Her family had stayed with her in turns again, but she’s alone for a spell while Matt takes a trip to the store and Starbucks to gather some of her favorite foods. She stares out the window. At least the endless fields aren’t covered with snow now; the green and gold extend far off into the dusty distance.
Sights and sounds and sensations flash through her mind: The high pitch of tires squealing. Metal crashing into metal. Her car being pushed across an intersection and into another car. More metal crashing into metal and glass smashing. Flashing red lights. Some kind of contraption with metal plates breaking open the roof of the car. Being lifted out and gently placed on a stretcher and into the waiting ambulance.
Was this the former Missy’s accident or her own? Or both? What are the chances of an accident like that repeating itself?
Liz, the nurse from her earlier sojourn in the hospital, enters her room. “You must be part cat—you definitely have nine lives. At least yer starting yer third. And you don’t have amnesia this time. I’ve never had anyone enjoy rediscovering the bathroom the way you did.”
Missy laughs. “Everything seemed totally brand new then. It was really fun. Well, mostly.”
“How long did it take you to get yer memory back?”
“Oh, not too long,” Missy answers. “Sometimes I still wonder about it.”
“You and all of us,” Liz cracks.
Once again, Missy convalesces at her parents. Matt had gone to Denver as soon as Missy woke up from the second accident, at her insistence.
“You just lost a baby and were in yer second major car accident in under a year. Well, kind of. At least the body you’re in had two. I can’t exactly pack up the pickup and leave.”
“Sure you can. I want you to. Go.”
So she and Linda sit, slowly pushing the porch swing with their legs in synchronized languor.
Missy gazes at a sunflower peeking over the railing at her. Like a green hand of love, the outer petals hold the flare of yellow petals, which surround the soft yellow-brown pad. She loves how the center is textured, nubbly even, like special parts of some pieces of Linda’s needlepoint. She runs her finger along the fuzzy stalk. She thrills in all the aspects of this piece of Creation’s handiwork as she did when she first laid eyes on those sunflowers in the hospital so many months ago. Light emanates from within this flower, however.
As Missy studies this universe in miniature before her, a butterfly softly lands on the flower. Magic bumps his snout into her leg for a pet and she complies.
“Toto, I have a feeling I’m back in Kansas,” she smiles at him.
Linda snorts and laughs. And laughs. And laughs. Missy starts to become alarmed when the laughing doesn’t stop.
“Momma, you alright?”
“Oh my goodness, that’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard!” Linda starts a whole new round of chortles interspersed with snorts and snickers.
When Missy is sure her Earth mother has not taken leave of her senses, she returns to examining the flowers. Her hands still pet Magic, catapulting him into bliss. The smell of freshly mowed grass hangs in the mugginess of the early-evening air.
“I wonder if grass minds being mowed.”
“You are the most interesting thing,” Linda giggles. “Ever.”
They listen to the meadowlarks’ song.
“Ever wonder what they’re sayin’?” Linda asks.
“I think they’re just sayin’ they’re happy to be here.”
As the sun sinks lower in the sky, the cicadas join in with their song.
“It’s such a symphony here.”
“This certainly seems to be our time of day,” Linda says, taking Missy’s hand.
Missy lets out a long, long sigh. She wanted the baby. She wants this life. And she senses that with this second accident Linda has realized she wants this being in her life, even if she isn’t her daughter. She’s another daughter—a stardaughter.
“Family is by choice, sometimes,” Missy says, taking Linda’s hand in both of hers, much to Magic’s dismay.
“Yes,” Linda responds, holding her hand more tightly. “What’s it like where yer from?”
“Easier in a million ways. But we don’t have the comparisons, the highs and lows. We don’t have bodies, so we don’t have physical pain. But we don’t have love the way you have it. For us, everything is love, which is great. But there’s no dark to the light of love so we don’t know what’s missing.
“We watch what you do on this planet and think, ‘Why don’t they just get their act together?’ We have no idea how much you deal with, what the pain in the heart feels like. How complicated it is to try to work with nine billion different opinions.
“We think we could run it so much better. But we can’t. ‘Why c
an’t you just live like us,’ we’d wonder. It’s because you’re not supposed to. You’re the ones in the bodies, in the physical bodies. You have so much more, in a way.
“We can be on the other side of the universes with just a thought. You have to grow up for eighteen years, learn to drive, feed yourself every day and make sure you get enough rest and exercise.
“And then your loved ones die. Other people violate you. And you have wars that scar your soldiers for life. And then some of you carry that pain and trauma into the next lifetime, and the next, and the next.”
Linda remains quiet, as Missy is obviously on a spree with her long-quiet thoughts now being given a voice.
“But you keep righting yourselves. You keep steering the ship. No matter how hard it gets, most of you just keep on going and going. You live in cars and under bridges, yet still get up every day. You have droughts and pestilence that take your crops. And yet you plant again. You have natural disasters that level your towns. And yet you build again.
“You have family members who steal from you—not only material things but also your joy, your innocence. And yet you still love them, you still forgive them, you still feed them if they’re hungry, you still give them the shirt off your back.
“You have people ruining your food and your air and your water. Other countries have leaders who keep the food from the starving people. And yet you develop new ways to get food and water.
“You have people who kill your brethren. You have communities under constant siege. Some of you live alone with no touch and no conversation. And yet you keep on going. You keep on singing and dancing and loving and being awed by the vastness of space. You make new discoveries on top of new discoveries—time after time. Does that all make sense?”
Linda nods, obviously struck silent by Missy’s flow of words. The sun has set by now, casting orange and pink light on the clouds.
“And you have that!” Missy says, pointing to the sky. “And you have this,” she says, gesturing to her Earth mother’s hand in hers.
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