Umber (76)

November 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

With his free hand Sebastian pulled a GPS from his pocket and swung it left, right, and around in a circle until it became a wavering transparent portal.  He stepped through it, pulling me along with him.

We were in St. Agnes’ Church.  It was chilly and dark, except for a few flickering votive candles and the red sanctuary lamp at the far end of the center aisle by the altar.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see a woman in a black wool coat sitting in a pew near the vestibule door.

“Hello, Vera.”  I said, my voice faltering a bit.

She turned her face toward me.  She was very pale.  I saw that she was a young girl again, no more than seventeen.

“What happened?” she asked me, sounding weak and bewildered.

I could not think of any way to explain the events of the last few days, so Sebastian spoke instead.  “Don’t you recall, Vera?” he asked gently.  “What do you remember?”

“I was sick.  It was the flu.  I could hear Francis and Oleander talking.  I couldn’t answer or open my eyes.  I saw–someone.  Maybe it was you.  And now — now I’m here at St. Agnes’…”  She paused, trying hard to remember, then said with a small sobbing gasp,  “I died, didn’t I?”

“Yes!” Sebastian shouted, making Vera and I jump.  His voice echoed from the niches and the high ornate ceiling.  “You were deader than a doornail! Your life ended, just like that!”

He snapped his fingers.  Before I could open my mouth to protest this insensitive reaction to Vera’s demise, he announced triumphantly, “You kept your promise after all, Vera!  You were true to your word, faithful to what’s-his-name til death did you part!  You are free of any further obligation.”

Dazed, she asked him, “Where do I go from here, then?”

“We’re going to do some traveling–back in time and across an ocean.”

“Bilocation?” she whispered.

“Yes, you remembered; we discussed it, but you weren’t willing to consider it at the time, and I respected your decision, of course, even though I didn’t agree with it.  But I did admire your integrity.  And now, there’s no need to worry about breaking your vow, since you unquestionably did shuffle off this mortal coil.”

“What does it feel like–this kind of traveling?”

“Like flying.”

“You’re one of the men who travel on the wind, aren’t you?  The ones my mother used to tell me about.”

“Speaking of that, some people are waiting to see you.”

Sebastian opened the confessional door.  Vera followed Joan, Theresa, Catherine and Michael through the doorway.  Sebastian was the last to cross the threshold.  The door shut behind him with a click.


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