A lone craft glided out on the dark lake in the morning fog. A rowboat leaving lazy ripples in its wake. As the ghosts of mist danced on the water, reaching to ascend into the sky, a lone girl pulled the oars. Stroke. Stroke. Drift. The fog made way, allowing her passage into the realm of pre-dawn darkness. The chill worked its way through her light hoodie, playing around her knees. Tendrils of fog rolled around the boat, concealing her from the prying eyes of the shore. Silence complete, except for the occasional fish escaping its home only to flop back into the water and the sound of early fishermen trying their luck to catch them.
With the shore concealed, the girl stowed the oars, careful to avoid the dripping water. Using her life jacket as a pillow, she carefully lay across the bench, her feet dangling over the side, her toes warm in the water. Above her, the sky turned a cobalt blue, hues of purple gave way to pink lightening the tops of the mountains. Clouds speckled the celestial sphere above her. The moon shone stark against the coming dawn. Breathing in the mist, the girl closed her eyes, feeling the spirit of the world swirl around her.
Lord, if you can hear me, take me away from here. Let me soul come to you, fly like the mist around me. Don’t make me leave this place. Vacation meant the end of summer, the end of freedom. She wanted to remember this. Remember this feeling, this serenity. Let me drift on a starlit sea, exploring the stars and vastness of your creation of the universe. Let me find a place where I can be with you and your host of angels. Give me wings, O Lord, that I might fly. Give me strength, Lord, to weather this storm.
Silent prayers spoken to the mist. The mist carried them up as they rose to meet the growing dawn. Cobalt skies turned rosy. The girl sensed the coming sunlight and pulled her feet back into the boat, wiggling her toes into drenched flipflops. The sun always rises. It’s up to me to rise with it. She shivered. How many times had she prayed “… if I die before I wake…” and meant “I hope I die before I wake.” Maybe then her pain would be over. The rumors would cease, the incessant messages and pictures would disappear. At least there was no cell phone signal up here. No one could harass her, no one could hurt her. Well, almost no one. Heated remarks the night before had turned to a screaming match. Her parents were falling apart. Just another piece of her world crumbling beneath her.
They’ll be fine. She tried to tell her sisters. This will all go away. Mommy and Daddy love each other. She didn’t want to go back to shore. She had slept curled up around her smallest sibling, who was afraid of the thunder. Lord, give me strength to protect them.
At least she would have Him. The only solid ground she could stand on. Her God, her Savior. Not a person. People were cruel, evil. Backstabbing creatures who cared more for themselves than they ever could for someone else. If I had wings, I could be free. The first beams of sunlight poked through the conifers, awakening a chorus of birds. The girl took in the song, scanning the lake as the last of the fog departed. Other boats came into view, growing numerous with the presence of the sun. Fishermen. She was the only one here for the magic, for the sunrise.
There would be a storm today.
She found beauty in the storm. When the chaos in her soul beat to the sound of thunder, when her blood pulsed with the lightning strikes on the lake. When she could stand outside in the downpour, barely protected by a screen porch, and watch the raindrops dance on the lake, churning the ground into mudslides. When the sky darkened out the sun into a premature night, preparing the stage for the light show, she would huddle with the youngest in her clan, and hold them while reveling in its beauty.
The storm offered power, the ability to be like Zeus, like Thor, striking down enemies with a single well-placed bolt of lightning. Power that she wanted to use to destroy the clique that spread sexual rumors, to destroy the boy who groped her in the locker room, to destroy the school building where so many bad memories plagued her, to destroy herself. How many times had she thought of running out to meet the storm’s embrace “Come on I want to see a lightning strike!” She saw beautiful displays on the lake. I wonder, how long can I drift out here… if I rowed out during the storm, would I get hit?
Her family would never let her. Despite the cracks and fractures in the foundation of her home, they at least were loyal to her.
God is not in the storm.
God was not in the destruction. He destroyed the world once, and promised never to do it again. Turn the other cheek, love your neighbor, suffer, and I will protect you. It was the reason she fought, the reason she survived. Her first memories of being bullied went down to daycare. She didn’t remember a time kids liked her, a time when her parents didn’t fight. Two things kept her alive: Her siblings and her faith. Everything else, every other piece of solid ground had washed away, eroded by attacks, by betrayal, by abuse.
The sun had risen, turning the dark waters into rippling gold. The chill burned out as the last tendrils of fog lifted. She heard sounds of her family waking, wondering where she had gone. Taking a final breath, the girl took the oars, dipping them into the water. Stroke. Stroke. Grim as a warrior going to her final fight, she rowed back to shore, into the coming storm.
Two more years. Then I can fly.