by K. Ray
A nurse has a supernatural experience, an awakening to new awareness she must cope with.
|CHARACTER FILES: Sarah Baldwin
Sarah version 2 @ Pine View Care Center
Sarah Baldwin is visiting the room of Herman Cooper. His wife Athena is by his side. He is dying, probably within twenty-four hours. Sarah recalls them mentioning children and wonders where they are. She asks about this and Herman says their two daughters have moved away – Marlene “the lesbian” to Florida, and Michelle to Salt Lake City -- and says their son Spencer lives in Delaware. When Herman drifts to sleep, Athena corrects him. Spencer works at the CPPS in town. Sarah is dating Simon Cohen, the CPPS manager, and offers to call and get Spencer off early. Athena says this is not necessary, but on her next break Sarah plans to call anyway. She asks about Laura Franklin, his eldest daughter who’d been mentioned in other visits. Herman, who was “just resting,” says Laura will only come if Athena leaves. Laura looks to Athena for confirmation and the woman nods her head sadly. The Code Blue siren sounds just as Sarah hears the distinct sound of a blowing shofar, which she recognizes from attending a memorable Passover with her grandmother (or Simon’s grandfather?) before she passed away. The two sounds together, one shrill and frenzied and the other deep and mellow, one the harbinger of death and the other evoking memories of good times, overwhelm her. She slides into a chair next to Athena.
Sarah hears the heavy sound of the rushing stampede of nurses. Herman is a DNR patient, so no effort will be made to save him, but the nurses come running anyway. Before their bodies crowd her view, she sees Herman’s spirit ascend from his body and pass through the ceiling. She turns to ask Athena if she witnessed the awesome sight of the ascension. She sees a piece of Athena’s spirit float along behind her husband’s, but Athena seems not to notice. She is calm, and simply says, “goodbye.” She still holds on to his lifeless hand.
As bodies surround Herman, Sarah realizes suddenly that the nurses are all naked, their backs and butts facing her. A flash of memory: nurses in uniform rushing through the door. Sarah is confused and shocked and appalled. She quickly stands and turns to Athena, meaning to shield her from the disrespectful staff. Athena is naked. Impulsively, but hesitantly, Sarah looks down at her own self. Also, naked. Embarrassed, she tries to cover her breasts with one hand and her crotch with the other. She sits down again to cover her rear end.
Athena leans in and quietly says, “Are you okay, dear?”
Sarah stammers, “Wh-why is everyone naked?”
Athena responds thoughtfully, “I know death is scary – to be stripped away from this life and know you can carry nothing away – but it’s alright in the end. We’re naked before God because we have nothing to offer Him.”
“Am I dead?” Sarah wonders. (and performs some action to prompt Athena’s worry)
“I don’t think so. Maybe you should go home and get some rest.”
Understanding hits her. No one else realizes they’re in a nudist care center. She begins to panic, but says only to Athena, “You’re right, I should go.”
“You know where I live and without Herman I sure am gonna be lonely, so you’re welcome to come by and visit me anytime.”
“I will,” Sarah says distractedly. She exits the room in a hurry, covering herself as best as she can while she runs. Once outside, she calls Simon, but he is preoccupied --“dealing with my own crisis of sorts,” he says -- but he promises to send someone to pick her up. She seeks the comfort of familiarity, as nothing is familiar about what she is experiencing.
(Note: why doesn’t she call her sister or brothers? Also note, I haven’t transcribed her family history here because it may change with the new ancestry data.)
Added content, alt. timeline: Maybe Sarah already has “gift.” If so, she explains it to Athena and is believed. Athena mentions that tension between her and Laura pushed Laura away after a dispute about Athena’s age difference from Herman. She’d hoped to make amends before he passed away, but now she will give Laura her inheritance and “good riddance!”
Sarah Baldwin, continued – car scene
“We’re here. You can open your eyes,” Will said.
She opened her eyes but didn’t turn to face him. She said, “Thanks for driving me home.”
“Are you going to be alright?”
She turned to face him. “No. You’re still naked.”
“I think you should take off your clothes. To be fair, ya know, to the rest of us.”
“Will! This is serious.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, neither moving to exit the car.
“Maybe you could borrow a lead vest from the hospital. It worked against the x-ray vision of Superman, so why not yours?”
“It’s not x-ray vision, I don’t—wait, that’s not a bad idea!
“I was kidding, Supergirl. I’m sure this will go away after you lay down and rest. Maybe take some ibuprofen.”
“God, I hope so.” She opened her door, got out, then paused.
“Do you want me to come in?” He offered. “I really don’t want to leave you like this.”
“Because I’m crazy.” She turned to look at him, hurt.
He got out of the car and came to her side. “No, but this morning you were fine and now you can’t look at me without blushing, even though I swear I have pants on. What if it gets worse?”
“I thought you said this would go away,” Sarah said, then giggled. “How could it get worse. Ooh, I see naked people.” She raised her arms in zombie-pose.
“I don’t know what could happen. I’m not a psychologist.”
Shocked by the sudden horrible realization that she may have really fried her brain cells, and wondering what Simon would think of her visiting a psychologist, she put her face in her hands and sobbed. “I’m not crazy!”
Will put his hands comfortingly on her shoulders. “I know that. At the same time you started seeing naked people, a girl I work with – Morgan – said everyone turned into animals. I, apparently, am a Zebra.”
Sarah smiled, wiped her hands across her eyes. “That makes sense.”
Will raised an eyebrow. “It does?”
“Not at all, she’s crazy.” Sarah said, strangely more comfortable with the idea of being crazy, knowing that she wouldn’t be the only nut in the asylum.
Will laughed. “Whatever is going on, maybe a psychologist could tell us more. And maybe I can look online, see if others have posted similar experiences.”
“Come inside, Will. My roommate has a computer you can use. She won’t care. And she won’t be home tonight. She’s in Vegas celebrating her friend’s birthday.” (A shout-out to OI story)
“Alright,” Will said. Then, “Hey, Sarah?”
She turned in the open doorway.
“You’ll be okay,” he said, and stepped over the threshold, hugging her tightly.
“Promise?” She whispered tentatively into his ear.
“Of course,” he said, closing the door behind them with a firm back-kick.
Ending the embrace, she said, “Thanks. You’re a good friend, Will.”
“Go get some rest,” he said. “I’ll let myself out when you’re asleep.”
“Can you stay? I don’t know if Simon will want to see me like this. He’ll probably be busy tonight, anyway.”
“If you want me to stay, I’m staying. I’ll just sleep here on the couch.”
She said goodnight, then skipped upstairs to her room.
Ready for bed himself, Will undressed to his boxers and thought twice about taking them off. He normally slept nude, and why stop now? It wasn’t as if Sarah would know the difference. He smiled at an imagined scenario. If Sarah were cured in the night, yet found him naked in the morning, she would not be surprised. He kept his boxers on. If she was cured, he wanted her to know it, he wanted to see the joy on her face. At that line of thought, he grimaced. If she wasn’t cured, tomorrow would be hell.
The next day he got a response to his late night online inquiries. He couldn’t sleep and had decided to see what the online would had to say about people gaining x-ray visions. His email read:
“Greetings. I saw your post about your friend. She’ll find that her gift is best utilized somewhere in the path she’s already chosen. This will change her life, but it won’t alter her path. She’s not crazy. After I read your message, I took the liberty of hacking into the blogsite where you posted it. I scanned online and found the same post at a half-dozen other sites. I deleted them also. You don’t want any government to know about this, though it may be too late already. Tell her to go back to work or school, whatever is her normal routine. You guys are at the epicenter of this whole thing. It all started in your area, so I’m sure you’ll find others. Warn them to lay low. We should all meet in person. Delete this email.”
(In their face-to-face the emailer rants, “She’s one of the Called Ones. You said she heard a trumpet, right? Revelation, man. The Book of Revelation. It’s all right there.)
Sarah Baldwin, Aftermath – sometime after the car scene (the Will version)
In her line of work, Sarah had cared for a number of patients with a wide range of mental health problems: from minor clinical depression, advancing Alzheimer’s, to major schizophrenia. Whether the symptoms were minor or not, a psychologist was consulted. So, it was easy enough to come to the Anderson Wellness Center under the pretense of discussing a new case. From her experience, Joshua Anderson was a capable and compassionate man. She prayed he could help her.
The waiting room was empty of clients; hers was the last appointment of the day. Simon was by her side, leafing through a Motocross magazine. He’d been so supportive since the first hallucinations. Her hands cupped her belly as she wondered if he could handle the news of her pregnancy on top of everything else.
Alt. Car Scene outline – Simon version - In this version, Simon and Cole pick her up, and the timeline is changed. After Simon and Cole pick up Sarah, they head to Simon’s house. Josh is still with Roxy.
On the way to Simon’s house, Simon and Sarah discuss her death experience. Simon makes connection to Laura, a girl Morgan helped with jewelry. Simon treated her poorly because she was being rude, but she may have known her father was dying. Cole asks questions. In the plot, he’s the “uninformed reader” – “Do Spirits always disappear like that? You both are different than my dad. How’d you know Herman would die today? Did he have a tumor or sucker that killed him? Cole mentions knowing Laura. Sarah answers Qs “Spirits leave the world in different states of being, so the path they take to exit changes. I see the world as an ocean of swirling and churning colors. Colors representing people aren’t a solid color, they’re like an ocean eddy, moving both with internal current and external current. They have tumors and zits, pockets of great vibrancy. Some move against the current. I knew Herman was going to die because he knew in his spirit. He was waiting for Athena to come be by his side. He’s had suckers. We’ve all experienced these nasty things. Cole, you have one now. Ask your father to get rid of it and ask how they appear to him.” Simon says, “I see people’s basic parts in Star Wars colors. I think of choices we make as High or Low ones. Someone decides to walk on a high road, I see green shoes. Someone takes the low road, I see red shoes. I see green words and red words (and lips). Thoughts are shown by a person’s hair color: red or green, of course. If I look closely, I can see 13 columns of color that blend to make their torso area. I think these represent 13 soul-attributes, heart choices. These columns are constantly moving from green to red and back.” Sarah says, “Manny was the best of us. He saw all possible choices and their effects. He lived on a different plane.” Cole asks, “What happened?” Sarah is silent; she said more than she intended. Simon said, “He went to prison defending your uncle Kevin.”
(Note, I have no freaking idea where this section came from, when it was written, or whether I intended for any of it to replace what I’ve already established elsewhere. It may be old, in which case I’ve developed past the green-red vision into something different. Or it may be new, since I am not sure where I am going with the complexity of Simon’s current visions anyway. As for Sarah, there are remnants of this vision with her current one, and I like the description of both. A combination might be possible, allowing people to be more concentrated jello-like forms of light while the energy of the world around them is more oceanic. And as for the other characters mentioned, I am confident I’ve moved them into other roles or deleted them entirely since this was written.)