Second Chance

Eloise huddles alone in the back seat of the big Mercedes.


“It’s nice out here isn’t it, Mother?” Gerald glances over his shoulder.


She doesn’t answer.


“This is for your own good,” Gerald continues. “We’ve all agreed. You’ll be comfortable in the home. Safe.”


“She doesn’t understand,” Gerald’s wife says. “Eloise! The road ahead goes through the tree!”


Eloise closes her eyes and drifts. She should have married George Simpson. That was her mistake. He was gentle and kind, but she married Jack who never loved her as much as he loved her money. The children took after him. It seems so long ago.

She listens to the low thrum of the air conditioner and shivers. She knows they are going to put her away in this home as if she were some useless toy being packed away to the attic then forget her. Her days will become a gray blur of pudding cups and overcooked vegetables, and she will be surrounded by others waiting to die.

“Here’s the tree,” Gerald says.


At once the air grows warm and ripples against her. Eloise hears a pop, and the car glides to a halt. She opens her eyes. Gone is the Mercedes. Eloise now sits in the driver’s seat of her father’s old Franklin. Her skin is smooth and youthful. She still wears her pink sweater over a shapeless blue dress, but she doesn’t care. Who argues with miracles?

Where to go?

She looks back. The tree is gone, and she smiles when she recognizes that this is the road to George’s house.


She’s been given a second chance.





The Master faces the crowd. “The marvels of the human body lie here.” He points behind him to the hanging skeleton. “Bone.” He raises his hand. “Flesh and sinew.”


He unveils the body on the table behind him.


The crowd murmurs and watches him slice into the body. Thin and brown as a coffee bean, the cadaver was but a slave, yet in death he has become an instrument of learning.


Soft light shines through the domed ceiling. Silence descends.


“Notice that his teeth are broken, from violence, I believe.” The Master peels back the skin of the chest from the y-shaped incision he has made. “His clavicle was broken here on the left. He probably toiled for many years in great pain. See here, three broken ribs from a hard blow. We can discover much here.”


The Master touches the man’s head reverently. “He is now our teacher. Let us learn from him. Let us worship at his altar.”