had it happen since I’ve been promoted though. Maybe I should give Stuart a call…”

“Who’s Stuart?”

“Oh, the last Lucifer. He retired five years back when I took over. I think he’s vacationing with his wife though…poor wife…he was such a workaholic. I hope they are happier now…”

“Look. Can we please get back to the point?”

“Point? Oh. Yes. Point. We need to get you out of here.”


“Well, I’ll look into it.” He closes the manila folder and tosses it into the heap of other papers. “Nice to meet you Ms. Flannery.”

“Wait. Hold on. What do you mean you’ll look into it? Why can’t I get out of here now?” My voice is beginning to rise.

“Oh. Procedure and all. Just have to check on a few things. You should be out of here in no time. I’ll have someone notify you.”

I’m standing up. Dumb-founded. “Have someone notified me?” I’m screaming , and my voice is echoing in the office. “I’m in Hell, literally, when I’m supposed to be in Heaven! What kind of shit is that? You’ll have someone notify me when you get around to it? Bullshit! I want a lawyer!”

“Well there’s plenty of those around here.” He chuckles, but stops at my icy glare. “Sorry, just a little Hell joke. Look, just give me a week, all right. Spend the time exploring, catching up with some old friends. I’m sure a few of them got stuck down here. I have another appointment waiting, so if you’ll please excuse yourself.”

I give one more menacing glance before leaving the room, slamming the door behind me.


About The Author: Laura Silverman is an author and editor and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. Her books include Girl Out of Water, You Asked for Perfect, and It’s a Whole Spiel. Girl Out of Water was a Junior Library Guild Selection. You can contact Laura on Twitter @LJSilverman1 or through her website


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