Tina’s-shell stumbled, tired and sore, in the dried ruts of the hardpan parking lot. She wandered, aimless, with no destination. The August sun stung her cheeks as she stopped to watch a battered red and white tent rising in the vacant fairground. Entertainment in the dog days of summer. She was somehow intrigued.
Immortal Tina roused from an ancient slumber. A word, no, the wisp of a sound, the fragment of a noise, had touched her subconscious and sleep began to fall away like scales from blinded eyes. She stirred, groggy and lethargic, but ears searching for the source and location of the calling.
Tina’s-shell pulled a water bottle from her purse and raised it to moisten dry lips, a thirst that seemed never to be quenched. Men drove giant wooden stakes into the ground with mallets and sledge hammers. Strangers some, but others she recognized. Mr. Darcy at the tire store, Dr. Clancy, and Pastor Niven of the Baptist church on the east side. Men her father had known before he’d died. They were sweating, stripped to the waist, as they wrestled with the canvas, rope, and steel.
She moved in closer.
Immortal Tina stretched and pushed unused legs, like a dormant seed taking root in warmed soil. Head cocked, she listened. Again, the voice, the resonance, familiar and alluring, washed across her spirit, an invitation to come out. And she did, pressing herself through the walls of the shell that served as a chrysalis. It was an awakening.
“What is this?” she spoke aloud, despite being alone … so very much alone. The clock on the church tower chimed twice. Mother was expecting her home from the community college to help with supper and chores. But her feet cemented, resistant to her commands to move.
Dust spun among the fields swirling discarded wrappers and withered grass into the endless sky. The afternoon crackled about Tina's-shell. An elderly man, wrinkled and gray in a yellowed button down shirt, smiled as he squared off a knot. She waved, although the impulse came from beyond her.
The sun glinted in the man’s eye and he seemed to sparkle from within.
Tina’s-shell backed away, her fingers trembled as confusion blurred her vision. “I … I have to go.”
Immortal Tina jumped. An image, the flicker of a shadow long ago lost to the darkness flashed through her mind. A memory reborn. Warmth, radiance, promise. She’d never before, or since, experienced such a fullness of sensation. A yearning swelled within … life after having only known death.
It was a calling, her calling, and this time she intended to respond.
Tina’s-shell stopped, the memory of a stormy night rekindled. A timid girl away from home, alone in a hotel, with tornados predicted. She’d found a book in the drawer and read, looking for something to fill her mind. The words had made no sense … but there’d been a strangeness about them. She didn’t understand. Her heart thundered as the syllables scattered over her receptive mind. And for the first time she’d felt awake.
The old man stood and pulled a Bible from his pocket. He winked at her, and then walked into the tent, looking over his shoulder one last time. He held her gaze as if silently calling to her.
Immortal Tina spun about. Song! A song! So fresh and alive it seemed to be flowing right through her. She surged above the brown haired vessel, the mortal shell, which had cocooned her. Wisps and shadows darted about the risen tent. A presence, Divine reflections, angelic perfection. The essence of joy, and they invited her to join.
They sang to her, Immortal Tina, calling her name.
And she answered, moving among them, dancing with the shadows. Fellowship and renewal washed over her, redeeming nectar.
She was reborn. Alive and prosperous with an eternal future.
Tina’s-shell found she was humming through elevated lips. Something about this place was, she couldn’t put words to it, but perhaps it just seemed right. There was a substance here she didn’t understand. But she wanted to know more, felt she had to know more.
Over the entrance of the tent a sign raised. “Revival Tonight: 7:00.”
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