by Terry McKee
"He's opened his eyes, he's opened his eyes. It's a miracle, come and see. It's a miracle!" His mother screamed and all the nurses came running into his room.
Jacob didn't know anything about a miracle; his ears couldn’t comprehend what the eyes couldn’t see. Everything looked blurry, shades of colors and light; he couldn't make any of the faces floating before him. Lights danced between bopping heads, like apples in water. It hurt to look, still he was mesmerized. The light hypnotic, like the mosquito’s perpetual buzz droning, held him fast.
"Squeeze my hand, Jacob can you squeeze my hand? Yes, he did it; this kid is going to be fine, just fine. . . It's a miracle. God has a purpose for this kid," Jacob heard above the insistent hum. He signaled out his mother’s voice which rose above the others, the more familiar voices that he heard for the past month, before being drowned in crude laughter.
“That’s the biggest joke of all.” Through the searing light, Jacob couldn’t see the face behind the rancid sneer, “God has a purpose for you!”
His mother squeezed his hand hard. "Where have you been? I've been looking for you." Jacob asked, surprised by the acidity in his previously silenced voice.
"I've been right here the entire time. Where have you been?"
"Hell?" She sneered, the charlatan with his mother’s face, pretending to care.
"Yes, that's right, Hell. . . Is this your doing, did you put me here? You must have or else you wouldn't be here with me. Why did you put me here?"
Jacob felt a cool breeze blowing but it did little to quell the heat. Rivulets of sweat flowed down his face and neck, his body felt clammy and the bug wouldn't leave his ear. He tried to swat at it with his hand only to find his right ear missing.
The imposter stared, branding him an invalid, her eyes etching his skin. Jacob felt immobilized, he fought against the restraints but only his right arm was free. His brain was flanked by sleep and stirring, between dream and reality, part in the present and part in the past. His thoughts scattered through the years, lengthening from one neuron into two, stretching diffusely, pairing with new and stranger partners at each bend.
He hated her for staring, for putting him in this hell but he hadn’t the strength to fight her self-possession. He tried to spit at her but it evaporated into the hot crisp air.
"You missed, hah!"
"Next time I won't, just wait 'til I'm strong again, I'll curse and spit on you all I want when I'm out of here. You can't make me stay here."
"I'm not holding you here. It's you who wants to be here, you're free to leave anytime you want ... Perhaps you need that miracle after all," she sneered.
"How did I get here, did you bring me here?"
"No, fate brought you here; I'm just enjoying the suffering."
"No surprise there, I always knew you never like me."
"I don't like anyone, to be honest with you."
"Then why are you here?"
"Because circumstances left you dangling upside down at the wrong gate, it was very titillating. I try never to miss an opportunity, my friend, but alas, this time I arrived too late. You fell up, not down, as I wasn’t ready to catch you."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Jacob burned with anger.
"I was busy with another when I learned of your precarious situation... Your accident left you hanging for quite some time but I was unable to reach you fast enough, so you fell up and not down. It’s really very sad; I’m always looking for new recruits. With your sharp wit and good looks, you could sway many. "
"Hey Pop-pop... I heard Pop-pop's voice. Did you hear him?"
"Oh, he's not here with me, another lost cause, I’m afraid, unfortunately, he was a little too boring for me, so I’m not that upset. You know, too much of a goodie two shoes, definitely not my style, like you. Now you’re someone who could help me but I'll get another chance, if you please. In the interim, consider this a gift for the future, I’m allowing you a few moments to see what life is like on the other side, that hell isn’t as horrible as everyone thinks and heaven isn’t all that’s it’s cracked up to be. Actually hell is quite pleasant, once you’ve learned the rules.”
"Why are you doing this to me?” Jacob cried aloud. He opened his eyes again but the bopping heads were still there, moving in waves through the light. They wouldn't leave, just like that fly, the whine was relentless.
“Honey, I'm here, I'm trying to cool you off, you're so hot... Are you in pain, you're grimacing so. Can I do something for you?" His mother wiped his damp brow.
"He's very restless today," the nurse said, "he'll settle down once I give him this."
"Leave me alone. I don't want you here; I don't want to be here. Why did you bring me here?" Jacob yelled at her.
"Destiny brought you here but your time is temporary." The she-devil groaned.
"What the hell does that mean?" Jacob asked suspect.
The evil bitch was weakening; she always did if he persisted long enough. He knew how to win this battle but it required all of his strength. In short supply; the unrelenting humming hounded him, sapping what little was left. If he couldn’t squash the mosquito, how could he push aside his own mother?
"Just what I said, it's your time, however temporary to taste all that is being offer. It's a miracle that you can see, hear and experience first hand what others fantasize about. You're being given a glimpse of your own hereafter; you can either enjoy and learn from it or be content to live in hell... If you want you can remain here, I'll gladly show you the way... It is what it is, it's your choice."
You make your own happiness and misery in this life, which way you go is entirely your choice, his mother’s proverb called through layers of his mind, at first slowly, then clearer and with more vigor than he anticipated. Over and over it played in one continuous golden loop until it was so loud the buzzing ceased.
Jacob heard what she said; he gathered his energy and opened his eyes to his mother's smiling face.
Editor's Note: Falling Up was previously published in Apollo's Lyre about two years ago.
Terry lives in south Florida with her husband and a multitude of pets. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments and/or questions.