Stuck in front of First Presbyterian Church

Ticks and tocks drown out the speaker in the front of my college history classroom. Sniffling through paper shuffles, I feel claustrophobic by the heavy weight of a cold in my chest. Trying to push through, I close my eyes. My mind focuses on the ticking of the clock. Slowly I began to hear faint noises from my childhood. I find myself staring into a cloud of light. In the clouds, a ballerina in pink spins around on her tiptoes. Her pointed foot wears a light pink, almost white, ballet shoe, while her other foot wraps around her leg just below her matching tutu. Her darker pink skin-tight leotard stretches upward to her arm pointing above her head. It causes my own eyes to look up.

I look down from the clouds to find myself eight again holding a pink jewelry box with pale, fragile fingers. The ballerina twirls above my fingers in front of a mirror. I see myself in the mirror with white stringy hair hanging down over my young face with light freckles twinkling upon my cheeks. I see my own youthful innocence gleaming out.  I stare into the mirror getting closer and closer till the ballerina is out of sight. Lost in my own little blue eyes with intertwined gold lines, I find myself going through the glass. On the other side is a large, dark room that narrows to a dimly lit wooden stage. The room fills with tapping. A light tip and tap here and there evenly spaced out to create a melody. The dark blue curtains pull back to show a little girl’s feet tipping her toes and tapping her heels. The little girl looks like me except with red curly hair.

I walk down the aisle. The audience from an earlier time sits on each side of me in dark wooden chairs upholstered with a dull scratchy orange fabric. The men are in stiff fabric suits. The women are in loose-fitting, slinky dresses. They all stare ahead. It feels like I am walking through a memory, but it is not a memory from my time. I continue to walk down the slanted aisle till I could look up to the young tap dancer. There on a brown wooden stage in an off-white dress with a long square lace collar. The white pleated skirt hangs down barely moving as her knees bend and move underneath it. As I stare at her, she returns a similar gaze. Two pairs of identical blue eyes intertwined with gold lines look back at each other.

In the gaze, I float around in confusion only to be disturbed by water splashing me in the face. I come out of the confusion to find myself treading water in a large gently flowing river. My head lifts up to see a dark blue almost brown river lined with bright green walls of trees, bushes, and weeds. As I look back down to the water, I see a teen girl with long dark straight brown hair in the reflection. Amongst the tan skin and dark hair, I see my blue and gold eyes. I step out of the water. Water drips off the natural handmade leather top and skirt I am wearing. The dripping water falls over the top of my skinny long tanned legs. I can feel the mud of the side banks squeeze in between my toes. I climb up the hilly river’s edge. I dip and weave through the trees and bushes following the flow of the river. The water begins to rush by faster and faster making a loud roar. It roars louder and louder until the water falls off what appears to be the end of the world. I walk to the edge of the world and looked down. My long hair flows down past my cheeks. I look past my hair into a mist of amazement. The splashes glisten over top a rainbow hitting my face. I stare into an abyss of white shades.

waterfall

I let go falling down into the mist and wake up back in my adult body. Sirens of an ambulance whirl above my head as I lay flat on a gurney. Two people dressed in blue sit above me looking down. My eyes close to black and open in the hospital. Doctors, nurses, and others come and go.

By the next morning, the doctor’s best guess is dehydration from my cold.  I lay there alone in confusion of those almost real visions. Waiting for my discharge papers, an old face in a new black clerical shirt with a white collar appears in front of the glass doors to my hospital room. He knocks gently on the door. I give a wave to allow him to enter. He slowly enters and sits down introducing himself, “I am Pastor Preston. I hear that you are about to leave us after a bit of a spill.” I nod. He asks “Do you have someone who can come be with you?”

I respond back confidently, “My mom is on her way.”

“Mothers are important. I know your mom must be worried about you. Would you like to pray for some strength for you and her?” asks the priest.

I reply, “No thank you, father. Although, I have something I would like to ask you about” He nods giving me permission to speak with him. Holding back the eagerness to blabber about all the things I saw while I laid on the floor of my classroom, I just simply ask “What do you think about the idea of past lives?”

He looks at me “What a mighty deep question?  Is there something behind the question?” the pastor pauses for a moment. I shake my head in silence. He responds, “Well, God gives our souls one body. Once that body gives out we are sent to him for judgment for the deeds here on earth.”

“Annie”, I feel relief to hear my mom’s voice peek into the room.

“Come on in. This is Pastor,” I pause looking at the pastor for forgiveness since I forgot his name.

He stands up to shake my mom’s hand. She returns the offer. “Hi, I am Pastor Preston.” Their hands let go. As my mom puts down her bags, the pastor continues, “I came by to see if there was any spiritual request your daughter may need upon her departure.”

My mom responds with a dismissive smile as she says “How nice!” She looks at me changing the subject, “I stopped by the front desk. They said you would be leaving soon.”

“Oh that is a blessing to be going home,” says the pastor. He hands me his card. “If you would like to finish our conversation or just need a prayer, you let me know”

I take the card and smile. He walks out of the room. My mom looks at me with a questionable smirk “What was that about?”

“I don’t know, Mom. It’s nothing really. I am just ready to get out of here.” I say hoping to avoid a long drawn out conversation.  It wasn’t shortly after the pastor left that the nurse came with release papers. She gives her same old spiel. The same one she has probably given over and over again. I take the papers as soon as I could, barely listening to her instructions. Soon I am at home resting. A few days in bed, I finally feel strong enough to get out of my apartment.

light-757512_1920I walk down my street into the tunnel towards my favorite market. In the tunnel, I can hear the cars pass above me. I walk through the dark tunnel towards the light at the end.  I come out and for the first time, I notice a small white bricked church. It has the most beautiful small brick wall made of the same white bricks of the church. The sign sitting in the shade of the church reads “First Presbyterian”. I remember looking at the card the pastor gave me. I sit down on the cement top of the knee-high wall placing my purse down right beside me. My hand fumbles around in my purse feeling for the card I knew I had thrown it in there. Finally, I pull it out. I look at the card and it is. It is the same church name and address. I stand up and look back at the tunnel with visions from the other day. I look back at the church. I sit back down, stuck there, between two truths.

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