Orange juice. Gators. Disney.
That’s what I think of when I go to Florida.
But, today, I’m in St. Augustine passing notes back and forth with Lillian James.
Two weeks ago Lillian was on the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos when she got hit by lightning.
300kV ran through her body. Scorch marks surrounded her.
The doctors at Flagler Hospital were able to start her heart again. She’ll be transferred to a new hospital before the weekend to have her burns looked at.
It’s really quite remarkable that she was able to survive. At least three bolts of lightning went into her. You can trace their paths by following the Lichtenberg scars on her body. But the most remarkable part of it is…the lightning never left…
Lillian is pale, slight blue lips, dark hair streaked with grey. She shakes my hand and I see the wide, purple scars running up her arms like silhouettes of dead trees.
She smiles and waves me towards the chair next to her bed. She seems happy. Happier than I would be.
She’s hands me a legal pad. She’s mute. The lightning destroyed the muscles in her throat and around her tongue.
I speak to angels now. Sometimes God. Sometimes Satan. They are all very nice. They tell me the future. But only the future to things that I don’t want to know about. Like that nurse that brought you in here. She’s going to miscarry in three years.
There’s a flash behind her eyes and a spark slips from between her lips.
The doctors don’t believe I should be alive. They don’t understand. I ate the lightning. It was divine punishment, I know. But, fuck that, I don’t deserve to be punished. God understands that now, after he saw what I did. I ate it, and I kept it. Now, I’m divine.
Lightning dances between her fingers and she hums to herself. It’s a disturbing, guttural sound. Like bones breaking in a thunder-storm.
Speaking to the doctors, they don’t know what to do with her. She seems okay, besides the loss of voice. They call her a miracle but they are afraid of her. I think she hands them notes about their futures, out of spite. She wants to go home.
I just want to leave. I don’t have kids or pets or family. I just want to be free, of this place and in the world. Maybe share my new gift. Maybe try to fly. Can you help me get out of here?
I excused myself, saying I’d ask the doctors how much longer she’d be in here.
The photo I took of her is blurry, white light surrounding her.
As I walk toward the exit I can hear the humming again. It sounds sad. She knows I’m not coming back to rescue her.
The lights flicker.