Monday, January 17, 2011

The Waiting Ones


It wasn’t a waiting room at all, but they all patiently waited. It was a comfortable place. Indeed it had been made just for them; just for their wait. Behind them was a wall. The wall’s mirror finish wasn’t intended to create the illusion of space. For the room already appeared infinitely vast. One end of the wall went off in one direction while the other end met with a perpendicular wall forming a corner. This other wall had no mirror finish. This wall was a bright white and even emitted a bright glow that created harsh shadows of the Waiting Ones. And here in this corner, gently lined up and patiently waiting, the uncounted millions waited. And as time went on, more arrived.
Although they had no names, they were able to recognize each other. Like passengers on a long sea voyage, soon everyone knew each other’s face. Each boy and girl knew why they were there. Each knew that all the others were there for the same reason. But this was not something that any Waiting One would ponder on. They knew why they were there, but they did not think about it.
One boy had been waiting for a long time. He knew that some had only just arrived, and that just a few had been here longer than him. He found himself very close to the bright wall. But it didn’t trouble him to remember that he had not always been waiting right there. The boy raised his head and looked down the long line that waited.
“I think I will not wait any longer,” he said. Then he stepped out of line. With resolve and growing awareness, he went to the great bright wall where there was a humble wooden door. Once there, the boy didn’t have to wait any more. She came.
She reached the door and looked at him. She studied him carefully and finally admitted, “I don’t think I know you.”
“I am your son,” he replied.
She shook her head. “I had no children,” she said. Then her eyes grew large and she opened her mouth slowly. No sound came out.
“I am your son,” he replied softly.
Now she sank to her knees staring up into his face. As she looked, there was no way of knowing how old he really was. He could have been almost any age, but he looked complete and perfect: An unblemished youth who now looked very sorrowful. He reached down and brought her to her feet.
“Come,” he said. “It’s time.”
He opened the door and they both went silently through.
The others didn’t hear what was spoken and continued to patiently wait.
Two of the waiters spoke.
“He’s not waiting any more,” a girl said to the boy near her.
“Who?” the boy said.
The girl glanced around. “I don’t know,” she replied. They were about to continue waiting when they heard a sound. It was an anguished wailing. The agonized cry grew louder. She looked around and saw some of the others wailing while others were not. The boy next to her looked around too. Then he tilted his head back and began a most mournful howl laced with a pain of death.
The girl did not cry out. She looked down the line of Waiting Ones and saw a man approaching. He was trying to cover his ears, but couldn’t seem to do it. With a terror stricken face, he thrashed his arms wildly about as if trying to ward of a swarm of attacking wasps.
As the cries and wails continued to assault him, the girl looked about and saw how few were actually weeping. She noticed that the rest just looked at him. She turned to look at him too. Pity came over her and she felt sorry to see him so tormented.
Someone stood at the old door. It was not one of them. He had the appearance of an old man. The first man suddenly noticed him and cried out.
“Dad! Make them stop!”
The old man spoke. Even though his voice was soft and broken, he could be heard above the cries. “I’m sorry son,” he said. “I cannot stop them. You know who they are.”
“No! Who are they?” the other shouted.
“You, a doctor, You sent them here,” the old man said with a tone of finality. Then without a word, he gestured and led the other through the door.
But now the wailing did not stop. It was growing to a strength that could have shook the very earth. The girl gazed down the line and saw a woman approaching. At sight of her, the girl threw back her head and screamed.
As the woman came to the door, two children waited for her. These two were different from the waiters. Instead of innocence, their faces held a sad wisdom. The woman was looking at the crying children with an expression of such horror that she reacted in shock to the two at the door.
“What’s wrong with them?” she asked. “Who did this to them?”
“They have been abandoned,” the first child said. “This is the sound of a child who has been lost.”
“I was a crusader for rights,” the woman said. “I spent my whole life fighting for children’s rights.”
“You wanted to see that no one interfered with a woman’s right to choose?” the first child asked.
“Yes...yes. I just don’t know why all these children are here,” the woman said in a weak voice. “Who did this to them?”
“It was important to see that children were wanted?” the first child questioned. “So they were sure to grow up with love?”
“Yes,” the woman answered. “It’s unethical to bring a child into an already overpopulated world where they may only live a little while...and suffer their whole life.”
Now the second child spoke. “So those who cannot be assured a good life must be killed.”
“No!” now the woman’s voice grew strong. “Terminating a pregnancy is not killing! It’s only a mass of tissue...not a life.” Then she turned to the screaming children. “Can’t they please stop! Why are they doing that? Who did that to them?”
The first child spoke. “I was aborted because my mother did not want to overpopulate the world.”
The woman shrank back. “Where am I?” she whispered.
The first child continued. “I wish I could have lived. I would have written some wonderful music.”
Now the second child spoke. “My mother did not want me. I was born in a dirty bedroom with the television on. My mother tried to nurse me but gave up because I was pre-mature and sick. She shook me out of frustration. Finally she went back to her drugs. I died three days old in a garbage bin and was never found.”
The Waiting One’s wailing lament continued. The woman looked to them, and then back to the second child.
“I was given a chance to live,” the child said. “I breathed real air. I felt the sunlight. My days of life were painful and I never knew happiness. But at least I knew life.”
The two children then took the speechless woman through the door. It closed. The wailing stopped.
When the girl stopped wailing, she felt something. There was a familiarity somewhere. Someone who had once been a part of her was near. Someone who had helped create her was coming. Suddenly she realized that her wait was finished. She went and stood by the door.
The woman walked along with her eyes down. Then she stopped and slowly lifted her eyes to look at the girl. Instantly tears began to flow down her face.
The girl looked at her.
“Mama?” she asked.
“Oh, my baby,” sobbed the woman. “Will you forgive me?”
“Yes Mama,” the girl said. They fell into an embrace.
“Oh, thank you Jesus!” the woman cried again and again.
“Thank you, Mama,” the girl said. “Thank you for accepting him. It’s time to go see him now.” Arm in arm, they went through the door.
The boy who was near her was aware that something wonderful had happened, but he couldn’t remember now. Instead he looked at a new figure approaching. This time it was from along the brilliant white wall. Another Waiting One.
The new little one looked puzzled. “What happened?” he asked. “Where is my mother?”
The first boy sensed that something horrible had happened and that there was about to be a great sadness.
The new little boy looked around. “Mommy?” he whispered. “You’ve gone away? Where did you go...” Then his face changed. He drew in a shallow breath and his lips began trembling.
Some others went up to him and put their arms around him. The child let out a shocked cry of pain. He cried as if the pain were killing him. The others stood around and for a moment remembered why they were there. After a while, the boy’s cries subsided to sobs of misery.
“She...she...” he choked out not being able to say it.
“We know,” the others said. They patted him and stroked his head.
Then the new boy took his place at the wall and waited.

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