Chapter 2:

Business Arrangements

Angel on Earth

She does, in fact, have more questions. Many more questions, in fact. Bookmark here

“So no one else can see you,” she says, more of a statement than a question.Bookmark here

“That’s right. Just like how you couldn't see me either, until that moment on the roof.” I don't mention that she's not supposed to be able to see me now. I’m still convinced that it's only a temporary mistake.Bookmark here

“And how long have you been following me?” This she asks with a bite of accusation. She still doesn't like the concept of always being watched, even though I've told her that I have no choice in the matter. I was created for this purpose. If I'm not here, I'm nothing.Bookmark here

“It’s been two weeks,” I say. And a boring two weeks at that. “You used to have a different guardian angel.”Bookmark here

“And what happened to them?”Bookmark here

“She died.”Bookmark here

“I thought angels are immortal.”Bookmark here

“I guess not.” I don't know a lot about her death, since they kept a lot of the details undercover. I don't tell her that this is the first angel death I've ever heard of. I don't want more questions that I don't have answers to.Bookmark here

“So does everyone have a guardian angel?” she asks, walking on the thin strip of sidewalk bordering the street. I watch her steps, making sure she doesn't fall. Bookmark here

“Yes.” It's a lie, but not one she needs to be concerned with.Bookmark here

“Can you see other guardian angels?”Bookmark here

“I can.”Bookmark here

“Are you friends with them?”Bookmark here

“No. We’re not supposed to interact, since it distracts us from our work.” I don't mention the loneliness of seeing another being, the only other being able to see you, and not being able to interact with them. It doesn't happen often, and I try not to let it bother me when it does.Bookmark here

“That's sad.” I bristle. Look who's talking about sadness. “I guess I get how you feel. I don't have any friends either. You probably already know that, though.”Bookmark here

I remember earlier in the day, the one question i wanted to ask her. “Why don't you have any friends?”Bookmark here

She blinks at me. “I thought you’re supposed to know everything about me. Is that not how it works?”Bookmark here

“Technically I'm supposed to,” I say, scratching the back of my neck. “I have a file on you with every detail of your life since birth. I haven't read all of it, though.” Bookmark here

“So you don't know about the incident that happened in my first year of high school?"Bookmark here

“No.” This is the first I'm hearing of any kind of incident, and I tilt my head curiously. “What incident is that?”Bookmark here

She purses her lips. “I don't want to tell you.”Bookmark here

“That's not fair. What if it's important?” I wish I had the file with me now, so I could see what all-important incident she's talking about is. Bookmark here

“I would tell you if it's important,” she says. “You don't need to worry about it. I don't need any friends from school anyway. They're weird.”Bookmark here

You’re the weird one, I want to say, but I keep my mouth shut. “Alright. I won't ask about it again.” Maybe I’ll check in the file later, skim the pages about her first year of high school. If it's something so significant that it has its own name, the incident, then I should know about it. Bookmark here

“Good. I have more questions.”Bookmark here

She asks about my childhood, and I tell her that I didn't have one. I was created by the gods, then taught how to do my job, then released into the world. Bookmark here

“Have you ever met the gods?” she asks.Bookmark here

“No. They don't deal with guardian angels unless they've done something really bad.”Bookmark here

“Like what?”Bookmark here

“I don't know, kill someone?" I wasn't taught the things not to do, just the things I should be doing. Probably so that no bad ideas are planted in my head.Bookmark here

She also wants to know what heaven’s like.Bookmark here

“It's hard to describe,” I say, trying to picture it in my head. “There's a lot of light. I was in the same room for most of my time there. Big white room with a table and a chair. I did my training in there.”Bookmark here

“Do all guardian angels look like you?” she asks, and I press a fingers to my cheek involuntarily. Bookmark here

“I don't know. What do I look like?” Bookmark here

She huffs, but then balks at the genuine question on my face. “Do you really not know?” Bookmark here

“I can't use a mirror, so I don’t really know what my face looks like. I can tell you that all guardian angels look different to me, though.”Bookmark here

“You’re kinda weird looking,” she observes, and I bristle again. Bookmark here

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I'm starting to think that I like her better when she's silently brooding in her room. Bookmark here

“I mean your hair is bright white, and your eyes…” She tilts her head, staring directly into my eyes, and I find myself averting them. It's been a while since someone’s looked at me that directly. “You don't have pupils like me. The irises are green, but the space in the middle is plain white.”Bookmark here

“I've seen that on other angels,” I say. “I guess it’s because we can see things that humans can’t.”Bookmark here

“I’ll get used to it,” she says, finally looking away, and I can breathe again.Bookmark here

“That reminds me. You’re adapting well for someone who just found out about mythical creatures.”Bookmark here

She snorts. “I’m not good at processing things quickly. In a day or two I’ll wake up and probably freak out about this some more.”Bookmark here

We reach a busier area, and I say, “take out your phone. That way you can keep talking to me without looking crazy.”Bookmark here

“The people here can’t see you at all?” she asks.Bookmark here

“No. You’re welcome to ask one of them if you don’t believe me.”Bookmark here

Surprisingly, she breaks away from me, approaching a mother standing with her child. I follow, catching the end bit of her question.Bookmark here

“-right there?” she asks, pointing directly at me. The mother follows where she’s pointing, eyes passing over me, and I can tell that she’s looking right through me.Bookmark here

“I don’t see anyone, sorry,” she says apologetically, and pulls her kid away from the girl who undoubtedly, at least to her, has a few screws loose.Bookmark here

“Do you believe me now?” I ask, and she frowns, pulling her phone out of her pocket and pressing it to her ear.Bookmark here

“That reminds me,” she says, continuing to walk, “how do you know what a phone is? Do they have phones in heaven?”Bookmark here

“No.” I never really thought about how I know the things that I know, and my brows crease. “I guess I was created with the knowledge that I need.”Bookmark here

“I wish I was like that,” she sighs. “My life would be a lot easier then.”Bookmark here

We cross the street, and she says, “You never told me your name.”Bookmark here

“Oh. right. I don't have one.” I try to be as matter of fact with it as possible, but she winces anyway.Bookmark here

“You don't have a name? Then what does everyone call you?”Bookmark here

“I have an identification number. I can give it to you, if you want. 100277.”Bookmark here

“I'm not calling you by a number,” she says. “You should pick a name for yourself. Something that you like that also sounds cool.”Bookmark here

“Since you care so much about my name, how about you give me one?” I've never been warned against it, but something about an angel naming himself feels wrong to me.Bookmark here

She considers it. “I’ll call you Spot.”Bookmark here

My eyebrows knit together. “That's a dog's name.”Bookmark here

“You said I could name you.” She's joking, as far as I can tell, but irritation pricks at me anyway.Bookmark here

“I thought you would take it seriously.”Bookmark here

She hums, twirling her hair around her finger in thought. “I’ll think about it and get back to you. You should have a cool name, since you’re an angel and all.”Bookmark here

“I’ll take anything over Spot.”Bookmark here

“What about Rover?” Bookmark here

“I’d prefer you call me by my identification number.”Bookmark here

We reach her house finally, and I stop her before we go inside.Bookmark here

“Your family isn’t able to see or hear me either,” I say. “It would be better if we didn't talk while they’re around.”Bookmark here

“Hmm. You’re right. I’m going to get a snack. You can wait in my room.”Bookmark here

She opens the front door, letting me pass in front of her, and stops in the kitchen. I follow behind her, just as I always do.Bookmark here

“I said you can wait upstairs,” she whispers, just loud enough for me to hear.Bookmark here

“I’m not supposed to leave you unaccompanied,” I say, twisting my fingers together. “In case you slip, or cut yourself, or get attacked.”Bookmark here

“In my own kitchen?” She takes out a knife, poking the sharp end lightly with her finger before putting it down. “I'm not a child, you know.”Bookmark here

“I know. But it’s my job.”Bookmark here

"Whatever." She throws me an apple, and I catch it. “Here. I’m not sure if you like apples, but these are good.”Bookmark here

“I don’t eat,” I say, staring at the ruby red surface. “I get my energy from my light.”Bookmark here

“So you don’t have to eat,” she says. “You still have a mouth. Are you able to taste?”Bookmark here

“I… don't know.” I turn the apple over in my hand. “What if it kills me?”Bookmark here

She laughs. “I didn’t know angels could have allergies.”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t call it an allergy,” I say, frowning, but smell the apple anyway. It seems harmless. “I wasn’t told anything about eating human food in my training.”Bookmark here

“Is there anyone you could ask, like a manager or something?” She’s biting into her own apple now, and I can hear the crunch from across the room.Bookmark here

“My teacher is busy,” I say. “He has to train another guardian angel now. I could ask the gods, but they’re generally unresponsive.”Bookmark here

“So then you should just go for it. I mean, if it was really dangerous then they would warn you about it, right?”Bookmark here

“I guess,” I say, and look the apple over one more time. “But if this does kill me, then you know my blood will be on your hands, right?”Bookmark here

This makes her hesitate, but only for a second. “If my guardian angel is so weak that an apple can kill him, then it would be better for me to have a different one,” she jokes, and I bite into the apple, rolling my eyes.Bookmark here

Immediately, my mouth is overcome by the flavor of it, and I close my eyes.Bookmark here

“How is it?” she asks, and I don’t answer at first. The sweetness filling my mouth is different and better than anything I’ve ever felt. “You know you have to chew, right? You can’t just let it sit there or it’ll get nasty.”Bookmark here

“I know,” I say, finally opening my eyes again. “I’ve seen you eat before.” I swallow the bite in my mouth, then take another one. Bookmark here

“Are you dying yet?” she asks, and I frown at her. Bookmark here

“You’re funny. You know, you seemed a lot more quiet before you could see me.”Bookmark here

Her face drops at this, but only slightly, so slightly that I barely catch it. “Yeah, I guess. I mean, I didn't have anyone to talk to before.”Bookmark here

I remember the incident, and I open my mouth to ask about it, but then i remember telling her that I wouldn't pry again. “Well,” I say instead, wiping the juice of the apple away with the back of my hand, “you have me now.”Bookmark here

“Great,” she says, smiling a little. “A glorified heavenly stalker. I really have the cream of the crop here.”Bookmark here

“Hey, it’s not like you’re all that great either,” I say before i can stop myself. "You're rude."Bookmark here

My breath catches, and I'm afraid she’ll get angry, or send me away. Instead, she walks over to me, grabs the apple from my hand, and bites into it.Bookmark here

“Sorry,” she says, crunching loudly. “I’ll try to be nicer in the future.” She finishes the apple, ignoring my complaints, and throws the core into the garbage. Bookmark here

“Point proven,” I mutter. If she hears me, she doesn't show it.Bookmark here

“Let’s go to my room,” she says, walking towards the stairs. “My mom will be home soon.”Bookmark here

It’s weird walking into her room now that she can see me. She sits down on her bed, and I make myself comfortable in her desk chair, suddenly too aware of myself. Bookmark here

“So what does a guardian angel do?” she asks. Bookmark here

“My job is to protect you from danger,” i say. Bookmark here

“So am I immortal now?”Bookmark here

“No, of course not. I can’t protect you from everything. I just do my best.” I start eating the new apple, closing my eyes involuntarily with the first bite. “Nobody’s immortal.”Bookmark here

“So you’re going to follow me around for the rest of my life?”Bookmark here

“Basically. Unless I die, of course.” Bookmark here

“Where do people go when they die?”Bookmark here

“I’m not telling you.” I'm not entirely sure myself. Heaven, probably, but I have no confirmation of that. As far as I can tell, heaven is just the place where angels come from. Bookmark here

“You’re a bummer.” She lays down on her bed, tilting her head to look at me. “So all you do all day is go where I go and make sure I don't die?”Bookmark here

“Basically.”Bookmark here

“It sounds boring.”Bookmark here

I should reassure her, but I find myself nodding. “It is. Especially since you never do anything.” I wince at my own words, preparing an apology, but she just laughs. Bookmark here

“Sorry I’m not entertaining enough for you.” She swings her legs in the air, back and forth. “I guess I’m not being a good friend.”Bookmark here

Friend? Is that how she sees me now?  “No, I shouldn’t be complaining,” I say. “As long as I’m doing my job, I’m happy to be doing it. You don't have to worry about me.”Bookmark here

“But that would be rude of me,” she says, repeating my own word back at me, and I look away sheepishly. “You’re right to complain. If you're going to protect me, then I should make it worth your while.”Bookmark here

“Really, you don’t have to-”Bookmark here

“No, it’s settled.” She’s sitting up now, legs swinging. “It’s been a while since I’ve been out doing things anyway. We’ll help each other. You keep me company, and I’ll give you a better life than just sitting around and watching me do nothing.”Bookmark here

I’ll follow you around anyway, I want to say. I’m not entitled to anything. But her face is set, determined, and I feel a similar determination stirring inside of me.Bookmark here

“It’s a deal,” I say, reaching out to shake her hand. I don' t bother mentioning that she could forget my existence at any time. At this point, I think I might be stuck like this, at least for a little while, and I'm starting to get used to it. "Now can i have another apple please?"Bookmark here

Joe Gold
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