Sometimes we are sent down from the sky. Stardust surrounds us. We fall as needed. Into stories, lives. We arrive, not sure of our path, not sure where we are, not sure where it will begin.
It started with a good deed.
I found a bag on the side of the road – a mouldy old sports bag with a torn handle – full of money. Hundreds and fifties. There must have been at least ten grand in there. I thought about handing it in at the police station but I’m not a saint after all and I knew I could put it to better use.
Dora was in the supermarket, buying baby formula and nappies, counting out loose change. The check out girl’s mouth was held in a thin line, impatient. A queue was forming as Dora shakily counted out the money. She was two dollars short. The check out girl sighed, knowing she’d have to void the sale. Dora began to cry in tiny little gulps. ‘Allow me,’ I said, handing over the money.
Dora accepted my offering, shoulders bowed. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I’ll pay you back.’
I helped her carry her bags along a road where crepe myrtles stood to attention. The footpath was dusted with tiny pink blossoms, soft as crushed chalk. She was worried, leaning away from me, fearful I would ask for more than she was prepared to give.
We reached a house, grey, nondescript. An elderly woman stood in the doorway holding a baby. She regarded me with a suspicious eye.
‘What are you after?’ she asked.
‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘I just wanted to help.’
I carried Dora’s bags inside. The house was shabby, barely furnished. Dora saw me taking in the emptiness. ‘We just moved in,’ she said. ‘We haven’t unpacked the rest of our stuff yet.’
I knew without her having to tell me. That this was it. There was nothing else to unpack. I handed her the sports bag. ‘This is for you,’ I said. Her eyes widened when she saw what was inside. I left, striding down the street.
‘Are you some kind of angel?’ Dora called after me.
I smiled. It’s true. There are those who have called me angel.
I passed twenty houses, thirty, fifty, looking for a sign. The sign that would lead me back from whence I came. It grew dark. The streetlights cast hot pearls onto the road. I knew there would be no sign tonight. Ah well, maybe tomorrow I’d find my way home.
Paul was standing on the beach. It was a dawn where the gulls immediately began soaring, enveloped in shining joy. He had on a long coat as if he had mistaken the day for winter. One by one he filled his pockets full of stones.
‘The water is cold,’ I said as he staggered towards the waves. ‘The stones will pull you under.’
Paul sank onto the wet sand. He wept, taking the stones out one by one, throwing them with a plop into the water. ‘It’s all too much,’ he said. ‘There is no joy in the day.’
‘You might be wrong about that,’ I said.
We drove in silence. The sea rose and fell beside us. We had the windows down and the wind plucked at us like the fingers of children. The gulls circled, thinking we would lead the way to the morning catch.
At Paul’s house a woman was waiting. She ran down the garden path, clutching at him. ‘I’ve been waiting all night to tell you,’ she said.
‘Tell me what?’ Paul asked.
‘About the baby,’ she replied.
Paul wept again, shaking. His eyes full of light. ‘How did you know?’ he asked me. ‘Did you come from Heaven?’
I smiled, walking back to the road that led to the water. Some have used that name for the place from whence I came.
I walked back to the sea. Great cliffs rose, hanging like a premonition over the water. Meringue peaks capped the waves. I sat, drinking in the wonder until nightfall, waiting once more for a sign. The sky remained dark. Ah well, maybe tomorrow I’d find my way home.
The voices fill my head. It is worse at night when loneliness closes in, when the bite of despair draws blood. The voices of the people. The voices of the world. Wanting, needing, suffering, pleading, begging for mercy. Answer my prayer, they cry. Save me.
Clouds skim the moon, they thin and spread like dripping paint. In a different time I might have been flesh and blood. I might have asked: Where are angels when you need them?
I understand why there are so many questions. Life shatters. Glass on slate. Pick up the pieces and start again. Maybe tomorrow. We’ll find our way home.
* Inspired by this week’s Search Engine Stories prompt – maybe tomorrow.
Oh Selma! How absolutely lovely! Really really. You take such time to find an interesting choice of words to describe things.
Like this- He had on a long coat as if he had mistaken the day for winter.
Really nice. Do you send these out to mags or contests? Please think of sending this one on its way. It smells of success.
Just gorgeous Sel, just gorgeous. This is so rich in style and filled with vivid image I would have to quote the whole piece to list all the wonderful parts.
To note just one: “Life shatters. Glass on slate.” Just incredible. I can see and hear this as though it happening right here at my desk. Splendid.
And I love the mystery and ambiguity in this, love how you show us the angle rather than labeling it. And how the whole piece comfortably floats and moves smoothly along, as though it is hovering just above the surface of a stream.
Bravo, bravo!! One of your best! 🙂
Outstanding! I was there on the street, I there on the beach, I was there …
agreed, really visual and one of your best! Loved it…. more please!
I am a serial non-sender, I’m afraid. But maybe with this one I should. Turned out better than I thought. Thanks for your support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!
How kind you are. Wow. I will admit to being fascinated by angel mythology. When I was growing up there was great debate in the Catholic Church about whether or not they were an accepted part of the ideology. I like them because they seem to transcend religious dogma. My interest in them endures. Thanks for your lovely comment!
If i could take you there then I am thrilled. That’s what it’s all about for me!!
Thanks, hon. I’m after the visual, always. It means a lot that you said that!
I too was struck by the imagery of life shattering like glass on slate. After a life altering event, it seems like our life has shattered into a 1000 pieces, lying at our feet like shredded pieces of sharp glass. I have come to the realization that we have such a difficult time finding our way home after one of these events because we are always trying to glue the pieces back together to form an exact replica of what was, but we never can because there is always a missing piece, sometimes a small sliver and sometimes a large crack. We need angels to show us that though our life may never be the exact same, it still can be. Wonderful piece Selma!
this was lovely, just the right tone IMO.
WOW. You have blown me away with that analysis. You are so right. Perhaps we have so much trouble moving on from certain events because we try to recreate exactly, what was. That is just brilliant. THank you.
Cheers, mate. I am really glad you liked it!!
Everything you write comes across as effortless and light, but it could not stand without a foundation solid and well crafted. One of my favorites for sure!!
Oh, I love this! What a wonderful piece, full of mystery and amazing imagery.
Vivid and tasty, yet there is something a little unsettling about it, something that makes me want to read it again, only from a different perspective…
I agree with Kayt, this is one of your very best Selma. So touching and lovingly written. I felt you crafting each and every line with such care, reading along. Wonderful my friend!
John O’Donahue, my favourite spiritual author wrote in his book, Beauty, The Invisible Embrace, that our imagination is where the Divine dwells in possibility because it is in the expanse of imagination where everything that exists now was once a dream.
Reading your wonderful story full of clear imagery and then thread of comments here made me think of this…. and made me wonder if perhaps angels are our portal to allowing our imaginations to contemplate the possibility that the goodness of God exists. They definately push aside all that serious dogma that gets in the way of believing.
ps. i am also a serial non sender…. and am trying to get over the fear thing (or whatever is making me stuck in my shoes…!) So, I understand a bit of your own hesitancy. However…..SEND this one out there and let the angels do their thing. 🙂
You write so beautifully Selma.
There has to be a market for that.
I do put a bit of work into each story. Sometimes it takes me hours. Sometimes days. You obviously do the same. I am delighted if it appears light. I would hate if it was laborious to read. Thanks for your very welcome feedback.
I think there is a little touch of something else too. I didn’t notice it at first, but now that you mention it. I guess it’s the whole otherwordly thing. I am never completely comfortable with that.
Thanks so much, G. So nice of you to say so.
I love your interpretation of the role of angels. You are definitely on to something there. I will have to track down that book. It sounds like a worthwhile read. We should both send some stuff out together. I will if you will…..
You are always so kind to me. There are markets that I definitely need to start utilizing. You have reminded me of that. Thanks, hon.
Great story, Selma, My favourite line:
‘It’s all too much,’ he said. ‘There is no joy in the day.”
I like the powerful simplicity of it.
What a lovely tale Selma! I like how it was woven into reality and natural realism throughout. I sense your heart cries for the world’s suffering, and a little kindness can really lift people up 🙂
I wish I could describe things as well as you do!
Thanks so much. Sometimes less is more, right? It’s true in many aspects of life!
How kind of you to notice. I do feel for the world’s suffering. I wish I could take it away somehow. Sadly, i do not have that power.
You can, hon. You are just getting better and better. That last chapter you wrote was FAB!