|225: Without words
||[Apr. 6th, 2008 ~ 02:24 pm]
the Archangel Gabriel
"Are you an angel?" she asks me.
A simple question. A yes or no question, really, and yet... I have no words.
For a moment I'm elsewhere, elsewhen. For a moment I'm not here in the Arizona desert, gazing down on a girl-child bleeding her life out into the dust. For a moment I'm back... to what I was...
Memories aren't as sharp and clear as they were the first month, or first year, or even the first five years. Fifteen years now I've been this, instead. Human. This body. This world. Learning about... weakness. Pain. Exhaustion. Need. Kindness. Gratitude. Fifteen years I've been a man-- not much of a man, either, not impressive or respectable or worthwhile as humans are reckoned-- and a lot of what I used to be has faded from my memory.
But for a second, as she asks me, I remember what it was like. To be the angel of the Lord.
As soon as the memory comes, it's gone. Not that I forget, it's just... for the first time, I don't dwell on it. Don't grab at it and try to recapture a second's glory even in my head. Don't spare a thought for how far I've fallen.
So I was an angel. So once upon a time I was the sword of heaven, the hand of God. I look down at her lying in the dirt, this human, halfway between child and woman, look at her eyes and her face and the red red blood and... it doesn't matter. So what, that I was an angel. So what, about the cosmic battles and the stars and the voids and the fiery judgment. None of it matters to her, to this one single solitary life that's ending here and now.
"Once upon a time," I answer her, not knowing what else to say, and she reaches for my hand. So desperate. Wanting some comfort at the end, even from a stranger, even from me.
Fifteen years in which I've only been able to take. Only to accept what's been given me by the charity and generosity of others. Everything from my clothes to my food to the shelter over my head, when there was such, came to me as a gift, as a kindness.
First time, I can give something to someone else.
This girl ain't asking much. Ain't asking for manna from heaven or water from wine. Just that she's not alone when the lights go out.
I take her small hand in mine, feeling the pulse already slower than it should be. I can't think about Zophael's lifeless body nearby, or Danyael running off to save the world. I should be. But my universe is focused right now on one dying teenager...
She's so small and slender and... human. From the fear in her eyes and the little whimpers of pain she tries to stifle and the convulsive grip of her fingers on mine. I know her name without effort: Magdalena. Maggie. Maggie with her nice denim jeans and nice spaghetti-strap top, both staining dark now. Maggie whose family doesn't know she's three hundred miles away in the desert right now, Maggie whose mother is an advertising executive and whose father plays golf with the mayor, Maggie who ran away from their world and good intentions because she was fourteen and that's what fourteen-year-olds do...
Images keep on coming, all of this girl's so-short life. All the mistakes and stupidity and little cruelties to friends and family, all the times she tried to be better than that. Good and the bad, selfish teenage world and the moments of nobility. What would you have been, Magdalena? If you'd had more time? Had the chance to be a woman, not a girl?
You didn't choose this, Maggie. Didn't choose dying out in the middle of nowhere, dragged here by the craziness of a bunch of mad angels, including your boyfriend, fighting over the universe like children over candy. You're just a bystander. Caught in the crossfire.
...so many times I've thought about what a mess I've made of things, of all the crap I set off with my war, of those whose deaths can be placed right at my feet-- but I wasn't thinking about people like you, Maggie. Was thinking of Raphael or Simon or Uziel-- the warriors-- but not the victims. Not the children who wander into this big damn stupid war of mine and don't wander back out.
At some point, a lifetime ago, I said I'd burn down heaven to keep the other side from winning. I'd have sacrificed a thousand of my soldiers, a hundred thousand of my enemies. All for the sake of 'victory.'
Right now I look at this bleeding girl, glass fragments studding her skin, holding my hand and crying like the child she is, and it wasn't even worth this. Not one single solitary human life.
"I don't want to die," Maggie whimpers, and all I can answer is, "No..."
Once upon a time, I was an angel. Once upon a time... it doesn't matter. None of it matters, because I can't stop one scared child from dying, and right now it's the only thing I care about.
So helpless. So helpless, not only for myself, but for the least of these Your children, Father, of whom I am one...
I have no right to pray. No right to talk to You. I would anyway-- I'd ask You for aid, Father, I'd ask You not on my own behalf but for the sake of this Magdalena--
--I'd ask You, but I can't find the words.
gabriel * the prophecy series (movie) * word count: 939