Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I'm writing this post from a hospital bed. I'm not injured, though--at least not physically. The doctors are insisting I spend the night here, just to be safe. I'm going along with their request only because I don't know what else to do. My life has gone to hell.

This morning, Jan came with me to campus when I went to meet with my writing group. She loves to be on campus when it's empty, and just wander around in the silence. So I went to Tara's office in the Wilk, and Jan wandered.

Tara had four chairs set up in a circle in front of her desk, as usual. I sat next to her, Chenry sat next to me, and Galadriel sat across from me when she arrived fifteen minutes late. We started out discussing the latest chapter of Chenry's novel about quirky BYU students with odd names (I have pseudonymed him Chenry in honor of his propensity to come up with eccentric character names), and then we moved on to Galadriel's feminist poem about menstruation.

Tara was laughing at some provocative joke Galadriel had made when an enormous boom shook the building, and the glass separating Tara's office from the hallway shattered. I have a hard time reconstructing exactly what happened next, but I remember Tara screaming for us to get out of there, and I remember running, and I remember suddenly realizing that there was no floor beneath my feet. I honestly don't know whether the floor caved in beneath us or I just started flying for no good reason, but I do know that I instinctively grabbed the two people nearest me, who happened to be Tara and Chenry, and I took them with me as I flew out of the crumbling building. As we soared free of the destruction, I realized my clothes were on fire and my skin was burning, and the thought that came to mind, of all things, was that I must look like the Human Torch.

We crash-landed in the snow, which felt soothing as it melted against my red and blistered skin. I tried to get up, but my shoulder screamed with pain and I couldn't feel my legs. Then I started to panic. Had I lost my legs in the explosion? Had I injured my spine when I crashed? The freezing wetness of the melted snow overwhelmed me and my body started shaking uncontrollably. I heard sirens, then I saw Jan's face, crying, and then I blacked out.

And then I woke up here at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, without a scratch. My shoulder is fine, my legs are still attached and they work perfectly, and my skin is smooth and pasty white as the day I was born. Even my appendectomy scar seems to have disappeared. I'd be tempted to say that what happened this morning was all a nightmare, except that the nurses assure me that I was in fact found unconscious, dressed in tattered clothes in a puddle on the grass after an explosion demolished half of the Wilkinson Center. The police are still trying to figure out what caused the explosion--it could have been something as innocent as a ruptured gas line, but they suspect arson.

Chenry and Tara are recovering from the trauma in rooms nearby. Just like me, they're both in perfect physical condition, although traumatized. Tara hugged me and cried for a good five minutes. Chenry jumped when I came into his room, then asked me to leave. He says he needs some time to process what happened before he can handle being around me. Whatever that means. Firefighters are still searching through the rubble but haven't found Galadriel. I'm praying for her but not feeling very hopeful. Marsha was here when I came to, but I insisted that she go home to be with her kids on Christmas Eve.

I've tried calling Jan several times now; her phone goes straight to voice mail. I'd try texting, but my cell phone was destroyed in the fire. I still don't know exactly what happened this morning, but I know I saw her before blacking out. The words I heard her saying as tears came streaming down her cheeks repeat over and over in my head: "Please, X. Please don't make me do it. Don't make me use my power."

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