Emily got out of bed at eight A.M. By then, she’d fallen in and out of sleep at least six times. It had been that way for her ever since her stroke. Sleeping was tedious, as horrible a chore at ninety-five as getting up on time had been at twenty. It just took away from things. It was a bother, more or less. One only had so many hours in a day, and the thought of wasting eight of them on one’s back—with visions of sugar plumbs and their neurotic dancing—was something a great many people her age weren’t up for. Sleep was a good thing in her thirties and forties. Back then, she could use the rest. Now, knowing full well that her time was slipping away, she wanted to get up and use as much of the day as she could.
She got out of bed slowly, her bones aching, her mind jumbled, and she stared out the window. The sun peeked through the clouds, its rays barely making it to her. The sky was one thing that never tired her. She looked up at it, sometimes for hours on end. The blues and the grays of it fascinated her. Sure, her grandchildren found it odd and saw her unending gaze as an excuse to raise a ruckus, but she found peace in the sky. Looking up to the heavens was a special something for her. When the sun slid through the gloom of the clouds, she felt as if she were in the presence of God.
When looking up at the sky as she did each morning, and feeling the sun’s warmth on her face, feeling the Almighty right next to her, she often found herself smiling, something she didn’t do much elsewhere. Christ was on earth again, and now all those who’d never shared in her age-old optimism had been shown the light. Of course, she’d changed a bit as well with the second coming, never having been one to trust science. She’d doubted them all the way till that fateful Christmas morning when they delivered, both figuratively and literally. Cloning sheep had been one thing, but cloning the Shepherd? She didn’t believe it till she saw it with her own eyes on the big screen in Times Square, till she saw the chosen woman holding the baby in her arms. She’d trusted science since that day, as odd as the whole proposition seemed.
Nobody had ever seen the child, except on television, and that plagued her a bit. Plenty of times on screens big and small he’d appeared to let them know he was there and that was good enough for most. He’d become the much more visible God a generation weaned on the boob tube needed, but she didn’t understand that need. She didn’t understand, “seeing is believing.” She’d grown up with nothing more than a radio after all.
She sipped from a glass of orange juice she’d poured the night before and left in the Frigidaire. Her bladder felt heavy after only a few sips and it was off to the bathroom.
The knocking came while she was on the toilet and she moved as fast as she could to wipe her bottom and pull her underpants back on. In her nightie she crept towards the front door, through her darkened apartment, regretting she’d drawn the shades so tightly in the living room. The knocking grew louder and she could feel the vibrations of the door as it was pounded upon, reverberating through the hard wood floor.