CHAPTER EIGHT: The song
I smile politely at Agni, mumbling something about how quickly the time passed as my son and I climb the ladder out of the Tank. We barely speak on our way back to our little cabin, but his mood is radiating so strongly from him that I can see it. He feels like I do…calm, content, and oddly at peace with the bizarre experience we just shared. What happened in the Tank reminds me of when someone sees a ghost in what should be a terrifying situation, but instead feels washed over with calm.
We are almost home, and I cannot wait to lay down. I am starting to feel so weak and heavy that I wonder if I’m going to collapse when suddenly I see my son dart away, off the path and into the woods. I keep walking in the direction of the cabin, hoping whatever is catching his attention won’t keep it for long; I have an overwhelming need to sleep. I hear him calling me from just inside the wall of trees.
“MOM! You have to come here!”
“Buddy, I have to lay down…”
The urgency in his voice stops me in my tracks.
“Where are you?”
My own voice startles me. I am still outside the trees, but the sound seemed to come from deep inside the forest. No answer. I try to yell for him again, louder this time, but no sound comes out when I move my mouth. I put my hands to my throat in a panic and start running toward the trees when the words come back to me, hitting me in the face like a sudden gust of wind.
How could a sound I never made echo??
I am inside the wall, frantically scanning the trees for my son. I open my mouth to try to yell for him again just as I see two little feet sticking out from under the branches of an enormous weeping willow, so heavy they nearly drag the ground. I see his little face peeking out between the branches.
“Mom! Come heeere!! LISTEN!”
I run over to him, hand still holding my throat. He is laying on the ground, his face just inches from the root structure of this massive tree, which is covered in thousands of the tiniest, most beautiful mushrooms I’ve ever seen. I keep walking toward him, slowly, and start to feel my heartbeat in my neck. I think I can hear it, faintly, but it can’t be what it sounds like. It’s impossible.
I’m laying on the ground beside him, but I don’t remember walking the rest of the way. A song is softly seeping out from under the roots of the tree, coiling around stems of this tiny village, dancing around our ears. It is our voices…it is the song we sang together in the tank. We are seeing a ghost. We should be terrified, but instead we lay our heads down on the ground, close our eyes, breathe in this impossible lullaby, and sing ourselves to sleep.