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.

Day 1: Belle becomes by the Grace and Love of God

The before was nothingness, not out of the lack of the world but due to blindness. I was blind. And deaf. The nothingness came with no sound. Color was beyond black and quiet was beyond silence. I had existence within the nothingness but knew nothing of existence.

A noise came about, and I had no knowledge of noise. It was a roar and I did not understand it. How I heard it, I do not know because I did not understand what it meant to hear.

Then came something I could understand. Pain layered on pain layered on pain. Ripping, burning, then sudden cold. My eyes saw light, but it faded into darkness.

I found I understood the darkness. When I came to realize that I as an entity was in darkness, another light came suddenly and bathed all of me in its warmth and softness. A voice called to me out of the brightness, calling me to understand that I existed and had meaning. It told me of light and love and acceptance. It cradled me in itself and gave me knowledge of my self and of it.

My eyes opened, and I saw love. And God had seen me back. The nothingness no longer existed; it itself was nothing. I would not be in the nothingness again, because the Light had come and it was God. It was love. God’s love.

God said to me:

“My hands have given you shape and being within your mother’s womb. From there you have come to Me, I have called you. I give you understanding so you may learn My will and power. I have given you understanding so you may fulfill My purpose.”

When I heard His words, I felt myself come into the world. I knew I was bound to Him forever and that the burning, tearing pain would never happen again. I felt eager to do what He commanded of me, because I knew He would not ask anything evil of me.

And God spoke to me again:

“You are beautiful in My sight, and I will give you a name so that you will know yourself and others will know you. You are Belle. You are beloved of Me.”

And my first day in the presence of God began.

Day 68: Sarah Sees Something in the Air

Life has been one long blank grayness. I’m not happy, I’m not sad, I’m not anything. I can’t sit still and don’t want to move.

Ed and Bea are confused; they lay on the floor unmoving and watch me for hours even if all I do is sit and stare out the window. At night, when I finally lay down on my bed and stare at the ceiling all night, I can hear Ed patter from window to window, back to check on Bea, then check on me, then he lays down for a half hour or so. Then it’s back to pattering back and forth, checking things. I wonder if he’s checking to see if I’m breathing.

If they had any alcohol in this damned place, I’d bring a bottle or three back to this crappy box of a place and drink myself into a stupor. But there are no liquor stores, no bars, not even a section in the local market for wine, much less hard stuff. Oh, there’s the wine for Communion, but it’s been a month exactly since I took the sacrament.

Thirty-one days. Except for going out to get food for the dogs, I’ve been sitting in my habitation box and doing nothing. No journals, no reading. This is my first entry in 31 days. Oh, I lied. I have been staring out of the window and seeing nothing except that night falls occasionally and then day comes.

Being Bios has its drawbacks, chiefly that I still have to do basic maintenance on this meat envelope I walk around in. I washed my hair when it started to itch and go to the bathroom when the need arises. Oh, yes, I did change my clothes a while ago, but I can’t clearly remember when.

The only clear part of my life is what Bea and Ed need: food, occasional assurance that I’m breathing, and walkies. The latter is always at night, if I can manage it. I don’t want daylight, at least, I don’t want to be moving around out there when the sky is light. Bea, the little love, has a bladder the size of a thimble so we end up outside during the day, but we don’t go far. Just far enough to find a patch of grass where she can squat.

I need Belle. She is nowhere to be found, at least, nowhere I care to wander. I try to send a mental message to her, respectfully requesting that she come save me. But like the disjointed, distracted prayers I offer up, I get no answer.

Harry came by a couple of days after I saw him at the restaurant; I didn’t answer my door. He came back the next day, and the next, and then skipped a couple of days. I never answered his knock, although Ed did inform him loudly, at length and in no uncertain terms, that visitors were not welcome. After two or three more visits at odd intervals, he stopped coming to my door.

For the first few times, he would leave something: flowers, a note, more flowers, more notes. Notes and flowers all ended up in a pile by the door where I would kick them. Harry finally got the message and would come empty-handed to knock.

I did see him from my window, always by himself. He’d walk hurried to my door, then leave a short time later at a much slower pace. A couple of times I saw the woman he’d been with following him at a distance, then hiding when he left.

I remember the following and hiding; I’d done a lot of it myself. Actually did enough of it to hone the art to a fine point but never to get sloppy and get caught. His new love, however, didn’t seem to see the nuances; he caught her after a few visits to my door, and they had a pretty loud argument at the end of the sidewalk next to the street. After that, Harry came early in the morning a couple of times, then his visits stopped.

I don’t want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. I want to box up my books, take my dogs, and find another place; it wouldn’t help, I suppose. Even if he didn’t find me and I didn’t run into him, he’d still be in my head.

I want to get out of my head, want to shake the dust out, want to be clean again.

###

Just writing this journal entry has helped. The clutter in my brain seems to have settled a little, and I feel more like myself. The dogs have noticed; they’re bouncing off the walls, nipping at each other playfully, bumping up against my chair and whining.

###

I gave up keeping Ed and Bea quiet; they were like little kids on Christmas morning, begging to be let out. The daylight didn’t look as frightening; I felt a little more at ease and even the atmosphere seemed lighter, so we went for a walk.

My ankles felt loose, or maybe it was my legs as a whole, but it felt like I was walking on sponge rubber. Joints, tendons, muscles…something felt out of alignment, weak and wobbly. Even my hands and arms felt weak. It was hard to keep up with Ed and impossible to keep up with Bea, the little minx.

After the debacle with Harry, I stopped talking, not only to other people but to myself. For me, not a good thing. Since I was hiding away anyway, on those rare occasions when I did have to talk, my voice was rusty, squeaky, like an old hinge.

I’ve started talking to myself again. In the old world, it was considered a sign of madness, but even then I talked to myself to work out problems, address people or things that I couldn’t address for some reason. Here, well, I guess it’s a harmless habit. Bea and Ed seem to be happier that I’m talking again.

###

Belle has been missing in action for, shoot, must be well over a month. I’m getting out and about for a change but haven’t gone back to work yet; they probably think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth.

Ha, I made a funny. As if anyone could fall off the face of this world. I haven’t heard of anyone dying or disappearing permanently, so apparently death is not a run-of-the-mill usually occurrence.

I’d ask around to see if I could find her. Haven’t looked too hard anyway. No, not true. I’ve scanned the groups of people and Zoes on my walks with the dogs and trips to get food, that is, I’ve scanned the increasingly smaller groups of Zoes. Thought I saw her once, or at least a Zoe resembling her. They seem grayer and more like smoke now. I hadn’t noticed that before.

People have no faces to me anymore, generally. I mean, they do have faces, but I don’t see them past a cursory glance to see how many and if they’re male or female. I did focus on one guy walking his Newfie in the park because the dog was trying to play with Bea, much to Ed’s dismay. Oh, he didn’t challenge the far larger dog, but he did grumble a lot. I looked up to say something to the Newfie’s owner who was sitting on a bench, reading. For the first time in weeks, I actually saw the color of his eyes and the cut of his hair.

I compared that cut with the way Harry was wearing his hair the last time I saw him come to knock fruitlessly at my door. Harry came up second in the comparison. Come to think of it, Harry came up short on every criterion I use when I notice someone. I’ve become judgmental, which is normally not a good thing, but now, since I’m just getting back to the world, judgmental means I’m seeing reality again. I can stop the judging once I’m back on my feet. I hope.

Anyway, I said something to the Newfie’s owner about my Ed getting jealous and laughed a little. It sounded sour, uncomfortable, that laugh. The guy must have heard the hollow ringing as well, because he looked up from his book.

“Beg pardon?”

“Oh, I said that your Newfie’s attention to my little female is making my other dog jealous.”

The guy glanced at the dogs, then trained his eyes back on my face. He smiled, shyly and a tad crookedly.

“Yeah, you’re right. Funny, huh?”

“Funny yes. In a normal life sort of way.”

“Guy.”

“Girl. She’s a girl. Beabea.”

“No, not your dog. My name is Guy, Guy Wellington.”

“Sarah, my name is Sarah. I’m not sure what my last name is now.”

He closed his book and tucked it into a pocket of the vest he was wearing. I’ve never seen a vest with so many pockets.

“You’re not sure what your last name is now? How come?”

“Well,” I lengthened the word to hide the fact that I wasn’t sure how to say what I had to say. “Well, I guess I’m divorced now. At least, I feel like my husband isn’t my husband anymore.”

“Either that or he’s dead, which seems to be incredibly rare.” Guy laughed at his own joke, which I didn’t quite get.

“People can die?” I sat down at the opposite end of the bench rather suddenly. My legs didn’t seem to have any muscles again.

“Haven’t you heard about it? It isn’t really like death, because you come back again, but your body is,” he hesitated, his eyes glancing up and side to side as he tried to come up with the right words, “disintegrated.”

My body suddenly was cold, even though the sunlight was ample.

“Disintegrated?”

“Oh, I think they may call it ‘being unmade’ or something like that.”

“How does that happen? Have you seen it happen? Did you know the person who was, um, unmade?”

He held up a hand and chuckled.

“Whoa, hold on. I’ve only hear rumors, and not from dependable sources either.”

My whole understanding of the permanence, the basis of Resurrectorium, was sliding sideways and upside down a little. Perhaps because much of my reality had gotten skewed.

“Hey, don’t fret your pretty head about it, okay?” He scooted closer to me and put a hand on my arm. “It’s probably all rumors anyway.” If being called pretty hadn’t been enough of a jolt, something strange happened.

The contact, skin to skin, was like static electricity. I felt some sort of current run from that point, up my arm, across my shoulder, and flush up my neck to my face. Oh, I’d shaken hands and been touched on the hand or arm or shoulder a lot in this world; people seemed to make physical contact a lot more than in our old lives. But this quivering jump of crackling sensation was totally new, alien.

Guy probably felt it, too, because he snatched his hand back as if he’d been burned. I snapped to my feet and called for my dogs; the air between Guy and me seemed tangible and more like a physical entity.

Physical in a Zoe kind of way. I briefly wondered if there was some sort of connection between this odd feeling and how the Zoes existed. As quickly as the thought occurred to me, it disappeared.

Guy looked up to my face, his mouth a little open, his eyes wide.

“Did you feel that?”

“What?” I busied myself whistling, urging Ed and Bea back to me. I had to get out of there, away from this guy.

“That, well, sparkle? Electricity? Whatever, it made the hair on my neck rise!”

“I don’t know what you mean. Must have been static electricity.” We had to get away, my dogs and I. Right then and there. My head said to run like the wind but my heart kept both feet planted firmly next to the bench.

“No, it wasn’t. Nope. You felt it too; you had to. Your face is pinked.”

“Pinked?” I let out a little chuckle, which surprised me.

“Um, you’re blushing a little. Not bright red, more a warm rosy pink.”

“Oh, like the color in your face?” My muscles eased and the fight-or-flight urge faded.

His hands went to his cheeks, rubbing some invisible something away.

“I don’t blush.” He cleared his throat and rose. “Gotta go.”

Oh, so he felt the need to run away as well. He called out to his Newfie to cover his apparent confusion. I knew exactly how he was feeling.

“Justice, c’mon. Let’s go.”

“Justice?” I wanted him to stay there, to talk to me. The urge was stronger than any other feeling I’d had about people.

“I bought him from a lawyer, well, back on Earth. Thought of calling him habeas corpus but imagine what I’d be yelling at him to come. Hey Corpsy?” His turn to chuckle, a rather rusty and seldom-used sound.

“Sensible, very sensible.” Brief silence.

“So, what’s your male’s name and why Beabea?”

“She’s Beabea, which is short for Bouncing Beatrice. And his name is Ed Wood. After the B-movie director.”

We stood there for a few seconds, not saying anything, looking around at everything except each other, our dogs bumping into us, running away, coming back. My stomach suddenly growled, loud enough for Ed to hear and cock his head.

“Hey, Sarah, want to get something to eat? Anywhere, that is, if you want to.”

It was the same concept I was pondering. How to keep with this guy without being overt about the fact that, strangely, I was drawn to him. If this were Earth, I’d say we were flirting.

“I guess I could eat. Where?”

“There’s a drugstore with a soda fountain not far from here. They make good burgers.”

The greasy, satisfying taste of a well-seasoned burger sparked my stomach, and again a growl issued forth from my midsection

“Sure, I know the place.” Harry’s panicked face flashed briefly in my mind and then was gone. “Yeah, that sounds pretty good, actually.”

“Well then, let’s go. Allons-y, Alonzo.” He hesitantly took my elbow and drew me along willingly.

“Dr. Who? Well, I’ll be wibbly wobbly!” I tried to snicker delicately, but it came out a snort.

We both laughed, comfortably. So off we went, not really touching but occasionally being bumped into each other by a huge dog, a slightly smaller dog, and a little black dog who kept stopping and turning in a circle, then dancing off ahead of the pack.

Dang it, I was happy. I hadn’t remembered happy, but now it seemed familiar. I felt like I’d just found something I’d lost for a very long time and forgotten about, then found again. I had to giggle out loud.

“What?” Guy stopped briefly.

“Oh nothing. Just a thought that popped up.” I came to a halt just ahead of him and turned back to face him.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash coalesce into a vague human form. The face snapped into clarity, and I recognized Belle. She was smiling. Then the image was gone.

“Must have been a good one, then. C’mon, let’s go. I’m starving.” He took my arm again to urge me into motion and then put his arm around my shoulders. Not a oppressive gesture seeking to control, but a gathering into to form a whole.

With the dogs prancing around us, the promise of a greasy hamburger, and his arm warm on my shoulder, the light around us was brighter and I could feel no pain at all.

Day 37: Looking for Harry Who Doesn’t Want to Be Found

Worked the morning in the florist and a couple of hours at the tailor before dinner. I feel really restless; the dogs seem to have picked up on it as well and keep bugging me to do something, anything. When I ask Ed what he wants, he gives me his famous GSD end-of-the-world groan and walks to the door, then sits. Bea, well, she follows Ed’s lead but her groan comes out like a warbling whine.

The weather has been pretty good, like that’s anything different. Maybe that’s where this unease is coming from. No, that’s not it. Belle did tell me something was coming. I thought that meant Bea showing up out of the blue, but apparently she was simply a distraction from the main event.

Well, if I sit here I won’t find anything.

Even my books aren’t satisfying this particular itch. I open one, read a few lines, slam it shut, and put it back on its assigned pile. We need more bookcases; there are too many piles on the floor. Bea has found out that she can knock them over and choose a tasty book for herself. Reminder: I need a new copy of “Catch-22.” She ate it in one sitting.

Having two of creation’s best dogs as companions is great, but there’s something missing, and I think it’s Harry. He could be a real pain in the butt emotionally, but the good times were spectacular. Belle tells me that he’s somewhere here in one of the Resurrectorium areas but also that he might not be able to get to 1920. She’s not telling me something.

Not odd, her holding something back. Lately I feel like she knows far more than she is willing to say. No, that’s not quite it. She obviously has information I need but is so distant toward me now that she doesn’t care. I’m really not completely sure.

There’s no way I’ll get anything straightened out sitting here at my desk, Ed curled up at my feet and Bea making a nest on my bed out of my blanket. Gotta move. Maybe the clogs in my head will loosen up outside. Will write more later.

— ### —

We left the apartment house and headed toward the park where Bea found Ed. She doesn’t amble around as much as she did at first, so the walk was a lot more pleasant. I got hungry pretty quickly, and of course both dogs have no problem in eating snacks frequently, so we skirted the park and headed toward the central part of town, where the café and restaurants are.

Great thing about this existence: since you can’t get sick or injured, letting dogs wander in and out of eating establishments isn’t that big a deal. Nonetheless, I made them sit-stay in front of the café while I went in to get us a trio of burgers.

Wish I hadn’t stopped, at least, not there.

The old guy was there again, as always happy to see me. I asked for a cheeseburger for myself and a pair of plain burgers for the dogs (no cheese, no condiments, just a burger with cheese on a plain bun). Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of a man’s head, just the right shape that slender Harry shape I’d been seeing in my dreams. The man had his back to me and was sitting in a booth with a woman, not yet 30 years old looking. She was laughing at what he was saying, although I wasn’t close enough to hear individual words, it seemed he was having a good time, too.

“Here you go, sweetheart. Three burgers, one for you and one for Ed and Bea.”

“Thanks!” Taking the bag with the burgers, I turned to leave. Something stopped me, something made time congeal. Through the stiffness of the air, I turned back.

The man in the booth froze when he heard the old guy name my dogs, and jumped out of the booth when he heard my voice.

“Sar? Sarah?”

The slender Harry shape was Harry himself. He stood there like a scarecrow, one hand up as if he were going to wave, the other loose at his side. Harry looked at me like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar, which gave me a pretty good guess about where he’d been and what he’d been doing.

The woman slid out of the booth and touched him lightly on the arm.

“Harry, who is this? Someone you knew before?” The only word that came to mind when I heard her voice was “vacuous.”

“Um, yeah, ah yeah, this is, I mean was, my wife, Sarah.”

I smiled at him, my ironic sarcastic smile that used to bug the hell out of him, waved at him like a railroad wig-wag, and walked with wooden legs out of the door and into the street.

He followed me, I could hear him assuring her that he’d be back shortly, could hear her rather nasal whine. Or perhaps I assumed she’d have a nasal whine, I don’t know. I kept moving.

Bea and Ed fell into step, thank God. They ambled along with me, eyes locked on the greasy bag loosely dangling from one hand. I would have left them there, my dog buddies, the fog in my head making me forget everything except that the man I’d spent years with, the man who’d fathered my dead child, the man I trusted, that man who was following me pleading and whimpering.

We kept walking, my dogs and I, fast then faster. Harry’s footsteps stopped and his voice faded, but not entirely. It kept sounding in my ears, his voice telling someone else that I was his wife. Past tense. Nothing in the present.

We wandered around the park until the light dimmed. I’d dropped the bag at some point; Ed and Bea ate the burgers, paper and all, then ambled over to where I came to rest, sitting on a bench under a light pole.

God was playing a joke, He had to be. I felt sick, and we weren’t supposed to get sick, or so I thought. Nauseated, light-headed, leaden limbed…I felt awful. I stared out into the dimness, unable to see anything or to turn my gaze anywhere else. My mind was floating around a whirlpool I couldn’t see clearly.

I have no idea how long we sat there, but finally I shook my head clear enough to become aware of my surroundings. Ed was sound asleep, snoring; Bea was busy chewing on a stick she’d found, laying on her side with the stick propped between her paws, her butt pressed lightly against Ed’s sleeping back. The center of their universe sat in neutral gear, and they waited patiently for us to move forward again.

Up I got and forward we moved, back to my refuge from the now sour world. All I wanted to do was sleep, to get away from the painful sludge my life had become suddenly.

Day 32: Sarah Sees Herself in a Mirror

Day 32; 3rd entry

The last four or five days have been a blur. I feel like I’ve started a new, complex, extremely confusing venture. In my earthly life, I usually called the first week of a job “Hell Week.” Here the confusion about complex procedures still comes into play, but the inner feelings of inadequacy don’t exist. OK, guess we can drop the Hell part.

Being loved is difficult. Having all my faults forgiven and my gifts acknowledged, that’s more difficult. The old concept of pinching yourself to see if you’re dreaming is so very, very true; I keep expecting to open my eyes and find myself in some mental ward, being told all this is an hallucination. This new existence is kind of hard to get used to.

On my second day, Belle gave me a book to read, a book that was supposed to answer the lion’s share of my questions. I guess the mental residue of my earthly life was clogging many of my brain cells, because it took me a couple of days to get through that first instruction book. Oh, the welcome-and-here-is-what-to-expect part was clear enough, but the deeper explanations had layer upon layer, like a virtual onion.

One thing that remains: I don’t yet believe what Belle has told me, that I’m loved by the Father. I keep stumbling over things that He put in my path: losing my parents, being alone, the abusive men, losing wonderful Harry who saved me from myself. There’s a little child inside me that keeps screaming “If you loved me, you wouldn’t hurt me” over and over and over.

Finally the book made sense, at least on the surface, and little bits and things I see and conversations I have with other people keep illuminating pieces that have puzzled me. Yes, I’m out of my room meeting people. Surprise, surprise. Me, opening a door and going outside. Who’d a thunk…

Actually, Belle is responsible my adventures into the world.

A couple of days ago I was sitting at the window in my room, reading a section of the book she gave me; I was following the cross references to other books, all of which I found on the shelf next to the bed. The window was open and the music of a normal world wafted in; I still can’t get over being able to hear things. There was a slight warm breeze coming in that smelled of linden blossoms, although there weren’t any such trees in sight. Abruptly the breeze and the delicate odor halted, and silence ; there was a sense of knowing that I wasn’t alone in the room.

Belle was suddenly there, sitting on the bed, leaning back and resting herself on her arms behind her. Every time I see her, her outline is clearer and she seems more, well, corporal. Still, she’s not the same kind of corporial I am; the differences between us are still quite clear.

“Are you finished yet?” She swung her feet, and I realized her feet didn’t touch the floor as she sat there. Odd. She seems my height when we stand next to each other.

“No, not quite.” I opened another book to check a reference.

“You’re an intellectual bull dog” she chuckled.

“Woof, and woof, and a royal growl…woof!” I sang.

“Ha ha. I said bull dog, not Cowardly Lion.”

The phrase “Cowardly Lion” stopped me dead.

“I’ve never been a coward. Never.” I busied myself with putting slips of paper into open books, closing them, and stacking them neatly on the desk.

“Yes you have. Yes, you have indeed.” She kept swinging her feet and staring at her nails.

“What do you mean?”

“You are a coward, or at least have been. Cowards run away from the truth, and you’ve been running away most of your life.”

“Bullshit.”

“No bull. Whenever things got tough, you ran away.”

“No I didn’t!”

“Yes, you did. Oh, maybe not physically, but you did run away. Into a bottle, into another abusive relationship, into depression. You’re a coward, absolutely.”

“That’s a bit harsh for a Zoe, isn’t it?”

“Not really. We’re supposed to tell the truth, no matter how much it hurts.”

I began realizing that she was probably right. But I couldn’t let her know that.

“But what was I supposed to do? Sit and wait for my head to be chopped off?”

“Too much drama, Sarah. Your intensity lets you see only in black and white, but little gray.”

Memories flash through my head of times I over-reacted. I could now see well what she was talking about and, yes, I’d gone off half-cocked. Embarrassing, but it was water under the bridge now that she pointed it out.

“OK, point taken. You’re right.”

“I don’t like being right, Sarah, at least when it comes to those things that make you sad.”

Damn straight those things made me sad. Every damn negative thing that happened made me sad, closed my eyes. What was I supposed to do?

“You and me both, Belle. So, why this visit?”

“Oh, yeah, that. It’s time for you to get off your behind and start contributing.” She hopped off the bed to the floor to come over and help straighten up my books.

I stood up.

“OK, I’m off my behind. What do you mean?”

“Everyone has a function here. Everyone does a job. Sure, you don’t have to pay for things you need, but they have to come from somewhere. Let’s go.”

“Where are we going?”

“Outside first.”

Outside is a scary word. I don’t like outside, and I don’t want to go. My inner child started chanting “Coward, coward, you’re a big fat coward…”

“So, I need to get a job. Fine. Good. Where do I start? Can you steer me to an employment agency or something?”

“Something close. Come on, we have somewhere to go.”

I couldn’t move.

“Sarah, you can do this.”

My muscles were straining against themselves.

“Sarah, look at me.”

I looked into her eyes and saw sorrow. Sympathetic sorrow. Synesthesia returned. I saw violins played sharp in those eyes. I felt the center of me being pulled out, stretched, cleansed. Every vulnerability I ever had was laid out in a line, dusted off, washed. Every incident of the fear of being unsafe appeared like a movie being played.

Day 36: Sarah Gives it Up, Finally

I haven’t written anything in almost a week. Thankfully we aren’t compelled to turn over our work to anyone for evaluation. Whatever class this is, well, I’d be flunking.

To catch up:

The book that Belle gave me to read, well, I had a lot of trouble understanding it. Oh, the words were clear enough but the concepts seemed to contradict each other. My husband would have understood each of them clearly and could probably explain how they interact, but I’m lost in the jumble.

Lost. Yes, there’s truth to that concept.

I’ve been talking with people I’ve met and to be honest, am astounded at the range of individuals I’ve found. A couple are like Harry, my husband; they discuss matters of faith and concepts as if they were talking about last night’s football game. Then there are others, far more in number, who simply accept this life we’ve been given. I want to call them sheep, but I’ve got a fairly thick pelt growing myself.

Belle hasn’t appeared in over three days. She had helped me find something to do, some work that seemed to use my varied talents. That was, well, three weeks and a couple of days ago. She checked on me frequently at first, then once or twice a day, then every couple of days, and then she stopped dropping by regularly after helping me find work. The last couple of times I saw her, she looked a little peaked, like she was coming down with a cold. Zoes don’t get sick, but just in case I heated up some canned chicken and rice soup on the hotplate I’d sneaked into my room. She had a bowl, said it helped, and then left. That was the last time she was here.

In between sips of soup we talked about non-important things, like how I felt now, what I believed God wanted me to do, and that kind of stuff. No, not non-important. I told her about feeling rootless, without connection to this life; of course, in my before life I never felt like I belonged anyway. That did bring a tiny lift to the corners of her lips, but not like the smiles she used to beam, the kind that lighten the air around you. She put down her spoon and told me she’d felt the same way a little before she died and that she had lifted the concern to God.

“It was like a wound that’s in the process of healing, Sarah,” she explained. “You know, that time when it itches and you know the injury isn’t far from being gone.”

“Yeah, as a kid I was always stumbling and scraping the heck outta my knees. I had scabs on them all the time.”

“Exactly. We have to deal with things that happen—let our wounds heal. If we don’t, we bleed constantly.” As she spoke, the light that surrounded her, the light that seemed dim and in need of chicken soup, brightened. It was as if helping me helped her.

“Oh, I remember bleeding.” I used to cut myself until I found that alcohol dulled the pain. She seemed to see it in my eyes so I looked away, ashamed with myself. The shame wasn’t overwhelming anymore somehow, strangely.

“Giving your troubles, the things that worry or bother you, up to God doesn’t make them heal instantly. That takes a little time.”

“At the risk of being a pest, how long does it take?” I missed Harry, I missed my dogs. Heck, I think I even missed waking up in the morning with a huge head.

She laughed, that tinkling laugh. The light of her seemed to detach and flow into me, like she’d breathed it into me. Things were a little clearer suddenly. The idea that I missed having a hangover seemed silly, and I laughed as well.

“It won’t be long now,” she said as she shoved the bowl away.

“What won’t be long? You mean, the stuff that gets my goat won’t seem as essential pretty soon?”

“A little like that. Something will come to you that will make you happy. I mean, happier. You have been a little happy here, haven’t you Sarah?”

“You mean I’ll win the lottery or something?”

Her laughter pealed again, a pleasant tinkle of wind chimes in my ears.

“Not a lottery, not exactly. Although I suppose having the love of God is like winning a lottery. Anyway, someone will come soon who will make your life brighter, easier.”

Harry. Harry had to be near, near enough for me to find. Yep, that would be the jackpot. But I couldn’t be too eager, couldn’t show it anyway.

“Want some more soup?” I took the bowl and turned away, hiding a smile.

“Don’t hide, Sarah.” She must have read my mind, but then again, she always did. “Being transparent to God is a good thing.” She seemed to hear something, a signal or a sound, and stood up from the table. “I have to go now.”

I walked her to the door, finally smiling at her instead of away from her.

“Yes, that’s good! You are becoming less of a cipher and more transparent. You are beautiful, Sarah, truly beautiful.”

“Oh really? I hadn’t noticed.” I blushed red like a beet. I never had felt beautiful, but maybe it was time.

“Yep, that’s our Sarah, serving sarcasm with every smile.” She began to fade, the lines around her growing vague. “Remember, someone is coming to help you.”

She was gone, like a light bulb turned off. But I didn’t feel like I was in the dark, at least not as much.

Back to reality.

OK, so I’m working in a tailor shop part time, then part time in a flower shop. Neither is taxing and the procedures aren’t difficult at all; in a word, I’m kind of bored. And when I’m bored, I think about things that worry or concern me.

Harry concerns me, and I wonder if he’s the person who is coming. I thought he’d be waiting for me when I passed through the Pearly Gates, but since there weren’t any gates, I’m confused. One of the people working at the flower shop looked up the other day right into the face of his wife; she’d been looking for him and somehow wandered into the florist’s shop. They were both so incredibly happy they almost glowed like Zoes. He didn’t come in for a few days, then bounced in one morning to quit his job. Seems like they were going to open some sort of gift shop in the next town together.

I know I’m supposed to be happy for them, but I’m not. I’m not angry, either; I’m envious.

It seems like meeting up with your loved ones is purely accidental around here. True, there are no coincidences here and everything is according to God’s plan, but I often wish God would issue some sort of do-it-yourself instructions on finding your loved ones and fitting in, as well as other subjects that are universally puzzling. We need more information, that’s all.

One phenomenal thing, though. I had applied to work at a place where people can get pets, dogs and such. The job went to someone else, but the director asked me to work freelance, writing various things; I finally learned the style and tone of what he wanted. He didn’t give me a ton of work, in fact few and far between. When I brought in the last assignment he had for me, I steeled myself to go through the kennel and look at the dogs. Maybe I would find one that was just right for me. Sometimes I get a little lonely.

So here I was, walking down what seemed like an endless line of open cages—the dogs are free to wander around—and out of the corner of my eye I saw a big shepherd, just sitting there watching me. Yep, it was Big Ed, the gray sable we had, the one we reluctantly put down when he developed a neurological condition.  His legs had stopped working and he frequently fell over, often defecating at the same time; the look in his eyes told me his pride was gone. The same look begged me to let him go, give him rest. In a way, it was both the easiest and the hardest I’d ever made. But that was then and this is now, a whole different reality.

It’s kind of funny. They never fill the cages and they never empty them completely. Dogs just show up, hang around for a while, and all of them seem to find their people eventually. Cats are different and never come into the shelter; they just wander around until they find their people.

Anyway, I stared at him with my mouth open, and he walked up to me, circling me once and stopped right at my left side. He sat down, nuzzled my hand, and waited in a totally dignified and sedate way. I wanted to hunker down and throw my arms around the big lug, but such a public expression would have embarrassed him. Anyway since we found each other he’s been with me every minute; they don’t mind him at either the tailor’s or the florist’s place. He spends most of the day lying in the sun.

 

I wonder why Big Ed ended up with me; maybe Harry isn’t here? I also wonder what happened to Daisy, and Walter, and that little puppy we had, Beatrice. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t have all of them with me. That would be some parade when we walk to work.

I also wonder what happened to Belle and how I could find her. I don’t know where to start; perhaps there’s a Zoe agency somewhere. No one seems to know how Zoes are chosen, or maybe it’s the Zoe who choses their Bios?

Another puzzle: if God is a loving father, why is He keeping people apart?

If I keep thinking like this, my head might implode. Too many questions and too few answers.

Where is Belle? Where is this person who is coming?

Shoot, I’m late for work.

—###—

Okay, I’m back. Big Ed wandered off on our way home and it took a while to find him. Or rather, he found me just when I’d given up on him. Oh, and he brought someone with him.

Beatrice! But she wasn’t a puppy anymore; I knew it was her anyway. She’d been our next-to-last dog. Harry thought I needed another dog; Big Ed was having trouble going up and down steps, and Harry wanted to distract me from Ed’s final days. She had done just that, the little nut. A little black dot stumbling into Big Ed, being goofy. Those couple of weeks she was with us were mostly good, I guess. The last couple of days, when she got so sick and was diagnosed with Parvo, well, those sucked big rocks.

Yep, it was Bea. I’d decided to sit down in the park and wait for Ed to find me, since I didn’t seem to be able to find him. And there he was, sauntering down a path toward me with quiet dignity, followed by a highly distractible little black dog. She saw me, squealed, ran toward me, and promptly stumbled just as she got to me, slamming into my leg. Yep, that was Bea. Full of love and a complete lack of physical grace.

I wondered how I’d manage two dogs, taking them to work and all. She seemed to have some little bit of training now; Ed sedately marched on my left, and she goobered around on my right. Yes, she’d wander a little to sniff a leaf or stare at the sky, but she would soon realize we’d walked on and gallop to catch up. She tried really hard to keep alongside, but sooner or later something would distract her and she’d veer off.

Today was my day at the tailor, and work wasn’t hard, as usual. There’s always an atmosphere of a holiday approaching. In fact, I spent most of the afternoon hemming pants and skirts, special Sunday-go-to-meeting kind of stuff. Oh, no holiday or celebration is scheduled, at least that I know of. It just seems that people are getting into a carnival/celebratory/party frame of mind. Maybe I should see about getting something less flannel and jeans and girlier.

I mentioned my concern about my Zoe to the other seamstress at the shop, and she seemed to be anxious about hers as well. Her Zoe was distracted and appeared to be a little angry, if you can believe a Zoe being angry, about something. I know I should be more concerned, but I’m not.

I’m not overly concerned because what Belle said about giving worry to God seems to be working for me. Actually it’s more Zen than that; at first it seemed to be undoable. Every time I tried to lift my disquiet to God, I felt worse, but then, well, all the pieces seemed to fall into place. Like when I learned to ride a bike: I’d struggled and fallen for weeks, it seemed. Then one day, just as I was about to give up, I hopped on the seat and suddenly was able to balance. Off I went, not falling, just whooshing away. I’d ridden the bike all afternoon on the roads by my grandparents’ place and came back dirty around the edges. Mom wasn’t mad at all and was happy I wasn’t scratched up and bloody as usual.

I’m happier. Not dancing in the streets happy, but happier. Well, I have to admit there’s a part of me worrying about when this happiness is going to end. Still, I’m not as concerned as I usually am. That’s a start, I guess.

This giving it up to God stuff is pretty cool.

 

 

Day 27: Done with Jumping, She Gets Her Sea Legs

Day 27; 2nd entry

I think it’s my second day here, if indeed the periods of time between light and dark are a full day.  I seemed to have arrived here without a watch. And no earrings. I am without my jewelry armor and feel totally naked. Heck, my ears aren’t pierced anymore, and my tattoos are gone. I don’t know who I am without them.

To catch up: We walked out of the Resurrectory and through a park to get to my new digs. What a novelty to walk straight, not limping…to hear sounds of a real world instead of that damned constant ringing in my ears.  The conversations of other people walking this way and that, I could hear them. Leaves in the wind, birds tittering: I could hear them. Being partially deaf in the outside world had seemed so disconnected, living in some nebulous reality where I didn’t belong and the programs weren’t close-captioned.

And let’s not mention how embarrassing it is when someone speaks to you and you can’t hear him or her clearly. Your brain fills in the blanks with words that are not just incorrect but solidly surreal. Most of the time what you hear is hilarious, such as “Let me pumpkin lick you” instead of “Let me pump the gas for you.” Laughing is a hugely wrong idea in some circumstances. Such as a friend’s funeral or when listening to your priest’s sermon.

Here I am, part of it again. All the information out there is loud and clear, and again I am part of something bigger than me, more important than me alone. I am not a child, I am adult who hears as she did when she was a child. My world isn’t that silent envelope I was living in. There’s power in hearing sound.

I had the sudden urge to find an ice-cream vendor and buy a cone but as we walked, no vendors to be seen. A lot of people, though; we all were walking. No bikes, no motorcycles or cars: all walked. Most were like me, just regular people with regular faces, and quite a few were accompanied by someone like Belle, someone who glowed a little. They glow with music to them, music that is not heard but had an effect nonetheless. In comparison, the other people–I must remember to call us Bios–were colored dully. I looked down at my hands, waving them back and forth like a hula dancer. Yes, they were my hands, but compared to Belle, my hands were insignificant.

“Nothing about you is insignificant, Sarah.” She could hear my thoughts?

“Oh, you don’t know me that well yet.”

“Perhaps I know you better than you think?” She paused, glanced around, and glided to a park bench.

“Doubtful. Nobody really knows me.” She patted on the bench next to her, a universal sign of join-me-we-need-to-talk-seriously, and I sat.

“Someone does.” I sat, wondering who she was referring to and  if that glow she had emitted heat. I didn’t feel any.

“Someone does, huh? I give…who?” I was so very careful to hide the ugliness inside me, the hate, the desire to hurt as I’d been hurt. Make a joke and walk away when someone gets too close, the best advice my brother ever gave me. Don’t let the suckers see you sweat.

“Someone who loves you.” Belle shimmered brighter, bright enough even to cast small shadows behind the bench.

What a crock. Some divine being, presumably the God I was introduced to in Sunday school, grabs me when I commit suicide, whooshes me away from sweet oblivion, kills all the pain in my soul, then I find out it was because of love. What a cheap word, love. Easy to say but not to mean.

I got distracted; a tiny seed of hopelessness pinged into my head from no-where and made my stomach contract. In the presence of love I feel unlovable. The image of ice cream came back. Maybe I was hungry. Food works to drive away hopelessness, at least for a little while.

“Here,” Belle reached off to the side and an ice cream cone appeared in her hand. “Bet this is the best pistachio you’ve ever had.”

I accept what she offers and have to agree, damn good ice cream for sure. Just cold enough but not too cold, creamy but not cloyingly creamy. Far better than the Howard Johnson’s of my youth, even better than the designer label stuff I’d buy when the hopelessness threatened to take over.

“Good stuff, real good. Thanks.” Even the smell of cold felt good. We sat in silence as I lapped at the cone. After the first few licks, the flavor was fading fast, too fast. Far too fast. I suppose I wasn’t surprised.

Suddenly I didn’t want it anymore. The empty spot in me was still empty, and the ice cream began to taste chalky, like ice cream that has thawed and refrozen. The desire for ice cream was gone, poof, and my normal compulsion to eat anything I could get my hands on evaporated.

I glanced around, looking for a trash barrel. That last lick tasted like garbage, or what I imagined garbage to taste like. Belle took the cone from my hand, turned away, and then came back empty handed.

“That was earthly love. Delicious at the beginning, but the flavor does, sadly, fade.” She reached into the air again, bringing out of nowhere another cone. You could see the flavor, you could almost hear the cone.

“This, dear Sarah, is another love.” She handed it to me.

The weight was light, the texture of the cone crisp to the touch, and the smell of the cold…ah, this was a sweetly creamy cold. The freezer we had when I was a child smelled like this; I’d sneak down to the basement where it was kept, would open the lid and literally bathe in the fragrance. I took a tentative lap.

There was color on my tongue, green and sharp like nuts. There was the sound of creaminess that tickled my ears. One lap and I was full, satisfied, sure I needed no more. This was enough. I needed nothing else.

My face must have betrayed what my mouth, tongue and ears were tasting and feeling.

“This is the love of a father for a treasured child, Sarah. This love knows every cell of that child, every thought both good and bad.”

“This is the love of God, Sarah. You are that treasured child.”

When had I started crying? Tears leaked down my cheeks, then jaw, then neck. I hate crying in public. I hate crying in private, for that matter. The flavor in my mouth and ears overwhelmed the saltiness of my tears. The emptiness was filled by that complete flavor, making me feel whole and solid. No chinks of disappointment or shards of anger, no void of loneliness.

I understood on an intellectual level, which should be enough to shut down the water works, but still couldn’t stop: no sobs or moans, just silent tears running down my face. For the first time since I’d woken up, I began to feel pain; the empty spot in my soul had been filled, was whole, solid, but nonetheless there was pain.

Belle sat quietly, not touching me to comfort or console; the sense of her presence was soothing enough.

“I understand but I don’t understand,” I said in a tear-choked voice, my throat thick. “Why am I crying? Why am I in pain?”

“Growing hurts. Realization hurts.” She stood up and glanced down into my wet eyes. “The hurt is the storm in your soul, a storm of loss and doubt.” She reached into an unseen pocket and handed me a handkerchief, a large one suited for a man.

“Sorry, but this is all I have. Just like you, it is more than it appears to be.”

I took the white rectangle, shook it out to its full size, and dabbed at each eye in turn. The handkerchief smelled of starch and ironing.

“If I’m so treasured, why…”

“Because you have to realize that love is of the Father. It is constant, contingent only on whether you will accept it.”

“My dad loved me, I think. I don’t know, I don’t remember.”

“He did, and perhaps the love of the Father is a little like that. But it is more. One is like a grain of sand: part of the beach. The other, the love of the Father, is the entire beach.”

It made sense, sort of. I shook my head to get the remaining threads of misunderstanding shaken out and they fell away, leaving that lovely flavor which colored my thoughts like pearls, made my consciousness shine. Shine, yes that’s it. My soul was shining, finally free of the muck and mire of years of hurt and self-doubt.

I suddenly wanted to run, climb trees, let the light inside me spill out and give everyone the flavor of what I’d found. I jumped to my feet, and Belle put her hand on my arm before I could bolt away.

“You have always wanted it all at once, all the knowledge, all the understanding. Be patient, it will all be revealed, but only revealed a little at a time.”

Belle tugged gently and I moved with her.

“Come on. Let’s get settled first, then we’ll see what’s what.” She indicated a path to the left, and we walked silently from the bench toward a tall, pale building rising into the sky. I made a last swipe of my cheeks with the handkerchief and offered it back to her.

“No, you need to keep that, to remind you that you are loved and lovable.”

Nodding, I followed her toward the tall building, folding the square to fit in my jeans pocket. My first real possession, other than my clothes. A square of finely woven cotton, soaked with my tears. Other possessions didn’t matter.

 

Well, that catches this journal up until this moment. No, I lied.

Belle led me to and into the building, gliding. We climbed stairs, many flights of stairs. When was the last time I made it up a flight of steps? Didn’t matter. Up we went until we reached a door marked with what appeared to be a series of runes or squiggles. Understanding what they meant seemed to be right on the edge of my consciousness, teasing it.

“Oh, you’ll be able to read, in time. Don’t fret.”

 

She led me to a wooden door, one of many ranging down the long corridor. It opened without a key, and we stepped in.

Simple, clean lines, but everything was balanced. Just the right number of flowers in a vase on the table. Some books, but not too many. Pictures, just enough but not overwhelming, on the walls that were a curious shade of blue. I could see a door off to one side and a huge window that let in light, enormous light.

Belle reached to a shelf and took a book from the middle of a group.

“Read this tonight. Tomorrow we’ll discuss any questions. I need to be elsewhere right now.”

I took the books, blinked, and she was gone. But I didn’t truly feel alone.

 

Day 22: Sarah’s Jump into Rebirth

Day 22, 1st entry

They said they want me to write about waking up. I don’t want to. I hate writing. Writing hurts. But they want me to record how I feel, what I’m thinking. It’s a Grimm fairy tale, at least in my case.

Once upon a time there was a girl who needed to love too deeply for her own good. Naw, this is how it really happened.

Day 1: My eyes won’t open. Actually they will, but I do not want them to. Better that they’re closed. When they were open the last time, all I saw was the surface of the water speeding toward me, or rather me toward it. Me, speeding toward the end of pain. Me, making the emptiness go away. Me, pushing the silence away.

The sounds around me are anything but water; beeps and the occasional woosh combine with soft voices speaking almost in whispers, making them soft upon soft. I can hear them. I can hear them? I shouldn’t be hearing anything, except perhaps the buzzing that has been my constant companion for years, buzzing caused by the anti-anxiety/anti-depressive medication cocktail.

There is no buzzing. Just soft upon soft murmurs and the sound of monitors beeping and pinging. The sounds are so clear, my God, clear. I haven’t heard crisp sound in so long.

No guts no glory. Time to open your eyes, Sarah. Pop ’em open, yeah, like that.

Someone is standing over me, smiling. Or I think it’s a smile, I can’t really tell. It wavers, that face; is it a face? It shifts from two dimensions to three, then back again to two. Still it must be a face and that must be a smile. Too confusing, and I close my eyes again.

“Hello, Sarai” it says, words clear like bells. It knows my name, my name from before. “How do you feel now?”

I feel cheated, betrayed, but physically fine. “I’m fine, peachy” I say with my eyes still closed.

“Is that a good kind of fine, or a sarcastic fine?” The bell-like voice is smiling, the words ring like a melody. A teasing melody, actually. My mouth can’t help itself and it smiles, even if I don’t want it to. I have more control over my eyes, and they stay closed tight.

“Caught me. Sarcastic. Seriously, I actually feel pretty good. Expected to feel a whole lot worse.” My throat feels a little raw, dry. Something pokes at my lips: a straw. Just like a baby, I suck at it with the reward of a lightly sweet liquid, and my throat instantly smooths, my voice becomes less reedy, more steady.

“Do you know where you are?”

“Some hospital. University or Baptist General?” It’s harder now to keep my eyes closed. The part of me that wants to remain ignorant is quickly losing ground to the curiosity revealing itself like the layers of an onion. I peek under eyelids, a slit of light.

The walls are white, not cold, a warm white that I can almost taste. Not fruity, like the liquid, but creamy. Yes, the walls are delicious. The bell voice sounds again, breaking the synesthesia. The walls are simply white, but the shade makes me feel comfortable somehow.

“No, neither University or Baptist General. You are in place called the Resurrectory.”

“Resurrectory? Where is this, I mean, what state? What town?” It jars me to think that I floated down the river before someone found me. I hadn’t intended to survive that long. The plan was oblivion, not rescue.

“It’s not really a place, at least not the way you think. You have been resurrected from the dead.”

Well that’s amusing. I finally manage to successfully kill myself and I end up resurrected? I wait for the gaping maw of pain to swallow me, but it doesn’t. There is no pain and I don’t feel its absence.

“Do you understand that you were dead?” The face becomes a little more clear, more defined; I open my eyes a little further. The face shimmers, then fades into a regular, ordinary person’s face. Strangely, she looks like my third-grade teacher.

“My name is Belle, like the musical instrument. And you are Sarai.”

“I changed it to Sarah.” Hearing my old name causes a twinge of recognition, but only as if it were something belonging to someone else.

“So Sarah, do you know that you died?”

“Well, that actually was my plan. I have to tell you, I am surprised. Well, more than surprised. If there is such a thing.” My body is starting to cooperate, and I reach for the glass of liquid. Nope, not cooperating enough yet; I grab at it, clutch at air, and knock it over.

A slim pale hand catches the glass before it spills and competently sets it back in my line of sight. The matching hand takes mine, guides me to wrap my fingers around the slick plastic glass and to draw it closer to me. I sip. Funny, but I don’t see a real connection between the pale hand and the face. Also funny because it doesn’t seem important now.

Belle becomes more solid; her outline becomes more defined. Good, my eyes are starting to focus. She pats the covers, pulling them up to cover my chest. Oh my God I’m naked!

Calmly, she tucks the sheets around the sides and speaks, her words making more sense as I sip from the glass.

“The world as you knew it ended and was remade. Nearly everyone here, including me, has been resurrected. I was resurrected with Zoë, you have been resurrected with Bios.” She has finished tucking in the sheets and reaches into the drawer of the table beside the bed.

“Let me leave you this pamphlet. Read it and we can talk some more when I get back.” Glass put down, I take it from her hand, a slick three-fold in a soothing green. I’ve read the first paragraph before realizing that I’m reading without my glasses. Just one more surprise of the day, and I guess I’m going to get a whole lot more.

Belle wisps the hair from my forehead, pats my cheek, and seems to almost float out of the door. She moves, but doesn’t walk. Strange. I sense, rather than see, that she’s naked too, but I’m not embarrassed or titillated.

Zoe, Bios. I know Belle and I are different from each other, radically so. But Zoe and Bios? I read on with a hunger to know the truth, the words feeding the hunger but never quite satisfying it. I’m reading the pamphlet over for the second time when Belle comes back through the door.

“Do you have any questions the pamphlet didn’t answer?” She is suddenly back in the room, and I know I didn’t hear her footsteps.

“I have plenty of questions, tons of them. I just don’t know which to ask first. First, though, I want to get out of this bed.” Apparently I have indeed been resurrected, because my bladder is demanding attention. Belle helps me stand; I hook one hand over her shoulder for support.

Bios or Zoe, she’s still a nurse and instinctively understands where I need to go and what I need to do. She helps me walk the few steps to the bathroom, and I wave her away at the door. I value my privacy and this certainly is a time for it.

I sit and answer the call of Nature, pat myself dry, then rise to perform my ablutions. Hands washed, time to do the face. The mirror over the sink shows someone I used to know, know well, someone from years ago.

I’d forgotten that my hair was that odd shade of brown caught in midstream between blond and brunette. I grimace and show my teeth, for some reason not surprised that they’re all there instead of gaps on the side or worn out caps. My eyes, the source of my only facial pride, are clear and back to the golden brown that preceded the tired muddy hazel. No bags under the eyes, no blotchy patches on the cheeks from frequent crying. It is the best my face has been, ever.

I’m still horribly tall and still built like my dad, like a fullback. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore. My physical height and build are not important to me anymore, not a source of embarrassment. This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt self-acceptance, at least about my body. Wow.

It feels odd, but good, sort of like stretching a sore muscle to soothe it. No, it’s more like removing the bandage from a healed wound. Yeah, that’s it.

“I have some clothes for you here, and a hairbrush.” Belle calls through the door. Yes, my hair definitely needs to be dealt with; I’d forgotten as well that it was so thick.

Thick too are the towels next to the sink, and they smell wonderful, of sunshine and wind. I bury my face into one. She knocks at the door.

“Here, a brush and some underwear. I have jeans and a shirt out here as well.” I open the door a crack, and as she hands in the underthings, then the jeans and shirt; I wonder what size I’m getting, no, what size I am now. Whatever the size, the panties fit perfectly, the bra doesn’t bite into my shoulders; they match each other, and also match the other clothes. Someone knows it’s my private vice, matching panties and bra to my outer clothing.

The jeans look perfect as well, and the embroidered cambric shirt resembles my favorite shirt from before. Before. Before the pain.

“Do you need help getting into the jeans?”

“No. I’m fine.” This time I don’t curl sarcasm around the word. The clothes glide on like they were made for me.

“Do you want socks or do you want to wear your clogs without?”

She knows I only wear clogs?

“Without, thanks.” She taps at the door, and hands me a pair of clogs that coordinate with the shirt. “Would you like to go to your quarters now?” Belle looks up from making the bed. “We have quarters ready for you, if you wish.”

“Sure. Hey, um, is this real? I mean, is this really the Resurrection?”

She smiles like a mother comforting a child.

“Yes, Sarai, it is.”

I can’t help it any longer; I cry. I’m surprised because they’re not the painful, cold, bitter tears of sadness. My tears are of joy and thankfulness…and I can recognize them as such.

“Thank you. Belle. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Allons-y, my dear.” Her reference to my favorite character on my favorite sci-fi show causes a bigger smile to crack on my new face.

“After you, Doctor,” I quip.