This is a short story rough, a work in progress.
* * *
I came home to my apartment, to find my guardian angel.
As soon as I saw him, I knew all the things angels ask us to forget. We’re not supposed to remember them, because we’re supposed to think we’re on our own. That helps us act with the most pure intent possible. Their theory is that without knowing the safety net we can have, we will better learn to balance will and structure before we die and go to whatever’s after. I don’t know if it’s 100% true, but it’s a bit outside of my experience so who am I to judge?
I dropped my keys on my desk. “I thought we’re only supposed to see you angels in the most dire circumstances.”
“That’s right,” my angel said. “You’re driving me crazy! Do you know how hard you make me work? Do you know what it’s like when an angel goes crazy?”
“What are you talking about? I’m just – you know, I’m doing my thing. I’m exploring art, I’m working at my job…”
“You’re courting death, destruction and mayhem every day of your life. Every second! Good Lord, you can’t even be safe sitting at home. The time you spend on the Internet…the scams, the cults…then when you go outside. Do you know how many times last week I had to steer you away from a certain end?” He sighed. “I’ll give you a clue. That girl you got the wrong number from at the bar? It was the right number. I changed it. She’s a runaway with a father in the mafia.”
I blinked. “Okay. But how am I supposed to know that? I mean, what do you want from me?” I let my voice raise a little. Sure, they having nearly infinite power and benevolence tempered by love of God and all His creations, and also all the other angels all trying to do well with everything. But I get to say something. “I’m trying to do the best with my human experience, my, my living experiment that’s me here! The first real talk I can remember, and you’re just going to give me a bunch of crap because I don’t know what I’m doing? Why don’t you tell me what I *should* be doing?”
“Because that’s not the rules!”
I put my hands on my hips, of all things, feeling foolish but not enough to stop. “Should I just live the safest life possible?”
“Of course not!” My angel said, offended. “You just try so many things, and then I put good things in front of you and you just run away! You’re a good-hearted mortal. It’s just so strange how you do and then you don’t listen to yourself. I need you to get on a path and stick with it! You’re making me crazy here!”
“How do I know you’re not a guardian devil?”
It looked deeply wounded, and said nothing. I felt bad now. I knew, without even knowing it was so beyond question – this was a good being who wanted the best for me his whole life. If it was even gendered of course.
“Okay, look.” I sighed. “I’d love to hear from you how I can do better. Okay? I’m trying without a manual here.”
It’s face was tortured. “It’s stretching things just to talk this much to you.” Then an expression passed it’s face, the purest guilt and pain across such a face of clarity, light and benevolence was truly awful to see. It made me want to weep.
“Maybe we can work out a deal,” it said. “If you just…”
I stopped him suddenly. “Don’t tell me.”
“What?” his eyes stricken.
“Whatever you were about to say. I don’t want to hear it. I changed my mind.” I grit my teeth. “Whatever you tell me will mean that I’m not living *my life*.”
It began to cry. “But what will I do? Every – every time, every day, it’s just so hard!”
“I’m sorry I’ve been such a burden to you.” I wanted to make him feel better, but actual bitterness slipped through which surprised me. Was I really that difficult? I realized it probably knew my thoughts anyway, so I might as well hear them. “I’m not out here robbing banks or beating people up,” I said. “I’m just trying to do my thing.”
I looked at the bags beneath his glowing eyes. His hair was a mess. It was supposed to be some glorious glowing mane, but all kinds of stuff was stuck in it. I looked a bit closer, and it looked like twisting clumps of unproductive thoughts.
I felt bad for him. “Look man-“
“I’m not a human!”
“Okay, okay! I believe you. Look…higher being, we’re taking this moment to talk, right?” I pointed him towards my chair. “Why don’t you take a seat.”
“Take a break. Let’s talk it through.”
It looked over at my chair. “I don’t know if I have taken the time to sit down for … three centuries.”
I spread my hands. “I’m right here. You can still keep me from doing harm. Maybe I’ll be safer if you’re sitting, or something? Less chance something will get knocked off a bookshelf?” I nudged him towards the chair. “Just take a load off”
He sighed and sat, closing his eyes. Flaming tears of sunlight came poured from underneath his glorious eyelashes.
On impulse I went to the fridge, brought back a couple beers, and held one out for him. He opened his eyes and looked at it, without raising his hands. I pushed it into his chest until he grasped it. He held it in his hand.
“It feels cold.”
“I understand some humans prefer their beers warm.”
“Yeah, they’re just wrong. Give it a try.”
He took a sip and made a face. “It tastes awful.”
“Okay. Just take a sip any time you feel like disagreeing with me. Now let’s talk about you for a bit.”
The angel took a sip, but said nothing, watching me almost suspiciously.
I sat at my desk chair across from him. “When’s the last time you just enjoyed something for you?”
“I enjoy things all the time! The birth of babies, the growth of a flower, peaceful transitions in to the afterlife, helping keep a human protected from bad paths until they have a chance to grow…”
“No, no. Not things for other people. When is the last time you had a chance to just enjoy a thing because it was something good for you. Not because it was helpful to any other being.”
He thought long and hard. His eyes drifted into a misty glow.
“Several thousand years ago, I was floating over the pacific. There were fewer humans to manage then. In the time between one islander dying and another being born, I was distracted by…the most amazing dawn. It was just after a mighty storm and the sky was almost cloudless, with just a few puffs of clouds to show their beauty against the multicolored sky. The mostly placid but still-moving ocean beneath me. A squad of dolphins enjoying the sun rising before us. They might have even seen me, some nonhuman creatures can have an easier time with that. We all floated in that moment, them in the water and me in the air just about it, as we bore silent witness to God’s creation. A beauty that…”
He took another sip. “That was not for disagreement,” he clarified. “A beauty that it is easy to forget about.”
I nodded. “Alright.” I cracked open my own beer. “Look, you’ve been with me my whole life, and I appreciate it. I don’t even know how many things you’ve saved me from-”
“You have no God-damn idea,” he said. Shocked at his own words, he took another sip. “Hits fast!”
“Sure does. So how about you be kind to you for a bit? Seems to me you’re close to cracking.”
The angel started at me for a second, and then began to cry. Great job, I thought to myself. You made your angel cry. “Alright, come here being.” I held my eyes open.
It looked at me, as if it couldn’t stand to trust me. “Come on, I’m here. It’s okay.”
It came up out of the chair, and I gave it a hug.
I wrapped my arms around it, and it wrapped it’s arms around me, and I could feel a bit of its infinite power. But also, its infinite sadness. I just stayed there with it, trying not to think about how it could probably keep crying until I grew old and died, and then some. I could spare this moment, and quite a few more. So I just gave him the attention he deserved for each moment.
Eventually it separated. “Thank you,” it said. “I’m really grateful. I don’t have many other beings I can talk to.”
“Really?” I shook my head. “What about, you know, other angels?”
“They’ve all got the same things to deal with. They never tire. They can’t allow themselves to wait a moment.”
“How about…” I wondered. “Do you have a guardian angel for yourself?”
“No! Don’t be insane.”
“How would you know? Maybe you would be set to not remember them unless they’re around, like you are for me.”
The angel paused. It took another sip. “This beer does make such an idea easier to contemplate.”
“That’s it’s job.”
“I don’t think so,” it said at last. “We are less of the experience of free will combined with less certainty.”
“Really?” I shook my head in sympathy. “Other angels are largely in the same boat as you, aren’t they?”
The angel considered it. “I guess they’ve all got the same things to deal with. They never tire. They can’t allow themselves to wait a moment.”
“Well, maybe you aren’t as alone as you think? But also, I sure appreciate you. Appreciate yourself too.”
It smiled. “Thanks, -” and it mentioned a name I had never heard before, that I also knew from the depths of my being was mine. Perhaps the name was beyond time. If there was anything to reincarnation, this might be the name of the me that experienced them all.
“You’re welcome,” I said in return.
It moved a bit away from me, and placed a hand on my shoulder. It’s wings spread out, going through the walls of my space.
“You might not remember this, but I remember you. I’ll keep protecting you, and I’ll also find a way to be kind to me. I ask the same for you, of you.”
I nodded. “Easy to say, hard to do, I know.” Not knowing what else to do, I somewhat awkwardly shook his hand. He laughed, wiped away some his streaming sunlight tears, and disappeared.
I woke up, and found myself staring at Facebook. What was I about to write again?
I closed my browser. Maybe it wasn’t a good use of today to have more arguments with strangers.
It was beautiful outside. No matter what the weather was. It was time to take a walk and enjoy all of this life.
But maybe I’d stay inside a couple of minutes more. Maybe meditate or something. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt it might be good to stay in until someone had fully sobered up.