Photo by Johannes Plenio
In the hope of saving her brother Zack, Gina had “fallen into” the mysterious Map their Aunt Aloysia had given them. And why, so she could die too? “Die!” she screamed. But the frigid air ripped the word out of her mouth and rocketed it skyward. But I’m not rocketing skyward, Gina thought, I’m rocketing earthward, or something-ward, something hard and hideously killing-ward, and I’m going to die! In a matter of moments she’d be splattered all over the face of…something — just as Zack must already be!
She imagined Zack’s crushed body. “Oh, Zacky!” The thought of her little brother lying in a lifeless heap in a place where no one even knew him was more than she could bear. No Dad or Mom or Aunt Aloysia to pick him up and comfort him as the last little bits of life oozed out of him!
Will I see his body just before mine is crushed beside it? Or on top of it? Oh, how hideous! She could bear the thought of dying, but not of being crushed on top of her little brother! God can’t be that heartless, can he?
She looked up and saw cobalt white clouds framing the double moon at the end of a glowing tunnel pierced with stars — the answer to her question in moving watercolors. A God who can make something that beautiful must be good.
Suddenly the clouds were gone. She looked down; the sky had a stopping point: dark shapes arranged against a less dark backdrop. Forests? Hills? And off to the right—was she only imagining it?—light. But not from a city. From a house maybe, or a ship at sea.
Farther away were two or three more lights, weaker and yellower than electric lamps, but also warmer and more inviting, as if they were there to guide her descent. How absurd that she should feel comforted. In a few seconds she’d be crushed, and it wouldn’t matter whether a few charming pre-electric era lamps lit her way! She looked down past her monster-slippered feet. For the first time she could make out the tops of trees. Despite the colorlessness of night, she could tell there was something extraordinary about this forest. The leaves and bark reflected the light of the double moon, adding overtones of gold, copper, titian, cadmium…
“The Frengan Light Forest.” How did she know that? She knew because she’d seen it in her dreams. Gina felt a rustle against her feet, and then the rustling started up her ankles and legs. Leaves.
She was no longer falling, she was gliding down through the tops of immense trees, their pale, barkless surfaces a canvas for the forest’s infinite palette of colors. Somewhere along the line her frantic fall had become a docile descent. So, if I’m not going to die, then maybe Zack isn’t…
She never finished the thought.
Thoughts: Have you ever escaped death, and felt there must be a reason you were still alive?
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