At the end of the day I recline on a wide and silver raft, bobbing in the ocean’s surf. Content. Occasionally I open an eye to admire the rainbow sherbet sky. It would be perfect if only—
I scramble up on my elbows. Survey all around me. Who spoke?
A cup of Chick-Fil-A lemonade appears in my hand. What the—
“Are you comfortable?” The raft inflates slightly.
“Do you feel safe?”
Eyes wide, heartbeat nudging my bathing suit top, I nod.
“Look. Someone’s waving at you from the beach.”
He’s in a creamy linen suit, a soft blue shirt underneath, heading my way. The surf mist stirs the hair that frames his face, coaxes it to curl. He reaches for my hand. I scoot to the edge of the raft and pinch at his fingertips. He pulls me to standing. Walks through the ocean froth beside me. To the shore.
There’s a low table set for two on a jewel-toned tapestry. He kneels and dusts off my feet before I step onto the carpet.
“Care for a glass of wine? Some bread?”
“Will it taste like . . . Like your—”
He smiles. “Don’t worry. It’s wonderful.”
After we eat, drink, he reaches for me again. “Shall we dance?”
And we do. He holds me close. The smell of him is clean sweat and ocean air. I enjoy the feel of his strong palm in the curve of my back. Notice the knots of scar tissue. In the center of both hands.
“May I dip you?”
His eyes. What in the world color are they? Every.
Twirl. Sway. Dip.
I rest my head in the valley of his chest. Mouth I love you.
I sneak a peek at his face. His gaze is serious.
“Don’t just love me. Be in love with me.”
When we spin, all of me buzzes.
“There’s someone I want you to meet,” he says into my hair.
“There are many things I do,” the Spirit says as I stoop to pick up a pretty shell. “Teach, convict, comfort. But most of what I do could be considered revelation. What would you like for me to reveal, my child? Anything but that thought you just had.”
The cross. I had asked to see
Calvary. Needed to.
“Beloved, you hold up your hand to shield from your vision dead animals by the side of the road. Cover your head with a blanket when a lion stalks a gazelle on television.”
I whimper. And nod. “I know. But just give me a glimpse, five seconds maybe. That’s all I need.”
“All you need for what?”
I brush my fingers over my collarbone. It feels a tad sunburned. And then it doesn't.
“You know,” I said. Of course he does. He’s God. One of the trio. Nothing escapes their comprehension.
“Yes, but speak it anyway. Words are how you make sense of things. For yourself and others. Say it for you.”
I squinch my face. “But it’s awful.”
“Not to me.”
I gaze down the beach to the left. No one. I look to the right. Everyone seems to have gone inside. I shiver.
“Move into the water,” the Spirit says. “It’s warmer there.”
I wade in up to my knees. Lower myself into the bathtub warmth of it. Beside me, the water stirs.
“Have you ever seen a person die?” Spirit says.
“And funerals frighten you.”
Warmth and weight rest across my shoulders, a yoke.
“You’re not Thomas, you know.”
I turn toward where I think he is. Blink several times before my salt water drops into his.
“But I am.” A breeze brushes my face and I’m sure he told it to. To dry my tears.
“You believe," he says. "Without seeing. Without touching scars.”
“Yes, but I want to believe more.”
“Ah. Then you are like the possessed boy’s father.”
I huff. “I wish I was him,” I say. “Or one of the disciples. They witnessed everything. The healings, Lazarus emerging from his tomb,
Calvary, the empty grave.”
I face another direction, unsure of where the Spirit is now.
“After all they saw, they weren’t afraid. Ever again. They told everyone. About Jesus. I don’t. Not like I should. I’m a scaredy cat.”
Ripples are everywhere now. “I heard something once,” Spirit says, “that you may find useful. ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’”
I think on that as my eyes take in the peach-colored seam of light on the horizon.
“Some think you very brave,” the Spirit says. His voice sounds like the wind now. “They believe your faith considerable.”
I grind my wrist into my nose. Swish my hand in the sea foam.
“They’re wrong. I don’t have a mustard seed, probably not even a mustard atom.”
“Child, words are powerful, spoken or written. Consider how mine have endured.”
I splash water onto my shoulders. Walk my hands back along the ocean floor until my hair floats behind me and the sea kisses my chin.
“Hold your breath,” the Spirit says.
I puff my cheeks out and am pressed under the waves then quickly buoyed up. I grin. Wipe water from my cheeks.
“Look there,” the Spirit says. “Above you.”
A bird flies overhead, not a seagull or pelican though. I squint. Is that a . . . The evening’s waning light outlines the dove in silver. I follow her flight as she traces a circle in the sky.
Inside my head Spirit’s voice is soft, personal. “This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased, no matter what she thinks.”
I search the water’s surface for the place I’d last seen ripples. I spin, seeking. The sea is smooth now everywhere I look. Like a page. I feel suddenly lonely so I dogpaddle toward the shore. When my knees scrape bottom, I stand. Shudder at the chill of the night air. I race to my beach towel. It’s neatly folded even though I’m sure I left it in disarray. I wrap myself in its embrace. It’s warm, very. Like someone was inside it, just a moment ago.
(I'm not sure I love-love this piece so I am providing an alternative below.)
He is risen!