Fields of Barley
The fact that Mark Castleton died failed to stop him from bemoaning the new day's responsibilities. I've got to make sure to pick up the car at Ted’s, he thought. It’s been there all week and I can’t keep telling him I’m waiting for my check to clear. However, the sudden remembrance of a promise made to his mother flashed in Mark’s mind and immediately his car problems paled in comparison. Inwardly he cursed himself at his foolishness. He knew he should never have agreed to paint her garage, and, as usual, his wife was right. Maybe today would be the day to start following his wife’s advice. After all, one should never say no to a woman seven and a half months pregnant.
“What to do today?” Mark said out loud to the empty space that surrounded him. But today, no darkness greeted him. It was lighter, much lighter. Normally a change such as this in his daily routine sent the self-admitted "worry freak" into near convulsions. On this particular morning the light did not cause panic, but it produced a warm smothering blanket of comfort that enveloped him, reassured him, and brought a calm that spoke to his soul.
This calming effect changed his outlook on the dreaded painting project. After all, his mother was in her sixties and she did put her only son through college—even after he made what the family matriarch considered “a major blunder,” which was getting married before earning his degree. If Mark received a quarter every time his mother said, “You should have waited until after college to get married,” he could forgo college and live independently wealthy all his days. And, he thought, I married Janie because I wanted to, not because of what others wanted me to do.
Mark’s mind slowly regained consciousness. Cobwebs of confusion melted away and his eyes met the new day. “I guess I’d better get going,” he managed to say as he slowly sat up. Even thoughts of what other people think of him could not darken the brightness that greeted Mark that morning.
As had happened thousands of times before, Mark prepared to greet the new day. The morning rituals that all humans seem to have began to kick in. Mark was on autopilot as he rose. However, had he been more alert, the realization that today was not in any way, shape, or form what one would call a “normal” day would have caused his autopilot to malfunction. As it turned out, the autopilot performed admirably.
Mark got out of bed, and the second he did so, the bed disappeared, but then again, Mark somehow knew the bed had never been there in the first place. Once again this tear in the fabric of reality did not disturb him in the least. It was as normal as anything had ever been in his life. His mind told him he needed to get dressed, but he was already dressed in clothes that were not actually there. They existed but had not relevance to him. For the first time since his awakening Mark looked around at his new environment.
He appeared to be in a room. Even though the room was rather large, it put him at ease; it made him comfortable, content. There was color in the room, bright, peaceful hues that did not hurt his eyes when he looked at what could best be described as walls.
To be continued...