Thursday, September 24, 2015

Was It You?

February 2000. We dance, awkwardly, my palm sweaty in his, his hand no doubt sticking clammily to the waist of my dress. The friendship is old, but the dancing is new. We are close enough that looking up into his face kinks my neck, so we just shuffle, the music playing, the heat of nervous skin radiating between and around us.

A gentle shove from invisible hands in the middle of my back propels me forward, and my head is suddenly resting on his chest. His cheek comes down to settle on my hair, and I am trying not to hyperventilate. The feeling is so right, it makes my head float. This is the closest I have ever stood to him, and I can barely understand how I got here.

With the hands, I feel-hear the echo of giggles from someplace in heaven. If we left them to their own devices, I can almost hear a voice say, it would take them absolutely ages to get together. I think there may be an eye roll somewhere in there. Wait a minute, is there really eye rolling in heaven?

Apparently.

***

August 2005. We kneel facing each other, grinning. I am finally his; he is finally mine. I’m too nervous, too excited, too happy to notice it, but I suspect that somewhere up above there is a collective sigh of relief. See? They took ages anyway.

***

February 2007. He knows immediately. “Something is different,” he tells me, and naively I laugh. “No way. All the leaflets say it takes three or four months for the body to come down off the pill. We’ve still got a while to wait.”

***

March 2007. I stare at the stick that I’m holding as the little positive sign grows clearer. But . . . but I was expecting a little more time to get used to the idea! And I feel the brush of a soul against my own, so impatient, so excited for life. And I remember those ghostly hands.

Was it you? I wonder.

Yes, definitely me.

But there was more than one set of hands.

And the moment passes, the time passes, and I know this soul has been waiting for her chance.

***

October 2010. I am caught up in this birth, the perfection of this moment. And I suspect that here too is an owner of ghostly, nudging hands. Another impatient child who knew her parents needed a little shove. Waiting for the first opportunity to jump to this earth life. And here she is.

***

May 2012. More nudging, but we’re not ready. Just wait, please, just wait.

***

October 2013. I didn’t know those words would make the waiting so long. The discovery of this child’s existence is a relief and a wonder, a little miracle in a world of miracles—but our very own miracle, which makes it special.

Was it you? I wonder again. I don’t know this time. I feel a little sadness in not knowing what happened to that May soul, not knowing if that soul will become my July baby or if it’s gone somewhere else for good. But the sadness is swallowed in the joy of this new life, coming whether or not I have ever felt this soul’s hands pressing against my back, nudging me to the future.

***

September 2015. I stare at myself in the mirror, my hand on my abdomen. Absolute terror and quiet peace do battle in my heart.

And the question comes again, and I laugh because really? How many of you were really necessary to get the job done? Was it you? I ask again.

And I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Some Restrictions Apply

The following is a rough draft of a silly bedtime story I wrote for my kids as part of a project I'm working on right now. Enjoy!



            You have probably heard of genies, have you not? Powerful, mystical creatures who have the ability to grant wonderful wishes! They usually live in bottles and lamps, and when you rub the lamp, a genie appears to grant you three amazing wishes. Yes, that is the story of most genies.
            But not all genies are quite like that. This is the story of a different type of genie.
            Samarzin was a young man who lived in a little village. He was walking along the road between his village and the next one day. He was going there as a trader to trade cloth and pots and various trinkets, and suddenly as he looked down, he saw a lamp.
            Interesting, he thought. Maybe I can trade it for something.
            So he picked up the lamp and rubbed it on his shirt to clean it off so he could examine it better.
            No sooner had he rubbed it on his shirt than a mysterious smoke came billowing out of the lamp. The smoke formed itself into a figure, and the figure was a man.
            “Who dares to rub my lamp?” the man’s voice boomed, loud and deep.
            Samarzin squeaked, “Me, Samarzin.” He shivered in fear and asked, “And who are you?”
            “I am the great genie Erequat,” he boomed again. “Since you are the possessor of my lamp, you are now entitled to three wishes.” Then, in a tiny voice that Samarzin could barely hear, he muttered, “Some restrictions apply.”
            “What was that?” Samarzin asked.
            “Oh, nothing,” Erequat said. “Now what is your wish?”
            Samarzin thought for a few moments. “I would like to be wonderfully healthy all my life.”
            Erequat scratched his head. “Hmmm . . . That’s a problem.” His voice got a little whispery again. “You can’t wish for anything that directly affects your person. Sorry, no blue hair, no immortality, and no perfect health. So,” he added, again booming, “wish for something else!”
            Samarzin thought again. “How about a beautiful woman to marry and love all my life!”
            Erequat shook his head sadly. “Oh, no no, we can’t have that. The rules strictly forbid influencing someone else’s ability to make their own decisions. Can’t make someone fall in love with you.”
            Samarzin considered and realized that was only fair. He probably wouldn’t want a woman who had only fallen for him by magic anyway. So he thought some more. “I know! A big pile of money!”
            Erequat looked distinctly uncomfortable this time. “Well, you see, I’d like to. It does sound like an excellent wish, but I can’t create something out of nothing. Laws of science and all that.”
            Samarzin wrinkled his brow. What was he going to wish for? “Well, can’t you just take some money from somewhere else? Or how about some jewels or gold or something?”
            This time Erequat looked appalled. “Steal something? You want me to steal?”
            Samarzin hastily retracted his statement. “No, never mind, of course not.”
            He continued to suggest various wishes—nice weather for his vacation, a good deal in his trading today, maybe just a little good luck?—and for each wish, Erequat shook his head.
            Finally, fed up, Samarzin threw his hands up into the air. “Never mind, I do not want any wish at all!”
            Erequat’s booming voice was back. “Who dares to rub my lamp but not receive his wishes?”
            Samarzin sighed and rolled his eyes. It wasn’t good to anger genies, though, no matter how ridiculous their rules, so he thought he’d try again. He cast his eyes around him. He was standing on a dirt path, and on the ground near his feet were three round stones. He pointed. “How about those stones? Can I have those stones?”
            Erequat thought for a moment, muttering to himself something about rules and restrictions and requirements. After a moment, he boomed out, “Yes!” Then he bent to pick them up and hand them to Samarzin. “And for your next wish?”
            Samarzin shook his head vigorously. “Oh no, I’m sure there must be a rule about how many items I can receive per wish. I’m sure each stone takes up one wish, so I’m all done.” He was backing away now, hoping to get back on the road to the next village.
            Erequat nodded thoughtfully. “Yes, you’re probably right. Yes . . . ” He drew himself up big and proud again. “Be thankful for this day, the day you met the great and powerful wish-granter, Erequat.”
            Samarzin plastered a smile on his face. “Yes, of course. Thank you ever so much.” Erequat’s smoke sucked back into his lamp, waiting for the next lucky traveler to make a wish.
            Samarzin tossed the rocks back on the road and hurried on his way.