I say to her, Gertrude, I read the Bible every day. I read David R. Hawkins on consciousness. I think back and recall metaphysical things I've studied. I ask questions. I ask to be broken of my errors so I can grow. I ask if my Creator loves me and I look at the beauty around me and I think yes. I even read the Book of Mormon to try and appreciate what it was I loved but left behind. I do all that and I think I ought to be at peace with that. But "ought to" is not real is it?
In my dream, Gertrude fills back up with life and air and juice, and she begins to inflate like a balloon with a red light illuminating it, and she takes on the shape of a Hindu goddess with nine arms. The arms point in all directions and at all times. She is beautiful, then awesome, then fierce, then terrifying. Flames shoot from her palms and her eyes, and she burns me with them. I feel burning pain but then what was burning burns away and still I am standing there. After the wooden parts of me burn away I am free to go and do anything I want, but what's left of me is still standing there, right in front of her, waiting for some indication of what to do.
Then I come back to the room we're in and she's there with her messy gray hair, wearing her green sweater, polishing a spoon with its sleeve.
"You will never know where to go or what to do. It's just never going to happen. You're going to spend your whole life in this same state of mind, because you've built up this mental habit of never grasping onto anything."
Her words hurt me. They sounded so indifferent, like she'd stuck me up on a bulletin board with a tack and just left me there.
Gertrude, I wondered, Do you love me anyway?
Yes, I do, she said. I'd just like to invite you to hold onto me. You help me stay steady when I'm walking, and I'll suggest directions we could go. I've been a lot of places. I just need you to say yes when I want to take you somewhere. I don't think you're lazy, but I think you let your fears control you and you take too much pleasure in safety for your own good.
I said, Gertrude, I don't really want to go anywhere.
Well, okay, stay there, then! she said, throwing her hands up in the air. We sat there with not much to say until I finished my tea.
I love you, Gert, I said, and I gave her a hug, smelled her skin smell and felt the coolness of her hair against my cheek. She hugged me extra long.