Rebecca's Big Chance
God fell off the roof and it looked pretty bad.
Sprawled out on the front yard. Chest collapsed like an empty box. Limbs where limbs should not be.
But Rebecca - holding the ladder up until ten seconds ago - wasn't going to leave without a top notch souvenir, so she quickly went 'round back to grab the hatchet.
Just a pinkie, she thought to herself as she yanked the blade out of a two by four that was destined to be part of the left wall of the currently half finished shed.
Rebecca gave it a quick glance as she turned back to walk between the two houses, wondering if it will ever be finished now.
And the backyard. What was to become of it? Who could afford this half-baked garden of certainly not yet Eden?
Rebecca had nothing planned for Saturday afternoon so when the phone rang and God asked if she wouldn't mind coming by and lending a hand out back, she said, sure, as long as the sun stays out.
God said not to worry about the weather.
She’d heard that others had been burned by god before when it promised such pleasantries. It was understandable, as there were always many things god had to worry about – super-symmetry, hope, big box stores honouring flyer coupons – so Rebecca still packed an umbrella and a pair of galoshes.
But no, there wasn't a cloud in the sky when she arrived. It was destined to be a beautiful day.
And it was, until god decided to take a break from putting together the shed and finally get rid of that old TV antenna. Rebecca could hear it think to her that the antenna stayed up there for nostalgia and aesthetic purposes more than anything else.
A simple way to acknowledge the past, it thought directly into her brain like water entering into a sponge, and without the past you have no future, but now it’s starting to look ridiculous up there.
Well that nugget of wisdom doesn't look too shiny right now, Rebecca thought as she opened the gate to the front yard, but hey it can always grow another finger, another limb, another anything when you get right down to it.
The next step she took transported her back to high school, when her so-called friend Rita announced to the entire lunch table that Rebecca confided in her that she thought Jack Farley was cute. And that embarrassment was coupled with Rebecca looking over at just the wrong time to see Jack with his perfectly tousled hair react with a blanched look on his face saying without really meaning to that he didn't feel the same way about her. Rebecca remembered she wished she could kill herself a thousand times over at that moment.
The moment she was experiencing again right now in perfect dolby digital sound and high definition.
-defence mechanisms, a part of her that remained in the undeniable present whispered, next you'll remember the time when your tampon-
Becky, God said to her psyche/soul/mind with calm and authority, I know what you're thinking and even though I owe you a favour for coming over and helping me with some chores, I strongly advise against your current plan of action.
Her trip down memory lane - she swears the smell of lunchroom chicken strips will linger for days - took a dozen steps, because now she’s moved from the side of the house to looming large over her target in the front yard beside the carefully cut patio stones leading up to the porch.
While there was certainly an eagerness that fuelled every single muscle and neural synapse right now -I'll take the left hand, it will be a fine, symbolic conversation piece – she was also glad she couldn't see its eyes.
Becky I can just stop you-
-then stop me, she said aloud, cutting it off mid-thought.
Her mother calling her in residence during her second year with a shaky voice telling her that she had pancreatic cancer. Lost in a supermarket for no more than thirty seconds as a five year old, clutching the hot dog buns so tight they ended up being useless.
And then the future.
Marriage. Then divorce. A teenager telling her that she was a terrible mother. Getting cancer herself but beating it with round after round of chemotherapy.
-and then death, she said softly, holding the hatchet in front of her, standing undaunted.
-yes death, god agreed, and that decision always lies with me.
Eyes focused on the left wrist, Rebecca spoke confidently as she brought her arms up...
-trust me on this...
...and brought them down, blade gleaming for a brief second in the still high afternoon sun.
-...a change would do you good.
The smoke came out of the east.
Rebecca was still a half-day's ride away from town when she spotted it.
She brought her horse to a stop with a gentle tugging on the reins. The prize tied around her neck suddenly felt heavier than usual. It was always heavy, but when her eyes caught that those thin wisps of smoke she felt her back have to stiffen to stay upright.
Rebecca tried to think who might be out here, which tribes had scattered after last month's battle and were still limping about, hoping to regroup.
-the desert swallow them all, she muttered, cursing them as villagers like her do while reaching back for her canteen of tonic water.
As she sipped, Renegade whinnied loudly, and when she naturally look down to pat the horse's neck she noticed the glow.
She kept the prize wrapped in bandages, silk and leather. And yet right now the hand was shining like a tiny star.
-no, she whispered, as if she understood.
But knew in heart that she did not.
Clearly the smoke was the catalyst. But do you flee or do you run towards it? Is it friend or the most terrible of foes? Salvation or reclamation?
Rebecca barely remembers the life she had before the hand. It was more feelings than concrete memories. She knew it was full of simple routines, neurotic reflection, and puddle deep concerns over knickknacks and gossip.
But she could not name or explain any of them, and the details that would have been essential to properly recollect were all gone the instant she arrived here, the strange hand clutched in both of hers.
It had power and everyone knew it. And the villagers feared it and her until she showed that she could control it, and that her heart was a benevolent and just one.
Leader of the rebellion, crusader against evil, defender of freedom.
A life of importance, glory, purpose.
Now she had to avert her eyes, the hand shone through its protecting fabrics like the sun through tissue paper. Renegade was clearly agitated and she had to pull hard on the reins to steady him.
-easy, boy, easy. It’s okay…
But Renegade could hear the nervousness in her voice, and he refused to stay still, shuffling a bit to the left and right, as if the sand was burning his feet.
Still the smoke drifted up, towards the only two clouds in the lime green sky.
Rebecca made the decision and kicked her feet into Renegade's sides. The horse took off like a rocket, finally being given a task that could take his mind off the clear danger his master was in.
The smoke was closer than she expected. Somehow she was there in about five minutes, the hand now growing so heavy that she was slumping over her horse, finding breath difficult to come by.
Fling it to the ground you look pathetic one part of her said. Wear it proudly even if you’re on your hands and knees another section replied.
And the weight became so heavy that she slipped from the saddle and onto the warm sand below. Sprawled out.
Hands and knees, indeed.
But from this position, Rebecca could at least bring her neck up and stare at destiny unfolding in front of her.
The smoke billowed from the stump of the left arm of god, who was standing an inch above the sand, grinning pleasantly.
-hello Rebecca, it said, I believe you have something of mine.
And it all came back to her like a blinding pain. Roof, hatchet, memories, pleas.
-I've..., Rebecca began weakly.
-yes you've had quite the future, god said, but now your past has caught up with you.
|Learn to walk in case fortune's wheel breaks an axle|