By JULIE SMITH | Published: February 11, 2010

It was just the other day when I was at school, playing football, fishing with my two best friends. What’s happened? Nothing much… paid off the house, retired after forty years at the factory to enjoy the good life and what did I get? There aren’t any rewards, only the fight against time. And when my time comes, near the end and I’m bedridden like old Henry next door, the kids will cart me off to a nursing home. I’ll die in sterile sheets with white bars surrounding me to keep me from falling out of bed. I’ll be dying of thirst and some smart-ass nurse, two hours late for my request for a glass of water, will look at me as if I was asking for 5-course-meal. God I wish I could stop thinking. At night, first thing in the morning - all day and then the last thing at night…where’d it go so fast?


“Yea, Rose?”

“Will you get the window fixed? It’s cold as heck in here and Trish and kids are coming in a few hours.”

“I’m working on it, Rose. Just get off my back!”

Rose glares around the corner into the sun room. “I’m working all day and you're sitting in the sun like you were in Miami. Come on, now.”

I go and sit in my old recliner. I really don’t want to leave this chair; don’t want to see the kids either. It’s good sitting in the summer sun and feeling its warmth like it was going right into my soul, recharging it after a long winter. And always thinking about what I am going to do in the fall, winter, next year, and then what? My back’s getting worse. Life is a real cheap trick. You work four decades, almost half a century, and then you got nothing. God, why did you make me? It was a cruel joke.

“George, come in and fix this window, now!”

Jesus, if there ever was such a thing, she has made my life hell. If I had known it would end up like this…why did I ever marry her? I loved her so much. We trusted each other; she never caged me up. We weren’t absorbed in each other but were always excited to talk about the daily experiences at dinner. And our loving was so good - we both enjoyed it; sparklers sometimes and contentment most of the other times. We were so happy. Then over time she put on weight, cared less about how she looked, slumped around like a water buffalo and developed a bark that could stop a train. How’d that happen?

I walk into the kitchen and feel the tension and negative energy like a low wattage light bulb…constant and subject to either a surge or a break in the thin tungsten wire. I pick up my tools and work for an hour and the whole time my head doesn’t stop talking. Why me? Why did you have to give her to me? And to top it all off like icing on a cake, it won’t be the nurse; it will be her face I see before I die and go…where will I go and what will happen to me? I can’t control this talking in my brain. It’s driving me nuts!

“There ya go, Rose. All fixed. Now will you get off my back?”

“Yes, but you can help with the cutting-up of the chickens when it’s time.”

“I’m going out in the back and sit in the sun room. My back is playing up real bad today.”

“I won’t tell you how my back feels at the beginning and end of working everyday in that horrible corner store because I don’t have the time to rest in the sun room. If it’s pity you’re looking for, George, don’t look this way.”

“Yea, yea, yea.”

I can feel Rose standing there, watching me walk around the corner. “Is it going to be like this for the rest of my life?” she snaps.

I notice for the hundredth time that I walk with a stoop as my shadow follows me down the hallway. I look at my hands and turn them over and they are the same; thick and calloused even after six months of retiring. One finger is missing on my left hand…my wedding-ring finger. That happened in 79’ at the factory. Then I remember Georgina, the pretty receptionist in the front office with her tight clothes; always looking like she was poured into them but it wasn’t cheap, just damned sexy. It was almost worth loosing the finger. She attended to me like a real lady, the way Rose would of tended to me a long time ago. I never touched another woman but I looked. Rose’s smiling face always popped up when my thoughts strayed. Pay packet into the wife’s hands, a little bit extra for a few beers on Friday night and then heaven when I came home to good food, my best friend and loving. Then I remember Georgina’s smell...like vanilla spice. Rose always smelled like lavender. I wonder, what does she smells like now?

A tingling runs down my back like there is someone else in the room.

“Hey George, someone wants to talk with you.”

“Who’s that?” I ask startled, turning towards the voice.

“I’m one of the messengers.”

Right in front of me, a tall, lovely red-headed, slim lady of about thirty comes out of nowhere. She has blue eyes and the sweetest smile I ever saw. A second later reality sets in. I jump out of the chair like a ten-year-old. “How’d you get in here? Who are you?”

“I told you, George. I’m a messenger from up there,” and she looks up at the ceiling as if to convey the message is from the heavenly Father.

I’m starting to forget the surprise and get angry. “Don’t play games with me.” Then I look down at the floor. I didn’t want to see her. It must be an illusion; an old man who is starting to see and hear things that aren’t real. Then my knees buckle from underneath and I land on the arm of the chair onto the floor. I shake my head to get rid of a buzzing sound and rub my eyes. I look up and she is still there and it’s not a dream.

My head starts talking again, saying there ain’t a God and this time I’m angry. I wave my hand towards the ceiling, “He ain’t thought about nothing to do with me since I was born and I don’t think he thought all that much about it then. This little charade of yours is going too far, lady. What’s your name and who is playing this trick on me? Is it Fred or Charlie?”

“George, who are you talking to?” Rose yells from the kitchen.

“The lady you let in. Now come on, Rose, are you apart of this trick too?”

“What are you talking about?” She walks into the room rubbing her hands off on her apron and looks about the room. “There isn’t any lady in here.”

I point my finger, shaking with rage. “She’s right there! Can’t you see, you blind woman? The trick is over.”

“You’re going off your rocker, old man. There isn’t a soul in here.” She leaves the room shaking her head. I’m starting to feel sick.

I rub my chin and feel the coarse white whiskers coming back from yesterday. I look down and my hands are shaking. I’ve got to get out of here…maybe some cold water will help. I stagger into the bathroom, leaving the red-headed Amazon; she’ll probably just go away. I look in the mirror and my face is stark white. My shaking hands try to turn on the tap but I can’t get a grip. What is going on? It sure seems real. Where is she now? It’s old age, I’m going to die. Then the voice comes at me again.

“It’s all right, George. You aren’t going crazy and you aren’t about to die. I really am a messenger from God and the appointment to meet with this deity will be tomorrow, Monday morning at 9:00 sharp.”

“How did you get in here!”

“It’s all right. Calm down and listen to what I am saying. No one can see me but you. You won’t be able to convince anyone down here that I'm real and came to fetch you for an appointment with my boss. All I can say is it is a miracle. Something like this has only happened four times since I have been up there. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it has ever happened to an average 'fleshie'. Goodbye for now, George. And don’t forget about tomorrow morning at 9:00 sharp.”

I turn around and look all over the bathroom - in the cupboards, behind the shower screen and even in the toilet. Nothing. She’s gone! Damn if it isn’t something to think about. I sure as hell won’t tell anybody about this, that’s for sure. They’d have me in the nut house before I could cut up the chickens and that’s not a pleasant thought.

All through dinner, the grandchildren are playing up; the shouting, the whispering; I just better shut up. I can hear them in the kitchen. He said he saw a lady and that he was being tricked. It looks bad, Tricia.” “Did he say anything else afterwards. Mom?” “No, he just won’t talk about it. This isn’t my George.” “Mom, maybe we ought to get him to a doctor now!” “He just had a physical, Tricia!” And the whispering continues. They don’t know their whispers are at full volume. I’m just going to smile and do what I’m told. No little men in white coats for me.

At 7:00 the next morning I get up and look in the mirror… the thin, not-too-wrinkled face and balding head stares back at me. I’m looking pretty good for a man of 68. My stomach is flat, unlike my friends. My hair isn’t exactly like Elvis's but it still has color. I flex my biceps and turn like a body builder; a little bit of extra skin around the arms and chest but still looking pretty good.

What in the hell am I doing, getting ready for a date? All of a sudden my saliva dries up and brushing my teeth is like trying to eat a dry sponge. I shower and shave, leaving three bloody nicks. What do I wear? I guess my best suit will do. Can’t think about this miracle appointment. Stop thinking! I wait a few seconds but the thinking is coming back like a terrier. It’s Monday so Rose will start work at 8:30 and I will be alone. Does He have a grasp on my time frame?

“Whatcha got your bests on for, George? Are you going to a wedding?

“No Mom - just thought I’d pretty myself up and take a walk in the city. Kinda getting sick and tired of sitting around.”

Rose pulls a shopping cart out of the closet and picks up her handbag. She gives “humph” as she shuts the door and waddles down the drive and around the corner. Relief swamps me. I’m trying very hard not to think or talk to myself. I look at the gardenia in the back garden, get up and open the door and smell the perfume. Pretty bush. Has it been here all along? It’s 8:45…fifteen more minutes and if the lady doesn’t come back I’ll catch the bus and walk the streets looking in the windows for something to do.

“Good morning.” I jump, thinking of the moon and a cow.

“It’s you. You came. You’re early.”

“You’re ready, so let’s hop to it. The boss won’t mind and it will give you more time to ask questions.”

A whirlwind and white light with a feeling of speed envelopes me. But there is no wind or sound. To my horror, my clothes come off and reflexes take over as I bunch up in a ball to cover my genitals. I’m in a twister of white cotton…I feel light, happy, and wondrous. Suddenly it stops with a blinding light. I look at my red-headed guide and about to ask a question but stop because she looks irritated.

She shakes her head and puts her hands on her hips. “Now, we have arrived and if you just stop that infernal internal dialogue, I can think for a while. Who ever told you to talk to yourself so much?” A few moments drift by and I can’t think. “Whew, that’s better. Now, be calm, patient, breath slowly and relax.”

“How in the name of…well-it’s pretty hard to relax when you think you are going crazy and at the same time meeting your maker!”

Shut mouth,” a low, thunderous voice echoes.


“It’s me, George, you know, the creator, God, the One who is suppose to have put you in your present situation; the one who doesn’t care and is responsible for all your ailments and for the horrific things done on earth; the one who holds all the hope for the poor and all that mumbo jumbo.”

Out jumps a huge black woman without a stitch on. She’s beautiful but at the same time silently shouts, like the way Father Calligan looked just before he started his sermon. She drifts behind a cloud-desk and stares deeply into my eyes.

“Not bad for 9.2 billion year-old-body, hey, George.?

“But you are a woman!”

“Yes, George. You have good eyes. How do you think you got born - out of a tree?”

“But God is suppose to be a …”

“A man and white. Right! Who told you that? A bunch of old men sitting around a tree, gathering up legends, both created in their minds and the minds of their predecessors. Now you can go back to that question, ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’” She stretches her long black arms and fingers and sighs. A large yawn reveals beautiful white teeth and a pink tongue. Her eyelashes are so long I wonder if they are fake.

I drop down on the cloud as weakness and shock take over. “Do you mind if I sit down and think about it,…ummm… how do I address you, um…?”

“Mother - call me Mother. That will do till you come up next time. Now, this is a lot of fun for me because I have only spoken to a hundred or so real ‘fleshies’ since I made them several million years back. I mean I didn’t actually make you, just nudged the evolution a little in the right direction and the timing was perfect. It was a result which had a few little flaws, but that is working itself out splendidly!” She looks towards my crotch. “Mucked up the male genitals, though.” My knees lock together like a vice.

“Mother, I just can’t believe it. Excuse me for doubting this whole thing but it’s pretty hard to take for an old man like me, begging your pardon.”

“It’s all right. I expected it. Now, you wished you weren’t born; you regret ever having lived - hate your wife and feel life was all a cheap trick. Right?”

“How’d you know all that?”

“George, it’s me you’re talking to…”

“Oh. How did all this start… life I mean?”

Today I’m going to let you in on a few secrets that can change all those things that make your life so miserable. This won’t happen unless you work very hard and listen to what I say and remember everything. Are you interested, George?”

“Yes, sir…Mother.”

“Good. In answer to your questions, it all started along time ago. Not in my time but yours. Let’s see, one minute my time is the same as 14 divided by 1,000,000,000,000,000 to the tenth power plus 3.1634 x 894958093 x 2,000,000 to the hundredth. There! George, your life is way past a trillionth of a second to mine. How’s that for quick maths?”

“Good, I guess.”

“Good? It’s perfection! Anyway, it is a little complex. This is going to be a quick introduction. The whole world began with a tricky chemical mixture and light at the right time and the right place, of which I modestly hold responsibility and abracadabra! Life started. I am the mother of light-time, or now, the mother of life, the starter of all consciousness, mother to all men and women, creatures, plants – everything. I know what you are thinking and that is, ‘How’d Mother get here?’ Well, my Mother split. Just like cells that multiply, my mother split me off.

I gawk at her as she turns into a glowing, white, neon light, vibrating and pulsing. She’s no longer there as she was. I look down at myself and I’m all light, less bright but beautiful.

“Wow. What’s happening?”

“You are seeing me and yourself as you really are. Energy. Pure and simple. That’s what the whole world is…energy emitting light.”

“You mean my fishing pole, the rocks, the gardenia bush, the door…everything?”

“Yes. George. What do you want out of life? Tell me.”

“Well, peace, happiness, joy and the stopping of the talking with myself.”

“Ok. Let’s start with the last item and you’re on the way to peace, happiness and joy. When you start talking to yourself, look and observe, don’t judge, just listen.”

“That’s it?”

“Yep. You see, your mind takes over so the unconscious comes to power. You don’t want that unless you need and ask for it. Remember that pleasure is different from joy. Joy comes from within while the pleasures of life come from outside yourself. Pleasures are sex, drugs, sky diving; all those adrenalin, hypo-states with endorphins raging around... it’s a temporary, euphoric state ending with a hangover.”

“How do I get this within stuff…joy I mean?”



“Let’s get to the nitty gritty. Right at this moment, right now, George, do you have any problems?”

I think about this. "No, I feel pretty damn good."

“Right George. You feel at ease inside and as soon as you get that going everything on the outside will follow. But don’t think, feel. Here, I’ll give you something to look at.” Pointing her finger she produces my gardenia bush. My body feels a slight shift like a realignment. The bush is beautiful; more alive, greener than I remember. I shut my open mouth.

“Good, George, stop thinking and start feeling.” Mother is really starting to frighten me with her echoing, giant tones.

“But Mother, what am I going to do for the rest of my life?”

“Future; doesn’t matter- it's an illusion – hasn’t happened yet. That’s how we get half our chuckles - looking at the plans ‘fleshies’ make.”

“And what about all my life wasted in the factory and …”

“That’s past, George and another illusion. Now is not an illusion. If everyone on earth feels the now, all that positive energy and lack of destructive, insane internal dialogue would heal the earth and you’d have a positive universal consciousness. You’ve heard all of that before, haven’t you?”

“Not really. Not the way you put it. But why don’t you do something about it…send one of your angels down and show us the way.”

“Right!” She thunders. “Did that and they sent him right back up looking like a lion got hold of him, pounding nails in his hands and feet. That’s the great credit we get trying to send down one of our own.”

“My head is really swirling…sorry,” I mumble. I start to fidget on the cushion. I can’t - won’t think; I would feel.

“And if something doesn’t happen pretty quickly, future will cease because there won’t be a world. Forget Noah and the Ark type-of-cleanse. Quite the opposite…there will be no water. Then there will be no air or vice versa.

I shake my head to clear it. “So now is ok. The future is an illusion because it hasn’t happened. The past has happened and is an illusion because it’s gone. I saw that Gardenia bush this morning. I’ve never seen it before and it’s been there for ten years. Is that what you mean?”

“That’s a good starting point…if everyone felt the now, the planet earth will survive and wounds will be healed.

“I never realized…what can anyone do?” I now felt with lightening awareness that I could make a difference…maybe only a small one but a big one in Rose’s and my lives. Where did we go wrong?

“You’ll be alright. But don’t be preachy to your mates, George. Just be an example. If you start lecturing them, they’ll just end up killing you.

“I guess I can’t start all over again with Rose, I mean when we first got married?”

“No, George. It just doesn’t happen that way. I can’t monkey around with the present, past or future, otherwise the whole thing would be in such a tangle I’d never get it right.

“I guess I’d better get back down there and try just a little harder and cherish right Rose. Poor woman. You know she isn’t anything like she was when I met her. I did it to her.”

“Not quite, but for the moment it won’t hurt you to have some humility for all the tensions, trouble and suffering she went through. She was with you at first with your suffering and then you ignored her, saying it was a piece of cake to be sitting home with the children all day. Gotta go, George.”

“Goodbye Mother. I hope I won’t be seeing you too soon. And thank you.”

I start bouncing again, rolling over like a tumbleweed in slow motion. My suit is back on and I’m in the sunroom. I look at the time…8:45 in the morning - time has stood still. The aches return and the weight of gravity makes me feel sluggish. Then it hits me. Why not try this? I smile and chuckle, hitting my knee. No depression, anxiety, bitterness, self pity. Gone. Right now. But deep down I know this is going to be hard work.

I change my clothes and with amazing dexterity, speed-clean the house from top to bottom. Every time I start talking to myself, I listen and it stops! It's a beautiful summer day so I dig up the flower bed which had been neglected for years. I’m singing and having, for the first time in years, a good time. I drive to the nursery and florist where I buy a dozen cut red roses and enough seedlings to fill the newly-renovated flower bed.

Just after lunch I sit down in the sun room and look out at the gardenia bush. Not a thought is in my head. Again, the bush becomes greener, more alive and the birds I didn’t hear before are singing. I drift off to a dreamless sleep.

The sound of the door opening and a call from the hallway shakes me awake.

“George, you here?”

“Yea, Rose.”

“Do you think you have time to help me with this old cart and put away the groceries?”

“Sure! I’ll be right there.”

“George, well I declare. The house looks beautiful. And the roses - are they for me?”

“They are. Here, let me help you with that. Did you notice the new garden?”

“What’s going on? This isn’t like you at all. What’s happened?” Rose questions with beady eyes. She walks to the sunroom and looks at the garden. Lovely little flowers were arranged in the bed.

“You did all this for me, George?”

“I did it for me and for us.” He sees moisture in her eyes as she looks out the window. Wonder how many times in our marriage she wished I had done something like that before today? I’m happy at her reaction and she turns to me with a warm smile. But more than anything I feel sane. “Sit down, Rose. I’ve got something to tell you.” She sits down and looks up meekly like expecting bad news.

“I’ve been doing some soul-searching and I’m going to change. I know you think I’ve been acting strange, but everything’s alright now. I’m just grateful I found out now rather than never. You can quit work and we are going to spend some of our money going places where we always wanted to go.”

“What about the kids?”

“What about them? They can water the garden while we’re away.”

She gets up, walks toward me and wraps her arms around my neck. I bury my face in her hair and smell lavender.

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