As usual Rosie was immersed in prayer when it first happened. A blinding glare of light interrupted her meditations; it came from everywhere and nowhere, without a source. Next thing she knew she was in her bed, slipping in and out of consciousness. People leaned over her, their faces a uniform blur, their murmurs waves crashing on a distant shore. Of them all she recognized her mom only, holding her hand, her face pale with worry. “Rosie…?”
She tried to to speak, to put into words what she’d just experienced. Her mom shooed the people out then sat back, her palm cool on her brow. “Shh, just relax.”
But Rosie couldn’t. Not after that. She closed her eyes and waited for the dizziness to pass. “I… I think I had a vision.”
Eileen watched her daughter for a long minute, then settled back in the old, worn armchair. “Tell me.”
Afterwards Eileen called in her other daughters and they prayed together.
Next Sunday after Service they lined up behind the people seeking advice from Pastor Addington. When it was finally their turn, Eileen recounted to the pastor what Rosie had told her. He looked from daughter to mother and back.
“Come see me on Tuesday at 2pm.”
They were waiting in the luxurious anteroom, listening to the model-looking secretary knocking away on the keyboard. Rosie was painfully aware how out of place they looked in this environment.
The intercom on the secretary’s desk beeped. “You can go in now,” she barked at the computer screen. There was no one else in the anteroom, so Rosie and her mom guessed the order was directed at them. They opened the tall, padded door.
The stocky, bearded pastor sat behind a wide, antique desk, watching them above tented fingers.
“Mrs Bates, uh…”
“Rosie,” Eileen helped him out. “Pastor Addington it’s such an honor to be here, we never hoped to–”
The pastor came out from behind the desk and clasped Eileen’s outstretched hands in his meaty palms. “Don’t mention it.” He dropped her mother’s hands. “Rosie, tell me again what you think you saw.”
Not sure why, Rosie hesitated. This is Pastor Addington, God’s chosen servant. He communicates the Lord’s will…
“It was a blinding light and warm and I felt this… great love enveloping me. I never felt so good, so safe in my life.”
The pastor’s eyes were flinty above the fleshy cheeks. He turned to her mother. “Does she have a history of epilepsy?”
Eileen was aghast. “You don’t believe it was real?”
“I’m not saying it wasn’t, still, you might want to have some tests done, just to be on the safe side. If her results come back negative we wait and see what happens.”
CT, MRI, EEG all came back negative, as Rosie knew they would.
The next episode happened the following Sunday. A lot of the flock tended to be possessed by the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues during services. Rosie did neither. She screamed at the top of her lungs, eyes rolled back in her head; “Stop! Stop the bus!”
The flock stopped singing, the pastor’s voice drowned in a sea of startled murmurs and whispers.
“A9…! Stop…!” Rosie shrieked, then collapsed.
She came to in a small office behind the main arena. The leaders of the congregation and her family were gathering around her, their eyes wide and worried in their faces.
They all looked at Pastor Addington.
“There was an accident,” he took his glasses off and polished them, averting his eyes as he spoke. “A bus collided with a truck. On A9. Ten dead.”
His words didn’t make any sense to Rosie. “What?”
The pastor shot a worried look at her mother. “It seems you were right.”
Supplicants came from all over the world, wanting to talk to her, to touch her, asking for prophecy, as if she could bring it on by the push of a button. She even got an invitation from the Vatican.
Sometimes she could trigger it after exhausting hours of prayer and meditation, but those were rare occasions. Rosie preferred to leave it up to God to send her visions, should He will it. But on two of those occasions when He did will it, she prevented a train wreck and helped the police find a kidnapped girl.
When the light came next, it was as cathartic as it had been the first time, but there was something different about it. There were shapes in it, things too terrible to behold, unsure forms moving with a dreamy slowness. Rosie held her breath unawares and quieted down her mind, lest they become aware of her presence, the instinctive reaction of prey in the presence of a predator.
She began to dread the visions and wanted to pray to God not to afflict her with them, except she wasn’t sure anymore who she’d be talking to, and whether she wanted to draw Their attention on herself.
Days and weeks went by with Rosie lying awake at night motionless in the darkness, counting the minutes to dawn.
“Two weeks from now we’ll be in the Vatican,” Eileen was fidgety with anticipation. It was not often they could afford to visit abroad. “Are you excited?”
Rosie didn’t know what to say to that. She was living on scraps of sleep, dreading to dream, and the world washed together in a sore-eyed blur.
Eileen took a closer look at her daughter. “Rosie? Honey, what’s wrong?”
Rosie was too tired to beat around the bush. “I don’t want to see the visions anymore. They are wrong.”
Her mom cupped her face between her hands. “How can you say that? God is talking to you. To you, of all the people in the world.”
Rosie felt her eyes well up. Her mother wouldn’t understand and she was just too tired to explain.
“What do you see?” Eileen asked when she saw that her words had no effect.
“I don’t know. I don’t like thinking about it. I’m afraid I might go insane.”
Eileen squeezed her arm. “Maybe that’s God’s way of telling you something, you just have to listen–”
“I don’t want God to tell me anything.”
Eileen was at a loss for words. “Rosie, that’s blasphemy,” she said at last. “Go to your room and pray for–”
“No. I will not talk to that thing, lest it answers.”
The very idea of a mass or service filled her with dread. She stopped going to the Sunday services to the surprise and disappointment of her friends and family. Even with all those precautions the visions kept coming from time to time, as if to remind Rosie that she was being singled out, she had tabs on her and could never get away, could not hide.
She was standing in the Pope’s office in the glare of spotlights, in the crossfire of countless flashes.
The Holy Father had blessed her and they smiled for the cameras.
“So, child, tell me about God.”
Rosie opened her mouth, but no sound came out. How could she tell the whole world about the nameless dread, that most major religions worshiped as God? How could she tell them that they’d be better off trying not to draw Its attention on themselves? That all this time they’d been worshiping the very opposite of the loving, caring, all forgiving Heavenly Father. How could she make this popular knowledge without being labeled a lunatic or a heretic? How was she supposed to live with the knowledge that she took away the comfort and solace, perhaps the only hope of millions?
Blinded by the glare of spotlights and flashes, with the whole world watching, waiting for the words of this newfound prophet, Rosie realized she couldn’t. She had to bear this cross alone. In the silence she heard herself say; “God has forsaken me.”
You can find more stories by Susan Anwin HERE.