I didn’t fall from grace. I was pushed. Like a comet flashing across the heavens, I streaked toward Earth. The impact left a crater half-a-mile wide. It also ripped my wings off and twisted my limbs. But angels are made of stronger stuff than that. Over the course of many weeks, I healed. All but my wings. The Fallen weren’t allowed to resemble what we had been before. Our souls quickly shriveled at being so far away from Him.
Even my brother, Lucifer, son of the morning, had been reduced to a mere glimmer of his former beauty. As he raged against Michael and Heaven’s Host, I stayed in the shadows. This war was not mine to fight. I didn’t particularly care who won. All I wanted was to stand in His presence again with his name on my lips.
Then the Almighty brought mankind into the world. He spit them into existence in a garden of gold, azure, vermillion, amaranthine, and viridian. It matched a part of Heaven that we Fallen believed we’d never see again. The only problem was that only Lucifer, cloaked as a serpent, ever stepped foot inside.
I wandered the perimeter, touching the blooming plants that spilled over the walls. The air filled with honeysuckle, lavender, jasmine, and saffron. My chest constricted tight at all I had lost.
When I was seven years old, my mother brought me to a fancy department store. She played the part of an heiress, and I played her bright daughter. How the sales people didn’t see through this façade a mile away is beyond me. Probably didn’t care as long as they got their commission.
Mother picked out expensive cardigans and skirts for me. The sales woman brought three of everything in different sizes. Most of them hung off my undernourished body, making me look like a boy in girls’ clothes. In the dressing room, my braids came undone with every new shirt I pulled over my head. The collars itched. The shoes were too tight. After the first couple of outfits, mother stopped clapping her hands and asking me to turn around over and over.
When I emerged, sweaty, hair sticking up every which way, my mother was gone. The floor of her dressing room was strewn with lacy bras and slinky red heels. Having shopped with her all my life, I thought she had found a mark to tell some sob story to and get a free pantsuit. Nine times out of ten she’d make me tell them that I hadn’t eaten in a couple of days and would they mind giving me a few dollars for the food court. She’d never be in sight during one of these “missions”. Not until I had the money in my hand and the mark had left.
I wandered the floor, still wearing the horrible wool skirt and patent leather shoes, searching for my mother behind every sales rack.
“Miss,” called a voice behind me. “Miss!”
A hand grabbed my elbow before I left the store, dazed and searching for a woman who looked like an older version of myself.
“Please don’t leave the store, miss,” the sales woman breathed on me. “These aren’t paid for.”
“Where’s my mother?”
“I don’t know. What’s her name? We’ll have her paged here.”
Mother told me to never give our real names to strangers. It was so hot in the store and the wool was making me sweat, so I took a chance. “Merab Aronov.”
The woman picked up the phone, pressed a button, and her voice was amplified over the plastic mannequins and racks of overpriced designs. We waited five minutes before she paged again. Mother never showed up. She’d abandoned me in a stupid scratchy skirt in the middle of a city we’d stayed in for less than a month.
Humans were kicked out of Eden, broken, lost, and beautiful. I began to watch them. Study them. Slowly, I fell in love with them, as if they were pieces of my own soul. They sang back to me, lifted me up, and allowed me to join their campfires. The Almighty had seen fit to give them each a soul. The power they carried inside lulled me into a peacefulness I’d forgotten.
And when I lay down with a Child of God, a miracle was created from that union. I made it a habit of lying with as many women as I happened across. Never by force and never without love in my mouth. In time, my progeny numbered as many as the grains of sand on a beach.
They glowed from the inside like small galaxies, though they couldn’t see the gift they carried and passed on to their young. In only a few generations, I could not walk among the Children of God without seeing myself in every single one.
Growing up in an orphanage when you know your mom’s not dead is worse than knowing she is. The other kids teased me endlessly. They called me trash. We were all in the system, but it didn’t stop them from looking down on me. As if my mother being alive was a stigma they couldn’t — or wouldn’t — allow. Why on earth would a mother ever leave her child?
Now that I’m eighteen, I can leave the assholes behind. In one more week, when I get the last of my tips, I’m moving to New York.
It’s my first time in the New World. The optimism coats everything with a rainbow sheen. The streets are filled to the brim. I don’t mind being shoved or told to move because all of these people are glowing. I’m surrounded by a connection that can’t be replaced or removed. Without meaning to, I’m reaching out and brushing my fingertips against exposed skin. They don’t even notice I’m doing it.
Times Square during the day glowed almost as brightly as it did at night. I praised Him for inspiring one of these humans to create sunglasses. They protected my eyes and kept these beautiful creatures from seeing the tears streaming down my face.
Out from the subway emerged a girl with auburn hair and skin so pale I could almost see her arteries and veins in reds and blues. She inspired all the old love and desire in me. A strange thing, indeed. It was then that I noticed she walked among her fellow man with no extra aura around her. No angelic connection.
Angelic intent did not guide my feet to turn in her direction and follow her further into the heart of the pulsing city.
I held the mace tight in my hand, having realized about half a block ago that someone was following me.
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