“My life’s important!” I tried to shout. It felt like someone touched my forehead and I saw a rapid sequence of images of my life. Things I’d done to get to where I was today, some of which didn’t make me any too proud.
“That’s how I see you,” said the messenger. “And that’s how you see yourself when you’re being honest.” I didn’t like what I saw and tried to shrink away.
“You’re thirty-five years old – halfway to the proverbial three score and ten. No one lives forever and you need to do the best with whatever time is granted you.
“Now, here’s what we both could see.”
Another series of images passed before my eyes. The Porsche was replaced by a minivan. The luxury apartment was now a house littered with school backpacks and kids’ shoes. I saw myself in a suit, but instead of the carefully tailored designer label it was a functional off-the-rack version. But there was something else different – something different about me.
“What the hell was that?” I asked.
“One of the farthest things from hell. The life you were intended to live,” came the reply.
“I don’t understand any of this!”
“Ah, but you do and deep inside you know you do. All of this fits together.”
I tried to make sense of it, I actually did, but got nowhere.
“I’m a messenger. I’ve been with you all your life. I know everything about you.”
“Uhh,” I stammered, “you’re an angel?”
“I’m an angel. A guardian angel. Your guardian angel. I’ve watched over you.”
“And you don’t like what you see,” I offered lamely.
“Passing judgment is not my job. Amongst ourselves we guardian angels like to say ‘We nudge, not judge’.”
“Well, I don’t like what I see when I see it so plainly,” I replied. “I can do better.”
“Of course you can – you’re human. Humans can always do better. That’s the way you were made. All humans – the saints as well as the sinners, so you’re in good company. That’s why I brought you here, so we could talk and you could figure out what you need to do.”
“But I haven’t figured it!” I protested.
“Sure you have, it doesn’t have to be laid out step by step. This is not a business plan. You know in your heart what to do. Now it’s time to go and do it.”
“It’s time for you to go back and pick up where you left off, and if you’re smart, in a different direction. For what it’s worth, I think you’re smart.”
“Did anyone miss me? I’ve been gone for a couple of days.”
“Someone would have missed you if time here was the same as time there. As far as they can tell you were never gone. You left and will return within the blink of an eye.” The translucent world around me began to fade – but it began fading from translucent to solid.
“Wait!” I tried to shout. “Can I talk with you later?”
“I told you that you used to be able to communicate this way. I was referring to when you prayed. I’ll be there when you pray, and not only will I listen in, I’ll be praying with you. You pray directly to the boss, not me, but I’ll be there with you.”
The world continued to solidify around me until I found myself where I had been before, sitting in a restaurant across from my girlfriend.
“…blue, with a white trim,” she was saying. “Are you all right?”
“What?” I answered, with a hint of confusion.
“For a second there you seemed to zone out, like you were somewhere else.” The waiter came up with the check and I quickly stuffed some bills in the folder and stood up.
“We need to talk, Amanda,” I said helping her with her coat and almost dragging her outside. It was snowing lightly with a dusting on the ground. We walked for a long time as I explained the whole strange experience to her.
Photo by Daniel Massey
Posted on BBC Web Page
“So what are you going to do?” she asked.
“I’m not sure, but I know my habit of seeing myself as the center of things isn’t going to work anymore. I guess I’ll just have to take things as they come up and figure it out one at a time.” I stopped and looked at her.
“We’ve been together for what, two years?”
“Three,” she replied, “and a half.”
“You’re the only person in the world that I could share this with, yet I’ve never made any real commitment to you. At the least you deserve that.”
“It would be nice,” she replied. “I would like that very much.” We started walking again, at first hand in hand and then with my arm around her.
“It was so weird that he knew everything about me. I hadn’t thought about some of those things in years. I mean, who thinks about freshman statistics class. That was almost twenty years ago. I guess that’s one day I wanted to forget. I sat next to a girl I was hoping to ask out and instead had a full blown, meltdown anxiety attack.” We continued walking. “I wonder what ever happened to her.”
Amanda looked at me oddly.
“I’m right here. You didn’t know that I was the girl sitting next to you?”
Somewhere far off, or maybe in my head, I heard a very faint laugh.