As I stand under an apricot tree, a golden set of stairs appears.
I stand between our front yard and backyard, along a small alley by our garage where an apricot tree drops its ripe fruit onto the tin roof. My brother isn’t with me and both my parents are inside. I am five years old.
A set of golden stairs appears in the sky. Angels line the steps. They don’t come down to me, they just shine above me. I want to keep watching them, forever, since I don’t know how long they will stay there.
At the same time, I want to go inside and get Mom. If she sees this, then I believe it will make it true, not just something in the sky that might or might not be there.
I don’t move.
In Sunday school, I had learned about the Bible story of Jacob’s ladder:
Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, was on the run, because he took his older brother Esau’s birthright. Jacob slept outside and used a stone for a pillow. He dreamt of a stairway from heaven to earth with angels coming down and going up on it. I imagined the stairway moving like an escalator.
In the story, God speaks during Jacob’s dream. God says Jacob’s children, and his children’s children, will be as numerous as the specks of dust on earth. In Sunday School, I raised my hand and said I remembered that God made Adam from dust and that people turn back to dust when they die and wasn’t that kinda making alive people from dead people? The teacher said that, yes, it was similar. Then the teacher returned to the story. At the end of Jacob’s dream, the last thing God said before he woke up is for Jacob to “Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I promised.”
After the story, the teacher passed out pieces of yarn with the two ends knotted together to make a loop. The teacher stood in front of the class and showed how to thread the yarn around our thumbs and between our ring and pinkie fingers. The teacher made sure everyone had the first step, and then said to follow along. I stuck one of my middle fingers on one hand underneath the yarn crossing the palm of my other hand and pulled back. Then I looked up to check if I had followed correctly.
My hands matched the teacher’s hands, so I continued. We kept going over and under and around until a zigzag pattern in a rectangle stretched across the yarn in our hands. The teacher told the class to turn our hands so that we held one up and the other down, making a ladder.
The escalator isn’t a ladder. I look up at it, watching. I stay there, trying to be sure to remember it as it disappears.