Day 1 – This is not happening

I opened my eyes.

This doesn’t sound like an unusual thing. It is something people do all the time, every day. The thing is, the last thing I remembered was not going to sleep. It was not even being in bed. The last thing I remembered was sitting next to my wife in her 1992 Chevy Cavalier. It was the night before my 22nd birthday. We had just had a big fight, and we were driving around to try and calm down and work things out before going home.

And then I opened my eyes.

It had been near midnight, and now it was daytime. Morning, I guessed, mid morning. I felt pretty good. Even my back felt good. But, I didn’t know where I was.

I sat up. I was in a room. It was clean, and bright. And, well, old. Not that it was old now, but that the design was old. There was modern equipment in the room, so I had to be in an upscale hospital of some kind. I wracked my brain desperately to try and figure out what had happened, where Tawny was.

A nurse came in, and I turned towards her. My eyes slid off of her… him?… like they were an out of focus movie. Like I was looking through a window covered in grease.

“Hello, Jeremy,” they said, “How are you feeling?”

“Woozy. Confused. Out of it. What happened?” I asked.

“You will be told everything in time. You are safe and healthy.”

“Where am I?”

“This place is called Resurrectorium 1920.”

“Resurrectorium?” I didn’t recognize the word itself, but I got the general meaning. “Am I dead?”

The nurse smiled. I still couldn’t tell if they were male or female. I didn’t really know if it mattered. “You were. You’ve been resurrected. The world as you knew it ended and was remade.”

“Where is my wife? Where is Tawny Christophson?” I demanded.

The nurse shifted, seeming a bit uncomfortable for a moment. “We can talk about that later. For now, just rest. Coming back is stressful. If you need anything, just pick up the phone.” They motioned to the antique phone on the table next to my bed. I had noticed neither before.

 

Day 2: Belle Gains Understanding of Her Purpose

Entry 2: Belle gains understanding of her purpose

What I am and what I am meant to do are still not completely clear; there is so much I need to learn and know! It seems daunting, actually. These bits and pieces of knowledge that I understand need to be mine, they float around like bits of paper in the wind. One of the others tells me that is a simile. There is so, so much I do not understand.

I am told that I should record the thoughts and happenings in my existence here. The point is clear: recording these things will help me understand what God intends for me and, I’ve just found out, the other beings in my care. Or in my case, one being.

To be clear, here is what I know:

I am Zoe, a creation of God. Well, we are all creations of God, but for some reason I and the other Zoes are guardians of other creations, the Bios. We are commanded by Him to oversee and help the Bios, and because of this, we have been given capabilities that the Bios do not have. We can go from one place to another more quickly than they, we hear them when they think, we have more understanding of their existence and purpose than they do but are not permitted to come right out and tell them.

This puzzles me. If I’m supposed to help my Bios, then I should be able to give them all the history and information they need to become Zoes themselves. But He has declared that I withhold the totality of what I know. Since He knows all things, and since I don’t know all things, and since He is the Father and I am beloved of him, withholding knowledge from my Bios is what I’ll do. But I continue to be puzzled.

There are other Zoes and we are the same yet different. Some of us know what it is to be Bios, some of us don’t remember, and some of us never knew. Like me. I never knew what it was to live and breathe, to walk on the old Earth, to not know why I existed and what I was.

I do know, however, what my purpose is now. I am to guide and help a Bios that I’ve been assigned to. She, her name is Sarah, was/is someone special to me, and I’m to help her become as I am.

I have absolutely no idea how to do it.

The other Zoes, for the most part, are in the same predicament as I am. We are given to understand, however, that we will be given information—orders, as it were—about how to proceed. In the meantime, we wait for our Bios assignments, wait for the Bios themselves to come into being here.

###

I am standing in the Resurrectorium, in a room, near a bed. God gave me the understanding that very shortly a Bios will appear, a being that I have some connection to and who I’m supposed to help. I’m finding that my ignorance of how to do this is, well, irritating…I don’t know what God had in mind. I’m also told that when I need to know, I’ll be told.

Impatience. That’s what I’m feeling. God tells me that’s one of the qualities He loves in me; He says it’s curiosity that outruns itself.

###

My bios is waking up. She is a female, and I find myself wanting to both hold her in my arms and be held by her. I feel love for her, different somehow than the love I have for God. I have love for all, but this is different and it puzzles me.

Those above me, the angels, have taught me carefully about the Bios and the way they think. Their emotions are simple yet complicated; they have six different types of love, although they seem to confuse them. They feel guilty at their transgressions, yet sometimes don’t know it or feel guilty at feeling guilty. There are some who hide their feelings behind pretended joy, behind jokes. I’m still trying to get what a joke is. The angels talked of sarcasm, saying one thing but feeling the opposite, as a kind of joke.

Then there is hate. I do understand hate; the archangels themselves came to explain hate, since it is a part of evil. I understand it, as I do the presence of evil on the Earth that was, but wonder why it still exists. The angels say evil still exists because the Bios can’t seem to let go of it.

I’m pondering the complexity and tones of emotions that Bios can have when my Bios begins to stir.

I call her name with my voice, which I use very seldom. She wakes, and attempts sarcasm; it falls on me and melts instantly away. The angel who gives us our Bios puts in my conscious what my Bios, Sarai, did to cause her earthly body to die.

This I truly do not understand. Sarai, or she actually wants to be called Sarah, sought to give her life away without thought. No, she did think and decided she no longer wanted life. Our Lord and Father gives life and takes it away; Sarah removed herself from life, she threw away His gift.

There are other things that puzzle me, things I want to know but are hidden from me. I’ve asked why I do not know all, and the angels tell me it is God who knows all, not me. Not them, or the archangels, the principalities, the seraphim, the cherubim, or any of the other beings above me.

Sarah is waking. I must care for her and make sure she begins her learning, her journey into what God wants of her.

###

Sarah is a weak and troubled creature. Her corporal being is like a prison and it demands care, demands it quite selfishly. She must move slowly and needs to fuel her physical being freqently; it becomes tired, and she must rest it. She is a strange entity, full of contradictions.

Full of pain. It surrounds her like smoke. She doesn’t seem aware of it, even though it drives her to move and act in a way that’s doesn’t seem good for her. I realize that she doesn’t know God’s love and that His grace would make the smoke disappear, make the true parts of her shine. I also know she wouldn’t believe me about it if I tried to tell her, at least now.

I give her covering for her body, as she seems to find it uncomfortable to be as I am. She asks so many questions both with her mouth and her soul. I give her a sip of the Waters of Knowledge, which seems to strengthen her. I attempt a joke, using words I find in her thoughts, something about a television show. Her heart eases a little, and I am glad.

We walk toward the place where she will stay, where she will feed and rest in her weakness. She seems to know that her strength is little now, saying that her value is, therefore, little and that she has little significance. I try to reassure her, telling her that her value is great and that she is loved, as I am, by God. There is joy in me as I tell her, a joy I feel when in His Presence.

This message of God’s love for her makes her react in a truly strange way. A wave of fear, of trepidation, comes off her and causes me to become discouraged. Love. She doesn’t understand the true nature of His love. It is simple to me but to her it is a frightening mystery. Something seems to nudge her, to push her away from the mystery I am trying to solve with her.

Her pain is becoming my pain, and I am becoming discouraged. My words to her ears don’t seem to carry the message of God, at least she doesn’t seem to hear. The voice of Our Lord whispers to me, telling me to use a different sense to reach Sarah. A different sense: I am confused.

She is thinking as we walk about our surroundings, how it reminds her of the world she left but is obviously not the same. I want her to feel God’s love, know it is essential, but I don’t think her eyes will open until they are filled with the tears she hasn’t let herself shed.

 

Day 98: Sarah Finds Truth and Someone Else Who She Had Been Missing

Day 98: Sarah Finds Truth and Someone Else Who She Had Been Missing

I know Belle is around; I see flashes of her out of the corner of my eye. It’s comforting, knowing she’s somewhere near but discomforting that she hasn’t come face to face with me. Puzzling.

The last almost month has whizzed by, punctuated by casually running into Guy here and there. No, nothing casual about it. We know each other’s routines and deliberately place ourselves to “casually” be in the same place at the same time.

At first I looked forward to these encounters like an addict looks forward to his next fix. Yeah, that’s it. Seeing Guy was an addiction, gave me a jolt of happiness. No, the happiness was the addiction and Guy was the trigger.

I decided that the negative connotations associated with addiction and applied to my friendship with Guy are complete bullshit. One doesn’t become addicted to something essential to one’s health and well-being, like breathing. I came to accept that Guy was part of my existence here and knew that I was part of his.

My daily routine hasn’t changed much; I walk Ed and Beabea in the morning, go to work at the florist, meet Guy for lunch most days, then go home and do some freelance secretarial work or maybe some editing or writing. I walk the dogs again in the evening and usually run into Guy again, well, at least sometimes. We have a quick dinner somewhere, he walks me home, then I read until the wee hours and the cycle begins again. It’s not boring, not really. It’s a comfort knowing just what will happen and when, at least within reason.

Neither of us has made any declarations of love or some other attachment; we don’t need to. It is what it is. I know he likes my company, he knows I like his. We occasionally hold hands or he puts his arm around me while we sit and read or listen to the musicians who pop up here and there around town. Oh, there’s the occasional hug and bumping against each other when we laugh at something, but the agonizing sexuality is absent, the shame of giving myself physically in order to feel wanted.

It’s all casual and easy, no despair or driving need to be something or be somewhere. I do occasionally feel a niggle at the back of my brain that something is missing or should be different, but for some reason it’s always shrouded in fog, closed away from view behind a mental door.

Frankly, I don’t want to open that door. Oh, I can see Guy on the sidewalk, turning the corner with Justice lumbering along by his side. Must be time for evening walkies.

###

Well, that was awkward. We walked our hounds around the park as usual but Guy was incredibly silent. OK, he doesn’t chatter away normally, but tonight he was markedly quiet. I tried to fill in the silence with non-essentials at first; it was obvious that I was talking to air so I stopped talking entirely. We walked in silence to the drugstore for our traditional evening burger.

He didn’t finish his and instead fed it to his Newfie. What I could eat of my cheeseburger sat in my stomach daring me to digest it. Even the dogs were jumpy; they must have read our body language, and it confused them.

Again in silence he walked me home, Beabea dancing round Justice and Ed. Nothing stops that little goofball.

At my door, Guy took my hand and looked into my face; the sadness or maybe it was longing poured out of him and washed over me.

“Something is coming, Sarah. I don’t understand it, I don’t know what it is, but something is going to grab us and throw us on the ground, make everything hurt.”

I was really frightened, not so much at what was coming but at how profoundly it was affecting him. He patted my hand, then touched my cheek, telling me just how important I was in his life. He said that the change would turn both of us completely around.

I don’t want this to change. I don’t want any change, I just want to go along peacefully, seeing him and walking my dogs.

After he left, the dogs and went inside feeling tired in body and soul. Beabea and Ed found their accustomed sleeping spots, turned around a couple of times and then laid themselves down. Again, I wish I could get some alcohol to numb my brain. Well, anyway, all good things must come to an end sometime, even here after resurrection. Immediately following my morose musings, Belle suddenly appeared right in front of me, not at the corner of my eye.

“How are you feeling right now, Sarah?”

“Confused, sad. I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you. I have something to tell you.”

She went on, saying that she had been watching over me but that she was troubled about our connection, so she stayed away. Something was hanging over her and me, for that matter. It felt almost like a thunderstorm in the distance, threatening but not definite. Frightening.

“Who are you, Sarah? Do you feel loved?”

“By who? Sure, I feel loved.” It suddenly hit me in the gut; I am loved. My dogs love me, as much as dogs can, and I am pretty sure Guy loves me. Loves me in a solid, comfortable, unthreatening way just as I love him.

I love him. I can actually write that and believe in it. I’m literally inundated with the streaming of love around me, and that concept astounds me.

“Who am I, Sarah?” She is sadder than I’ve ever seen her be. I tell her that she’s a Zoe, my guardian Zoe, and that I value her.

“Do you? Do you really, Sarah?”

“Yes, of course I do. I’ve missed you these past few months, truly I have.”

“I’m not who you think I am, Sarah,” she said to me. “I was/am someone you knew in the old world.”

I sat down heavily on my bed. I knew she was familiar but thought it was simply the familiarity of a Bios for a Zoe, totally normal, if you can call our roles in the Hereafter as normal.

“Who, Belle? Who are you?” I suddenly thought that maybe she was my mother, but in my heart knew that couldn’t be. I knew she was someone important; her importance was real but I didn’t know exactly what it was. It felt like something was ripping that beautiful cloak of love away, exposing me to the burning sun without any protection.

I’d never seen a Zoe weep, but tears came down her cheeks with a whisper of aching sadness. Her eyes seemed to get huge, slicked with tears, familiar in a way.

“You would have called me Ruthie.”

The heat of my fear evaporated; cold water flooded me, washed over me. The air stopped in my lungs, my feet and hands went numb. I thought I was passing out; my heart beat hard a couple of times and then seemed to stop.

The world stopped. Time stopped. All was nothingness, and the door in my soul flew open, splintered and disappeared in smoke.

A baby’s smell, warm, sweet, mixed with the copper tang of blood. The empty impression of something in my arms that wasn’t there. A gaping hole I’d hidden away that now demanded to be noticed. The sorrow all came back, running over me, pushing me to the floor.

My daughter whose face I never saw and whose breath I never felt on my cheek. Ruthie. After a while I had begun to doubt that she had ever existed and I denied ever being pregnant, finally believing it myself, at least consciously. A dead child does that when you don’t want to remember, can’t let yourself remember. A part of you becomes unavailable and you forget it ever existed in order to keep your sanity. Or at least that’s what I’d done until that minute.

Belle put her hand on my shoulder, and it seemed solid. A sharp shred of electricity shot from my shoulder to my heart, made my head detach. I could see that her hand was like mine, her eyes the same color as mine.

“Please talk to me, Sarah.” She tried to help me to my feet, but my legs wouldn’t work.

Decades of loss and pain stopped my mouth from words. My insides felt ripped out, but I had to pull something out and say it.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. So sorry.” The last word seemed to echo in the room and return to pound into my head.

“God has forgiven you, Sarah. He knows that you thought you were following the only course you could think of. He is sad that it came to this, but He understands.”

“But do you forgive me, Belle?” In the selfish ignorance of my youth I did something that poisoned me for the rest of my life. I knew it, she knew it, and of course He knew it. I was a murderer, had taken her life before birth because I was selfish.

“I will when you do.”

I know it will be an eternity before I forgive myself.

Helen Amber Ponders It All

As I sit my front porch, I can hear my neighbor Ralph mowing his lawn, the slice of the blades rotating across the bar, scrish scrish scrish scrish scrish scrish as he pushes the mower forward, stopping now and again to empty the basket. The smell of fresh cut grass is sweet. I look down the street. Not many lawns. Most of us, Bios and Zoës alike, garden our little footholds on the Earth. I raise flowers in mine, a memorial to Wayne in a way. I took some bulbs and cuttings from his place to remember him by.

I have a job to do and I am not sure where to begin, so I sit on my porch gathering my thoughts and energies, listening to Ralph, who just arrived a few years ago. It’s early summer. The breeze is warm, southerly. A boy bicycles an ice cream cart, bells attached so they ring as boy and cart bounce down my street. Finding no customers, he turns at the corner, passing the letter carrier on her way up my street. Today is a delicious day. Much better to sit on my porch and ponder than scour back issues at the The 1920 Sentinel or records in the basement of the Resurrectorium or the New Harmony town Hall, or search for records in what’s left of New Chennai.

It’s the clouds, puffy and white with flat bottoms, floating above the front warming Region 1920, that bring me back to why I’m here. The clouds remind me that there are no contrails in the sky. The silent flying machines of Region 2021 leave no trails in the sky, and they rarely visit here. This isn’t my front porch on Broad Street. This isn’t the home I shared with Reese, the one where we lived out our old age until I died, crushing him so badly he carried the pain into his resurrection. This home, our home, isn’t in the same world, if by world you take its meaning as the societies and institutions of human of life. That world was swept away.

Things have settled down now in Region 1920, and the Lord has asked me to look into the Rebellion. They never called it that. They thought they were revolutionaries in the best sense of the word, but rebellion is what it was. A coupe by any other name, you see. I’ve been trying to figure out where to begin. I could begin with Reese, I suppose, but that’s tricky because Reese is mine and I’m his. It’ll be hard to untangle that knot. But when it started, we were separated by the fact the Lord had told me not to reveal to Reese who I was. I see now why he ordered that. I didn’t at the time.

I’m having a hard time moving forward with this. It involves exposing a lot of personal feelings — not only mine but everyone involved in the rebellion, maybe even some who weren’t, just to give a full picture of things at the time. There are things that we recall in pieces that we experience as a whole, but sometimes the only way to know them is to look at the pieces. The device 2021 gave me, a sort of tablet, means I really don’t need to go into the basement of the Resurrectorium. The tablet holds all the individual journals and court documents of the time. But I’ll probably spend a lot of time down there, handling the papers instead of pulling things up on this tiny screen. Maybe that’s why I belong in Region 1920. One thing this device can give me that isn’t in the basement is access to some of Jesus’ own observations at the time. I’d love to know how they pulled that one off. It makes the other tech they have seem puny.

Since I’ve been charged with this task, I ought to start with a bit about myself, Helen Amber. I’m Zoë — immortal by the grace of God. Reese was resurrected with the same Bios life he had before he died, and he didn’t recognize me when he woke up. That’s where I think I’ll begin. I’ll include a few other First Day journals because it will give me some perspective on Reese’s resurrection. As for others, Asher’s part in the Rebellion really only took off after Casiel unmade Reese. Wayne came into the picture earlier, but his direction changed —always interesting when compiling a history. And dear Zelda. When I think of her, I sometimes think who the Lord resurrects as Zoë, and who as Bios, is as much strategic as it is how they lived in the world that was.

Not everyone who lives through a revolution is part of the revolution. Some people, like Sarah, live on the sidelines of current events, swept up in more important matters, like love and loss, joy and pain. As an anchor, if you will, a footing in timeless human nature, I think I should include journals from Sarah, and maybe her Zoë Belle. Then there’s Sam, whose son chose to be resurrected with Down’s Syndrome. Sam and his stable kept coming into the picture.

“Start anywhere,” Jesus said when he handed this assignment to me. “It’s your story, not mine.” But he was part of it, all through it in a way since this world is his. It’s like a puzzle I’ve been told to solve. A four hundred year old puzzle.

On the next block I hear Sarah’s dogs barking. She’s come home from the florist where she works. Reese will be home from the Sentinel soon. For the next few months, I’ll be deep into the past, but I think at last I know how to proceed. I’m going to prepare supper. It’s been months since Reese and I ate a meal, and I feel like celebrating.