previous stories are
“Paved with good intentions” https://secret-lifeof.com/2018/09/27/paved-with-good-intentions/
“My little Miss” https://secret-lifeof.com/2018/10/18/my-little-miss/
“Silver seeds” https://secret-lifeof.com/2019/01/10/silver-seeds/
and “The yard” https://secret-lifeof.com/2019/01/14/the-yard/
The children kept up their play, as children do. As I approached the perimeter of the yard, the group at the table noticed me first. They alerted some of the others, who walked curiously toward the grassy area I stood upon. These were people with whom one could blend easily- a ragtag group at ease with themselves, seeming to have been lifted from any suburban neighbourhood. A man clad in what once was a dress shirt and pants, now soiled and without a belt. A Mexican woman with two shoeless toddlers tugging at her sun dress. Some few who were surely couples. All looked to be in good health, save for those who had telltale sores.
As I came closer, the man in the white shirt faced me and made a curious shushing motion, palms out and towards the ground. I stopped short, and he began to speak.
“I am Raymond”, he said. Then, jokingly, “Welcome to heaven!” “I am Joshua”
said I. Raymond laughed, but did not step onto the grass. “It’s a biblical day, Joshua!”
Seeing my confusion, he said “Come join us, if you like. Walk slowly, if you will.”
I shouldered my pack, and made to walk up and shake his hand, whereupon I ran face first into a solid (but soft) wall that was not there. I fell backwards, more surprised and embarrassed than anything else, and, dusting myself off, I returned their smiles.
“We are held here, for a time” said Raymond. “I think it is more for their protection than for any fear of our escaping.” Seeing my questioning glance, he again spoke in riddles. “We are, I think, part of the harvest of those remaining on this Earth. We were picked up, rescued, or captured if you like, in our various states of misery, and brought here to this compound.” “The people of the ships- they have shown us that we are to prepare for a great Leaving in due time, as the world’s survivors are collected. You will meet them soon…some will visit us at dusk, and you will join our numbers.” Seeing my rough appearance, my burned and flaking skin, my unlaced boots and scraggly jeans, Raymond asked how long I had been on my own. “Some years, I think. It’s hard to tell.” “We know”, he said, and asked me for my story. I sat on my pack, and a group gathered ’round to listen as I told them of trials in the wild, desperation and despair, my meeting with only one speaking person in that time (the little girl), and of her death. They gave me food and drink, tossing it through the invisible barrier, and I gratefully warmed up to them as the sun began its evening westering.
“We’ve not long to wait now” said Raymond, and I fell into an expectant silence.
to be continued….