by Dennis B. Baylor
The voices grow dim. My brain undulates against the swell of blood pounding its skull. I open my eyes to darkness. A twitch above my left eye frustrates my observations. My senses – muted, as the eye lid fluttering becomes quickly an itch. A pungent-scented cologne strains against my grasp of smell. A dull ache moves up and through my left leg exploding with ever so discomfort just above my pelvis. My body position, I know not how.
It resides. It exists, but where.
Pain. Physical pain. It detonates from within. Adrenaline shockwaves cascade wantonly through my foundation. Energy tickles my finger and toes...and then it is gone. I open my eyes to witness. A hand falls upon a face. Fingers flitter across its jaw stroking and feeling in a distinct manner.
Pain. Again. Its hammer shatters my questions as all becomes dark. All becomes quiet. Lucidity bounces throughout my head seeming to smudge my memories with failed stains of remembrance. The pain subsides with little promise never to return. My throat gurgles and tugs wanting to argue. The voices return. A soft lilt that resonates. It sloshes through my thoughts arriving in jumbled pieces.
Marvin Gaye’s legacy pounds in my head, “Father, father...tell me what’s going on.”
A pin hole of whiteness detonates and blooms against the back of my eyes. The light streaks outward washing over the dark. A shadow figure of gray rides the light wave. It reaches out, it seeks a substance. It seeks me.
“Daddy?” it inquires.
God proclaimed my existence thirty eight years ago. Twelve years ago I proclaimed the dissolution of my Faith. For God had taken all that was precious to me. She was my existence. She was my life, fifteen years ago, I made her my wife. In the throes of death she would bear me a son. Timothy, my son.
Tears intermingled as I held my baby boy. His eyes forever condemned to never know his mother. My salty, wet lips fall upon her cheek. Cold, pallid flesh caresses my love. Timothy lies still as he feels his mother’s touch. A warm touch, it must be. For the last time.
“Daddy!” I hear his cry.
His eyes...brown eyes, are non-existent to me.
“Move!” I scream to my appendages. “Open!” I implore, I demand of my eyes. My body is dormant. My eyes forever closed. Forever they are because it is then that I realize the truth. My death has come and passed.
Light shatters all perception as buckets of color mix and collide. Warmth floods my soul. Then darkness. No, not again. It quickly dissipates as my once-upon-a-time existence disintegrates. Taffy from the sea my body becomes as it stretches in myriad directions. Forever pulled until body parts snap simultaneously.
I seep from the grounded vessel. My essence rises as all becomes clear.
Before me lays the vessel. Its face and chest bloodied. Drops of life stick and cling to flesh. I look upon it with unfamiliar nostalgia. It is me. It was me. I feel my...its pain, its hurt. It calls to me. It begs. Cajoles. Pleads for me to return. Its pull becomes stronger as a stranger arrives. She grabs the vessel demanding its attention. More strangers arrive. I feel the woman’s hands upon the vessel. I swoon with dizziness and confusion.
My body twitches.
“I have a beat,” a man proclaims.
“Dad, don’t leave me,” I hear Timothy’s call.
Images of my life flutter to and fro setting perch on thoughts of the last one hundred and forty-four months. In all that I see, all that I remember, there is an overwhelming reality of solitude. The loneliness of my existence has become a comfort from which there is no escape. My self-imposed prison feeds the anger toward all that I once worshiped. The betrayal of my loyalty weighs upon me. Upon the beat of my heart. Life bestowed upon me, a bitter taste does fall upon my tongue everyday. I curse him and shall never forgive him. How can I when he has taken so much, so very much away from me.
Several days later I awaken from my coma. The muted beeps and compressions of hospital machinery dance in isolated rhythm. My kidneys sing in discomfort as I shift, ever so slightly, my weight in the bed. I question the reality of the ceiling fan looming above me. Its blades rotating in blurred motion.
“Timothy,” I mumble to the room. There is, of course, no response. Timothy died three minutes, twenty-three seconds after his mother.
Something blue and red approaches me as I see in medicated, diffused observation.
“Daniel,” it greets.
I manage, “Yes.”
The nurse dressed in powder blue scrubs is carrying a food tray. He smiles sitting the tray upon a table attached to the bed. He smells of Old Spice while moving to open up the window blinds.
“You’re answering me this time,” he says in a tranquil voice. “You’ve been in and out for the last day. A minute here, a minute there. Your eyes look stronger this minute.”
“Will I live?” I ask.
“Yes,” he responds. “I should get the doctor. Are you comfortable?”
“My left side hurts,” I respond as my vision continues its swim to the surface.
“That’s...expected,” he staggers. “I’ll get the doctor.”
The nurse checks the equipment monitoring my vital signs. He adjusts an intravenous tube discharging life into my system. The pain sweltering in my body still overpowers thoughts of clarity. I go silent as my world goes black. Again.
The cool current falls upon my face as eyes look down upon me.
“How good to see you,” a reflection of myself states.
My labored breathing fills the silent void. I reside in a limbo state of light. Warm light that seeps into the ever deepening crevices of my core.
“What...where is this?” I stutter upward.
Myself. A younger, more vibrant echo of who I am smiles at me. “Your anger has gained my attention.”
“My anger?” I laugh. “Drugs are a bitch.”
My younger self’s body takes the hue of swirling pastel colors as we float in my dreams.
“Dreams?” it asks rhetorically. “I summoned you here.”
“Whatever,” I blow.
“Is this better?” he asks as the void falls away to reveal me laying in my hospital bed.
I look to the being that would proclaim itself God. “No way,” I announce. “No way.”
“You say your faith is no longer,” he says. “If that is so, if this is your dream, why am I here?”
“What do you want from me?” I ask.
His hand lays upon my shoulder ever so gently as the light encompasses us again. He embraces me as tears -- my tears, drip upon his arms creating pastel waves throughout his being.
“I have not forsaken you,” God announces as my body moves sporadically with every outpouring of remembrance. “Do not forsake me.”
“Why did you take them away from me? Why?” I cry.
“Life that is created is created to live its life. My determination is final, that I would not control this aspect of life. For you are my creation, and that is where it begins and ends. Until your corporeal form is no longer. Then you become what you were always was, the essence of all. The essence of me.”
He holds my face in his hands. They are so warm.
“How can I accept that when I miss them so much?”
“Because you must,” God declares.
“Because I must?” I question. “Why create us with the capacity to love when tomorrow is never promised? What is the purpose? My purpose?”
God smiles. “At this very moment, I am having this conversation with twenty thousand two hundred and sixty-seven other living, breathing forms. Many from this planet. The answer is and always has been the same. Your time, in this form, is an education, a tutelage administered by those who came before you.”
“So many suffer under this tutelage,” I state.
“And so many prosper,” God counters. “The answers you seek are untenable until your soul is resumed.”
“My family?” I weakly ask.
“When it is your time,” he responds.
I turn my back to God. The void overwhelms me. I feel God pass through me.
“Suicide?” God says. “If it is done, your questions will remain forever unanswered. There is reason. Allow yourself to find peace. Resolution.”
“Did I hear my son calling me?” I ask.
“Yes,” God says. “Your body now calls you.”
My eyes open to silent, semi-darkness. A soothing rain splatters against the window. It is night. Lightning punctuates the darkness allowing me to track the rain rivulets racing downward upon the glass.
“It’s so hard,” I say to no one. And yet, there is something that was not here before. My intelligence feels its awakening presence as my conflicted emotions writhe in spasm. Hope has returned to me.
It’s a start.