Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Holy Ghost

The holy ghost came to her when she was a child, only six years old. For weeks preceding the actual event she awoke in the night screaming and crying as the result of having had a nightmare, a premonition of what was to come. Each time she was told “ Its just a nightmare, go back to sleep.” by one groggy parent or the other, so that on the night that the plane did crash into the house she almost believed it was only the same nightmare come to visit her once more.
It was a private plane that carried six passengers, and the pilot and co-pilot. They were all dead, spilling from the wreckage into the fiery garage like guts bursting from a wounded bird. Her father wanted to help them, but they were beyond his help, and her mother was saying,
“Oh God.”
Her older sister was screaming,
“What is it, what happened?”
Helen knew what had happened. It was the plane, the same plane that had been crashing into her dream every night for the past two weeks.
“Get them out of here!” her father shouted. But he needn’t have, because mother was already grabbing them roughly by the arms and saying,
“C’mon.” in her brusque way thick with the Oklahoman accent.
Then they stood on the street in front of their home in Lake Wood California watching the flames spread, Mother and sister and she, all in their white night gowns like three ghosts. Father and a neighbor were dragging bodies out, just in case someone was yet alive and merely unconscious, but at the time she hadn’t understood that. It had seemed that he was taking them out so that even the dead could be spared the horror of being eaten up by the flames.
They were laid out on the lawn and soon Father had turned a garden hose on to combat the hungry fire. Then the wailing sirens came and the flashing red lights bouncing off the dark smoke billowed from the mouth of the garage.
Mother had been saying all along,
“Don’t look, you hear? Close your eyes.” And she tried to press their faces into the folds of her night gown, but despite this they had looked. They saw.
The nightmares, like Gabriel, had come whispering, and now here it was. The spirit that sought to inhabit the body, burning it mercilessly. The plane, a desirous phantom, had seized hold of the house and now it was devouring it with its passion.
Mother kept saying,
“Oh God.”
And yes, it must have been so. Dancing before their eyes with wings of flames spreading over the roof top lighting the night sky and obliterating the stars with its smoky mane, here was the Holy Ghost, the spirit of heaven come down to visit its rage upon them and see the bodies laid before it in neat rows like finger sandwiches.
After weeks of practice, she now found that she could not scream, nor cry, but only observe with eyes as round as saucers, peering out from behind her mother’s night gown.
“Oh God.”
The nightmare had not ended this time and every detail was startlingly clear. She was awake and the dream had swallowed her.
“Oh God.”
And it would never let her go.

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