57. The Angel and the Argument
There’s an angel sitting on a bus stop bench across the street from a fine dining restaurant (Mediterranean, if you must know). Her wings are tucked away, pressed upon her back such that (a marvel of design) they’re barely noticeable laying against her dress. Even upon close inspection you’d think it was merely some strange fabric – that is, if you could see the angel at all.
She is looking through the window of the restaurant, but these are the eyes that never knew the fall of man and so they see clearly and deeply as if telescopic. And she listens with ears that can reach out through the clutter and the white noise. Angel eyes and ears focus on one table towards the back where a couple is arguing over an issue that has nothing to do with them.
The angel observes, with equal part sadness, equal part anger, the words that are hurled across the table. She is sad because she sees the words for what they are – daggers and poisonous darts, back and forth in a meaningless battle of attrition. And she is angry because she knows that they will continue to assault one another until one buckles under the barrage and the other tries to savor the emptiness of the victory.
But there is also fascination and envy, for these are passions that she cannot comprehend. That’s not to say that she doesn’t know passion, because she does. All angels carry with them an insatiable passion for justice, for beauty, and most of all for God. But this thing that drives this couple to claw at one another with these words – there’s no explanation for it. What, she wonders, could so saturate a man that he sets aside his love for this woman, launching him straight at the chinks in her armor – weakness that she revealed (finally, able to reveal them) to him in moments of soft, safe intimacy. And what could so posses a woman that she turns her dormant maternal instincts inside out – dismantling the thing she loves with example after example of error and inadequacy.
A snap, a click, and the angel draws an inch of sword from its scabbard. The sound of a sail catching the wind, and tongues of flame ignite and lap at the length of holy steel that has been exposed. But only for a moment. A click, a snap, and the flames disperse into thin air.
Later that night, a student on his way home from the college library passes the bus stop bench and wonders when it was (and why) the state thought to install this strange bronze statue with the strangely textured back and the sword that seems so out of context.