Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exotic (08/08/13)
TITLE: Sad, Sweet Interlude
By Pauline Carruthers
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A plane takes off on a cool autumn morning, wingtips glinting in a weak October sun. Destined for far
flung mystical islands. A series of slight judders bring momentary unease. But it settles and the plane continues to climb. There is no turbulence, but a stronger shudder causes panic amongst the passengers. Seconds later the plane has levelled and an audible sigh breaks the silence; tension dissipates. Activity and calm intertwine; some sleep, others chat, rustle food containers, pour over tropical holiday brochures.
Several hours into the flight severe tremors smash from end to end; Silent screams echo soundless engines as the plane begins an almost ethereal descent. Down, down, down.
“Lord”, I pray. “Please don’t let it hurt.”
It feels like we’re tunnelling into the side of a mountain in slow motion; darker and darker, until there is nothing. I’m suddenly conscious that there is no pain. Yet I am restrained by my own unbelief in being alive in this place of unimaginable beauty. I am not hurt, though it takes effort to look around. There is no sign of the plane, passengers or crew and I realise I’m alone. Instinct tells me I have been thrown clear. Wisdom tells me otherwise.
There is no sun in this place, but light refracts, naturally encompassing everything. Struggling to my feet I discover I can walk. A clear path stretches endlessly ahead of me; grass greener than emeralds is bordered by flowers and shrubs, colours more vibrant than reality. I allow my fingers to trail amongst blood red velvet petals like rubies; downy baby hair brushing my hand like a wisp of silver-lined cloud. A multi-coloured bird soars in a sapphire sky and a rainbow spans the path in front of me, like an arc of precious jewels around a swan-like neck. A gentle touch and a tree with golden leaves shimmers with movement, cascading down, glittering reflections in an invisible mirror. To my left a lacy cobweb, dripping dew like diamonds, hangs limply between rich amethyst fronds; and a saffron coloured spider nestles elegantly amongst yellow tipped leaf spikes.
I walk a little further. A breeze as gracious as a string of pearls ruffles my hair and spirals around my face, like a lone snowflake heralding the onset of winter. This place enraptures me. I’m captivated by its visual beauty and brilliance.
My senses tune in to a melody. An entanglement of instruments and voices, magnificent and vibrant; half recognisable, yet beyond my experience. Whale song from the depths of the sea. A profusion of scents from the Orient; lime, ginger, spices, cling to me, like a spray of expensive perfume.
I think of you! You always wanted to take me to far off places, but time, money and my fear of flying didn’t permit. You often told me of the wonderful places you visited before we met. Volcanic rock, hot beneath the feet; an azure sky. And then you would make me laugh with anecdotes of the perils of the tourist. I laughed again today!
“One day”, you used to say, “I will take you to places beyond your dreams. When we retire, we’ll travel the world and I will give you all the time we have missed.”
Then cancer stole away your dream and suddenly it was too late. In those final weeks we often talked of Heaven. What would it be like? We studied the book of Revelation and God gave me a beautiful picture for you. I wrote it out and you said it was the most beautiful description you had ever read. How many times did you ask me to read it to you when you could no longer hold the page?
I continue along the path, drinking in the sights, sounds and aromas of this wonderfully exotic place. And I want to travel it with you. You invade my senses again and I wonder what it is like in Heaven, where you are. Gates of pearl, a sea of crystal, jewels of every colour and hue; gold, shining brighter than the sun’s radiant beam. A gleam of silver the moon could never capture nor the stars imitate. Not worldly exotic. Pure and holy. God’s glory giving radiance. Divinely magnificent. Splendidly awesome. Heavenly.
A gentle touch on my face and I realise my eyes are closed; my cheek brushing against your vacant pillow. Senses fade. Slowly waking, still sleepy eyes take in the familiarity of the room. Silent tears. Just a dream.
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