Editor’s note: Below is the fourth and final installment of “Ecsodus Vision,” a novella by Deacon Patrick Jones in which he explores how the modern world might be different if Martin Luther had remained in the Catholic Church. The complete novella is available in e-book format at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C7LJN15/.
Rescue nuns? In space? How cool!” Simon’s voice filtered through Ida’s delirium. He had the enthusiasm of a five-year-old boy, as if he were playing with his action figures in the sandbox out back.
“I thought women had to be barefoot and pregnant?” Ida said, her inner feminist at a loss for ways to understand these people. Ida blinked her eyes, trying to see. She did not realize she was responding hours later, to someone other than Simon.
“You thought wrong, my dear. Your feminism and previous generations of misogyny have at least one thing in common: they allow fear to color the world and blind you to the possibility of beauty all around. You shoved what you heard about who we are into boxes of imposed and fake understanding because you couldn’t hear what we actually said. If it helps you any, we have women who rule kingdoms, head companies, and work beside men every day. They do it knowing their gifts are different and unique from men, and we all are the better for that. Most married women focus on creating hearth for their families. We are also the better for that.”
“Grandmother?” Ida asked, placing her hand on the woman’s strong, gentle, wrinkly hand as it caressed her head. Ida practically heard the wrinkles of the woman’s face shift into a beaming smile, though it was too dark to see.
“I’m here, dear Ida.”
Space. Cave. Jupiter. Moon. Hot. So hot. Cold. Oh, so cold! Baby. Baby? Baby! Ida’s hands reached for her belly as she asked worriedly, “My baby?”
“You are fine,” Grandmother assured her. “You took excellent care of your babies.
“Yes. Oh. I’m sorry. You didn’t know. Twins.”
“Twins? I’m going to have twins?”
“You are. Do you want to know their gender? Some people wait for the surprise.”
“You can already tell? Oh, yes! Tell me!”
“A boy and a girl.”
Grandmother delighted in Ida’s delight shining on her face.
“Twins? A little boy and a little girl?” Ida reached up to rub her eyes, get out the gunk. Grandmother’s gentle hands held hers to her stomach instead. “How can you know all this? I’m barely pregnant.”
“Newly pregnant, my dear Ida. Newly pregnant. There is no such thing as barely pregnant. Our technology is more advanced than you are used to.”
Ida reached for her eyes again. Again, Grandmother gently stopped her. “Could someone . . . ” then remembering computers, she said, “Computer, lights please.”
The computer’s mechanical voice responded, “The lights are currently on.”
“They can’t be. It’s dark.”
“Ida, my dear,” Grandmother said, clasping both Ida’s hands in hers, “you are blind.” She wasn’t one to mince words.
“The lights are really on?”
“I can’t see.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Our doctors cannot explain it. Everything appears healthy, but scans show no signal from your eye to your brain. Your eyes look normal, dilate to light, move normally, but somehow are not working.”
“But, this is just a vision, right?”
“Perhaps it works that way,” Grandmother agreed, more generically than Ida found comforting.
Ida sat up resolutely. “Everything else feels fine. Is it?”
“From what we can tell, yes.”
“Excellent. Then I am strong enough to be with the women,” Ida declared.
“Wonderful! We would love for you to join us tomorrow.”
“Oh. What time is it?”
“Around 5:30. Would you care to join us for dinner?
“Yes please. Where is Simon? I thought I heard him when I woke. Terror’s icy fingers suddenly gripped her. “He’s not . . . ”
“Oh, no dear. Simon is fine. He’s with the boys absorbed in learning the gravity drive. JJ and the others tore him from your side after several hours, to keep his mind occupied. JJ says he has quite a knack for the technology, readily grasping the underlying concepts, despite having to unlearn some things.”
Ida felt relief, and a bit of heat well up in her cheeks. I am blind and he left me alone?
“Oh, no, dear. Simon wouldn’t leave your side the whole trip home after he woke. He’s on his way here now. In the meanwhile, he was very insistent you have these.” Grandmother handed Ida a vase with the sweetest, richest smelling roses Ida had ever smelled. “He insisted they be peach red Sonja roses, but he wouldn’t tell us why.”
Ida beamed a lovely smile, her face looking 20 years younger free of the burden of anger. “Our first date, the florist only had Sonja roses, so he gave me all they had — two dozen. He said they were too beautiful to go to anyone but me.”
“There are three vases, each with two dozen Sonja roses. One for each of you. And our florist is now all out too,” Grandmother laughed and Ida joined her. She hadn’t laughed in a very long time.
Simon burst into their bedroom, “Ida! Oh! I am so glad you are awake and so sorry I wasn’t here when you awoke.” He was surprised when Ida excitedly held her arms open to him. He rushed to her. She kissed him long, soft, and passionately — in a way he had never been kissed.
“Lift me up, my love,” she said.
He lifted her so she stood before him. She was in a surprisingly elegant night gown, long and flowing. She gestured to her belly and said simply, “Twins. A girl and a boy!”