Tom's Angel (Part 2)
The clouds had departed, and the fifteen minute walk to the party beneath a constellation strewn sky had felt magical. As soon as they had exited the house Lucy's fingers had laced with his, and they had walked the sodium lit estate roads as though in a dreamscape.
And they continued to talk.
Tom had spoken more about his late mother, about his personal anxieties, about his annual visits to the church. He also found sufficient confidence to tell her something of his hopes and plans for the future. Lucy had listened sympathetically, and for her part had sought to re-assure him that the culture of belonging to the 'popular' group was neither an essential pre-requisite to being a better person, nor a requirement for gaining admittance to the party.
“It will be fine,” she confidently predicted. “Do not concern yourself with those around you who are uncaringly following their own agendas. You are your true self, and it is only ever the true You which truly matters.”
Eloquently put, Tom thought. If a little archaically. He was still not entirely sure what it meant. Not that he particularly cared right now. Even his half-hearted protests about his lack of a suitable party costume were summarily dismissed. And on that point at least her confidence had proved one hundred percent correct.
“Oh ... my ... god ...!!!” had been the near universal reaction when they arrived. “What's your name? Where are you from ...?”
Lucy's attention was immediately claimed by a crowd of girls admiring her hair, her costume, her makeup, her shoes. Whilst college people whom Tom could only ever recall nodding to in corridors before today were eagerly talking to him as if he was one of their oldest friends.
“Hey, where did you find her?”
Tom could see the steel framed awning erected over the paved area immediately beyond the wide open French doors. A few lights were strung round its bars. The night air had a definite chill to it, yet nobody seemed bothered. The all female group surrounding Lucy began to slowly migrate outside, taking her with them.
“You want a beer?” Tom thought he vaguely recognised the boy despite the red horns and devil disguise. The party music had become a lot louder.
“Who's a dark horse, as my Gran would say!”
“Awesome costume. Shame she's so ugly though!”
Tom grinned nervously at all the people complimenting him, patting him on the shoulders, and pushing more drinks in his direction. His main attention though still focused on Lucy standing head and shoulders above the rest, laughing and holding poses as the girls round her brought out cameras or posed beside her. After a while Tom worked his way over to her. He had never before realised how easy it was to smile without any conscious effort.
“You want a drink, Lucy?”
He led the way back through the open patio doors to the table where the alcohol was piled, and opened a bottle of Smirnoff for her. This was hardly how he had envisaged the day developing, and scarcely believing that he was actually doing so, he raised his can of beer to her.
“Well, here's to St. Withburga's I guess!”
She raised the bottle to her lips and tasted the pale liquid cautiously. Her eyes lit up. “This is gorgeous!”
The music assailed his senses. “What?” Tom almost shouted at her.
“I said it's lovely!” she shouted back. Her smile seemed to be growing wider by the second. “Do you want to dance?”
Tom looked behind him into the lecture hall sized living room, chairs and rugs all piled against the walls, leaving a bare wood floor packed with people all seemingly jumping in unison. “Uh, no, not really ...”
“Come on, it'll be fun!” she took his hand again, and as much as he really didn't want to dance, Tom just didn't want to let go either. He felt self conscious and uncoordinated, convinced everyone around was looking at him and thinking what an idiot he was. Lucy started laughing once more, and took hold of his other hand, guiding him. “It's easy! Look! Keep in time with me!”
A scream, and an angel costumed girl dancing nearby fell into Lucy before sliding ungracefully onto the floor. Lucy bent down immediately, then took the girl under her arm to help her up. Another friend had hold of the other arm, and was putting it around her shoulder.
“Hannah's heel has snapped and she's hurt her ankle. We're gonna take her to Matt's room, hope you don't mind.”
Lucy's attention remained with the injured girl whose pain twisted expression was plain to see. Tom saw a pair of stilettos lying discarded on the floor, one with a heel that must have been around five inches in length, the other with no heel at all.
“Do you need any help?” Tom asked, but Hannah's friend waved him away impatiently. He left them and sat down by the wall listening to a band he thought was The Killers. Looking around only a couple of other people were sitting, one a boy with his head between his knees, the other a girl with a blonde bob who was massaging her feet. Impractical shoes again! Lucy's were flats, but then with her natural height that could only be expected.
The music changed and several of the boys in the centre of the room started jumping deliberately into each other. Wasn't that called a mosh pit? Tom wasn't sure. Whatever, it didn't look nice, and Tom watched as a number of girls came out and sat around the edge of the room. They were talking he could tell, and loudly, yet the music was of such a volume that he couldn't hear anything of what any of them were saying. Could Lucy still be upstairs somewhere? Or might she have gone into the kitchen perhaps? After a couple more minutes debating, Tom stood up.
Tom found the kitchen momentarily deserted apart from the blonde girl with the sore feet who he had seen sitting apart earlier. Her bare toes now poked out below the hem of her angel's robe. She picked a bottle off the counter and nodded her thanks when Tom opened it for her. “It seems your friend Lucy must have healing hands! Apparently all she needed to do was massage Hannah's ankle for a couple of minutes and the pain just went away. It hasn't even left a swelling.”
“You wouldn't know where she's got to by any chance? Lucy I mean.”
A demon masked figure paused in the doorway. “They're about to let some fireworks off out in the garden. Coming?”
Tom and the blonde haired girl joined the throng making their way outside. The awning lights had been switched off, and it took Tom's eyes a few moments to adjust. The crush on the patio was every bit as tight as that of the dancing area had been.
Tom felt a hand on his shoulder just as the first rockets streaked into the night sky “So, I take it you haven't been dancing without me?”
Tom turned completely around. The falling streams of white and gold light reflected in her wide open eyes. Tom tried to tell himself he should stop staring. A whiff of burnt sulphur caught briefly in his nostrils, barely noticed. Thankfully the music had been turned down.
“Upstairs I asked Hannah and her friend Fran what parties are really about. Having a good time, they told me. So then I asked them to be more precise.” She paused to take a swig out of the bottle she held in her free hand. “So Hannah listed the three most important things that make for a perfect party. Listening to loud music, drinking alcohol, and kissing a nice boy.”
Tom carried on staring. A second fusillade hissed heavenwards as Lucy leaned forward.
From the top of the close Tom could see the living room light shining through the curtains as he had left it. He really hadn't wanted the walk back to end. He unlocked the front door, unsure of what was going to happen next. Should he order Lucy a taxi perhaps? More than an hour after the event the delicious tingling had still not quite left his lips.
Lucy walked past him and into the hall. “My parents will be here any minute.”
Tom followed her through into the living room. “Oh, right. Lucy ... uh ... I'd really like ...”
The door bell rang. Tom went to answer it. Two tall figures, who in a seemingly inexplicable shift of time and space Tom next registered in the living room along with himself and Lucy.
“We have come to take our daughter home.” It was the soberly dressed male figure who spoke. “She should not have entered your realm in the way which she did. We have to erase your conscious memory.”
“Don't you dare!” Lucy's cheeks flushed red. “I've watched over him like you've wanted since I was eleven! Am I never to be permitted any freedom of action?”
The other figure stepped forward. Tom at once saw a clear resemblence, but this version of Lucy was older. The same eyes, but revealing infinite wisdom, compassion and, Tom fancied, the hint of a sympathetic twinkle. For the second time in hours Tom fell in love.
Her smile was kindly. “Lucy, as you know her as, is in a sense your guardian angel. But like you she is still very young. A request for intersession was made when you were both younger still.”
Tom's eyes alighted for a moment on his mother's 'Monumental Brasses' book which he had been leafing through prior to setting out for St. Withburga's that morning. “You don't mean - ”
The older Lucy interrupted firmly. “That cannot be spoken of. Suffice to say that my daughter is of an age when she wants to taste a degree of independence, plus it would seem,” she glanced across to her silent companion, “she has developed feelings of affection toward a certain young mortal.”
“Tom went back to the church today. He prayed. A portal opened so I went through.”
“She should not have done so.”
Lucy sighed dramatically. “So what should I have done then? And yes, I do like Tom! What's so wrong about that? I didn't ask to be born an angel!”
“The real question is what are we to do about the situation?”
The older Lucy turned to her companion once more. “That there is a clear affinity between the two of them is evident to see. If she is to truly gain the knowledge and insight of humanity and the mortal world which she is going to need, then what better way could there be? If he will swear to secrecy he could in effect become her guardian on Earth. A role reversal for these rapidly changing times. Such is now the way of it, and it is only right that we respect her stated wishes to become a part of that.”
Tom watched as the taller figure shook his head. Yet he also detected a resigned shrugging of the shoulders. Maybe he was called Gabriel?
“And she is one quarter part human after all.”
The older Lucy turned to Tom. “Would you truly promise?” The older grey eyes scrutinised him with their unwavering gaze. Although after that latest revelation Tom believed their owner had already made her her mind up.
Tom nodded. “Yes. I will be an as true and faithful angel's companion as you could wish for.”
Tom looked from one to the other, and then to Lucy. Her smile now was not so much dazzling as radiant! Tom couldn't imagine how life could possibly get any better.
Copyright Terence Hugh Hazelton, 2010
Published on writebuzz®:
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