by Sharon Poppen
Glory had trouble breathing. The air was different up this high, she decided. Taking a deep breath, she felt a sting, then a soft cool stream filled her labored lungs. She touched the right wing of the multicolored, broad winged bird that was transporting her up into the clouds. The bird dipped slightly to allow Glory to see the city below. Everything seemed miniature and so far away. She couldn't even identify the squatty, gray tenement where she lived with her mother and 'uncle' of the week.
A gentle mist caressed her cheeks as she refocused into the distance. Her legs felt heavy and she tried to pull them tighter against the bird. They immediately felt lighter, as if they had no weight at all. She urged the bird on and smiled in anticipation.
Leaving the city behind, she looked down on snow capped-mountains where herds of deer bounded through the snow looking much like racers in a marathon. She spotted families of bears. As the bird dipped lower, the animals paused and looked her way. She smiled and waved. They remained motionless until the bird began to gain altitude. She threw them one last wave, then looked on ahead to see a large body of water. Whales and dolphins swam below her, rising high into the air and creating tidals as they dipped back into the blue water. She laughed and waved as she and the bird left them behind.
A perfectly arched rainbow beckoned with its sharp colors glistening in the warm sun. The bird flew under the rainbow, then turned and headed for the base of one of the arches. Glory felt a splash of the ocean as the bird veered and began upward following the edge of the rainbow until it reached dead center. It hovered for a few moments, while Glory looked across into the fluffiest cloud she'd ever seen. Soft beautiful music began. Its volume increased with a magnetic draw. The bird began an easy flight toward it. Glory could feel the bird gently sway from side to side in its glide until a lady appeared at the edge of the cloud. Her arms were stretched out toward Glory.
"No change?" The doctor asked.
The nurse shook her head. "The breathing tube calmed her struggle for air and the pulleys took the pressure off the heavy casts on her legs, but she hasn't responded to our touches or words."
The doctor grimaced and touched the child's forehead. "No fever."
"No. She just lays there with that beatific smile spread across her face."
"Like the poor child has anything to smile about." He looked at the woman standing next to a policewoman just outside the window of the ICU. "Why is she here." He looked at the nurse.
"The judge refused bail on both her and the boyfriend and kept the boyfriend behind bars. But, because she's the child's mother, he thought she should be here, in case the child asked for her."
"Anyone who would abuse a five year old, or allow this abuse to a five year old, has lost the right to be a mother." A buzz on the monitor drew their attention. The two of them worked feverishly, but eventually had to let the child go. The doctor gently touched Glory's bruised arm, then pressed his lips to her forehead. He turned, closed the privacy curtain and left the room.
"Is she all right? She ain't gonna die, is she?" Asked the mother.
Anger, along with a sense of frustration, held the doctor mute.
The mother nervously glanced at the policewoman, then back to the doctor. "She'll make it. She always does. See, she goes into a fantasy world of pretend. She blocks stuff out. She'll make it."
"Well, thank God she had her fantasy world." He nodded to the policewoman, then turned and walked away.
Pulling the moaning and struggling woman along, the policewomen headed for the elevators. "Not my fault. He did it. The kid asked for it. I didn't do nothin'. He did it."
The bird hovered alongside the lady. She reached over and drew Glory into her arms. "Welcome home, little one."
Freed of its charge, the bird waved its wing in a form of farewell and turned back toward the crowded city.
"Thank you," the woman called out. May you have a long interval before having to make this trip again."
She looked down at the Glory. As they walked into the cloud and out of sight, her soft voice assured the child. "Your Father is waiting. We've missed you."
Sharon Poppen, Lake Havasu City, Arizona -author of ‘After the War, Before the Peace’ --awards; Arizona Authors Association, National League of American Pen Women. www.havasuwriters.com. Contact Sharon.