Heart

A short story!!

***

I squint into the sunlight that is now blindingly radiating straight into my eyes. “Do I know you?”

The Stranger’s face changes into an expression of surprise and I hear gasps from all around me. Are there even more strangers around? Who are these people?

“She’s alive!”
“It’s a miracle.”
“Thank, God!”
“I was so afraid.”

All these strange voices swirl around me, but I keep my eyes on the Stranger. He is a youth about my age, kneeled to my right. He’s not looking at me, though. He’s looking up and smiling. I think I see a tear spiral down from his eye and I feel a small splash on my hand. I hear a dramatic, sniffling, happy weep and I know only one person who accomplishes a sound like that – my mother.

“Mom?” I try to sit up (apparently, I had been lying down), squinting fruitlessly, searching for the only person who would make any sense in this situation.

“Oh!” I hear her wail to my left and then my eyes fall onto her familiar face; the only comfort I’ve felt in what feels like years.

“Mom,” I grin and the levees in my eyes split open, flooding my cheeks with tears. Everyone’s crying, but none of the tears are blue; they are tears of joy. And I still don’t know who any of these people are (save for my mother).

I instantly become swaddled in maternal arms and encased in love. My mother is weeping into my hair, squeezing me tight. I’m gripping her back as if she is the only thing keeping me on earth. That I’ll float away, alone again, without her. I hear sighs of relief ripple through the crowd of strangers, but I ignore them. Eventually, though, I peer through my mother’s arms into the sea of unfamiliar faces and I see some unexpected things. First, I see a group of paramedics stationed alarmingly close to us. A few of them are swiping away tears against the backdrop of blinking blue and red lights on an ambulance. Then, there’s the crowd: some crossing their chests in a religious manner, others clapping and smiling through tears, some are holding hands or hugging, and a lot of people are just staring in disbelief. What the heck happened here?

At last, I see the Stranger. And, most unexpectedly of all, he’s leaning on a glossy acoustic guitar (still glancing heaven-ward) and getting some hearty claps on the back. A job well done. Then, it hits me.

I break free from my mother’s loving hold and thrust an angry finger at the Stranger. “You! It was you!” I snarl.

“What? What was me?” He snaps into focus and looks genuinely perplexed.

I can barely choke the words out over the fiery temper I acquired with my discovery. “You–you were the one playing the music! The Source!” He deceived me this long…Not any more.

I hear a collective gasp. This crowd seems to function in unison. My mother looks me square in the eyes and rubs my shoulder. “You heard that? You heard him playing?”

Confused at the profoundness of me hearing that tricky melody, I nod. My mother’s pupils dilate. I search every eye in the crowd for an answer, and I can’t find one. I sit, dumbfounded, waiting for somebody to speak.

“Was it bad?”

Huh? I swivel to face the Stranger. I think everyone gathered here collectively did the same thing. “What?” my mother asks for me.

“You said you heard my playing, yes?” I nod at him. “So, what made you so angry? Did you not like it? Did it sound bad?”

Was it bad? No, it wasn’t. It was actually divine. But, it lead me into that…nightmare. That is what that was, right?

“It didn’t sound bad.” I see a muscle he had been clenching in his jaw relax. “It was…stunning.” Now the crowd turns on me, staring at me in disbelief. “I’ll probably remember it for the rest of my life.” The Stranger grins. “But, it caused me a lot of pain.”

Finally, the paramedics step in. “What kind of pain? Are you in pain now?”

I shake my head. “It was…all in my head, I guess.” I hesitate and see a look of brotherly concern covering the Stranger’s face. That’s when I decide to tell them everything I saw. The Darkness, The Circle Room, and what I thought was the Source. The sensations, the struggles, the thought-to-be victories, the frightening aspects, and how I first saw the Stranger. And how, through the entire time, the music played, setting the foundation for what happened next.

When I finish, I find myself breathless and the crowd speechless.

“I think,” my mother begins slowly, “that this boy here saved you.”

Have I ever been this lost in my entire life? The answer, my friends, is no, not until now.

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