Pretty Lights: An Otherworldly Tale

Dora lives on a ranch with her family. They all sleep together in a single room, divided by partitions.

She wakes up one night to use the toilet, and walks out of the building and down the path to the outhouse. She always likes to look up at the sky. Tonight she sees bright lights, shining through the trees. The lights get brighter, then dimmer, then brighter, throbbing in a pattern.

She watches the lights, delighted.

Minutes pass, or hours. Suddenly Dora is on her cot in the long room again. She doesn’t remember walking back or getting into bed. Through the tiny window she sees the lights, growing and shrinking and growing again.

She wants to call out to her family, to show them the lights. But no sounds come out of her mouth, and she can’t move her body. She starts to get scared. But then she understands-the lights are her secret. They don’t want her family to see them. She waits, patient, happy, watching the lights through the window. At daybreak, her family begins to wake around her.

Now she can speak. She tells her family about the wonderful lights she saw. They laugh, they don’t believe.

Later that day, however, the family hears news from many people claiming to see strange things in the night. The talk is of aliens, mysteries, lights unexplained.

 

Dora never forgot that night. She is reminded of it again when her daughter, who is healthy, is found to have only one kidney. The doctors discover this while treating the daughter’s split uterus. They don’t think she will survive the loss of blood. But she does. And she bears a son through that half-uterus, again defying the doctors.

Dora’s daughter carries a plastic alien around on a keychain today. She jokes, calls it ‘father’. Dora laughs- and wonders.

 

This is a true story.

 

 

Katie Gohmann

2017

 

 

 

 

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