Re-write of This is Hell
|"There is no hell, this is hell!"
Reverend Reginald McLean swung his arms up and out, encompassing the whole auditorium. His eyes showed too much white as he scanned the crowd, finally settling on me. I guess he paid special attention to us non-believers.
"We are the damned. We are already in hell and we must make our amends."
The crowd erupted into clapping, I could pick out the non-believers, nervously looking around and then they too joined in. The good ole Rev McLean was spinning around on stage, arms spread wide, stomping to the beat. His belly bounced over his trousers, he was clearly enjoying purgatory.
Working themselves into a frenzy the crowd jumped to their feet, spinning and stomping along with McLean. My head pounded with the rhythm, I rubbed my temples, what was I doing here? Mary sat next to me, smiling, a look of awe on her face. I shuddered, it was the same smile I had fallen in love with all those years ago, before the cancer. She clapped along, nodding her head to the beat. I knew if she was able she would have been up on her feet too.
Feeling sick I tried to remember the last tie Mary had looked so hopeful and I blamed myself for letting her build up hope again. It had been too easy letting her believe, selfishly wanting to see her smile again. After coming here for a month, waiting for her turn to be healed, Mary was convinced tonight was the night and I had let her persuade me into coming.
Silence descended as the racket stopped and Mary leaned forward, guilt weighed me down as I watched the stage. I wanted to sweep her into my arms and carry away, instead I waited, knowing I would have to pick up the pieces afterwards.
A pretty girl appeared on stage, reaching out a pale hand she took the mike from McLean her misty white eyes scanning the crowd, coming to rest on me. I rubbed my arms, feeling a chill sweep over me. McLean was bent over now and with a cry of pain he jumped off the stage, running into the audience. He worked the crowd, placing hands on shoulders as he made his made his way in deeper, eyes fixed on Mary.
McLean took Mary's hands and led her onto the stage, sitting her down in a chair. McLean's hands held her as he knelt down and started rocking back and forth on his heels, his knees cracking like gunshots. He shook and then screamed, spittle falling down his chin. The pretty girl returned to mop his face and then disappeared. Mary started to shake, clenching my hands together I took a step forward and felt hands grip my shoulders, pushing me back down into my seat.
Helpless I watched as Mary's head rolled backwards, her chest rising and falling faster than normal, she started to jerk like she was having a fit. Trying to break away more hands tightened on me, holding me down. I relaxed as Mary sat up straight and opened her eyes. Her eyes found mine and she grinned, like a kid at Christmas.
Freed I stood up and held my arms out to her, slowly she made her way off the stage, waving away any help. Swaying slightly she stumbled, steadying herself she picked up speed till she was running, the crowd parted and she threw herself into my arms.
McLean huddled in the chair, his slack face an off white colour. Murmuring a 'thank you' the pretty girl re-appeared and helped him off the stage. Applause broke out and the crowd crushed around us, wanting to now how Mary felt.
"Wonderful, I feel wonderful."
Mary was laughing, her grey hair standing on end like she had just received an electric shock. Pulling her into my arms I dragged her away, wanting to get her home. In the car we didn't speak, keeping my eyes forward I drove straight home.
"I have a doctors' appointment tomorrow, you'll see then, Tom"
I nodded, too afraid to speak.
At breakfast we chatted aimlessly, it was the first time in a while I had seen her face pain free. A full English was placed in front of me, and my mouth watered at the smell. My heart skipped a beat as I watched her bustle around the kitchen.
Sitting on the patio, the sun shining on my face, I listened to Mary humming along to the radio in the kitchen. I couldn't stop smiling, the Doc's words echoing in my head.
"There's no sign of the cancer, Mrs Gordon. I just can't explain it, I'll run more tests, but right now it's gone."
Mary handed me a glass of fresh lemonade and sat beside me. I took her hand in mine and we stared out across the newly planted field of daffodils.
"Jim, will you come with me again?"
Mary glanced sideways at me, I was sure she was waiting for me to freak out, as the kids say.
"Yes, I'll come."