The Minstrel

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Emmanuel Jackson saw things.

Sometimes he saw his physical surroundings, the monitors, the flicker of shadow by the windows, the flurry of whitish uniforms in and out of his room, the ever-vigilant figure of the brother in Christ who had adopted him as his own when he was just a spiritual baby.

He would watch his presence, a presence as still as his comatose corpse, and wonder what it was that he thought about. Sometimes, he thought he felt what was inside his brother, and it caused him pain. He wondered if his brother hated him for his confessions, as he was sure that God hated him as well. This state of limbo where he saw but could not hear, this was the highest state of punishment that he could experience, to know the deepest of pain that he caused and yet unable to reach out and comfort, unable even to repent of the grief he caused. He watched raw pain live and fester, watched it take on a being that seemed to have no end.

There were times when he saw nothing but the dark shadows of the night. Then he would wonder if he had been deserted forever, desolate murkiness his final resting place. Even when he screamed, he found no place of comfort.

Then soon afterwards, he would slip into another vision, much in the way one movie clip changed to another. He felt very much as though he were watching a movie, something he was very much removed from, except what he was removed from was his own life. So removed was he from himself that he did not have the capacity to be afraid of this realization. It was like he ceased to exist, yet existed outside of all.

Sometimes, the dreams that never ended came. Sometimes he would see the girl. He would be walking down a path of light, and she would stop him. Any attempt he made to get by her would cause a sudden force careening him backwards full force. Then the blackness would overtake him again.

He learned to just watch. She was like an angel, a child bride in white, virginal pure. Silent, neither condemning nor forgiving, with gentle eyes, she stood her watch as he faced her, and sometimes he was perplexed with the sensation of total peace mixed together with an unsatisfied longing. To talk, ask forgiveness, was what he wanted. She did not let him speak. She would just stand, smile.

One time was a very different time. When he saw her, she gleefully beckoned him to follow her. He found himself following her automatically, not forced but not aware of ever telling his spirit to follow her lead. He was taken down a long hall of marble, the light becoming lighter as he proceeded, and he was filled with the inexplicable joy that after all his suffering, he was finally going to be permitted his eternal life with his Maker. Finally, it was here.

But then, just as suddenly, with her palm raised in the air, she beckoned him to stop. Panicked, he wondered if this was the moment where the evil were shown for one glorious moment the vast wonders of God which they rejected then sent plunging to meet eternal destruction. What was left of his mortal heart thundered within him, the only indication that condemnation had not yet come.

But instead, she took his hand, leading him to an antechamber just left of the light. The hall she led him down was dark so that all was visible were black shadows heightened against the bleakest of grays, and, though relieved that he had been spared fire and brimstone, he was awashed with bewilderment, wanting to scream at the powerlessness of his situation but unable to.

Soon, they came to a door. He was unsure if he wanted to see what was behind the door, but the girl opened it anyway. He was assaulted with the bright light thundering at him from the other side. He tried to shield his vision but was prevented by her forceful pull, and before he knew it, he was outside the door, standing in the middle of a field showing signs of old age and impending winter. When he turned behind him, it was as though he had been there the whole time. There was no door anywhere near him.

He blinked. The girl stood before him, smiling,. Though she had been leading him the entire way, he viewed her as though he had net expected her to be before him. She let him stand a moment to take him in his surroundings for a moment, and he saw acres upon acres of vegetables, dead, dying, or at the last minutes of fine ripeness for picking. In the distance, he saw a large white house. Smoke came from the chimney. As he stood, the sky gradually became infiltrated with different shades of pink, and finally a brilliant orange. Daybreak.

An aura of light surrounded her in the dawn. Blindly, he followed the glow as it moved forwards, the house looming larger and larger. They traveled through the door as though they were transparent angels, and through the first floor until they came upon a long figure lying upon an old rug, reaching toward the empty fireplace as though grasping for warmth that wasn’t there. He and the girl hovered over the figure, watching him sleep, watching him, as he huddled himself, and the tears that drew breath from his slumbering eyes, watching him, then knowing; knowing him.

Memories became the conscious reality as he once more saw his past before him. Once again, the shootings played, each bullet hanging in suspended motion, torturing him of the knowledge of their eventual path. He wanted them to somehow fall to the ground, but they wouldn’t. Slowly, they hit their targets. First, the little girl; one bullet and the life had exploded from her; he hadn’t expected her, hadn’t even known she existed, but she was a surprise and a mistake. A mistake instantly eliminated, from life, if not his mind. Then the bullets landed in the man’s head. One bullet. Then two. Three, the final bullet.

He lay in a mass heap not much different than how he lay now.

There had been guilt for so long.

He had wondered what had become of them. They had not stayed to see if the family had lived.

Now he knew.

He remembered the man watching him from the front of the abandoned church.

He had not realized till then how badly he needed forgiveness for his deeds. Suddenly even this forgiveness on blood of the cross seemed to not be real for him. Nothing was sure after then.

Suddenly, with no warning, he found himself whisked into the air at lightning speed. Faster and faster. No time to even fear.

They came to rest in a place that went beyond the mere description of human vision. The peace he felt went deeper in his soul than he ever though his being could ever hold. So beautiful and wonderful. The smiling girl kissed him. Then without moving, the scene returned to the figure by the fire. Still smiling, she pointed at him.

Then the darkness returned once again.

His thoughts became clear as the blackness settled in. It was in the dark stillness that God spoke to himhe heard His voice louder than any tongues had prophesied in His name. He said that He was waiting for him. He said He loved him. When he could feel finished with his dark past, He said He would take him to the place of peace. He would guide His servant so that he could finally come home.

And finally he rested, slumber within a slumber.

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