By Reese Scott
At night the sermons would begin. As I lay in bed and listened, I was unable to locate where the sermons were coming from. I did know they were close. One night I went outside to see if I could find out.
I followed the voices through the back gates of homes, made sure the dogs didn’t start barking to wake up anyone, until finally a few miles away I came to a place in the forest that was much darker. The Moon was out and it gave some light to the darkness everywhere else. But here it was as though the Moon’s light was not allowed.
As I walked closer, I could see shapes of bodies through the trees. I didn’t feel nervous but at the same time I didn’t feel safe. As I crouched below a large bush I could barely make out the figures.
There was a fire and most of the people were just sitting around drinking tea and cooking marshmallows.
“I guess this isn’t a sermon.”
As I watched I began to recognize some of the people. One looked like an old school teacher. Another looked like the mayor. Others looked familiar, but I couldn’t place them.
Everyone around the fire became quiet. They were not moving now. Instead all their heads were lowered as if they were avoiding looking at someone. I was so focused on the people around the fire I forgot to pay attention to anything else. When I turned around I was face to face, not with a beautiful women or a scary looking man, but just a dog. A very small dog. I knew what a small dog does and doesn’t do. So I took my belt and tied it around the little dog’s mouth. I have never trusted dogs. For some reason they remind me of people.
After I had started taking care of the dog, I started to wonder why I was even here and what I thought I was supposed to do.
I could hear people around the fire talking again. They were telling jokes. Going from one person to the next. Each joke was a knock-knock joke that did not make sense. But the less sense they made, the more they laughed. Then the fire began to burn brighter and the flames were now reaching high into the air.
An elderly lady suddenly appeared. She was with her daughter and what looked like her daughter’s son. The young son took the elderly woman’s hand as they walked toward the fire.
When they were close, the elderly lady let go of his hand. She looked him in the eye.
“Don’t believe what anybody says.”
Then I watched the elderly lady walk slowly into the fire. She did not scream. She did not cry. It was almost as though she had done this before. But I knew this wasn’t possible. Then the elderly lady was hard to see because of the flames. I thought I saw a smile.
After it was over, I went home and went to bed. I knew I couldn’t leave. I knew I didn’t want to leave. But I knew something was wrong. I just wished I knew what it was.
After the fire, I packed up a small suitcase and planned to leave sometime in the middle of the night. When I was leaving I heard another sermon. This time I was not intimated. If anything I was furious. I walked right through the bushes until I was in front of the people sitting by the fire. Everyone turned and looked at me. I had no idea what they were thinking, but it obviously it wasn’t good.
A man came over to me. The man must have been the mayor or leader of the group. As he came up to me I became more and more nervous. The man was now in front of me. I didn’t know who the man was, but he asked, “So where’s your dad?”
“I don’t know.”
“When’s the last time you saw him?”
“I can’t remember. Years.”
“Would you like to see him if you could?”
“Okay wait a few minutes.”
The man came back later and I realized something. This guy was my father. I don’t know how I knew this but I knew it was true. My father walked toward the fire. His expression was one of determination.
My father turned to me. “You’ll get to see Mom.”
“I don’t want to see Mom.”
“She wants to see you.”
“Do you want to see her?”
“I already have. Dozens of times.”
“Okay fine. What do I need to do?”
“Nothing really. Just go by the fire and I’ll take care of the rest.”
As I looked I saw a child walk into the fire. The child looked neither nervous or angry and his screams sounded like screams of joy.
I trusted my father. Even though we were not close. I knew my father knew more than I did.
Then something went blank. Suddenly my thoughts and my memory seemed to fold into each other. It felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I knew I could walk away. But I didn’t. It felt wrong for some reason.
So I followed my father, holding his hand. Where he took me made no difference. Holding my father’s hand was more important. My father walked me to the fire and kissed me on the lips. It was the first time I had heard him say goodbye.
Awesome! At first I think this is about magic and then I realize it’s the world operating inside me and I’m putting my feet in the prints already laid out before me. How did Reese Scott do this? Genius.
Surely, this is a dream I find myself . . . floating through . . .