The sun had not yet appeared on the eastern horizon, but she could see that the children were already playing outdoors. The boys and girls were dressed in everything from dresses, jeans, shorts, blouses, and t-shirts. They wore tennis shoes, dress shoes, socks, sandals, and a few ran around in bare feet. They ran, in frenzied delight, through a large field that housed trees, shrubs, and tall grass. They played various games of tag, hide-n-seek, and red light/green light, that placed smiles on their faces, and the sounds of laughter into the crisp morning air. She could feel the warm air of their heavy breathing as they exhausted themselves to a near collapse. Once they caught their breaths, they would start right up again to run toward and away from each other, in screams of joy.
She soared above them for some time, wanting desperately to join in with them, but decided to just leave them be. In the early morning light, she could see the flowing colors of their hair and clothing circle around each other in flowing patterns. It reminded her of a series of paintings that she saw in an art book.
Reluctantly she allowed a slight breeze to collect and move her from the contracting and expanding colors; toward the west.
The wind escorted her to an area above a small, winding creek. The waterway was guarded by tall and lush willow trees on each side of the creek’s bank. The long thin strands of branches that hung heavily with leaves touched the water with their tips, brushed the water to help keep it smooth and silky. There were sounds of bubbling trickles and claps that rose as the water lapped onto the sides of the muddy bank.
The aroma of the trees and the taste of clean water extended up to her. She viewed a small flat wooden raft floating aimlessly in the stream, semi-concealed by the hanging willows. “He could be there,” She said, “lying on his back, bare foot drug in the water, with a fishing stick made from a willow branch looking skywards, and chewing aimlessly on a blade of grass.”
She moved toward a large and very familiar oak tree. It was tall, wide, and its roots dug deeply into the earth.The mighty tree watched over the back yard for more than a century, protecting it from the ravages of the summer sun, and housed the small animals that ran around the yard.
She maneuvered herself closer to the bright green leaves that grew during the time of early spring.Inside and closer to the trunk, she located the nest that held the newly born robins.She had never been able to get this close before and wanted to see them.
She peered into the dark shadow and found five baby robins. They had their beaks lifted high in a chaotic call for food. They had no feathers; their skin was pink, wrinkled, and rubbery looking. They reminded her of a plucked thanksgiving turkey before it entered the oven.
She was going to tell them that there was nothing to fear, when their mother landed on the nest of twigs, returning to feed them.The adult robin turned and noticed her. She cocked her head in contemplation, before opening her orange beak to speak.
An awful simple sound took the place of the robin’s beautiful singing voice.
There was that sound again; mechanical and cold.
The image of the robins and the tree branches contorted and fogged over, as the blipping sound strengthened and became consistent as the ticking of a clock.
“No~!!” she said looking around. “I want to go back and run with them! I want to sit on the raft with him! I want to look and listen to the birds!” Her face ran of tears. “I don’t want to go back!Please!!Please!!”
Emily opened her eyes.She was in her bedroom, looking at a sight that was way too familiar to her.
For as long as she could remember, her life had been spent in that room. The walls of her room were painted sky blue; detailed with rainbows and clouds.She asked her family for this because she was tired of a bland white that she stared at every time she ended up in the hospital. The dialysis machine ran over on the right side of the bed and an oxygen machine to the left, both hummed and beeped day in and out. Over the time, she was able to phase out the sounds, but the sound was always still there. It was a reminder how ill she really was.
Beyond the foot of the bed was a bookcase that housed her favorite stories she loved to read. The names of Cleary, Dahl, Milne, Baum, Adams, and Rowlings were on most of the books.On the right side of the bookcase was an iPod stereo system.The speakers were in the upper quarters of the wall. Inside the iPod, her music was as varied as her books. She would listen to Mozart, Goodman, Rihanna, and One Direction. Her parents asked if she wanted a television brought into her room so that she could watch some shows and movies.She told them that she did not want it in her room. The worlds of books and music gave her extraordinary dreams that there was no need for such a thing. Her imagination let her escape the room was in.
Her illness struck when she was four years old. Whatever it was that attacked her body made her blond hair fall out, turned her stomach sour, and weakened her arms and legs. She was restricted to bed because her legs could no longer support her frail weight.
Each morning she would wake up, moved the head of her bed upward, look out the second story window, and wait for the sun to rise. She saw the clouds pass by at a distance and disappear behind the grand tree in her yard. She dreamt about grabbing onto one of those clouds and floating away from her small world.
What she loved most was the morning rain. She would close her eyes, listen as the drops pounded off of the roof, stream down the gutters into the puddles below, allowing the smell of rain to linger in the air hours afterward, and fill her nose with a fresh clean scent.
There were mornings when violent winds would rip through the lands, slamming and reflecting off the windows of her room awakening her. Occasionally, she would watch the rare snow fall onto the trees and cover the bare branches with fluff. Those were the days that her family would leave the windows closed.
On this morning as she stared out the window noticed a new light in the distance. She knew this was not a reflection of the sun.She had memorized everything that appeared in her small window frame of life. The light increased in size, moved side to side, but steadily forward. She thought that it might be a dream, or the sun was playing tricks on her eyes. She rubbed her eyes and looked again. It continued to move toward her window.
The ball of light positioned itself into the center of the window, absorbing the first rays of the sun. The orb transformed the light into moving colors of blue, red, yellow, purple, orange, and green. A small tear appeared in her eye, as she watched the glorious globe move through the glass window and into her room.
It floated toward her bed, rose up, and hovered just beyond the reach of her extended pale fingertips, staying there for a few moments before it floated down beyond the foot of her bed. The inside of the globe changed.It no longer housed a swirling rainbow, but a cloud of sad and disturbing gray.
She thought to herself, 'How could this be?How can it change colors and look sad, as if it knew how I felt inside?'
The orb expanded in size, the colors reappeared. They swirled around inside and increased to such a speed that her eyes could not track the individual colors.
Then, with a sudden flash of near blinding light, a woman stood where the globe was. She looked at the woman and thought that she was the most beautiful woman she’d ever saw, next to her mother.
The woman had a dark bronze skin color, rose red lips, and lightly curled golden hair that went to the middle of her back. She wore a dress of bright white satin that the arms went to elbow length the hem went down to her ankles and her bare feet. On the surface of the dress, the colors flowed throughout, fading in and out. They were very same colors that she saw in the globe.
Her eyes were a brilliant green.Not an emerald green, but a deep forest green.The color Emily could see from her bedroom window, on the leaves in the Spring.The eyes were very bright and felt like they touched her soul, but Emily saw a deep sadness in her eyes.
She wondered why she wasn’t afraid of this person, and the way she entered her room. What she felt was amazement and peace inside her.
Weakly she spoke. “Hello.” Her voice was damaged from years of coughing fits. She couldn’t speak without feeling her lungs being torn apart.
The lady said, “Hello child.”
The woman spoke two words and the girl could hear the faint sound of wind chime ringing in her voice. She could also hear the sounds of rain falling, and birds singing.
“What is your name little one?”
“I’m Emily.Some people call me Em while others call me Lee.”
“What would you like me to call you?”
“I like Emily.”
“Then I will call you Emily.”
“What is your name ma’am?”
What name would like to call me, Emily?”
Emily looked at the woman, studying her. “You look like a rainbow and smell like the rain. May I call you Rain?”
“Yes, you may. I would be very happy to carry that name.”
“Where did you come from, Rain? I don’t know of anyone who can do what you did when you came in here. That would mean you are from elsewhere, right?”
“Yes and no. I am from many different places, but all of them are on Earth.I come from the North, where ice is everywhere, and where the cold winds blow. There, in the mornings, the chill wakes a person right up. Then when the sun shines, the land looks like a sheet of glass.”
“I come from the South, the land of the tropics, where there are giant trees everywhere you look. The birds have so many shapes.Some of them have big beaks while others have giant wings. There are some birds so small, that they fit on your finger. They have so many voices that when they sing all at once, they sound like a giant orchestra of brass and string instruments.”
“I am also from the East, which becomes the West, where a man of ninety years can smile happily as his family grows up around him. I also come from a place where a child, even younger than you, dies of starvation, sorrow, disease, and war.”
Emily sat quietly and listened to Rain. Emily came to realize since Rain had been there, her coughing had stopped.
“Rain, why are you here now, talking to me?” Emily asked in a strong voice that she never had before. She wanted to ask Rain why her voice was so strong but decided not to take a chance of losing it again.
“I thought you might like some company. I have seen you looking out that window for some time now. You have watched that tree go through many cycles of its life. You have watched as the leaves go from bright green change to many colors. You have them as they shrivel, die, and then fall off. You have seen as the cycle starts again and leaves return to the branches.”
“”It’s always sad to watch that, but I know that it will get better when the spring arrives and the sun warms up the tree again.
“You also watch ground below change from a spring green to a brown during the summer, to a wet and muddy mess during the fall, and a coat of white snow in the winter.”
“I have seen the snow,” Emily said, “but have never touched it. My windows are always closed for most of the year.”
“That is another reason I am here. I have come to show you places of which you have only dreamed of. If you like I can and will make it real for you.”
“How can you show me these places, when I can’t move my legs? How can I hear the sounds you speak of when the birds begin to sing when I interrupt them with my coughing?! I am always so sick. I can’t leave my bed to go with you to see and hear those things. I hurt all the time.”
Rain’s eyes began to well up and the tears streaked down her face.
“Sometimes I feel like I just want to give up, but I don’t. If there is even a small chance to get better, I want that to happen for me and my family. But it’s so hard to put on a happy face for the family, knowing that may never happen and I hope that it would just all end; all of the pain, the sadness, the tears, and the lies my family tells each other to keep our hopes up.”
Rain spoke. “You have become more tired and frail as the seasons roll on. However, no matter how much you hurt, you have tried to smile. This is why I came to you.
“I have seen your mother come into your room smiling, but looking weary, and tear streaked. I have seen her strength worsen as she worries about you more every day.
“When she leaves your room, she heads for her small corner of the house, where your father cannot see her. She holds a little doll that you once held, rocking back and forth in that corner speaking to herself quietly.’ How did this be happening? Why is she dying? What is taking my little girl’s life, so slowly, so painfully? Did I cause this? Is this a punishment? If so, why hurt my little girl? Why not hurt me instead? Why, why, why?’”
Emily spoke, as the tears fell. “I’ve heard her, crying for hours. She wants to know why my life is being taken away.I don’t know what to say to her anymore.Sometimes I wish all of this was over. My mom’s grief may have ended by now, and started over with my dad. I’ve always wanted a brother or a sister. Maybe she would feel better with the thoughts of me in a better place, instead of seeing me day after day being stuck in this body.
“Who could do this to my family? Why do they want to destroy us?” Emily’s face was red from wet from anger and grief.
“One thing has done this to you,” Rain said, “and that is Death. Sometimes It comes so slowly that you can feel your life being slowly drained from you no matter how hard you fight to stay alive. At other times, Death is so quick, so brutal, and so harsh that It takes a life away in a moment of time with just a snap of Its fingers and takes them to the next world, without a bother or a care for who they are.”
“But, now and then, Death does care and does not want that person to suffer. Death feels their pain, and wants to help them, but something holds It back from doing so. It’s the hope that they can hold onto life a little longer, no matter the pain they are in.
“Their thoughts can also keep them here, thinking, ’I can make it to another day. I will be able to walk, laugh, go to school, and grow up.’”
Emily said, “I would like to go to school, and to be with other kids. I want to learn everything the teachers can teach me.”
Rain sat down beside Emily.“If you want, I could show you everything you could want to see, hear and touch. There is so much beauty that you would lose yourself in it. The world would bow to you as it does to me. You would be able to see all of Man’s creations and destructions. You would also see what they will make in the future.”
“But if I leave, what will happen to my mother and father? Will they not be sad that I am gone?”
Rain lowered her head and nodded. “Yes, they will be. I will not lie to you. They will also know that you will be in a better place than the one that exists now. For the first time in a long time, you will be truly happy. You will be able to walk, run, and laugh. If you would like, you could also sing with the birds until your lungs give out. Come with me, little one. Take this next step with me.”
“I know it’s my time,”Emily said.“I have spent my life in this bed. I’ve watched myself waste away.” She slowly sat up in her bed. “Yes, please. I want to run, to see and to do everything that I can’t do now.”
“Then grab my hand Emily and I will take you away from here. You will be able to see the world forever free from any boundaries that you now have.” Rain extended her long, elegant fingers to Emily. “Touch my hand and I promise you will no longer feel pain.”
Emily took Rain’s hand, smiled, and slowly stood out of bed. She tested her legs with her body weight, fearful that she might crumble on the spot, but they did not. She took a few steps forward and then back. She did a twist and started spinning in places, laughing like the little girl that she was supposed to be.
She stopped after a minute, walked up to the lady, wrapped her tiny arms around the woman’s body and gave her a hug. Rain leaned down and kissed her lightly on the top of her head. They separated from each other and turned toward the window. A smile crossed Emily’s lips as she and Rain walked into the expanding sunlight.