Still, I appreciated them asking, and I did tell them that. The truth is that I'm just starting to feel human again. See, I watched the reaper take my parakeet and my father-in-law away a piece at a time through two of what I believe are the most horrible ways to go: over months of cancer with Ollie, and over years of dementia with Rick's father. And I had to deal with the loss of each piece of them being taken away, one at a time, until there was little or nothing left. That left me feeling less than human. You put on a brave face, you stand up to it, but the whole time you're stewing inside, thinking oh dear reaper, if I could just take your scythe and have one good swing at YOU.
And ax to grind with the Grim Reaper is one you will never indulge, or win. And I understand that death is an undeniable and unfortunate reality. I understand it happens. But why it had to happen this way, I will never get. That's one of those "you won't get it this side of Heaven things" and you have to learn how to be ok with that. I think I am finally getting that it is what it is, and I have to take what I can learn from it and move on. The world keeps turning, and we all have little choice but to keep going with it.
I know these experiences are what lead to The Earthside Trilogy. I know it was all the "what if's" of what it all meant, and how it would change me that created that tale. And yet, all along, there was a part of me that knew that, in these moments of feeling so alien and disconnected with myself and reality, perhaps I was more in tune with my humanity than ever before. It does change you. I'd think something was wrong if I didn't see the world differently now. If I walked away from even this the same old Sherri with no new perspective on life and an appreciation of the blessings that make it what it is, then I really would be alien and completely disconnected with the world.
I think this excerpt from the final chapter of Fracture sums up the questions and frustrations that I've been grappling with. One thing about knowing a writer is that you get to ride shotgun on the issues we're grappling with. Fiction isn't a mirror image of what we think and feel, but it's a pretty good reflection of the major issues. I hesitated to share it because I didn't want to leak a surprise at the end, but I think this gives you enough to get the gist without giving too much of the plot away. The setting is a congressional hearing on the "miracle healings," and this is the scene where the main protagonist, Kalea Kerner, blows the lid off everything they thought they knew. Enjoy!
Congressman Vickers banged his gavel on the table. “Order! Everybody, calm down!”
“Enough of that!” Kalea shouted,throwing a bolt at the gavel. Senator Vickers shouted as it singed his hand. He dropped it just as it exploded. Kalea walked in front of the bench where the congressional panel sat gaping at the glowing woman standing in front of them. “You think you’re safe, but that’s a lie. You watched people die, and you call it normal. You watch others heal, and you pass it off as a trick of cameras and sweep it away. You don’t have any idea what you’re really looking at.” She walked to the center of the chamber, standing in the middle of the windows floating in the air from various projectors beaming from the study teams’ tablets.
“Six months ago, I was just Carson Kerner’s niece. What did it matter that he rose from near death to grab my ankle? His wife and children had it worse. All you wanted from me was the juicy details you could get from the only witness.” She waved her hand, sending the window flying toward the ceiling..
“It’s the same with all of these. Sidney Sinclaire was just a daughter-in-law,” she said, that window on the floor. “Bennett Burke was just a cousin,” she said swiping it toward the wall where the image flew inches over the head of a gaping reporter. “Just a nephew. Just a son in law. Just a neighbor. Just a friend. Just a babysitter. Just a medical assistant. Just a computer technician. Just a psychiatrist.” She said, waving her arms and flicking her wrist to send the images flying around the room. She threw out her arms, the static from her fingers sending the rest of the images scattering around the room. “What would they know? They were just a step outside of societal concerns over grieving rites. They had miracle healings, and you didn’t notice them until the miracles faded and you were left to wonder why, what just happened, but even then you didn’t see.” She opened her hands, spreading out a wide electric current that she threw to the tablets on the study members’ table, shutting off every tablet and making the flickering images floating wildly around the room wink out. “I’ll tell you what they were. They were the strong ones. The ones with perception. The ones with minds open to the truth. The ones who really and truly knew that more was going on. The ones who accepted what everybody else denied – that your world has changed and there’s no going back. Not now, not ever.” She dropped her arms, causing the electrical current to swirl out into the ceiling, where the lights flickered before resuming normal illumination. “Your world is in pieces and you’re too blind to see how it’s really ending.”
“Kalea,” Annaliese said softly, “I did hear you. I was trying.” She stood, motioning to her teammates sitting at the table with her. “We all did. That’s why we’re here. To give you a voice.”
Kalea hugged Annaliese. “I know, but surely you must see that they won’t listen. They’re too blinded to their own man-made causes.” She walked up the center asile. “But you will listen now.” She threw open the door. “Who wants to take a walk with me? I have something to show you outside.”
“Get back in here!” Senator Vickers shouted.
Kalea turned, her eyes silver. “Do you really think that will work?” She turned, crooking her finger. “Don’t you want to see what the rest of the world is looking at right outside your door?”
Annaliese fell in step behind Kalea, followed by the study members. Slowly, the Senators and Representatives rose and fell in, followed by the reporters and others in the chamber. Kalea threw out her arms, sending bolts of energy ahead of her to blast open the back door of the U.S. Capitol. She stepped outside on the top step, a cold breeze causing her scarf to billow behind her. Kalea raised her arms, sending up energy bolts that crackled as they connected with the satellites orbiting the planet overhead. A purple glow lit up the sky, showing the National Mall filled with millions of pairs of silvery eyes staring back at them.
“Behold your true army...You will listen to them now, or you will die.”