Angel in Training
A large fluffy white cloud gently nudged a heavily-laden cloud which was holding a brand new angel, by name of Harry.
Harry was bored, and needed something to amuse him. It was his first day as an angel and, so far, there were no sign of any instructions to tell him what he was supposed to do. He sighed. Yes, he did have a heavenly sleep on his first night in that fluffy cloud, but he was a trifle upset that there was no greeting party to give him his first supper. There had been nothing to celebrate his new life as an angel. He looked down, and wondered if the living could help him pass a few hours.
So he watched a man dressed in a business suit rushing to catch a train. He had an umbrella in one hand and a briefcase in the other. He was puffing and panting as he dodged and weaved his way among the other people, who seemed to emulate the behaviour of grazing animals and not commuters desperate to reach their destination. The man began to have more trouble as his glasses began to fog up.
Eventually, by a miracle, which angels should know all about, he purchased his ticket and was finally seated in a corner seat of his train, trying to relax. He methodically cleaned his glasses and took out a large novel to read.
An old man wearing a baseball hat and chewing gum peered at the book as it was retrieved from his briefcase, “I do not mind reading a novel myself, when I have the time,” he remarked casually. “Of course, my eyes are not as sharp as they use to be.”
The man in the business suit nodded, and quickly found his place. He wanted to read, not chatter to this guy, and hear all about his symptoms of pain and old age. He took a quick glance at him and decided this man probably had a medical history as big as the book he was attempting to read.
“Have you ever read War and Peace,” the man persisted, through a mouthful of gum. He waited patiently for an answer, blowing a large bubble that popped with a loud snap. “I guess it does not really matter if you have,” he continued, “I have not read it. I prefer a good comic, myself!”
Gary, the smartly dressed businessman, groaned and gritted his teeth to prevent his telling the old man to refrain from idle chatter as he was trying to read his book in peace.
The old man ignored the glance, and continued, “What about the Phantom comic? Now there is a great story. I used to own a phantom ring, and experimented by punching guys, to try to see how long the indentation would remain on their jaw. Of course, the real Phantom’s mark would last forever.”
Gary looked to the heavens and prayed that by some miracle this irritation would pop and disappear like the temporary bubbles the old man’s gum was making.
Harry noticed Gary’s eyes were looking straight at him. Like all good angels, he was very observant. He was not sure if he was allowed to pop mortals out of existence if someone in distress prayed it would happen. He sensed that it was at times like this that one needed a manual to check what had been written regarding this rule.
Then, as if by a miracle, the train pulled up to the station, releasing all its captive passengers to spill out like marbles from an upturned tin.
Gary irritably shoved his unread novel into his briefcase and rushed out of the train to flee from the bubble-gum-snapping, comic-reading old bore. He ran to catch a taxi but still found time to glance behind him to see if the old man was following him.
But the old man patiently waited until most commuters had left the carriage, and only then stepped onto the platform and wandered, like a cow, along the platform to be milked at the exit.
Finally, a cab stopped for Gary, and he gave the driver instructions where to go. He fumbled in his front pocket and realised in horror the ten dollars for the taxi was gone. In despair, he opened his bare hand to show the taxi driver he had no money.
Harry witnessed the whole proceedings and became very emotional, feeling the pain Gary was experiencing. A solitary tear from Harry rolled down his cheek and fell to earth. It happened to fall on Gary’s opened hand and, when it hit flesh, it turned into a twenty dollar note.
The taxi driver looked away from the road for a split second and spied the money. “That will be plenty, mate, you even have enough there for a small tip. I knew when I first saw you dressed in that expensive suit that you would give me a tip. We taxi drivers are experts on human behaviour, you know,” he added smugly.
Gary looked towards the heavens and murmured, “Thank you. I will try to be worthy of your kindness.” He then glanced at the taxi driver who was now watching the traffic, smiled and realised he thought he was talking to him.
However, Harry knew the kind comment was for him. This was the first time since becoming an angel that he’d felt so special. He wondered if he was allowed to do what he had, even though he had no control over the transformation. All he could do was to wait until another angel gave him guidance on what was expected of him.
Gary knew a miracle had happened and he wanted to tell someone else so that they could experience the excitement that came with it too. He decided the best he could do was to show an act of kindness to a person in need when he found someone.
Harry beamed. But not with too much pride as angels do not behave in a non-angelic manner. While waiting for something else to happen, he stretched out his stiff wings and gave them a flap. After tucking them neatly behind his shoulder blades, he waited to see what Gary would do next.
He’d now gone into an expensive-looking department store.
A lady, another customer, noticed Gary also looking at the crystal vases. She gave him a smile as both their eyes alighted on the same vase. “Hello there,” she remarked brightly. “My name is Julie. I see you too have good taste in crystal. I was looking for a crystal vase to give to my mother who turns eighty tomorrow.”
Julie knew this vase was one of the most expensive in the shop. It was a Waterford crystal, and worth at least three-hundred dollars. She knew she just had to have it for her mother. “I hope you don’t mind my taking this vase from under your nose,” she said to Gary.
Gary smiled. “Go ahead! By the way, my name is Gary, I was admiring its craftsmanship, but have no need of a vase at present. If I need one, I will now know where to come to buy one. Give your mother best wishes on her birthday from me.”
The shop assistant walked over to them, hungry for a sale. “Please relax you two. It just happens that there are two of those vases, exactly the same. Both of you can buy one!”
Julie thanked Gary and handed the vase to the shop assistant to wrap. She carefully took the package and walked out of the shop. A few seconds later there was a terrible crash as the vase slipped out of her hand and shattered on the hard pavement. She sat down beside the shattered pieces as if her heart had been broken too, and sobbed.
Gary immediately knew his moment had come. He looked up to the heavens and grabbed the last vase and bought it. He then walked to the sobbing young woman and patted her shoulder gently. “Julie, please do not cry any more. I am going to give you the other vase for your mother’s birthday.”
She looked up at him with bewilderment in her teary eyes, “Why would you want to do that? I have never seen you before, and I am sure you have never met my mother.”
Gary smiled, and looked to the heavens before replying, “I myself had a miracle happen to me today, an act of kindness, and feel the need to do the same for someone else. Taking my offer will also help me as much as it will help you.”
She smiled and stood, and carefully took the second packed vase from him. “Thank you, I promise I will follow your kindness and will also show kindness to a person in need.”
Harry’s wings sprung opened as he flapped them with excitement. This was working very well. He believed now that he was born to be an angel. It all appeared to come so naturally to him.
Julie basked in the happiness on her mother’s face when she presented the vase to her.
A week passed, and Harry considered she might have forgotten her promise to show someone else an act of kindness. He knew, even though he had two beautiful long, feathered wings, there was no reason yet to get into a flap about it.
One morning, as she was walking to buy some milk for her mother, Julie noticed a lady with a baby and a man arguing outside a house. The man was obviously a builder, by the hammer hanging from his trousers by a strong thick belt.
The builder was using his hands that moved like a leaf caught in a whirlpool. “Now, I am sorry, but if you do not pay by end of business today we will evict you and your baby. I need the six-hundred dollars to feed my family. I am sorry your brother was involved in a serious car accident but that happens every day.”
Julie rushed over to the two quarrelling people. “Stop, please, this minute!” she said to the builder. “I have a solution to the problem. I will pay you the six-hundred dollars now. All I ask is that you write her a receipt.”
They both regarded her quizzically to see if it was a joke. They even glanced around to see if there were any hidden cameras. After looking at each other in the hope they knew what was happening, they both thanked Julie for her kindness.
Julie stood proud and felt complete happiness as she watched the builder accept her money and write the receipt for the lady with the baby, which was now starting to cry.
“I am sorry, but I need to feed my baby,” the mother said. “Thank you so much, whoever you are. I only know you must be an angel.”
Harry realised being an angel was not just flapping his wings and sleeping on white fluffy clouds. He looked forward to helping more living people, with the hope that they too might pass their kindness onto a fellow human.
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.
published: July 2007