Out of the Fog
By Christopher Randolph
July 24, 2011
I think it was the shriek that caused my eyes to spring open, but the moaning kept me awake. I pulled my thin blanket and sheet over my head and resumed a fetal position. Someone screamed incomprehensibly. Someone else swore. An acrid taste welled up into my mouth. I gulped. This had to be a nightmare.
Someone entered my room, bringing with her a heavy chlorine stench.
“Hey,” whispered the nurse, “time to take your vitals.”
“Weren’t you just here?” I asked.
“That was four hours ago.”
Four hours ago? Well, at least their drugs were working.
“How you feeling?” she asked as the thermometer entered my ear.
“OK.” I sat up so she could finish doing her thing and leave. Her light auburn hair was tied back in a ponytail and her lavender scrubs brought out the kindness in her eyes.
“I’ve got to get out of here,” I pleaded.
“Get some more sleep and do what your doctor says, and they’ll probably move you back up to the regular floor.”
She finished recording my vitals and left. The door clicked behind her. I curled back up into a ball and sank into dark oblivion, serenaded by the wails and moans of my fellow inmates. Why didn’t I pull the trigger when I had the chance?
“Dude, you Chris?” I recognized the voice as belonging to one of the orderlies from the day before.
“What do you want?” I cracked my eyes.
“You have a visitor.”
“It’s too early for visitors.”
“Yeah, well, she’s got connections.”
“Can I get some clothes then?”
“Sorry dude. Not back here. Hospital issue only.”
“I’ve got to get out of here,” I muttered.
The orderly led me to a vacant visitor area. “I’ll go buzz her in for you. You go take a seat.”
“Yeah, whatever. Thanks.” The gray cloud was threatening to engulf me entirely this time. I closed my eyes to block out its roar.
“Chris? Are you all right?”
It was a voice I had heard a thousand times. But it was definitely out of place here.
“Hi. What are you doing in here?”
I looked at the floor and shrugged.
“Can I sit with you?”
I nodded and swallowed hard. The cloud was getting heavier. Couldn’t anyone else see that the room was getting dark?
“What happened?” she whispered.
“Oh,” I moaned. Did I say that out loud? It was hard to tell. The roar was getting louder.
“So?” she persisted.
“What’s going on?”
“I tried to kill myself,” I stated bluntly. Looking down at my feet, I noticed that my shoes were missing. “But I couldn’t do it.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” she replied, without missing a beat.
I shrugged. Shouldn’t I want to cry or something?
“You’ve always seemed to have it all together, Chris. The youth all look up to you.”
I shrugged. “Nothing matters.”
“You do,” came her reply. I couldn’t help but notice the quiver in her voice.
My eyes filled to overflowing. I was glad I could barely focus. I sighed and swallowed. She rarely showed her emotions around me.
“Nothing ever works out,” I mumbled.
“They do for God.”
I smirked. Now that was funny. “Where’s God now?”
“God’s right here.”
“You’re supposed to say that.”
“It’s not just my job, you know.”
“God doesn’t care. Just look at me. I’m a wreck.”
Through the engulfing grayness, I thought I saw a tear run down Reverend Jean’s cheek. “Let’s pray.”
It wasn’t a request. Her voice split the fog and pierced the roar so strongly, resounding in my muddled mind.
“You pray,” I whispered hoarsely.
She held my hands in hers. It didn’t hurt, but I could tell I would be hard pressed to extricate them.
“Let us pray,” she began again.
I have no idea what Jean said after that. What I do remember clearly is that the roaring vanished from my ears, and the gray fog that had threatened to consume me was melted away by a golden light. A peaceful yet hopeful silence accompanied the light. Then came a warmth like you feel when you’ve been inside your air-conditioned home all morning before venturing into the heat of a July afternoon.
I smiled and opened my eyes. “Thanks,” I croaked.
She handed me a tissue. I hadn’t even known I’d been crying.
Seven years passed. One Sunday evening I sat near the back of the sanctuary consoling my 2-year-old son, with one ear listening to the guest missionary. He was delivering a powerful message about healings and other miracles he’d witnessed in the field. And God was there, too, in that country church. His presence seemed palpable. There was a miraculous tingle in the air as people joined together for the altar call.
“All you have to do is ask.”
I turned my head to see who spoke to me, but I was sitting on the aisle and no one appeared to be there.
“OK,” I said, “Let’s have a miracle.”
Immediately the fog in my mind lifted, even as the missionary dismissed the crowd.
CHRISTOPHER RANDOLPH attends The Worship Center @ Brighton (Assemblies of God) in Brighton, Colo.
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