Emily Nesbit had always been unusually tall and built thick like a man, but she’d carried herself like a woman. Even leaning on the hoe with one hand on her ample, child-bearing hip she’d emitted a feminine sensuality that was underscored with power. She stood in her kitchen now, lost in memories of better days. She saw herself again leaning on that hoe, her deep green, determined eyes searching the potato patch, counting the heads of all her children. She’d wanted to make sure none of the seven had slipped into the thick pines, escaping his share of work.
Once more, in her mind, she saw her husband of twenty-two years following the plow, turning up potatoes. He had slowed somewhat during those last few years, but he had still been all man. Jason Nesbit had become even more her best friend, yet still a zealous lover in those later years. There had been nights when the children where sleeping that she and Jason had silently made their way, hand in hand, to the privacy of the hay-strewn loft. He had always been able to make her feel beautiful and desired. Even after so many years of marriage, he could still make her flush with the same need she felt during their first kiss.
She recalled that day of plowing often, because it was that moment when she’d stood watching him, remembering a passionate kiss, that she’d lost him. Jason had collapsed, still wearing his plow reins. The mules had dragged him several hundred yards before she could catch up to them. Panicked, Emily ran towards her helpless man, holding her skirt tail high. But she knew, even before she reached him, that Jason was with the Lord. His body had bumped across the furrows like a scarecrow being dragged into place, warning her that he was dead. And it was that very day that she’d prayed for the first time, ”Father God, it is me, Emily; when my work be done, I am ready to come home too; take me soon.”
Well, she would always miss him; time would prove that. She stood now at the heavy, worn planked table that Jason had built, stirring something her mind no longer attend to. Not a sound could be heard except the scraping of the spoon against the bowl. No children’s laughter, no animal noises; all those had long since joined Jason, so now she was alone. Emily stooped at the waist these days, and her frame was not nearly as thick. Her once chestnut hair was now thin and white, but those green eyes still shown with determination. She prayed more often these days. “Father God, it is me Emily; I am ready to come home; I must be done by now.”
She didn’t know it as she stood praying on this particular day, but God would refuse her requests for another 138 years. By now, though, Emily figured that science would end up claiming her sooner than the Lord. The doctors who studied her and planned her program kept telling her it was all for her own good. She was, after all, at the age of 154, the oldest living human in known history.
These days, Emily continued to be quick and alert, but she absent-mindedly continued stirring as she shuffled to the pained glass window. Her paled green eyes scanned the same field where Jason had plowed and her children had played. Emily cocked her head now, trying to listen for the laughter.
But those fields had long been emptied of her warm and loving family. For many years they’d boasted only barbed-wire and metal turrets. Emily wasn’t allowed outside any more, and no one else was allowed in without a stamped badge and a face mask. It did not matter, though, because she had outlived everyone she knew and was the last living member on her family tree. She couldn’t even remember when last she’d seen a smile.
Green eyes hungrily watched for the memories living in those fields. As those memories danced across her mind, chasing away a bit of loneliness from her heart, she prayed, again, ”Father God, it is me, Emily; I am ready to come home; did You forget me? They are moving me tomorrow; please don’t make me stay much longer. Father, these walls watched all of them be conceived and then watched me bury them all. Please! Oh please take me!”
Many years later, on a stormy night in April, Emily stared at her reflection in the dark laboratory window and formulated a plan. They no longer treated her as a person. For a long time now she had been called Aphrodite. There where only a few still living that knew her real name was Emily. Secretly she laughed at them because they worked so hard to understand her long life. They had all become Godless fools, worshiping her DNA rather than the One that had created it. Emily no longer tried to explain to them, and they no longer asked, so she left them to their puzzling.
As she scanned her reflection, she saw nothing left of Jason’s girl except the paling green eyes. Her skin had thinned so much that, in places, muscle and bone showed through. Her frame no longer looked like a full-bodied woman, but more like some kind of monster. It was while she stood in front of her own skeletal reflection, watching a lighting storm, that she prayed, “Father God, this is long enough; these people do not need me. The wealthy use me to run away from their fears of death. They kill the poor, aging people that are unfortunate enough to need medical care in order to save world funds. I am but a means to try to avoid an end. Please Father, take me. Set me free of this body. Forget me not any longer, for I am ready to come home.”
A sudden movement caught Emily’s attention, and, though still staring into the window, she moved her focus from herself to the image of an unidentified young woman standing behind her. The two women, young and old, stood in silence, staring at each other’s refection. Emily finally spoke: ”You are new here. You haven’t ever been with me before. Where is Sadi?
Without any signs of fear, though with sadness in her voice, the young woman answered: “Sadi became ill so they took her to Euthanasia.”
Frowning, Emily asked, “You do know that Euthanasia is not a place? It is not another name for heaven?” The girl did not answer. Sighing deeply, Emily said, “I shall call you Sadi. It can be your other name. Will you answer to it?”
“Yes, I will answer to whatever you want to call me, but my name is Mardala. I am your new handler. What would you like me to call you?” And for the first time in years, Emily enjoyed hearing another human being call her by her given name.
Over the next few years, Emily and Mardala became close. Mardala was a kind and compassionate woman. Though young, she had a gentle wisdom that touched Emily’s heart in a way that reminded her how to love again. The two talked of everything Emily could remember from her life, and Mardala listened as if Emily’s voice would be the last sound she’d hear on earth. It seemed she was memorizing every story Emily shared – especially the Bible stories.
One afternoon Mardala was very quiet and did not seem herself. There was a heaviness to the young woman who seemed much too old for her age. Emily was concerned, but she didn’t want to press the younger woman. Eventually, Mardala nervously asked, “Emily, is there a God like yours for my generation? Someone that is loving and good that cares more for what a person is rather than what a person does?”
Surprised at the question, Emily paused before saying, “Mardala, my God is your God too. Jesus died for all generations, and it is Him I serve. You can have a relationship with Him too and serve Him the rest of your life.”
Mardala’s face lit up. “How can I have this Jesus?” she asked. Emily explained, and then she and Mardala knelt in that stark, white laboratory cell, crying, as Mardala spoke the words that sealed her salvation. The two must have been a frightful sight: the old woman wrapping her skeletal arms around the young full-bodied youth. Holding onto each other, cheek to cheek, bone to flesh, Mardala listened to Emily’s directions as to the responsibilities of a Christian.
The two had been locked in the embrace for quite some time when Emily bowed her head to pray. “Thank You, Father,” she said, “for leaving me here to help this child. Lead her to go where she is needed and show her Your way. This world has forgotten You, but I pray the world will see Your light through her. May she have the strength of faith to persevere. And I see Your plan now, Lord. I am the Omega of what was, and she is the Alpha of what will be. Thank You. In your name I pray. Amen.”
When Emily opened her eyes, she saw Jason standing before her. He smiled and asked, “Are you ready? It is time, and you are finished.” Emily took his hand, and they were gone.
In the world they left behind, the sun continues to rise and set, but the time of day is no longer called morning and night. In fact, almost nothing about life would be recognizable to Emily and Jason. But Mardala did spread the Lord’s Word as God had wanted, and things did change for the good. Eventually, when her work was done, Mardala followed Emily across the veil to her own rest.
May there always be Blessed Alphas and Good Omegas for every generation.
© 2014 Lyra E. McCarty