Burn injuries are not like a broken bone that once healed, can be concealed by flesh. There is no place to hide, no protective shell to retreat beneath. Four days from this writing, July 4th, will be my 19th burn-a-versary. There are many deaths from burn injuries: 1000 surely seems exaggerated, unless you are the burn survivor. Below is another excerpt from my story:
A machine emits a tone, flat and hopeless. The never-ending pain engulfs me as an ocean-wave swallows a tug boat. I flutter like a blue-bird and I gain a bird’s-eye view while I watch my body convulse beneath nurses and doctors, frantic, scurrying like a horde of bees, blue and white.
A tiny beam, the width of a pen-light, shafts through the ceiling and I move toward the light. Someone yells clear! I back away, drifting through the stars until I shudder back to the room, shrouded in black, cold air, and am resting on the pillowy mattress of the bed. I think I hear the crowd release the breath they have held in, or is it my own?
The night sky surrounds me, and a glow brightens as stars begin to rise. Suddenly, one rises beneath me and lifts me high on its beam. I am fringed in majesty. The warmth of light surges, begins to melt and meld me as I fold inside out like an elephant-shaped origami. The elephant sinks into nothingness.
A star glides, slow and sure, behind me until it circles around my left and is facing me. Two beings, transfigured, and perched atop the star engage in sober conversation. I see the Maker of the moon and I hear the voice of Job.
“Quash the day I was born. Delete it from the books. Rescind the day of my birth, bury it in deep darkness, shroud it with the fog, and swallow it by the night,” Job laments.
“Can you stop the thunder with a shout like I can? Or can you pull in the great sea beast, Leviathan, with a fly rod? Can you lead Behemoth, most powerful and magnificent of all beasts, by a tether like a lamb such as I?” the Moon Maker asks and adds, “Show me your stuff. Let’s see what you are made of.”
I awaken to a darkened room, empty. I hear the rhythmic whoosh of the ventilator at my side––my lifeline. I close my swollen eyelids and return to the stars.