Friday . . .
I flew through the door, so excited, waiting to tell Bill of what had happened. I didn’t hang up my jacket but threw it on the bed, dropped down beside it and addressed the floppy eared dog: “I went to the park for lunch today. And there was a fairy, just sitting there!”
It – he – was sitting right on the bench where I usually sat.
Of course, I walked on past. I sat on a bench farther on. Wasn’t like the park was busy. Plenty of benches for many more bums. But I kept looking back at him.
“Yea, I know it’s hard to believe,” I said in return to Bill’s bitty growl, “but I swear it’s all true. A fairy was sitting on my usual bench in St George’s Park, though at first I thought him a fairy. I mean, do you know the defining features? No, me neither. Then I wondered if he was an elf.”
Of course, he wasn’t fairy or elf. No. He was an angel. See, fairies and elves are diminutive things, that’s why we call them the wee folk. But he wasn’t small, he was big. Though not super-big, he wasn’t a giant. He was more . . . sort of man-size.
“But he wasn’t human, Bill, I swear it. What’s that, how do I know that he wasn’t? Well, because of the weather.”
It had been cloudy all day, totally overcast, not a glimpse or glimmer of blue. Yet there in the park the sun was shining – and he was the source. He was all lit up, like his halo had slipped and ballooned and now enclosed all of him.
“So he must be an angel – unless he’s a saint. Anyway, Bill, it’s Friday night. What shall we do this weekend? Play at Farnaby again?” Though I have to be honest, Farnaby is beginning to bore me.
It was okay the first few times. I got a kick out of creating my own village, and populating it. But it’s toddling along nicely now and the excitement has gone. It’s become just something to do to pass the time, like doing a jigsaw. It needs a disaster, kill off a few people. Then I can bring in some more. I’ve decided to ponder it, assess the situation, perhaps spend the weekend in finding a site for the cemetery. It lacks one as yet though it has a church. I chuckled to myself: maybe the villagers will wake up on Sunday morning to find an angel asleep on the village green.
“What d’you reckon, Bill? Who will be the first of Farnaby’s folk to greet the angel? And which resident has he come to help?” It won’t be the vicar. He’s not a nice person. I’d enjoyed that spin: I made him a perv.
I sighed. If only I could create my own life as easily. I am trying, I’ve read the books. But it seems like I’m travelling through Sameness Country. Still, I did see an angel in the park.
* * *
Monday . . .
As soon as I came through the door I had to tell Bill. “He was there again.”
The angel was sitting exactly where he’d sat before. As if he’d not moved all weekend. As before, I kept on walking. But this time he called to me.
“Hey! Hey, love!”
I ignored him. I mean, I was so embarrassed. There were people today and they could have heard, could have seen. But then I felt bad, so I turned back again.
“Love!” he called to me.
I wondered why he didn’t call me by name. After all, as an angel he ought to have known it. But then maybe God hasn’t told him. Maybe God doesn’t know it. Now I think, that does seem likely, since I’m an atheist. Anyway, I didn’t answer him. The angel that is, not the Big G. In truth, I wasn’t that sure he was actually there, I could have been hallucinating, though I’d never before, and I didn’t want people staring at me, thinking I’m nuts to talk to thin air.
However, I walked back to the bench and stood right in front of him. He sent a tingling feeling into my tummy, and tiny invisible feet that danced all over me, shooting a shiver right down my back. It was quite pleasant in a fearful way. Remembering a lesson in the How To … book, I gathered my courage and tried to speak without moving my lips – just in case he wasn’t real and someone was watching. “Are you talking to me?”
“Oh, Bill, I have to say he looks good enough to eat without salt. Young – or at least younger than me. Yet somehow he looks old. Or maybe just wise. Old and wise in an unworldly way.”
He was wearing a jacket, leather. A flight jacket. Apt, that, for an angel to wear. But I couldn’t believe what he said to me: “Got any change, love?”
“And no, Bill, before you say it, he’s not one of those winos who congregate there. Winos, I’ve noticed, tend not to have halos.” Not unless they’re dark halos of long, greasy and filthy uncombed hair. “I tell you, Bill, he’s divine.”
Anyway, I hadn’t any change. Well I had, but I needed that for myself. But I was honest, I told him.
“Sorry,” I said. “But if I give it to you I’ll be skint. What d’you want it for, anyway?”
He laughed. “I don’t. I just wanted something to say. Something to keep you here. To keep you talking.”
I sat down then – well, dropped agog, really. I sat right beside him. Far too close. He definitely wasn’t a wino. I mean, when have you ever seen a well-kept wino sitting on a park bench. And I don’t mean just his clothes, but his body too. I had to kept watch, not to lick my lips. He has a very nice body.
“No, Bill, he was definitely there, not a figment of my imagination. I could feel the heat of him. Angels are creatures of fire and light, and he was burning very bright. And don’t give me that eye. I’ll wax lyrical as much as I like.”
He introduced himself. Martin.
I said, “That’s not a Jewish name.”
“Oh, listen to me, Bill, ‘I said, he said’. But we were sitting on that bench in St George’s Park, talking like regular folk. ‘Martin the Angel and I conversed’ – isn’t that something! You know, Bill, I’m so glad I have you to tell all this to. I swear I’d burst if I had to keep it all to myself.”
“Rachel,” I told him. meaning my name.
He raised just his left brow. “Jewish?”
“No,” I said. “Atheist.” And could have kicked myself for such a reply.
But before I could explain, he came right back with, “Snap.”
I blinked several times at him. Snap: such a strange thing to say.
“Have you fallen?” I asked. I mean, how else to explain this peculiar anomaly: an atheist angel? Was he best buddy with Satan, like one of his Chosen?
“Fallen from grace?” he asked. “No, I never was there.”
I noticed the people walking by kept looking at me. Could they see him? Or did they think me off my trolley, another of the nutters we get it the park, sat there talking no one? I was feeling embarrassed. In a way I was glad that he’d knocked the senses out of me and I’d no more to say. I mean, an atheist angel, who’s ever heard of it. But by then my stomach was reminding me I’d not yet eaten. Yet how could I munch into a cheese and garlic sandwich with him beside me. He might speak again, I might need to answer. I couldn’t do that with a mouth full of raw garlic.
“Do you?” he suddenly asked.
It was then the alarm bells belatedly started. I shuffled my butt along the bench, an arm’s length between at least. I mean, here was this guy I’d only just met and there he was asking if I do – but do what? A big dose of sense came clobbering over me. You hear such terrible things happening. My mother always warned us of strangers. My sisters would have run scared long before now. Mum always said they’d more sense than me. And my brother would be going ape if he knew.
“I tell you, Bill, I was scared. I wasn’t till then, but him asking me that.”
I sat up straight, business-like, my ‘don’t mess with me, buster, look’, ready to run if I must – though I hoped that I wouldn’t.
“Do I do what?” I asked cos some clue would be good.
“Do you smoke?” he said. “Regular, I mean. I don’t mean dope.”
“No,” I said, afraid that I’d laugh. Relief does that and I didn’t want to scare him away.
“Pity,” he said and drew a lonely cigarette from a battered box.
Then, clear out of the blue, he said, “I’m an angel.”
“Yes, Bill, I know I’d speculated that that’s what he is but to hear him say it – totally freaked me.” Stunned into silence by the revelation, I simply gawped at him.
“Would you like to come for a walk?” he asked.
“Work,” I said. “I have to get back.” That wasn’t the truth. The town hall clock had just struck the half.
“I didn’t mean now. Not this moment. I was asking you out. A date.”
“Oh,” I said. “Yea, okay.”
“Now, Bill, I know what you’re thinking. He could be anyone. A serial killer. Am I crazy or what?”
He said then that he likes to keep things real. That he’s not the kind of angel who pops up unexpectedly – like he’s suddenly there in the middle of the night, sitting at the end of the bed. He says he wouldn’t do that cos it freaks people out. So he asked for my number. He said that’s how he prefers to communicate, when not face-to-face. He said he’ll bell me and make us a date.
He did lots of explaining, the rest of my lunch hour. He lives in a flat like a regular fella. And he signs on at the dole. See, he can’t get a job cos he’s far too busy being an angel. I had to laugh. I mean, can you imagine him going to the Job Centre to sign on? ‘And what was your last job, Mr Angel? And your employer’s name?’ He couldn’t say God, could he, cos like me he’s an atheist.
“But, Bill, how in hell’s name can an angel be an atheist? It was so bugging me, I just had to ask – though not in those words.”
I said, “If you’re an angel, how come you don’t believe in God?”
He said, “How well versed are you in quantum physics? The Big Bang, photons, neutrons, the mass annihilation. If I talk of Dark Energy would you know what I mean? Or … the Dark Dimension?”
I couldn’t answer. I shrugged, puffed, held wide my ignorant arms.
He said, “Well, that’s what I am, and where I am from. The Dark Dimension.”
“You know what’s bugging me, Bill? I thought angels were creatures of light. Still, he’s my boyfriend now. And I am going to drop that bomb on Farnaby.”