Even though it was raining cats and dogs outside, he still heard the knocking on his door. That’s how loud and insistent the person was. He tried to take a look at who it was through the peephole but it was too dark to make anything or anyone out. Nobody visited him when it was bright and sunny, what was so important that this person came now? Even though he was already back on rent, he didn’t think his landlord had come.
He thought it was a thief. He took one short look at his apartment and saw that the only valuables he had were the books stacked by the wall, and his laptop that didn’t leave the table with the charger constantly plugged in because he couldn’t afford to replace its battery. Besides his books, the only other valuables he had were the stories he was writing. Even though they were abandoned now. Why was he thinking so hard about this? He heaved a sigh and opened the door a little when the person barged in.
It was a woman. She stood in the middle of the room dripping water on his carpet. She had a jacket over her head and she wore a black gown that clung desperately to her body. He didn’t know what to make of everything happening. The figure just stood there. He searched his mind thinking about who the person was but he just couldn’t make anyone out.
“I’m not even sure if to ask who you are or what you want. How about you answer both?” He said, his voice sturdier than he felt.
He wasn’t sure he’d said anything all day. Even at work he didn’t greet anyone and nobody greeted him. He hated his job, as he did a lot of people.
He started to feel irritated.
“It’d be nice if you deemed me worthy enough to reply.” He said, more anger than fear seeping into his voice.
At that, the figure removed the jacket draped over her head and he was star struck at how beautiful she was. To put it simply, she glowed.
Her face, with eyes that shone even though the room was barely lit. Her hair resting on her shoulders, and on noticing, surprisingly dry. Her skin held the shine of melted chocolate. She was beautiful. He stood there in awe, unsure of what to say. His anger and fear making way for delight and curiosity. He was about to ask her the same question again when she ran a hand through her hair and set both hands on her waist.
“I still don’t know who you are.” He said, hating the sound of his own voice. She seemed to notice because she let out a little smile and made to walk over to where his books were.
She crouched down and ran a hand through the stacks of books. With everyone her fingers touched, her expression seemed to change a little. Like she knew exactly how he felt about the books.
When she got to the last book on the pile, she heaved a breath, stood up and faced him. And he could have sworn she looked dryer. Because her dress wasn’t plastered to her skin anymore and he could notice things he didn’t earlier. Like the tattoos on both her hands, trailing from her shoulders down to her wrists. He couldn’t make out what they were but they were beautiful and seemed like repeated patterns. He also noticed the necklace around her neck with a small feather as the pendant.
She seemed to be waiting to for him to finish studying her.
She stretched out her hands and with a flourishing smile, said, “Not that you’ll believe or anything, but I’m an angel. And no, no, no I wasn’t cast down from heaven or anything.” She giggled as if knowing how ridiculous she sounded. “It’s my day off and I came down to earth to see a movie.” With that, she laughed.
He let out a breath he didn’t realise he had been holding.
“Right…” He stood there for a while and on seeing that she didn’t add anything else he added, “I guess this is where I kneel down and grovel before you asking thine forgiveness.” He ran a hand through his short hair and looked around his room again as if checking to see if there were any valuables he didn’t know about or if he was imagining that a rather beautiful woman was standing in the middle of his room.
He let out a sigh and turned towards the door to open it, “I’d like you to leave my house if you don’t mind.”
His hand was on the door knob when she said, “I really did like this story though, I still do. But for some reason you stopped.”
That stopped him dead in his tracks. He turned around to find out she was standing in front of his computer. He didn’t know what to feel. Happy that she liked his story or puzzled that she sounded like she’d read it before?
He stood there feeling violated. Who was this and what did she want? He wanted to thank her for liking his story but a part of him felt she was lying. A part of him always felt everyone was lying.
“Not to sound rude or anything, but what do you want? You can’t just waltz into a stranger’s house and take a dump on his privacy.” He wasn’t sure what to do or say. It all felt surreal.
She rolled her eyes, “I didn’t waltz in, you opened the door and I came in. What if I’m here to steal from you?”
With that, she looked around and seemed to conclude there wasn’t much to steal anyway.
“Or sent to kill you? I could have a gun under this dress and in a few seconds your brains would be all over the floor.” She added with a smile.
He wasn’t sure why but he knew she wasn’t capable of something like that.
He just shrugged and leaned against his door. She sat in front of his computer with her back to him, scrolling through the stuff he’d written.
She stopped, heaved a sigh and said very quietly, he almost didn’t hear her, “Whack-a-mole with my heart.”
She turned around and said more audibly, “I like this one too. I wanted it to be longer though.” Then turned back to face the computer.
“Which one?” He asked pretending to be oblivious to the fact that he’d heard her mutter.
“Whack-a-mole with my heart.”
“Oh, that. Thanks.”
He stood straight, shook his head as if to shake off a thought and said,”This is ridiculous.”
“Which part?” She said, turning to face him.
He stretched his arms and flapped them mimicking a bird and said, “Every part. Especially the one where you won’t tell me who you are, instead you’re keeping up with this ridiculous angel story.” with air quotes at ‘angel’.
“Okay, I’ll indulge you.” he continued. “What is an angel, of all of heaven’s glory doing here on her day off? What’s so fascinating about this piece of shit world?”
She shrugged and with all seriousness replied, “It’s not a piece of shit world.” she said, scrunching up her nose a little at ‘shit’.
“Plus, there are no cinemas in heaven. And I wanted to meet you in person, something we’re highly prohibited from doing.”
She glanced over her shoulders and said under her breath, “At least not in our true forms, that is.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. You have got to be fucking kidding me!” He shouted losing composure.
She flinched when he said ‘fucking’. He noticed and chuckled, “You don’t cuss in heaven.” He shook his head, “Hilarious. But somewhat expected.”
She just stared at him. She stood up and walked towards him and as she stood before him, he noticed things he didn’t at first. Like the gold that rimmed her pupils. And how bright the whites of her eyes were.
His eyes trailed over her body and settled on her tattoos.
They looked like feathers. Overlapping and perfectly drawn to form…
“Wings.” he said very quietly, he barely heard himself.
Up close, he realised that they still trailed into the straps of her dress that covered the rest of her shoulders.
They were perfect.
The detailing, delicate and identical in both arms.
If he wasn’t so stoic, he’d be cajoled into believing she really was an angel, but he was no fool.
She noticed him staring at her arms and walked away to sit on his bed.
He wished she wouldn’t.
“Nice tattoos. Where’d you get em’?” He asked.
She shook her head and he felt that was all the reply he was going to get.
“Why did you stop writing?” She asked.
He was startled. That was a question he’d been afraid of asking himself. Now a total stranger was asking and he had no idea what to answer.
He wasn’t sure why he stopped. All he knew was that his fears got the better of him. They came knocking and instead of keeping the door shut, he left the doors open wide for them to come in and invite friends.
Now they held all positions in his life and they ruled his every decision.
She was staring at him now with soul crushing intensity like she could read his thoughts.
He knew she couldn’t even if she were an angel. Well, maybe she could read it, but, she definitely couldn’t alter it. The whole ‘free will’ thing and all.
He wouldn’t know even, the Bible doesn’t have another book titled “Angel 101: Understanding the Heavenly Beings and Why They Love Cinemas and Barging Into Your Personal Space”.
He shook his head at how ridiculous everything seemed.
She jolted upwards, a frantic look on her face and ran for the door. She shoved him aside and ran out into the…mild shower.
He didn’t know the rain had subsided. He stood in his doorway and stared at her as she ran down the street. He barely saw her now but he still stared until he saw a flash of light and she was gone.
Bewildered, he took a step forward and squinted, only to see that it was only an approaching car’s headlights.
He shook his head as if that was enough for him to forget everything that just happened.
He closed his door and went to sit facing his laptop.
On a fresh page, he read something she must have typed.
Fear’s on the other side of the door. You can barely see the handle anymore, but you know it’s there. Don’t let it win.
He rubbed his eyes and it was gone. In it’s wake, a blank white screen stared back.
None of that happened, none.
His mind was playing tricks on him, he concluded.
It would all be better after a long night’s rest.
Jimmy Shakespen