Friday, October 28, 2005

Based On A True Story

As promised, a story plumbed from my deepest, darkest fears. You may want to huddle together for warmth and safety as you read this, and a round or two of the Lord's Prayer wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow
me all the days of my life: and I will dwell
in the house of the Lord for ever.
--Psalm 23:6

Beyond the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Please, somebody--wake me up!

Where's that alarm clock when you really need one? It should have come for me hours ago. Maybe there really was a storm, and the electricity is out. Can you hear me? Anybody? Someone really needs to come and get me out of this awful nightmare--it's gone on quite long enough.

The storm. That really happened, I'm sure. Everything seemed so ordinary this afternoon. The air was the same air and the sky the same sky and it was your garden variety Friday. An overcast sky darkened to charcoal, so suddenly that I looked up to see what had blotted out the sun. Like hot coals, a red glow cast an eerie and unnatual sheen to the sooty heavens; this wasn't like any thunderstorm I'd ever seen.

A wind came through the gorge, screeching, furious, and reeking of sulfur. "Something's on fire," a man walking his dog observed. "By the look of those clouds," I said, "I think everything is on fire."

My eyes stung from these rogue siroccos, so I ran into a cafe for cover. Others, in the middle of errands or late afternoon strolls ran in behind me. I watched the tempest from inside the crowded coffee shop, transfixed by the airborn debris and redding sky, until a clap of thunder startled me out of my trance. A woman standing near me thought a bomb had exploded--and cowered under a table, shaking, repeating, "We're all going to die."

" It's just thunder," someone said. "It'll blow over in a few minutes. You know how the weather changes so quickly here." The woman under the table drew herself into a little ball; she wouldn't be consoled.

Windows rattled and the floor vibrated under our feet. Is this an earthquake? A hurricane? What the hell is happening?

And then, I stood outside my house, as if I had never been in the cafe. Standing on my front porch, I watched my mother being loaded into an ambulance, reliving the last time I saw her alive. But now, she didn't seem to be so sick, or weak. Watching her from the porch one minute then standing next to her gurney a moment later, as she yelled at me for letting her die, but not letting her die soon enough. There would be no way to make her happy. I didn't speak to her, I didn't defend my actions. I just let her vent, and then the paramedics lifted her into the ambulance.

The storm whirred outside my dream bubble, and I didn't think to question any of these strange events. I watched the sky hemorrage, never questioning the atmosphere becoming freakish, and I watched--unfazed, as my already dead mother roll away again to her death. Maybe I could have woke myself up right then if I'd been struck by the absurdity of it all. But I didn't.

The world seemed to split apart like an egg. Deep fissures opened, swallowing terrified people, cars, and structures. Only the thunder drowned out the screaming, and noise of metal crushing and glass shattering. And maybe it was the thunder that drowned out the sound of my alarm clock trying to rescue me from this disater.

Trees uprooted and crashed to the earth, everything seemed to have been rended, dissolved, obliterated in the space of just a few minutes.

Suddenly I'm at Mall 205. There's linoleum under my feet, and I'm waiting for an elevator with a crowd of people that seemed to have just picked me up with their movement. None of them are screaming. The mall must be like a shelter, I thought. We could camp out here for a while.

The elevator seemed to take forever to land. My brother stood next to me. "I can get you in," he said. "We'll be OK. I can take one person with me." A golden glint of something caught my eye.
A necklace with a cross. I noticed a lot of them in the crowd. And fish earings, and WWJD bracelets. "Where's the elevator going?" I asked my brother.


I just looked at him, remembering all of my nightmares about the end of the world. All those dreams where I'd be running, looking for safety, searching for a place that would shelter me from God. And here I am, my born-again brother's plus one.

For an instant, I felt relieved, and safe. And smug. Then the elevator door opened, and again I was pushed forward by the movement of the crowd. The elevator doors closed, and I looked at Joe, his countenance serene and lucid as ever and an awful realization came over me.

I knew, as the elevator reached for the temperate climes of heaven, that I'd dwell forever in the hell of "I told you so."

Please, let this be a dream.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy crap, baby....

12:18 PM  
Blogger KlevaBich said...

This is fabulous. And the mall is the perfect metaphor for being trapped between heaven and hell, in my opinion. Although it could have been worse -- you could have been at Clackamas Town Centre watching Tonya Harding beat up her latest moron boyfriend...

9:19 AM  

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