by Ladee Caid
What happens when an Archangel falls in love.
|Word Count: 6,002
The Archangel Justus stood at the opening with his sword at his side. He guarded the entrance where all angels reside looking down on the earth below. He kept a watchful eye on those humans who had left their lives. As the souls ascended, he made sure their journey was without adversity. He made sure no demon or devil from the vile world stole them away. Their passage from earth to the clouds was a vulnerable one, so Justus was vigilant. He pondered each human spirit as they traversed his realm to get back home.
All spirits’ guardian angel met them at the opening, walked them through the gates crowded with other angels, up the glowing stairs, and left them to pass through the veil to heaven. Some souls had, had a very hard life, and their essence was battered and distorted. Justus wondered why these humans tortured themselves so. He speculated on why they would leave such a beautiful existence to enter the physical realm where they were as close to the vile world as they could get without stepping over the boundaries. Some succumbed to the taunting of the devils. If they didn’t right themselves before their bodies gave way, they descended further and became one of the demon creatures Justus defended the righteous from.
The Guardian Angel Lamilian floated to the opening, watched, and waited. His charge’s breathing was labored, and his mind was incoherent. Justus rested his fists on his hips, folded his wings, and tilted his head down to look at Lamilian.
“You help these spirits throughout their lives. What is their purpose for putting themselves in such a depraved predicament; what knowledge are they gathering?”
The guardian angel looked up and clasped his hands.
“They learn different things,” He shrugged one shoulder. “Some are there to learn what greed is about, some are there to learn what it means to think of themselves as better than others, some of them want to know what happens when they do nothing, but all of them are learning about fear and love. It’s all interconnected.”
Lamilian waggled his fingers in front of his face then laced them together making his two hands into one ball. He tucked his hands to his chest and looked down at his human.
“It is all a matter of how they go about it,” he said, not taking his eyes from his charge.
Justus looked down at Lamilian’s human and snorted.
“I don’t understand Lamilian. I know what these things are: these lessons. I know what will happen if you adopt any one of these misfortunes. How is it they do not?”
“I don’t fully understand either, but I’ve been told these humans experience an intensity that makes submerging worth it.”
The dying man lie under his covers pale and clammy with his arms exposed beside him. Every breath gurgled and wheezed. A woman with a woven cloth draped over her head knelt beside his bed. Her elbows dented the edge of the man’s covering. With palms together, her hands mirrored each other, and her forehead met her fingertips. The man exhaled a long, crackling breath, and his chest heaved no more. He rose from his body and floated toward the opening in the clouds. Lamilian greeted him.
Justus watched the guardian angel and his charge glide away. He looked down at the body left behind. He studied with fascination while the woman shook it and wailed the man’s name. Her guardian angel rushed to her side. He put his hand on her shoulder, and she fell across the empty body sobbing. The angel whispered in her ear, but if she heard, she didn’t acknowledge it.
Clearly the woman is distraught. Why?
Justus decided he may find his answers through the Mother and Father. He concentrated on the Archangel Michael’s position.
“Michael, will you join me?”
It took but a moment before Michael stood beside him.
“I need have audience with Them. Will you guard the ascenders?”
Michael bowed. He moved his glowing sword to a position ready for battle and stood at the entrance with his legs spread, wings opened, and arms crossed.
Justus knelt on one knee with his head lowered before the thrones of the Mother and Father. A mist swirled around his ankle and over his thigh. He opened his mouth to speak but the silky voice of the Mother interrupted.
“We know why you have come before us, Justus. The Father and I have been discussing.”
The booming voice of the Father vibrated Justus’ being.
“You lack compassion and understanding for those souls residing on the earthly plane. It is not necessary that you acquire these, for your position is that of protector.”
Justus eyed the outline of his foot through the thin ever-changing fog.
“I only wanted-,” he started, but was again cut off.
“Because of your curiosity,” the Mother said, “we have a proposal.”
The Father spoke, “You will descend for three earthly days and nights as a human.”
Justus looked at the Father.
“Descend? As human?”
“It is the only way to gain understanding, Justus,” the Mother said.
The Father explained the rules.
“You won’t be able to smite vile creatures. They will be intangible, and you will be solid matter. Nor will you be able to see them. One of the guardian angels will look after you and guide you, but you won’t see him either. We will send Archangel Gabriel to watch and protect you. You mustn’t reveal your true nature to the humans experiencing life. You will be there only to witness, not to cause change.
Justus blinked. The only movement from the Mother and Father awaiting Justus’ response was a gentle lifting of their robes at their feet from the current that moved the coiling mist.
“If you wish this of me, I will go.”
“We wish nothing,” the Mother said. “This is your decision to make.”
“Go now,” the Father said. “Think as long as you like. If you decide to take the journey, you will be there.”
Justus stood, bowed, and concentrated on the entrance between the angel’s realm and the physical. With that thought, he was standing beside Michael. Together, the two Archangels watched the opening. One watched the spirits leaving their lives, and the other watched them living it.
Justus stood with an arm across his chest supporting the elbow of the other arm with its hand cupping his chin watching the humans mill around. It looked chaotic to him, like the souls below had no order about them. One walked this way and the other that way. Some sat down to food while others wrestled. Some crawled with their hand outstretched completely ignored by others walking past. He shook his head.
“It seems a senseless ritual these humans perform,” Justus said to Michael.
“I hadn’t noticed, but I suppose you are right. Will you be going?”
“It is for but a short time. Yes, I will be going.” He nodded.
Justus woke on his side to the tickling of his arm and a sweet earthy smell. He gasped and opened his eyes to blades of tall grass. They were everywhere. Suddenly, the blades waved in unison with the breeze. chhhhhh. Somewhere, there was a screech, and Justus rolled his cumbersome body on its back. Above him, the sky was blue. The clumps of clouds that hung in it comforted him. Again, he heard the screech. A bird with a dull white underbelly flew overhead. With eyes wide, Justus watched it. He missed his wings already.
In the distance, he heard a chorus of sheep baaing and bells tinkling. The sound grew closer. Justus lifted his body to a sitting position. Herding his way was a small flock of sheep with a shepherd wearing a rope around the waist of his tunic. He carried a staff and had a sack flung over his shoulder. The man stopped, counted his sheep, and leaned on the staff. He looked at the western sky, at the trees, at his flock, then let the bag fall from his shoulder to the ground. He bent over, reached in the sack, and pulled out a hunk of bread. The man chewed while taking in the terrain. Then, the man saw Justus and stopped chewing. The two stared at each other. After a moment, the shepherd picked up his bag, stuffed his bread in, and high stepped through the field toward Justus. The man held up his palm.
“Salve,” he said.
Justus returned the greeting, “Salve.”
The man moved his hand to his chest.
“I am Adok.”
When Justus didn’t introduce himself, the man prompted him.
“And you are?”
“I am Justus.”
The man planted a fist on his hip, jutted the top of his staff to the side away from him, and nodded.
“That is a fine name. That is the name of one of the Archangels you know? Of course you know. Yep.”
Justus rolled to his hip and pushed himself to his feet. He didn’t like this. He felt as if he was hefting a heavy load.
Three days? How do these humans carry around these bodies for years?
The taller Justus stood the rounder the shepherd’s eyes became.
“No wonder you were named Justus.”
Justus walked in circles getting used to his legs. The stiff grass beneath his feet poked his tender soles, but he didn’t let on that it hurt.
“Why are you not wearing sandals?”
At least, Justus didn’t think he was letting it show. He stopped and looked at the man.
“I haven’t any.”
The shepherd cocked his head and pursed his lips. He scanned the ground.
“You have nothing but the tunic you wear. Did you happen upon thieves?”
Justus looked at his feet. Grass sprouted between his toes. He didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing.
The man let his arm fall to his side.
“Are you hungry?”
Justus looked at him.
His stomach answered for him.
“Of course you are. Yep.”
Adok dug the bread out of his satchel and handed it to Justus. Justus took it and bowed his head. He took a bite. It was dry and grainy, but the longer he chewed the more moist it became. He gobbled the rest. Some of the bread had wedged itself between his gum and upper lip, and he used his finger to dig it out. His tongue felt dry, and he found it hard to swallow. Adok thrust a sheep’s stomach bag he had pulled from his satchel in Justus’s face. It sloshed.
“Drink,” Adok said.
Justus took the bag and looked at Adok. Adok raised a brow, took the bag from him, sipped, and handed it back. Justus imitated the sheep herder. Water splashed onto his face, up his nose, and down the front of his tunic. Justus handed it back coughing and gasping. Adok pounded him on the back.
“You have to take it slow. When is the last time you drank from one of these?”
Justus shook his head, bent over, and spat the rest of the liquid from his lungs.
“You are an enigma; I can’t figure you out. You don’t know where you are from, and you don’t know how to eat or drink. Yet, your skin is shaven. You know what I think? I think you were robbed. You were hit on the head, and the thieves took everything, including your loin cloth. Why they would take a man’s covering is beyond me, yep, but…”
Justus was still bent, but his breathing was returning to normal. He didn’t bother to correct Adok, for he hadn’t a better story. He couldn’t lie, and he couldn’t tell the truth.
“We’ll gather the sheep, and I will take you back to my dwelling. My filia will see to you, and you can have what you can wear of my son’s belongings. He was big like you. Well, not as big, but his feet were. He was a soldier and died in battle.”
Adok stood straight with his chest out, his chin up, and a faraway gleam in his eye.
Justus stood. A warrior was something he understood.
“I would be grateful and honored.”
Adok looked at him.
“Yep, well… Come, let’s go.”
As Adok drove the sheep behind a crude fence, Justus looked about him. The small house was made of stones. Mud was used to fill in the gaps and hold the rocks in place. There were urns sitting on the bank of a stream that ran between the sheep’s pen and the home. A boulder had been placed in the center of the spring for crossing. Near the urns, the water gurgled over a rock bed. Justus found the sound pleasing.
Adok walked past him yelling.
Justus assumed he was to follow. As he stepped onto the other side of the stream a woman emerged from the darkness of the open doorway. He stopped and stared. She wore a light blue stola made of linen. It draped around her body to her feet and tied at the shoulders. A sash of the same fabric kept it fitted around her ribs. Her brown hair was braided into a halo around her head with wavy tendrils cascading over her bosom. Her lips were thin. Her nose and chin pointed. Her most striking feature was her large brown eyes. They captivated Justus.
Justus’s attention snapped to Adok.
“This is my filia, Klementina.”
Justus raised his hand.
And Klementina raised her brows.
“You will have to excuse him,” Adok said. “He was bonked on the head and had his things stolen. He was hit pretty hard it seems. Justus, it is customary to kiss the cheek of the lady you greet unless you wish to insult.”
Justus looked at Klementina, smoothed his tunic, and stepped forward. She held out her hand, and his palm swallowed it. He bent toward her and kissed the side of her face. Her skin was soft and musky, and her hair smelled of the flowers on the tree they passed on the way. He stepped back, but couldn’t take his eyes from her. Klementina’s cheeks turned pink, and she looked down.
“Well,” Adok said.
He cleared his throat then addressed his daughter.
“Go in and bring your brother’s sandals, loin cloth, and wrap.”
She pecked him on the cheek and disappeared into the hovel.
“I can tell by the way you walk you are not used to walking on feet without sandals,” Klementina said.
Justus and the shepherd’s daughter stood next to the stream. She looked at him as if she were waiting for a response, but Justus didn’t know what to say.
“Please, sit with your feet in the water. I will wash them for you, then we will fit my brother’s sandals on you.”
Justus nodded and lowered himself to the ground. He put his feet in the water and jerked them out. It was cold. Klementina giggled. She lifted her wrap past her knees and tied it in a knot at her hip. Justus watched her legs. She stepped into the stream and knelt before him. Her stola billowed and rippled in the current. She wrapped her hands around his feet, eased them in the stream, and held them. When she let go, the water was chilly where her hands had been, but it didn’t seem as frigid as the first immersion. She rubbed his feet, and his whole body relaxed. Her fingers between his toes felt better than the sharp grass of before. While she concentrated on cleaning, Justus fascinated over her hair gleaming in the sun light. She looked up at him with her brown eyes.
“Okay, put your feet on the bank.”
He stared at her lips as they formed the words. She smiled.
“Justus, lift your feet from the water, and put them in the grass.”
He scooted and turned, doing as he was told. She stood. The cloth of her stola was pasted to her skin. Water ran from it and down her legs. She stepped out and knelt before him again. Along with the items her father asked her to fetch, she had also carried a towel and jar. She used the towel to sop the moisture from his feet. Then, she poured a thick liquid into her palm. She rubbed it between her hands and applied it to each foot.
Justus felt weak and leaned back to rest on his elbows.
“This is amazing,” he said.
Klementina looked up and smiled. Justus’s stomach tingled inside.
After the oil had been worked in and the sandals strapped on, Klementina helped Justus stand.
When the shadows cast were the shortest, Justus followed Klementina to market. He ogled the crowd moving between stalls, gathering in groups, and resting on the wall of the fountain. He watched men haggle and women chatter. Some people moved only as much as was needed while others flung their arms in gesture. Children chased one another, laughed, and tumbled.
A young boy not taller than Justus’s knee fell. A woman lifted him to his feet and looked him over. Blood beaded on one knee. The woman spoke to the boy, and the boy quieted. She guided him to the lip of the water fountain and sat him there among others. The fountain splashed creating a mist. She patted the boy’s head and turned back to her conversation.
Two young girls sitting near the boy stared at Justus. They looked as if they were joined by the flesh. Every time one whispered to the other, giggling erupted from them. When they realized Justus had noticed, the smaller of the two fluttered her fingers. The other girl laughed behind her hand. He saluted, and they giggled. Justus cocked his head and wondered what their reaction meant. He turned to the stall where Klementina had been bartering, but she wasn’t there.
Justus scanned the crowd for his escort, but none of the faces were hers. He looked above the heads and down the row of merchants. He wasn’t sure what to do. He looked to the path that would take him back to the shepherd’s spot of land, then through the ambling people. He stepped further into the market place and scoured every face. He turned to go.
A gentle hand gripped his elbow. He looked over his shoulder. Klementina stood looking with concern etched in the creases of her brow. He smiled. He hadn’t realized how tense he’d become until she appeared. A giddiness started to take hold of him. She was beautiful. No other face had he seen that day could compare to hers.
Later that night, Justus lay on blankets with one rolled for his head under the dark starry sky. A corner in the home was offered to him, but he wanted time alone. His body was weary, but his mind reeled from the experiences of the day and thoughts of his home. Most of all, he reflected on Klementina.
Justice didn’t understand the feelings he felt for Klementina. When he saw her, his being smiled. When she looked at him, he felt weak, and his stomach quivered. He wanted to touch her skin and smell her hair again. He wanted to know what her hair felt like, but when he got close to her, she tucked her arms in front of her, bowed her head, and her face would flush. It was clear to Justus she did not desire his advances nor want him too near her.
Justus was distracted by voices in the burrow. He heard most of what the father and daughter whispered.
“What do you think of our guest, Klementina?”
“He is very nice.”
“Oh yes patrem. He is handsome, and strong, but gentle. He is so innoc…….child.”
“You have my blessing to marry him, you know, yep.”
“Patrem, I can’t……..you. You need me.”
“I am an old man, Klementina. You need a husband. I want my filia to be happy, loved, and protected.”
“Patrem, no more nonsense. I’m not leaving you.”
Justus didn’t completely understand what they were talking about, but it sounded as if Adok wanted him to take Klementina somewhere, and she didn’t want to go. He rolled to his side thinking about her. He wondered why she recoiled from him.
I’m not here to cause change, just observe.
He tried to comfort himself with the Father’s words, but Klementina’s dislike of him made him uncomfortable.
Justus woke to the sound of bells. He opened his eyes to see Adok on the other side of the stream in the fence with his sheep. Justus stood and stretched. Adok saw him, waved, and walked toward him, locking the gate behind him.
Adok started speaking before he even stepped across the water.
“After breakfast, will you help an old man to sheer the sheep and gather it to take to market?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
Justus rubbed his grainy eyes, and the men sat on roughly made benches created from the wood of the stump they surrounded. Klementina brought them a plate of cheese, olives, and bread that had been dipped in olive oil. She stole glances of Justus from the corner of her eye but would not look directly at him. She placed the platter on the stump in front of them and hurried away. Adok stopped her before she disappeared into the home.
“Filia, you are not going to join us?”
With her hand on the doorway, she looked over her shoulder.
“I ate patrem, and I have mending.”
The dark of the hovel swallowed her before another word could be exchanged.
“She is such an obstinate girl,” Adok said. “She should marry, don’t you think?”
Adok leaned close causing Justus to lean back.
“I don’t know what that means.”
“I keep forgetting you were hit on the head. To marry means to join with someone you love.” Adok sighed. “It means to join with someone and become a partner with them and have children, yep. Klementina needs to do that, don’t you think?”
“Does she want that?”
Justus’s back was relieved when Adok sat straight and plopped an olive in his mouth. He didn’t answer, so Justus started to nibble.
“Yes, she wants that. She just won’t admit it. Why don’t you ask for her hand, Justus?”
Justus chocked. A pimento flew from his mouth and stuck to the bark of the stump. Gravity took hold and it rolled to the ground.
“I can’t, Adok.”
“Why not? I’ve seen the way you look at her.”
“I will only be here a short time.”
Adok slumped and sat a half-eaten hunk of cheese on the plate.
“Hmmm, well, a man’s got to do what has to be done, but you are welcome to stay.”
Adok grunted as he rose. His knee cracked, and he stretched before addressing Justus again.
“Ugh, my joints are bothering me today.”
He put his gnarled hand on Justus’s shoulder.
I’m going to begin sheering. You sit here and finish eating. Make sure you get your fill because we’re going to be at this for a while. We’ll take a short break for a midday meal, but I have to get this done if we are to take the wool to market tomorrow.”
Justus watched him walk away, then stared at his feet and picked pieces of bread. He thought about home. He could stay here just to be around Klementina for eternity, but she didn’t want him around anyway. He wondered which of the guardian angels was chosen to guide him. He was told he wouldn’t see or hear them, but he rambled anyway.
“These souls are brave. I have only touched upon a bit of emotion, to which I’m sure you are aware, but these feelings do make one feel….well they make you feel. It’s hard to explain. And, I get tired. That makes me heavier than I already am in this body. I have feelings for one of the humans. At times, I like them, but the longer I’m here the more I wish they would go away. I don’t understand them and can’t wait for them to be gone. What are these feelings dear guardian?”
“To whom are you speaking?”
Justus was jerked from his one-sided conversation. Klementina stood next to his seat. How could he word what he was doing without causing too many questions?
“I’m talking to those from home.”
Her eyebrows rose.
“I can’t hear them, but I was talking to them anyway.”
“You look sad, Justus. Are you missing your home?”
“It isn’t so much that I’m missing it as much as, I no longer want to feel feelings.”
She sat on the edge of the bench next to his.
He searched her face wondering if he should tell her. Would she turn her back on him? Would she bolt? He decided it didn’t matter. It wouldn’t change what is whether he told her or not.
“They are feelings concerning you. I don’t understand them. When you are near me, I feel content. When you are elsewhere I only want you near. Your eyes, your lips, your hair, your body, your gestures, your words, you, make me feel jittery inside. And when you turn from me or ignore me, I feel sad. I don’t understand these feelings. I have never felt them before. I don’t want them. It’s painful sometimes.”
Klementina dropped her head, and Justus dropped his.
“After today, I will spend another, and then I will leave.”
Klementina stood, lifted her stola, and ran into the hovel. Justus watched her go. He sighed, stood, and went to the fence to help Adok.
The sun beat down all the day. Justus’s skin kept a shiny, moist sheen. He held the animal’s head while Adok removed the wool. Each sheep bleated in protest and jerked its body until it realized it did no good. While Adok herded another, Justus stuffed the wool into sacks. Klementina had brought water and bits to eat in the bag Adok had been carrying the day before. She hung it on the fence and hurried away. She spoke to no one and kept her eyes to the ground.
By the end of it, Justus felt weary. He marveled over Adok’s endurance. The old man didn’t seem bothered at all. He shuffled back to the bench he’d sat on for breakfast. Supper had been set for them. Justus was almost too tired to eat, but Adok stuffed his mouth with gusto, telling stories of his childhood between bites. After Justus had eaten enough to feel satisfied, he said goodnight and fell to the ground onto his bedroll under the tree.
Later, he was shaken awake. He opened his heavy eyelids to the tear streaked cheeks of Klementina. He propped himself onto his elbow.
“What is it, Klementina?”
“I don’t want you to go. I love you. My whole life I haven’t met anyone that makes me feel the way you do. You explained how you felt earlier, but it seemed like you were telling me how I was feeling about you. I don’t want you to go. I just found you.”
So, that is what the feeling is: love.
Klementina lifted his blanket and crawled in. She scooted her backside against him. Justus lie down and allowed her to use his arm as a pillow. Her warm, tender body was comforting. He could feel her breathing, and the scent of her hair lulled him into a blissful sleep.
Klementina was still beside him when he woke. She was awake and staring at him. He smiled and she drew her face close. She pressed her lips to his, and Justus gasped. Her lips were soft. He pressed harder. She used her tongue to caress his mouth, and his groin tingled. He put his arm around her and pulled her in.
“Well, good morning.”
Klementina smoothed her hair and stola and rose to greet her father.
“Good morning patrem.”
She kissed him on the cheek.
“I wouldn’t interrupt, but it looks as though it may rain. We have to get the wool to market. There is nothing like wet wool, yep.”
Adok looked into the sky, and Justus’s gaze followed. Justus didn’t know what rain clouds looked like, he wasn’t in charge of such things, but the sky did look different than it had the last couple of days. The blue was being slowly eaten by dark gray.
“I really do need to get a cart,” Adok said. “Filia, you will have to help carry. We worked hard yesterday and filled five bags.”
On the trip to town Justus thought about the kiss, Klementina, and home. Today was his last day, but he loved Klementina. Could he watch over her from his post above the clouds? He couldn’t. If he did, he wouldn’t be able to watch for the vile ones. Maybe he could stay a bit longer. But, would that really solve anything? The longer he was with her the stronger his feelings became. Every time Klementina looked at him he got excited and melted. He didn’t know what to do.
The streets of the market were busier than the last time Justus was there. One could not walk freely. He kept batting people with his sacks. They cursed him and gave him dirty looks. Adok or Klementina apologized for him until he figured out the proper response for his assault. People did not seem happy today, and the tension was thick. Two men argued until one walked away. A little girl hit a boy, and the boy cried. Adok leaned toward Justus to be heard.
“It’s always like this right before it rains. Everyone rushes to market to buy what they can, so they can stay dry in their homes. I wouldn’t come if I didn’t have to. I don’t like all this aggression.”
Justus had to agree. He did not like the way it felt, nor did he like to see others being hateful to one another.
A merchant yelled.
“Thief! Someone stop him.”
A teenage boy flashed past them with an armful of grapes and knocked Klementina to the ground. Justus started to let go of his sacks, but she was getting up fine. The merchant grabbed his largest knife and shot it at the boy. Klementina stood. Her eyes grew round, blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. She collapsed. The nearest of the crowd gasped and screamed.
Justus dropped his goods and fell to his knees.
The large knife was buried above Klementina’s breast. Blood pooled and saturated the white cloth she wore. Justus tapped her face.
There was no response. He pulled the knife from the wound, and the blood stained quicker. Justus shook her shoulders, and her head flopped. Adok wailed at her other side.
“My filia, my lovely filia. Don’t die my filia.”
Adok looked at the sky with a tear soaked face and looked back to her. He rocked on his heels.
“My filia, my only filia.”
Klementina’s skin went from white to blue. Justus watched as her spirit rose from her body. She laid a glowing hand on his cheek and ascended. She stared into his eyes until she was beyond where he could see. He felt honored that he was allowed to see her, and relieved that she made it safely.
The merchant stood at his stall yelling and cursing.
“Stupid girl. She had to get in the way.”
Two men from the craft of medicine wormed their way between Klementina’s body, and Justus and Adok. One assured Justus they would look after her and asked if Justus would take the father home.
Adok was on his knees bent in half so that his forehead touched the floor. His head was enveloped in his hands. He sobbed, moaned, and repeated his daughter’s name over and over. Justus rolled him over, scooped him up, and carried him home like a child. When he reached the hut, Justus laid him on his bed, and walked outside to his own. It started to rain. Justus pondered on the experience of it for but a moment before his mind was engulfed with thought.
He sat on his blankets with his arms across his knees. He was happy Klementina made it home, but he missed her. He felt like a shade had covered his existence. His chest ached and tears fell. A part of him was gone. And, what of Adok? What would happen to Adok when Justus left? He would have no one. With his state of mind, he would be vulnerable to the vile ones. Justus spoke to those that kept watch.
“I don’t know which guardian has been following me, but you cannot leave Adok to himself. Find a human and guide them to look after him. Speak with that soul’s guardian. Whatever it takes, just don’t leave him alone. Gabriel, keep an eye on him, please.”
Justus sat with raindrops dripping from his hair. He watched driblets splash on his foot and soak into the blanket. Lightning crashed and thunder rumbled, but Justus didn’t care to move. He sat there most of the day.
He looked up to see an older lady standing in the light shower that was left from the storm. She carried a pot and looked at Justus anxiously. He recognized her. It was the woman he saw crying at the side of the dying man’s bed as Justus pondered the logic of humans from his post. Justus rose. He walked to the woman and kissed her cheek.
“I’m glad you have come because I have to take my leave. Adok is inside. Please look after him. He has lost everyone.”
“I know,” she said.
She looked at the pot she held in her hands.
“I know the pain of loss. Adok is a good man. I have watched him with his filia. I will make sure he is okay. You go if you need to.”
Justus nodded and walked down the path to where he first met Adok.
Lamilian greeted him upon arriving home. He put his hand on Justus’s arm. His touch was calming. Justus stretched his wings.
“Are you okay, Justus?”
Justus smiled, and Lamilian raised his brows then smiled back.
“I’ve never seen you smile. It looks good on you.”
“I am okay, but I need audience with the Mother and Father.”
With that thought he was in their presence kneeling before them once again. He didn’t wait for permission to speak.
“I need to be with Klementina.”
“You know that is not possible,” the Mother crooned.
“She cannot stay here, and you cannot go there,” the Father’s voice boomed. “Only humans reside in heaven. You know this Justus. You are a protector. You know your role.”
“I don’t want to exist without her. My continuation means nothing without her.” Justus said.
The Mother pointed out a fact Justus seemed to not comprehend.
“You are not one of them. The only way is to be human.”
“So be it,” Justus said.
“Think before you speak,” the Father said. “You would have to live a whole life as human with all of its strife until you understood enough to be human. Your experience merely touched upon it. Leave us now and think on the matter.”
The mother swaddled the baby in a stola and cradled him in her arms; the pain of birth forgotten. The child cried, and the father smiled. He rubbed the child’s tiny head covered in down.
“He is handsome,” the father said.
The mother shushed and rocked him. She quietly sang lullabies until he calmed. The new mom looked at the father.
“I think we should name him Justin.”
Dad smiled and nodded.
“He looks like a Justin. Justin it is.”