I land gently in my meadow. The long, green grass rustles with the cool, spring breeze. The sound brings me back to that perfect little moment in my childhood when all thought drifts away as the wind gently caresses all that it touches, cooling my body and making waves through the wheat fields around me. My meadow is different than the wheat fields as it is so vibrantly green and full of trees, their leaves blowing along with the grass, creating that beautiful, gentle song. The sky is clear and the sun shines down through the trees. The warm, healing rays touch my face. The sun here is safe, unlike the world I live in. I have the shade, sun, and breeze all working in harmony to keep me in complete comfort. The scent of spring fills my nose. I can hear a stream in the distance.
Here is love, peace, comfort, and freedom. I am in my place.
I am aware of Joe’s presence but he is very far away. I can only feel his footsteps as he paces in his room. I am not going to speak to him today. He isn’t ready. No, today I have other work to do.
I stand up and begin to walk through the tall grass. The grass neither moves nor makes any sound in response to my movement. I look down and note that there are no legs and feet below me. I am not in a body at the moment which is good because I don’t need one where I am going. I am Pure Jack. An ageless, bodiless Jack.
I continue moving forward, imagining myself walking because I don’t understand movement without a body. I need to move faster, so I imagine running. I run faster and faster until the meadow becomes a green blur. I continue looking down as I move swiftly through the meadow. Then the green blur becomes a grey blur. I stop.
It is the carpet of a basement. I know where I am immediately. It is Carol’s parents’ house. 21-year-old Jack is there and he knows it as Doreen’s parents’ house. A woman he brought to the house sleeps upstairs. He isn’t really interested in her. In the basement, he leaves the bed of another woman he isn’t at all interested in. In the morning, the woman upstairs will tell him that she likes him, and he will respond that he isn’t a good person and she should stay away from him. He finds an empty couch to sleep on. Eventually, he dozes off.
Bring him to your meadow.
Jack sits in a chair across from me. The long grass blows around both of us. I am Leader Jack, the 40-year-old version. Leader Jack is bigger and healthier than I, but still wears the same signs of aging. The wrinkles and greying hair are a contrast to the smooth, young face and full black hair of 21-year-old Jack. As Leader Jack, I am close to the age of 21-Jack’s father as he knows him, and when I take 21-Jack’s hands in mine, it looks like a son’s hands being held by his father’s: the weathered, darker, lined hands holding the lighter, softer, youthful hands.
Explain to him that you are stronger together.
I look 21-Jack in the eyes. They are so much brighter than mine but this Jack has suffered a betrayal and he’s hurting. It’s hard not to see him as wasting his youth and health. After all, the traumas he has endured thus far are nothing compared to what is yet to come. I want to tell him that the worst is ahead of him in hopes that he’ll live a little more while he has a chance to, but he’s not ready to hear it. To tell him that worse is coming will only break him more.
“I know you’re hurting… I’ve felt it too. But you will survive, I’m proof of that. We will survive and we can be strong. We are strong but we can be even better if we’re doing this together…” I continue to explain to him as best as I can. When I finish, I ask him if he understands. He nods.
We stand up and embrace. The light surrounds us as we spin in our embrace. Joe is aware of this. He can feel it. I am aware of Joe’s awareness for a moment, then I focus back on the task at hand. The light becomes violet then changes to pure white then it is gone. There is only one Jack now, Leader Jack. I consider talking to Joe about his fate but I decide it’s not time yet. He’s also not ready to hear certain things. I suppose I’m not, either.
Today’s merging of Jack’s is healing but it isn’t the healing I am looking for. I have to go somewhere else. This isn’t a job for Pure Jack or Leader Jack. It is a job for the regular, current Jack.
Current Jack goes into the void. It is a dark place without scent or sound, and it is without gravity. It seems senseless to be in this body, but here I am in it anyway. Out of the darkness, a door appears. I float to it.
Go through the door.
“I don’t want to. I don’t want to go there. See? I’m not angry. I’m okay.”
Go through the door.
It opens and a force, like a vacuum begins to pull me through. I put my hands on the doorway to stop myself. Okay, obviously if I’m resisting, I’m not okay, I think. It’s time to do some hard work. I let go and allow myself to be pulled through.
A beautiful, young Carol is walking down the aisle in her wedding dress. She has her whole future ahead of her and is not yet tainted by the traumas to come. I feel such love and desire for her. I reach for her, but I am not there. It is a memory and I can’t interfere. Carol stands at the alter in front of her family and my family and vows to be with me through good times and bad, in sickness and health.
The vibrant colours of the room begin to fade. I look to the end of the aisle where Carol had just come from to see Carol in a black dress. Her skin is gray and peeling. Her body is sickeningly thin. Her eyes nearly match her skin in colour. The smell of wet rot hits my nose and makes my eyes sting. She stalks down the aisle until she reaches the other Carol. Bride Carol turns to see Rotting Carol, puzzled for a moment as she tries to process in her mind the odd person in front of her. Rotting Carol produces a butcher knife and Bride Carol’s expression turns to wide-eyed shock as the knife is plunged deep into her chest.
Bride Carol gasps. The colour drains from her face as the blood pours down her white dress. Her face is now pale like Rotting Carol’s face and her dress is becoming darkened like Rotting Carol’s dress too.
“No, no, no, NO!” I screamed.
In to the void.
Carol looks up at me with concern. She is lounging one end of the couch as I sit on the other end.
“It’s alright, honey. I was just putting in some hard work, to be a better man,” I say to her, relieved.
Carol smiles and I can see the age lines on her but I can still see the face of Bride Carol. I begin to grieve.
What is it about Bride Carol that you wish Current Carol had?
“A past, untainted by Rotting Carol.”
To have that, you must let go of the past.
“I know. I want to. Show me how.”