Written August 2011
The moon shines down upon the backroads that take you by my house. The faint shadows whisper secrets to me. It feared that no one would claim its treasures of the night. I am thanked for acknowledging the beauty that was meant for so many more. I hear the voice start to cry. How can you see the faint glow of the acres of wheat bouncing in the wind and not tell the world what it is missing? My first task is complete, I am told. Now I am to help another see what I see.
The dirt road bends towards a far hill. For a moment, it looks like it is steaming. It takes my eyes a while to adjust to the figure that appears on the hill. It is short, but alive. The steam is but the cold breathe that shudders from its lungs. I step back. Where did it come from? Then I remember the task at hand. I am to show another what I see. The hooded figure is walking towards me, looking down at its feet. It does not see the beauty of the world around it. That is where I come in.
I take several long, cold breathes before I wander from my porch. On the road, I am part of the landscape I used to only take in. I walk to the hooded figure. It continues towards me. From underneath the slight shine of the moon’s glow, I see only that it never looks up. It is not until I am but ten feet in front of it that it hears my steps and comes to a halt. For far too long, no icy breath escapes its lungs. It is scared.
I take a single step in its direction and stop. It seems calmer now. At least it started breathing again. Tentatively, it takes a single step towards me. That’s when I see its yellow eyes. Unblinking, they do not move from me. I take another step towards it. My pulse in racing in my throat. I know not what it is that stands before me. All I know is that I must help it see. It takes yet another step forward. I can hear it breathing. They are long, shallow breaths. Every other breath contains a wheeze. My fear dissolves immediately. It sounds like it is hurt.
I try to catch it when it falls to its knees. I am too far away. The small figure crumples on the ground, struggling to breathe. I pull its hood back. A different kind of beauty stares back at me. It is a girl. She can’t be more than eight years old. Though I am barely a teenager, the distance between us appears to be endless. In her hollow eyes, I see a struggle I cannot fully comprehend. I ask her what she is doing here. She fails to form any sound aside from the constant wheeze.
I touch her cheek. It’s colder than the air around us. She labors for each breath. I remember the voice that spoke to me earlier. Show her the beauty. I lift her up to a sitting position so that she can see out over the wheat fields. I sit behind her, just holding her up. I don’t mean to start talking to her. It is the only way I know how to stop the tears from flowing. Somehow, the words form a life all their own.
I tell her that she doesn’t have to be afraid. I tell her that the pain is over—never to be felt again. I tell her to focus on the beautiful flowing fields before her. She need not wait for Heaven. Heaven is before her. I tell her that it is okay to go. I arch my neck to look her in the eyes. Where once I saw only hollow holes, I see so much more. She did not experience hope until it all came to an end.
The quiet haunts me. It takes me almost a minute to realize that she is no longer breathing. No longer wheezing. She is no longer in pain. When I pray for my tears to find me, I hear a faint voice instead. It tells me I did a wonderful job. It tells me never to look away from the beauty. I ask it how I’m supposed to see the beauty when pain is always front and center. It pauses for a moment as a single tear strays down my cheek. Then it tells me that it no longer feels cold. It no longer feels the pain. I close my eyes and cry. Not of pain or lose. I cry because, for the first time, I hear hope entwine itself into the voice.