Fiction: Most people never meet their guardian angel
Marlon sighed, looking down from the upper level onto Exhibit Hall A. The International Auto Show was the biggest event of the year, and the Toronto Convention Centre was jammed wall-to-wall with suburban car buffs and their sniffly kids. Not to mention sponsors who had no idea how hard it was to get a half-million-dollar Maserati into the Centre without scratching the paint or denting a door.
For a hands-on Director of Operations, it was exhausting. Still, Marlon loved his job, and it warmed him to see so many people enjoying themselves.
Marlon heard a low rumble behind him and turned. A boy of about ten was on a skateboard, barrelling with surprising speed towards the plexiglass barrier that overlooked the Exhibit Hall a hundred feet below.
Why the hell would security let him in with that thing? Without thinking Marlon flung himself directly in front of the kid, who bounced backwards even as Marlon smashed into the railing. He felt the plastic shatter, then a moment of plunging and weightlessness.
Without warning, he was on his feet again, ten feet away from the shattered barrier. The kid on the skateboard was nearby crying, a woman consoling him. The crowd milled about, some looking at the broken railing or the weeping child, but the only person watching Marlon was a woman dressed all in white.
Marlon noticed a few things about her immediately — she was tall and slim, with long reddish hair and wide bright eyes. What really caught his attention, though, was the pair of six-foot wings protruding from her back, which flapped gently as she hovered several inches over the floor.
“Whoa,” he said.
She furrowed her brow. “Shit. You can see me?”
“Yeah.” Even as he said it, Marlon realized that no one else seemed to have noticed her.
“Let’s talk in private.”
There was a flash, and Marlon found himself in his office upstairs, seated at his desk. The statuesque, feathered woman stood in front of him.
“This is awkward,” she said “I’m Muriel. I’m what you’d call your Guardian Angel.”
“Yeah. Like Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael…Anyway, something got screwed up. Usually we don’t intervene directly like I did today. For some reason, maybe because I touched you physically, you can perceive me now.”
“Ok. Wow. This is…fuck. Sorry about the language. Am I dead?”
“No. You’re alive because it wasn’t your time, and because I’m always with you.”
Marlon paused, considering the possibility that he’d suffered a psychotic break and that this mad experience was entirely imaginary. He shrugged mentally. If I’m hallucinating, may as well run with it.
“Like, you’re around 24/7? Is this a new thing?”
Muriel laughed. “Nope. Since you were born.”
Marlon felt his face flushing as he thought of things he’d done when he’d thought himself alone.
Muriel continued. “I can read your mind too, although I usually won’t unless it’s an emergency. But don’t worry, I don’t judge. That’s His job.” She looked up at the ceiling.
“With all due respect, your job sounds kind of boring.” Shit, Marlon, you meet a angel who just saved your life and the first thing you do is insult her.
The angel shrugged. “It’s relative. When I was in training I spent three million years watching a hunk of granite at the bottom of the Atlantic.”
“Huh. So how does it work? Do they pay you or something?”
“Pretty much room and board. The Boss figures it’s a big deal just to be an angel so that’s enough. Plus, it’s not like there’s malls up there or anything. You can order from Amazon, though.”
She snort-laughed. “No, not really. How would that work? Anyway, Bezos will be lucky if he gets within same-day delivery range of the Pearly Gates. Keep that to yourself though.”
Marlon nodded. “Since I can see you, does that mean you’ll be around all the time? Visibly?”
“Dunno but looks like it. I checked in with the Boss on this already, but he can take a while to get back. Mysterious ways, and all that. So for now you’re stuck with me.”
A month later, Marlon marvelled at how quickly people, or at least him, adapted to new situations. At first it was a little unsettling to wake up at three am with a full bladder and see Muriel beside the bed, glowing and smiling benignly down on him — angels, it seemed, didn’t sleep — but soon it just felt cozy and safe.
They talked constantly, Marlon asking questions about Heaven, and Muriel picking his brain on what it was like to be mortal. The pair would often drive out to the country — the Heavenly authorities didn't approve of casual teleportation — to avoid the stares he sometimes got when he forgot and spoke to her out loud in public.
Marlon had never met anyone like her — she was beautiful and brilliant and funny, and knew Jesus personally, although, she stressed, only as a work friend.
One Thursday evening as they walked around the Centre inspecting the setup for the weekend Fintech conference — she had taken to walking, as the floating made Marlon uncomfortable — he got up the courage to raise a topic they’d curiously never discussed.
“Do angels, er, you know?”
“Do we what?”
Marlon paused. “You know. Sex.”
She laughed. “Oh my, yes. The Boss gave that to everyone. We like it just as much as you do.”
“Do angels ever do it with humans?”
“Sure, where do you think Harry Styles came from?” She grinned, and then her face grew serious. “I’m just messing with you. It happens, but it’s frowned on. There can be consequences. Why do you ask?”
Marlon knew that she understood exactly why he was asking.
“Because.” Fortune favours the bold. “Because I love you.”
She gave him a look that was impossible to read. “You should know, you’ve always been different from my other people. I wasn’t even supposed to save you.”
She smiled and walked ahead of him.
That night Marlon found out what angels knew about sex, and it was, he thought, quite a lot.
He woke up the next morning to a dark, empty room. He clicked the lamp on the bedside table and saw a note written in glittering gold ink.
These last few weeks have been amazing in ways I can’t even explain, but I’ve heard from Upstairs. I’m no longer your guardian. After you’ve read this note, you’ll forget our time together, but there is hope — a way that we can be with each other. Hold on to that. I can’t tell you any more.
I love you,
He crumpled the paper into a ball and threw it across the room, watching it burst into white flame and vanish before it hit the floor.
Three days later, Marlon was walking the two blocks from the subway to the Convention Centre, with a curious nagging feeling that he’d forgotten something. A tall, slim, woman approached him.
“Excuse me, do you know the way to the Convention Centre?”
“Sure, I can show you. I’m headed there myself.”
“Thank you! My name is Muriel.”