It’s becoming harder to breathe. So many times in her life she’s felt this body to be a prison, but none more than now. It holds her tight and closed, pinned to the rough grey cotton of the bedsheets, far from her daughter and her grandson, and she both curses it for failing her and loves it for all it has given her. How can she leave? How can she bear it? But then, how can she not? Could she bear to stay imprisoned by pain and a body that no longer does as she asks or wants? Tears run salt-sticky down papery cheeks.
God, how she’s loved this planet: the wild green gladness of the earth, the moonstruck stillness of the night, the faces of her grown up children that held shades of everyone they had been and were to come. She wants to be there for all of it. Forever.
Night gathers in the corners of the room. She closes her eyes. For a while sleep takes her.
When she opens her eyes, her son is there. Take what you love inside, she’d read that somewhere once. Her son’s eyes as he smiles at her, holding her hand gently between his, are the light, bright blue of her husband’s eyes, startling as the day she’d met him.
‘Beloved,’ she murmurs and her son’s face falters as if he thinks she’s mistaken him for his father but she hasn’t. She is full of both of them, they are both here, both inside her clear and deep as the sky at twilight as it melts from lemon-gold through shades of softest blue to indigo dark. Constant as the stars that turn through the darkness. A kaleidoscope of connection.
She doesn’t want to go. Not yet. Maybe not ever. She is a willing prisoner. The Earth has been her mystic, her muse, the book written by the Creator with no interpreter, no priest, no authority but her own heart.
A breeze wanders through the window and finds her, the white muslin curtains lifting softly like the slow arc of wings. The slanting sun through leaves bathes the room in a glow that is golden-green, that is morning, that is home. Drifting, she swims in a body made of light. The edges of her soften and blur as she moves and mingles with the energy of everything.
There was a day by the sea, one subtle September, when the baser realms had stepped aside and revealed the mystical realm beyond, subtle and shining. The air itself had shimmered. Still and smooth, the water ached with silvery clarity, a dream of peace, a bliss made manifest. She slipped into the water as if she too were liquid light. She thought: this is a lighter realm. In this realm, we are sublime.
You’re not a native of Earth, a psychic had once told her.
I am! She’d objected, angry at the foolishness of it. I am from Earth. I… I… How could she put it into words? I’m from a more subtle realm of Earth. Because, if she was honest, she did struggle with the density of it. The solidity. The laws of gravity and force. The friction.
No, the psychic said. You are from a planet that is like a more subtle realm of Earth.
She knows that now. Imprisoned in the three-dimensional she feels her awareness split. The warmth of her son’s hand holds her even as the honeyed light bathes her, moves through her, even as her spirit answers and embraces it; even as the weight of her lungs presses down on her, even as she hears the rattle of her failing shell. Even as she feels the morning fill her with shades of sky.
Take what you love inside.
Her daughter won’t get here in time, she knows that now. She’d tried to wait, but like a tree losing its leaves she is now more star than leaf. Does she look transparent? Does light leak from her as she dissolves?
She has outgrown the prison. She knows that suddenly and completely. So many times she came back to wander through lifetimes with those she loves. Never had she understood so completely that when she returns home, they will come with her.
Take what you love inside.
She breathes them in. The deep green of her husband, the bright aquamarine of her grandson, the startling magenta of her daughter, the soft blue of her son.
Golden green, her own light, the light of home.
She breathes it all in.
Author: Rachel Rivett has an MA in Writing for Children and is the author of three picture books, Little Grey and the Great Mystery, Are You Sad, Little Bear? and I Imagine. She is delighted to have short stories for adults in anthologies with Mother’s Milk and Retreat West. You can find her at www.writewild.weebly.com
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