You might think me dim for not realising it sooner, considering my life experience, but I can honestly say that I’ve never actually seen an Angel fly before. So it took me a moment to register the scene with very, very wide eyes as the being approached, now close enough for me to discern basic detail.
In my opinion, people use the word ‘beautiful’ way too easily these days; ‘that model is so beautiful’, ‘that garden’s so beautiful’, you get the picture… but if anyone saw the same scene I was gaping over, they would never use that word for anything less ever again. I sure as hell wasn’t going to.
Golden dust clouded the air around the soaring Angel, the particles reflecting the sun’s light like solid rain as they slowly descended, only to fade before they hit the concrete sprawl of the town. Its wings were the purest of whites, spread majestically and moving slowly through the air with a subtle grace which would have made mighty Kings kneel.
I almost stood up out of pure shock, which was saying something, considering I had lived my life pretending to not see and keeping my cool when I did. The Angel was close now, almost above us, its heavenly profile making my heart ache dully with some odd melancholy. I knew I would regret it later, but I drank the sight in, oblivious to the bland scene in the classroom behind me. I was about to think ‘sod it’ and stand, so I could see the Angel until it passed right over the building, but instead of continuing over my head, the being started to fall. It was a controlled descending, but it still made my heart skip a beat, and my wide eyes watched with rapt attention as it landed on the one sizable patch of grass for miles; the school field. We were lucky to have it, despite the ‘field’ being barely bigger than a classroom. Bare feet touched down on the unhealthy-looking grass, and it immediately seemed to green up a little.
Still entranced, I watched the Angel as he (I think) approached the old oak tree all graduates had to tie their ties to each year (rebellion comes in the strangest of forms) and started to climb, the white coat/cloak garment he was wearing swishing around his ankles. I knew from experience that it wasn’t the easiest tree to climb (even without a teacher shouting incessantly for you to come down), but he made it look like cake-walk.
I watched the beautiful creation settle himself on a gnarled branch and gaze around the campus, searching for something, someone. My throat constricted, and I looked back to my class again, reality rushing back with a painful clarity. Not good. He was here for a reason, and that reason included a student in this school.
Despite common perception, having an Angel watch your back isn’t exactly a good thing most of the time. Over my life, I have known (vaguely) three people who were shadowed by Angels. The first one was saved miraculously after her car was thrown by a drunk driver into a flooded river. Her family died, including her little brother, but she alone lived; it was seen as a miracle. I knew better. The Angel was never seen again and Maria committed suicide the next year by drowning herself in the local lake. She had tied a brick to her ankle and jumped in.
The second, a bigger brother of my best friend, drove his motorcycle right into the side of a car at full speed, not two days after I had spotted a beautiful female Angel looming behind him during one of my routine visits to that friend’s house. Mike died instantaneously (he had misplaced his helmet that day), whereas the driver had been found on death’s door after an estimate of two painful hours of bleeding, somehow dismembered, on a deserted country road. It was revealed later on (after his death on the ambulance) that he had raped a mother of five and was planning to kill himself and his family the next day because he had been fired from his long-term job… Did these background facts justify Mike’s death, and my friends sorrow? I can’t say, but the third story in my memory is a little less sorrowful and a bit more stereotypical when one thinks of Angels.
My favourite teacher in middle school, one of the very few who cared about her students, was diagnosed with cancer. Her whole class was devastated, including me, and about four of us went to her house to give her a card and some get-well chocolates. They didn’t tell us, but the doctor had labelled her chances of recovery as near impossible. As she opened the door to greet us I saw her Angel, his wings a solemn grey, and ran home crying without pause, thinking she was dead for sure.
She made a miraculous recovery, one which astounded the doctors and joyed the students. She’s still alive today, with two kids and a kind, handsome husband.
So, my point is that although it may be a good thing to have this beautiful being tailing one of the students at my school, it probably wasn’t. Whenever I saw an Angel, the metaphor ‘child on an ant-hill’ sprang to mind.
Were we all just ants, which ‘He’ dismembered just to watch us squirm? Or maybe these Angels were the ‘kid’, and God was the irresponsible ‘parent’ who left his child to play in the dirt.
I found myself pitying whoever turned out to be the Angel’s charge as I fought to not look out of the window, my eyes for once unconditionally focused on Mr Baran. There were about four classrooms said Angel could see clearly into at his current position, one of which was empty at this time of day. So, one student out of about eighty potentials had the bad luck to be marked. I just hoped it was in the good way Angels are so often lumped with.