I'm not sure whether it was the purr of the soft music or the swirling lights that woke me up, but wake me up it did. I quickly opened my eyes, my head still glued to the pillow, and let my waking mind decide for certain whether or not I was dreaming. I wasn't. Sitting up on my elbows, liquid light streaming through the closed blinds and exotic music oozing into my ears, I looked towards my sleeping wife for any signs of stirring. She slept on, unmoving and slack jawed. It hit me suddenly, like an unexpected bomb blast. Excitement and instant understanding grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me from my lethargy. It was time! Finally, the waiting and the unquestioning loyalty was to be rewarded. Years of emptiness and longing were roughly shoved aside in a heart beat.
I slipped out of the bed as quietly as I could and inched my way towards the window. I tentatively pulled the middle blind open an inch and was stunned by a shooting curl of coloured light that struck my forehead like a warm punch. The music around me raged and became almost deafening. I wasn't sure what to do with my hands, shield my eyes or cover my ears. They remained steadfast at my side, neither willing or able to move. I needed to settle down and relax or I was going to lose myself to hysteria. Stepping back and closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and let the light and music caress me. It rushed around me and through me like a wet breeze. A warm jolt of electricity raced through my veins and filled my being with a sense of belonging that I had never experienced before. All of life's petty fears fell from me like dead skin. The light and music urged me on. Up and out Glynn I thought, up and out. Giddy with anticipation, I tugged the blinds open with a single pull. They roared up and the room became a fish bowl of rushing colours and maniacally fragmented notes. Balls of spinning light bounced and skipped off my wife's sleeping face and then hovered there, taunting her. Still she did not move. Her breath bubbled out of her mouth and floated above her like shimmering balls of translucent lead.
The window screen was the last remaining obstacle to the freedom I had dreamed of all my life. I pulled a chair underneath the pane and steadied myself for my triumphant ascent. I heard her groan and wake up.
"What in the hell are you doing," she whispered, her voice hoarse and dry from sleep.
"Nothing sweetie," I said, "go back to sleep. I'm just getting some air."
"On the fire escape?"
"Yeah, just for a minute Doc," I replied, "I promise." I couldn't stifle an escaping giggle.
It was our last good bye. Looking back at her, I was seized with a sense of guilt. I was beginning to feel awful for leaving her behind but she just wasn't a believer. Where I was going, there was no room for ugly pessimism. God knows she mocked me, and at times even laughed in my face for all that I held on to. This life and our marriage, I had explained to her, was so temporary. She just couldn't see it our way. I shook off my shame as easily as a wet dog dries its dripping coat.
I climbed out of the window and shimmed up the fire escape to the roof. The roof was only a few feet from our bedroom window and on some nights it really was my only escape. The night sky was alive, a moving entity of dancing light was led by an orchestra of unearthly instruments and angelic voices. I stood up and took it all in. I inhaled it, ingested it and became part of it. My body swayed with the rhythm. Looking around me, I could see that I wasn't alone. People of all shapes and sizes were standing on their roof tops as far as my eyes could see. Smiling to the point that my face hurt, I waved to them. They gestured back with unbridled enthusiasm. Believers one and all!!
I remained fixed there for a moment, intoxicated with all that I saw and felt, before I realized that I was dancing bare chested in the cold. My hands instinctively went to cover my naked midriff. Hoping to generate some heat, I clapped my hands on my arms. It wasn't enough. My human body was beginning to freeze.
"Tracey, " I shouted, still dancing. I could hear her feet shuffle as she stumbled to the window.
"Why are you screaming?" she whispered, unable to mask her anger. "You'll wake up the neighbourhood."
"Sorry sweetie. Will you be a doll and hand me out a sweatshirt please? I'm a bit cold."
"Oh come on," she pleaded, "come back to bed."
"In a minute," I said, growing impatient.
Her thin white arm shot out the window with a sweatshirt. A rainbow of colours swarmed the cloth and clung to it like barnacles off a ships rusting hull. I bent as far as I could to grab it, but couldn't reach it.
"Could you stand on the chair by the window Babe and reach out just a bit more, please?"
"Oh for Christ's sake," she growled.
I heard the chair squeak across the floor. Again her arm flew out the window with the shirt. It was quickly saturated with pinks and blues and greens and it hung limply from her tightly balled fist. From my knees, I grabbed my shirt and threw it over my head and shoulders and stood up, ready to get back into the groove. My eyes scanned the horizon. To my absolute horror, the lights, the music, all my brothers and sisters, were gone in the blink of an eye. A cold wind slapped my face and open mouth with an iron fist of ice. Crippled by shock and desperation, I pulled my fingers through my hair and thought to myself, oh boy, this can't be good.
Copyright ©1999 Glynn Sharpe. All Rights Reserved.
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