A dusty crossroads somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, a wagon waited, loaded with pine boxes. The men hovered watching mournfully. No one could see them, looking longingly at the coffins. None could hear them begging to be buried.
Even I could not look long. The Union uniforms tattered trousers ripped to show broken rotted maggot-filled stumps where legs should have been. Though their bodies floated pale and their voices were silent, I could hear the scraps of their minds still crying for their broken wounded lost legs. I could feel their hands claw to get out of concrete tombs. Not yet dead, but left for dead to watch and still alive as hungry worms began eating their legs. They prayed for death but when it came their sanity was long gone.
Was it real? I had never heard of such a thing. Why would they be put in concrete boxes with broken legs? I didn’t want to believe but neither could I turn away. When they saw me, they shuddered. The one thing worse than not being seen was being seen. I couldn’t help it, their stumps were revolting. I could not hide my disgust, nor my pity. They moved away, trying to hide themselves, yet still they lingered in the shadows, desperately longing for those pretty pine boxes.
I closed my eyes. It was no good looking. My gaze hurt. They were dead but could not move on lacking a proper burial. Driven mad before death, they could not feel certain. Were they free yet? Or were they still suffering in those concrete cages? I had to reach them but how to look at them without revulsion?
I prayed, “send someone else. I can’t do this.”
“Yes you can,” came a voice. “This is what you were made for.”
. . .
I tryed to disagree, when an image flashed in my mind. It was my son, with a streak of poo across one cheek. That was all I needed.
Opening my eyes, I held on to that moment. The moment I’d hugged my son, not minding the poo, just glad he was alive. I looked at the men, hiding in the shadows and filled my heart with a mother’s love, so happy to see a lost son. Still they didn’t want to come out.
I hid behind a coffin to get closer. They assumed I’d run away. One came out and before he could get away, I grasped his hand. To prove my acceptance I place my other hand on one of his rotted stumps, fully expecting to feel wriggling maggots.
It was magic, the leg healed as soon as my hand touched it. The man’s color changed from pale dusty watercolors to white, he glowed brightly. As his spirit rose and disappeared, a smile played at the corners of his mouth. After that the rest of the men came and passed so fast it was a blur.
That was when I knew they were connected, my real life and my astral life. The one flows into the other. You can not overcome in the spirit world, what you fear in life. I can not fear, germs or maggots, blood or poo, because I know they hide the souls that need me most.