excerpts from a novel by carriesalo
Chris remembered a conversation with his mother many years ago. They had been in the kitchen getting coffee while his father rested in the living room. He had said something like, “This is Dad’s second bout with cancer. He’s strong. He’ll beat it again.”
But his mother only shook her head. “I can tell. This will kill him.”
Chris had been shocked at her simple admission, her complete lack of hope. “Why do you say something like that?” he asked with more than a small trace of anger.
“Because he let me turn-up the heat,” she replied plainly. “My whole life, I’ve wanted this house at 72 degrees, and my whole life, it’s been at 68.” A small tear had appeared at the side of her eye when she spoke then, but she continued in a steady voice. “And that’s how I know. When we got home from the specialist, that was the first thing he told me to do. ‘Go ahead and turn-up the heat, Ann.’”
Though Chris remained angry with his mother for refusing hope, he never forgot her silly wisdom that day. And as the months passed while Brian Mognahan fought a steady battle for his life, he continued to steadily surrender the battles of his lifetime. He lost his interest in politics, forgot to hate the dog next door, dismissed his loathing of leftovers, and suddenly lived a life of complacency that he would’ve curled his lip at a few short months before. He passed away six months after turning the heat to 72.
The vision paved a quick, perfect path to the stage now placed at the Western Wall.
Except the end.
Yes. Except the end. For some reason, that part – it wobbled unclear in her mind like murky water. She got there, and yet could see no further.
Elise had a feeling it was the part that no one had seen. The Western Wall – it was the part where free will had to write the rest; the part that was not determined; the part that had many endings depending on the souls of men. And whatever came, Elise was not afraid. No jitters, no need for commentator voices, the crutches of her human life. She was past them. She was ready.
Except, Elise self-consciously felt her chest. The pain flared up from the pressure, and yet she pressed. Alan’s crucifix and Derek’s psalm plate were gone. Lost at Chesed’s feet, still in that hospital – she didn’t know. Only their welts were left.
“I wish you were here,” she spoke to the spot under the cloth where the blisters were healing. “Thou has put gladness in my heart.” Elise licked her lips and repeated what she knew the plate read, “Thou hast put gladness in my heart.”
Alan would be proud of her. Today, she would become everything he dreamed she was. Today, she would not let him down.
Derek Dewallace on the other hand (and just as important) would be able to see past what she was about to do today. Somewhere else in the world, far away from wells of souls and kings, he might be thinking of the place she tried to show him. Even today, with the awful task in front of her and the darkness of what was behind, he would still say she brought him some gladness.
Copyright 2011 Carrie Salo