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FIRE WORKS

By
Lynette Hopkins

“My God! They’re getting closer. They see me! They’re shooting at me. I must hide. The streets are full of potholes, the buildings gutted shells, and the vegetation is burning. There’s no place to hide. They’ve sent the bombers and are bombing the whole countryside. All I can hear are explosions and screams; I feel sick. They’ve killed off all the women and children, and now they will kill me. The Nazis will burn up the whole world, and no one will be able to resist them. How can this be happening? Everything is in flames, and I’m all alone in the midst of them. I want to survive. Help me, someone! Please, HELP! 

What’s that bright streak in the sky? Oh, it’s a shooting star. I’ve seen it before somewhere. I wish it would lift me up and away from here. OH MY GOD! The bombers are right above my head. They’ve dropped a bomb – it’s coming right at me! I’m dead. HELP ME!”

“Gloria, wake up. It’s only a dream. You’re safe now.” Dan gently shook her arm as she awoke.

“Dan! Thank heavens,” sobbed Gloria. She felt confused, hovering between two states of consciousness. It took a moment to realize that she was no longer under attack. “I’m not dead, but I feel so weak and hopeless inside. I had that Nazi dream again, Dan. I have it almost every night now, and I’m terrified to even go to sleep.”

“Oh honey, come here,” said Dan, as he gathered her in his arms. “You look exhausted, and you’re trembling like a leaf. I’m here for you, right by your side. I wish I could join your dreams to help you defeat the tyrants.”

Gloria shuddered. “I hate to even think about them, let alone deal with them. I feel so tiny and expendable when they attack. I wonder, though, if there is something important that I do not see.” Reaching back to the dream, she suddenly brightened. “Oh, wait! There is one thing I forgot. A shooting star appears in every dream, and it seems to get bigger and brighter each time. Isn’t that odd? But it’s late; time to get up.”

She wearily began her morning routine, sighing, “I wish I didn’t have to go to that job today. My boss never finds anything right with my work. I feel so degraded and worthless when I’m around him that I sometimes actually believe I’m incompetent. Hey, stop it! I can’t let myself down like this.”

Gloria arrived at the office at 9:02 a.m., rushing in the door and scurrying to her desk. “What’s the matter with you? Can’t you even get here on time?” 
The thundering voice assaulting Gloria’s dignity was that of her boss, Roger Sherman. He towered over her, his cold, steel blue scalpel eyes cutting deeply into her core of self. She recoiled and hung her head, vaguely aware of a smoldering rage that was slowly consuming her innermost being.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Sherman,” she stammered. “The traffic was terrible this morning. There was an accident on the freeway. I couldn’t get here any sooner.”

“I don’t want to hear your flimsy, namby-pamby excuses,” roared Roger. “Here! This report you wrote yesterday has a typographical error on the second page. I drew a red circle around it. Proofread your work next time. How did you ever get through legal assistant training? Oh, what have I done wrong to deserve such an incompetent assistant?”

Feeling mortally wounded, Gloria reflexively lifted her hands to her abdomen as protection against further injury. Her reply echoed the full strength of her self-degradation: “I’m so sorry, Mr. Sherman. I will correct the error immediately, and I’ll stay late tonight to finish the work on my desk as well.” Mr. Sherman turned his back to her, walked into his office, and shut the door.

When Gloria returned home that night after ten, she was exhausted. Dan wanted to talk about finances. They had been trying to save money to buy their dream house, but emergencies kept coming up, draining their savings: major car repairs; Janie, their daughter, needed orthodontal work; their refrigerator blew out and they had to buy a new one. “If only I could get a raise,” Gloria murmured. “But that will never happen. I am such a failure!”

“Let it go, Gloria,” whispered Dan. “I love you, and I’m here beside you. Go to sleep now.”

That night the Nazis returned in greater force than ever before. As Gloria cowered in fear, the night blazed with a glorious meteorite streaking through the ominous sky, kindling a flicker of memory in Gloria’s consciousness. “I’ve seen that shooting star before, but where? It’s so incredibly bright and uplifting, as though it’s here to help me survive this dark night. I’m feeling much stronger now.” Suddenly she recalled: “It was in a dream! But what dream? Yes, the Nazi dream! It happens over and over again. It’s this dream! I must be dreaming now. If so, I can cause things to change. And I will!”
 

She immediately turned and faced the Nazis, raising her hands to push them back. They ceased their advancement, staring at her in amazement. “I am stronger than you,” she cried out with authority. “Go, and take your armies, planes and bombs with you. You cannot harm me.” Gloria felt in total command as flames shot from her focused eyes and index fingers at the now retreating Nazis. “I have won,” she exclaimed. “They will never terrorize me again.”

The alarm rang. Gloria snapped awake, kissed Dan, and hopped out of bed. “It’s a new day, Dan. Let’s set the world on fire.” He stared at her in disbelief.

Gloria arrived at work at 8:45 and answered her ringing phone. As she put the receiver back on the hook, a familiar voice boomed in her ear: “Well, Gloria, you’re here on time. What a surprise!”

“Hello, Mr. Sherman. That was the assistant district attorney on the phone. She told me that my report on the Johnson case, the one I completed yesterday, was one of the best she has ever received. She has an opening for a legal assistant, and has invited me to come in for a job interview. My appointment is at 9:00 tomorrow morning.”

Roger Sherman flinched, his body reverberating as though he had been struck by lightning. He could barely speak through his shock: “But, but what would I do without you? I need you.” With a plaintive voice that revealed his feeling of abandonment, he looked pleadingly at Gloria and asked, “How can I ever find anyone with the knowledge and experience that you have? If it’s a raise you’re after, we can take care of that.”

“No, Mr. Sherman,” she replied with finality. “If they offer me the job, I will take it.”

A week later, Gloria and Dan sat on their patio under a clear night sky. Gloria was beaming. “I will begin my new job on Monday. Mr. Sherman was sure upset when I told him goodbye. The district attorney’s office likes me. I will be earning a much better salary too.”

Dan felt privileged to share her enthusiasm. “Yes, honey, maybe things are looking up for us at last. With my promotion to manager at the store and your new job, we will have our own home before you know it. What do you suppose caused the change in our luck?”

Connecting to the newly discovered life force and illumination within herself, Gloria laughed and replied, “I am in my own power now.”

Dan grinned, reaching out to hold her hand. “That makes two of us, and we’re some team.”

At that moment, a huge shooting star with the radiance of a super nova sped over their heads. The two of them looked up, sharing its awesome enlightenment.”
 

 
 
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