Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Christmas story- Bethi's Gift
Bethi was sure her eyes were open, but in the pitch black enclosure, it was impossible to know for sure. Her hands felt the sides of the container- smooth walls flexed slightly under the greatest pressure she could muster.
“Help me! Let me out!” She screamed over and over. The coffin-like confines absorbed sound. Yelling may be pointless, she thought, depending on where she was.
Bethi kicked the wall in front of her for what seemed like hours, sobbing. The terror and the exertion left her depleted and shaking.
“What did I do? Why am I here? What did I do wrong?”
Her hands ran haphazard through her hair.
“I had a comb, um,, ahh,” she smiled. At least some things were the way she remembered. Her comb was in her purse at her leg, but a slow inspection with her hands revealed Bethi was undressed.
“Where’s my gold strapless dress? Where’s my cell phone? “
The troubled captive’s mind ground to a halt as a realization unfolded, darker and deeper than any built by hands. Her lips voiced her depression softly in the tiny space.
“Who would I call? I don’t really know anyone,, Nobody will care where I am, how I am,,,” Bethi’s lips trembled, liquid running down from her eyes.
“So, this is it,” She managed to say bravely. “This is how it ends. And there was so much more I could have done, so much I wanted to do, to see,” She whispered.
A tiny white light winked into place, just in front of Bethi, inside the small, darkly colored crate. It hovered, moving slowly, pulsing as it changed colors, sometimes off-white, sometimes blushing with a pink hue.
It spoke to Bethi’s mind.
This will be the only time we speak, but I felt your pain, and your heart is so good and pure, I simply had to help you.”
“Oh thank you!” Bethi jumped and jiggled within the small container. “Please get me out of here!”
“Bethi, I will do this, if you answer some questions honestly.”
She paused, unsure of her situation. Her head nodded.
“Why do you want out?”
“So I can be free!”
“But as you surmised earlier in your thoughts, your freedom is fraught with loneliness, isolation and lack of purpose.”
The wisdom of the glowing orb was clear, and the power of its words burned a large hole in Bethi’s very core. More water escaped her eyes.
“I,, I guess you’re right. There’s so much I want to have done, so much I want to say I had done, when my end comes.”
The orb glowed a deep blue.
“Like what, dear?”
Bethi cleared her frenetic thoughts, allowing feelings and images to enter her frightened, vacant mind.
“I um, I want to learn new things, and, go places, and have new clothes and things.”
The orb pulsed a bright red.
“What if you had those things with you right now?”
Bethi’s previous thoughts replayed, making her present reality clear. She felt elevated even within this terrifying tomb, with a new mental clarity. She sniffled, managing a half smile.
“Orb, you’re right. What I really want is someone to share all those things with. Someone to help, someone who appreciates me, wants to do things with me, someone who’s happy to see me. Someone to grow old with and,,” She choked back a sob. “And when my time is up, I’ll know I made someone’s world a better place,, that I had worth.”
The orb’s hue changed to off-white again.
“Dear one, when that time comes, you will be thought of as priceless, but that will not be for a very, very long time.” The pulsing light diminished, till it finally winked out.
“Wait! Did I answer correctly? I told the truth! What’s happening?”
The ground shook.
Light tremors grew stronger, like the approaching footsteps of some giant, or several giants. Bethi froze stiff as a board, hoping whatever was coming, would end her torture quickly, painlessly.
Her encasement moved, tipping forward, then slamming hard down onto Bethi’s back. She could smell the faint aroma of coffee. With a resolve of impending finality, she gripped her purse straps.
“If this is it, at least I’ll have my purse with me”, she smiled at the silliness of her own thoughts.
A young girl screamed and squealed, just beyond the barrier wall. Further away, Bethi then made out the clear booming voices of a man and woman.
“Goodness Charles is that what I think?”
“It’s what she wanted, the only thing she wanted.”
“But we can’t afford it! Did your job take you back?”
“I applied for the new Mars relocation program like we discussed. If we get it, she’ll only be allowed one trunk anyways.”
A young girl’s voice wavered, “Is this box for me?”
“Yes dear, it’s from your mom and I. Merry Christmas.”
The young girl’s voice was soft, loving. “Mommy, Daddy, I didn’t get you nothing. You don’t got any presents.”
“Ohh, dear.” The woman’s voice was filled with emotion. The man was now nearer, his voice just a foot or two from the darkness that held Bethi.
“You give us a present every day. When you’re older, you’ll understand. I’m sorry we can only afford this one gift, but go ahead.”
The tomb lurched again. Bethi was now upright. The sound of ripping paper echoed in her small prison, while it jiggled and shook. Light streamed though a cellophane window in the front of Bethi’s box.
The child’s voice squealed, nearly deafening the frightened Bethi. She clenched her purse, wide eyed.
“It’s a Bethi Doll! Mommy Daddy Look! It’s all I ever wanted!”
Huge soft eyes appeared in front of the cellophane, gazing into Bethi’s display box.
“It’s the deluxe Bethi! Look, see here’s her wardrobe, and her scooter, and her cell phone and ,,” Bethi glanced left at the large area now visible beside her. The display box opened in front, becoming an apartment, furnished with a bedroom, living room and shower. At the end swung out her wardrobe fully stocked with shimmering gowns and fun ensembles. The giggling girl lifted a black box.
“That’s the uh, that’s her library. Put those in her and she can help teach you numbers, other languages, she interfaces with the computer for downloads,” The girl’s pigtails bounced as she looked back at the tall man sipping coffee.
"Inter- her face?”
The tall mother knelt beside her daughter, hugging the girl to her worn out robe. No words were spoken for over a minute. Bethi’s eyes welled up, tears pushed from her head as it filled with understanding of her creation, her purpose.
The girl’s hand reached in, gingerly removing Bethi from her restrictive snap-ring. Soft warm fingers guided Bethi’s arms up and out, as she slid a brand new, shiny latex jumpsuit onto Bethi’s nude body.
“She’s all dressed for school on Mars Daddy, see?” She cuddled Bethi close for several minutes, while Mom and dad talked about selling things, packing, and the high likelihood of receiving the homestead grant to Mars. The young girl stopped cuddling and stared into Bethi’s soul.
“Hi, I’m Janny. You’re the prettiest in the whole world!” The girl’s fingernails moved and combed Bethi’s hair to the side.
Bethi’s mind raced, her heart soared. When Janny pressed a button, Bethi gladly spoke up, loud and clear.
“Hi! Let’s be friends!”
The child hugged Bethi tightly to her. “Mom, I don’t wanna go to Mars wifout her.”
“Why,, who’s this dear?” Mom smiled brightly, her hand combing Janny’s hair to the side.
“This is Bethi, and she’s my bestest friend. Oh thank you, thank you!”
Bethi’s eyes leaked as she cast them upward to a familiar small glowing orb at the top of the Christmas tree. Only the Light, and Janny, could make out her quivering soft voice.