The lightning flash briefly lights up the room and shows me curled into a ball on the bed. There follows a thunderous noise, o so close. I am whimpering, holding a pillow up against my belly. Suddenly, I remember to invoke Charlie, my dear long-lost child, braver than most and gone too soon. As soon as I do, I feel the pillow’s weight dissolve my fears and his soothing presence fill the room. My insides feel warm.
Another lightning crash – the sky splinters, the winds lash the trees, then the mighty thunder roars. As for me, I laugh in the warmth of my bed. Nothing can touch me under my child’s protection. He is the ultimate lightning rod. When he was alive, he protected me from his father’s wrath, deflecting the blows, redirecting them or changing the mood. A careless fever took him away, all of us powerless to stop it, and the world was never again the same. The other children got half a mother. They accepted their half-crazed mother, doing the best she could. The lasting absence never let me forget.
I got better after I saw the psychic. I became calmer, more able to look around me and appreciate the other children. They recovered part of their mother, a little love, a little warmth, a little twinkle in her eyes. When their father died, I was suddenly free. Shackles dropped. They were older by then, the others. Years had gone by, without me noticing. Some were away at school, others were working or pregnant or married. It had been a blur. I came out of the fog to find a vibrant world, full of colour and life. I did not know my place in it. I had been groping in the dark, unable to see ahead more than an arm’s length, which is where I kept everything.
One of them took over the mansion. I was grateful to keep my bedroom and let someone else run the show. Now new kids peek in. They call me granny and play with Charlie’s ghost. He’s glad for the company. The wild winds and thunderstorms are things of the past. I keep to my bed, my refuge. This is where Charlie comes to me. I must never leave that room. I am content in the semi-darkness. The light chases him away. His soft white translucent body dissolves in the harsh light of day. I long for the day where I will join him, both of us light and airy, free as angels. I stop eating and drinking. It makes no difference. It upsets my helpers, but I am happy I finally found a gentle way out. I am looking forward to an out-of-body life.
I die smiling. The world I am now in is as beautiful as I imagined it would be. Little Charlie is by my side. I have the vague feeling he is free of me too. I realize I was hindering his progress, but he understands and says there’s nothing to forgive. I am content, I don’t look back. Life on Earth was not for me.