Why did I do it? Oh, what a question! I don’t know; maybe it was because I couldn’t believe what happening; or it was because I had loved my home — because I was losing all I had known; maybe it was because I could hear the screams of everyone I knew and loved. Perhaps it simply because I could not bring myself to believe that God would actually do it. I do not know why I looked back. My head just turned. Haven’t you ever done something without a single reason? Have you never found yourself doing something without realizing that you’re doing it? I don’t know why, but my head turned and my eyes looked with despair at the destruction. That was my last memory.
Have you ever stopped and wondered at the path your life has taken? I never did until that night. I had never questioned how my life had turned out. I just accepted everything: our move, my life with Lot, our daughter — it was all just a part of my life. Never did I try to imagine how my life could be different. For one thing, no amount of imagining could have changed the way things had occurred. Second, I . . . I never wanted things to be different. I loved my husband, and I adored my baby girls. I would have done anything for any of them. The only imagining I ever did was to dream of growing old with Lot and to dream of grandchildren. I loved my life! I never questioned any aspect of it.
No. I never even questioned my husband’s choice of Sodom for our home. You don’t understand my position. You come here with your modern day beliefs and views. A woman’s life was very different from yours today. For one thing, I would have never dreamed of questioning anything my husband ever did or said. It was not my place to question Lot. When he came to our tent and told me that we were leaving Abram, I did not think a great deal about it. Oh, maybe a few thoughts about missing Sarai, but that was it. I never became angry with Lot for making us move; I never questioned his reasoning. I accepted his decision; it was my place to accept and do what Lot said. Sometimes, I do wonder how life might have been different if I had even once questioned his choice. Maybe if I had spoken, I would have lived. I could have stayed with my family . . . could have held my grandchildren; I would have had the opportunity to hug my own baby girls once more. Oh . . . I would give anything to have been able to do those things. I’ even love to have been able to lay beside Lot and hear his terrible, loud, and wonderful snoring. You never know what you have until it is gone.
That day had started like all other days in Sodom. I had risen early. A woman has to be an early riser if she expects to complete all of her daily tasks. I remember the sun wasn’t even up when I went to draw the water. The sky was at that particular stage where it can’t quite make up its mind whether or not it wants to become morning or stay night. The sky is gray at that stage. It’s funny the things you remember. I had always hated that particular moment of the day. Sunrises were my favorite things to see. I loved the blending of colors — the way pinks, and corals, and golds, and blues all intertwine into an indescribable color. During the sunrise, everything is tricked into believing that it is young. Ancient trees lift their heads, dying flowers try to attract honeybees, and old birds attempt to sing their mating ballads. Even an old woman is tricked into thinking she’s once again young and beautiful. You walk straighter during the sunrise; you take deeper breaths — trying drink in the gold of the sky.
But that particular moment was gray. In fact everything had absorbed the gray of the sky. It was lonesome during that moment. Lonesome, and frightening, to everything but evil.
Why the sudden look of surprise? I knew of the evil that existed in Sodom. How could you not? It consumed everyone and everything. No one escaped its grasping tentacles. Not even my own husband. He too was touched by it; perhaps not to the high degree as some, but it had touched him. That was evidenced when he tried to throw my babies to those mongrels. Have I not yet told you of that? Hmm. It was the only time I ever became angry with Lot. I was furious with him. I could not . . .what? Oh, I’m sorry — I’ll back up a little.
The two visitors had arrived around dinnertime. I was a little put out at their sudden arrival because I was not sure if I had prepared enough food for the extra men. I did not want to shame my husband by being a bad hostess. But the two men were not interested in food; they only wanted to discuss something with Lot. I remember overhearing one say it was of an urgent matter. It was about that time there was a banging on our door. I could hear the crude yelling and vulgar chants of the people at the door. It was the men of Sodom demanding the two visitors. I knew what those disgusting men wanted with the visitors. Lot knew as well, and he would never allow the men of Sodom to have anything to do with the visitors. But I was astonished at what he did do: he offered my two girls to that throng of men.
My girls! I could not breathe. I felt like a huge hand had grabbed my throat, and it was squeezing with all its might. I reached out to my youngest. As I did so, one of the visitors reached out his own arm and grabbed Lot, pulling him back into the house. The two visitors barred the door. It was then they told us we were to leave immediately. My body became weak as they hurriedly explained the situation to Lot. G-d was going to destroy our town. My entire world was spinning.
I was in a daze as the men made us gather up our belongings. I tried to pack everything, but one of the men stopped me. Lot interjected that it was foolish to attempt to carry everything. But how could I choose? How could I decide which memories to take and which to leave behind? How could I be expected to take only the “essentials” when my mementos were my essentials? I wanted my things: the dried flowers my oldest girl had given me when she was little; the jug that I had used when I was newly married; the earrings my mother had given me before she died. Why was I being forced to leave items such as these behind?
I remember walking away from the town, thinking only the memories I was leaving. The men had warned us not to look back at Sodom, so I gazed up at the stars. But the stars were distant, and they offered no warmth or consolation. The silence of the night was overwhelming. It as if everything had lost its voice. But then a sound filled the air. It was the most terrible noise I had ever heard. It was the cry of the town as the destruction of the Lord rained upon them. I stopped. The plaintive cries tugged at my soul, harmonizing with my own cries. Why did I have to leave?
It was at that moment that I turned around. I knew I was not supposed to, but I could not stop my head from turning. The movement was mechanical, outside of my control. My eyes looked at what had been my home.
Then there was nothing. Nothing in front of me, and nothing behind me. The sky was no longer above me, and the ground was no longer beneath my feet. The cries of Sodom no longer met my ears. There was only a gray nothingness. Not even Lot and my daughters were near me. There was nothing.
Yes, I had become the pillar mentioned in the Bible. I had been transformed from gold into gray. I had turned to look back on what I had left behind, and found myself left behind. Oh G-d, I wish I had obeyed and not looked back on the evil. You have no idea what it is like to be a part of nothing.