By Alice Baburek
The drive was tedious and nerve-racking. Snow and sleet fell heavy on the roads. Horns honked while people drove crazy, slipping and sliding through changing lights. Winter months in Ohio were treacherous. Another record-breaking storm.
Alexandra Babek turned down the heat in the car. Beads of sweat lined her brow. She squinted to see through the rapid windshield wipers. The wet frozen rain finally turned into a veil of huge white snowflakes. She’d never make it to her appointment on time. Late again.
Suddenly, her silver Impala went into a terrifying spin. Experience kicked in. Alex immediately turned the steering wheel in the direction of the twirling car. It stopped. Inhaling deeply, she puffed her cheeks, then expelled the air.
Suddenly, she could see the headlights approaching fast. The collision was brutal, slamming her head into the driver’s window. Excruciating pain seared through her skull then down her battered spine. Shards of glass blasted about her. Screeching sounds of metal twisting and turning echoed inside the crushed vehicle. Alex desperately tried to hold on to consciousness. Mercilessly, darkness consumed her soul.
Her eyes felt moist, but closed. The agonizing pain which ravaged her body had ceased. In fact, she felt nothing at all. Thank heavens. I’ll be fine. Alex strained to open her weary eyes. For a brief moment, the intense light left her sightless. Instantly, she closed them again. I must be in the operating room. Why else would the lights be so blinding?
“Alexandra Babek,” whispered a soft voice. Alex felt relieved. Yes, I’m in recovery now. Probably had some sort of surgery. But for what? Her mind searched back until the scrambled memories meshed together. I was in a car accident—now I remember! This time, without hesitation, she released her heavy eyelids, then blinked a couple of times. Whiteness encompassed the room.
“Welcome!” called the voice. With ease, she sat upright. The colorless gown hung loose. Her arms and legs glowed.
“What’s this?” she asked, staring at her radiating body. She should have felt panic—panic from this strange marvel. But instead, an unusual peacefulness surrendered her being.
“Come, Alex, follow me,” said the strange voice.
Alex glanced about. The walls were blank—there was no one there. In fact, there was nothing in the room, except for a door. Alex hopped off the table. Slowly, she walked across the pallid floor. It felt cool on her bare feet. She hesitated for a minute, then decided to continue on. As she turned the cold knob, a slight tingling sensation pulsated through her arm. Once the door was opened, she could not speak.
“Alex, we are waiting…” The calming voice trailed away.
As she stepped through, a rush of warm air blew lightly against her face and hair. The sun was brightly shining, and the blue sky was the deepest blue she had ever seen. Beautiful palm trees swayed to and fro. Mounds of tall green grass rustled in the blissful wind. Golden brown sand warmed her cool feet.
“Where am I?” Alex couldn’t believe her eyes. “Is this a dream?”
“It is not a dream.” This time, the voice drew near. A lovely middle-aged woman stepped out into plain view. She stood tall and majestic in a long, wispy, flowing robe. Short brown curly hair cropped close to her slender face. Dark brown penetrating eyes filled with gentleness. Her smile was comforting.
“I am Gilda,” she said.
Alex stood in awe. This has to be a dream. What else could it possibly be? “Are you…an angel?” whispered Alex. “Am I dead?”
The beautiful woman remained silent for a brief moment. “Well…you could call me an angel. As for your demise…you should look at it as a journey—an endless journey. Maybe you could even call it a new and exciting adventure, I suppose.” She moved closer to Alex. “Regardless, you are here now.”
Alex took a quick step back. “But…what about my family, friends? Will I ever see them again?” Even though she knew she should feel upset, only serenity filled her spirit.
“In due time…as so with many others,” she said in a soft voice. “Come…see for yourself.” Gilda gestured for Alex. With a wave of her arm, the blue sky broke apart. Alex could see people—many people standing together, dressed in black.
“It’s my family!” she shouted. “They’re all crying…over me?” Gilda gave a slight nod.
“They all love me,” said Alex. She tried to cry, but the tears would not come.
“Very much so…but don’t you worry, Alex, you will cross paths with each one of them again. You see, your existence—whether it’s in that world or here—is endless. There is no beginning and there is no end.” Gilda once again waved her arm. Suddenly, the images disappeared. The blue sky returned.
“Why can’t I cry?” asked Alex.
“There is no need to cry, my dear. Your physical journey has brought you to your spiritual journey. One continuous movement. Thus, no beginning, no end.”
“I don’t understand,” said Alex. Gilda’s delightful laugh drifted away in the breeze.
“You will. Come with me, Alex.” She held out her hand.
Alex reached for the gentle woman’s hand. The soothing peace she felt so deep inside left her completely free of any anxiety or worries she should have felt being in this strange, yet beautiful place. Wherever this place should be.
Without another word spoken, the two women walked hand-in-hand in silence. Alex stopped briefly and looked over her left shoulder. Suddenly realizing her life was gone in an instant. Never to be lived in again.
Gilda gently pulled at Alex’s hand. She smiled. “It’s time to let go of the past and embrace what awaits you.”
Tranquility engulfed the slight shiver of resistance which crept within Alex’s fleeting existence. She glanced at Gilda and knew her time had ended—and yet, just begun. And that was all right. Seconds later, a whispering, white mist consumed them. Their ghostly figures disappeared within the swirling breath of the heavenly winds.
* * *
Alice Baburek is an avid reader, determined writer and animal lover. She lives with her partner and three furry canine companions in northeast Ohio. Retired from one of the largest library systems in Ohio, she challenges herself to become an unforgettable emerging voice.