One Step Closer to Heaven

The air was heavier than usual. It was thick with the oath edged guttural chat unheard on the lost edges of smoking areas; and the sound of two beers clinking amber-gold in the evening as it gathered into night. The two of us fell out of the doors of the bar, wrapped into each other like presents, and present in the way that you can only be at closing time. 

We were walking down by the canal, arm in arm. The moon, a midnight mirrorball above us, and the cobbled street a dance floor. We were laughing at something ridiculous, ringing sweet music off the water and walls, when he took my hand and asked me 

What song would you play at your funeral? 

I was brought up short a little, because it’s not like I’d never thought about my funeral, because I had thought about my funeral. What struck me about the question was that he’d only asked for one song, and in my head I always thought it would be a selection of symphonies, underscored by thumping techno, eighties synth, and the collective wailings of my fam, friends, and fans. I wanted two people in dark suits under a black umbrella, who stand at a measured distance as my body is laid to rest, look at eachother solemnly, and leave. Living spectres, to add a little mystery because, unfortunately, I’m not very mysterious. I wanted to be buried at sea to Agnus Dei, and I wanted to be burned up to Patrick Swayze’s She’s Like the Wind from Dirty Dancing, and I wanted all the hymns we’d sung at my dad’s funeral, and I wanted all my top played songs from spotify. 

But that’s not what I said to him, then, in the dark. That’s not what I said when he’d asked, because I’m an idiot. I could have said something “cool” like some New Order track, or a piece of hauntingly beautiful ambient music, or jazz. Jazz always fools people into thinking you have taste for some reason. Cool people like people who like jazz.

Question: Is jazz actually cool, or are we all convinced it’s cool because boring white boys from the suburbs who drink whiskey neat, but don’t like it, and roll their cigs with liquorice paper, have always told us that it is? 

Question: Is anything cool, if the person who tells you that it is cool wears a fedora? 

Anyway, no. that was not in my destiny, because I decided to say: 

It’d have to be the seminal S Club 8 track: “One Step Closer to Heaven”

Of course, they were the S Club Juniors when they  released it in the April of 2002. I didn’t even really like the S Club Juniors, if I’m honest. They were never that big on my radar, and I couldn’t give you any more lyrics than one step closer to heaven, baby, is one step closer to you. I said: 

Just imagine it. Hold this mental image in your mind: me, dead, inside my coffin, being carried up the aisle by 6 of the strongest people I know, and as they’re walking up there with the utmost sincerity, a tinny little CD player is chorusing: 

                one step closer to heaven baby, is one step closer to you.

Suffice to say, he didn’t find it all that funny. He looked at me like a veil had been pulled from his eyes. Like someone had turned on the lights at the school disco, and he’d found himself dancing with his teacher. Like I’d crossed some hideous line in the sand that I could never come back from. I, on the other hand, was crying with laughter, bent double over the water, wheezing. Holding onto his arm in case I fell over. 

                                      No, seriously, I said, imagine it… just imagine their faces! 

I hope, when I die, that someone puts that song on as I’m being carried up the aisle. I hope it’s a full catholic affair, and I hope the priest looks suitably mournful, and that everyone is about to cry. I hope that at the moment of climax, when I’m about to be brought in, to tumultuous crying, and eye wiping, you hear it in all its glory. I hope he comes to my funeral just to see it happen. Because I said: 

Well, what song are you going to play at yours? 

                                                And I kid you not he said


Lucy Wallis is a writer from London who can currently be found in Paris pretending to live the dream. She edits the zine near window, and her first full length work is due to be published soon. She tweets @thelucylist

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