Walking toward him
Merryweather or Pennyweather, Daniel wasn’t really
sure. She had thick purpleglasses, a mop of short,curly brown hair. When they crossed paths, nearly bumping into each other,she looked him upand down. But not in the same way most of the other girls did. She was looking at his clothes. It took him a moment to realize she was bundled in as many layers of clothing as he was. She was Huggingher arms around her chest.
Warm enough? He surprised himself by saying. Not sarcastically.
“There’s that bug going around,” the girl said quickly,
also surprised. “Don’t want to catch it.”
“No” he agreed. They had never spoken before.
Something about Pennyweather or Merryweatherstood out to daniel that morning. She was different from the
other kids here, but he couldn’t say how.
Was it just that she was nice? he was
going to say something more, but she’d
already shuffled away.The rest of the students formed familiar patterns on the muddy lawn. There were five minutes leftbefore the bell and nothing to do but drink his coffee and maybe go and talk to Roland, who wasleaning up against the cinderblock walls of the building. And then, when the bell did ring, therewould be nothing to do but go to class and pretend to learn the countless lessons Daniel alreadyknew, had already learned from hundreds of years of schooling and thousands of years of livingthrough the histories in any of these dreary books. And when class was over, school was over, hisunexplained but unimportant tenure here with Sophia Bliss over, there would be nothing to do butroam the earth alone until the end of time looking for some way to tick off minutes, hours, millennia.Suddenly Daniel felt so lonely he wanted to tilt his head back towards the sky and scream.Because what good was eternity without love?
“Daniel.” Roland signalled to him across th
e lawn.Daniel composed himself, breathing deeply, shrugging his shoulders to relax his burning wingsbefore he started walking.
“Gabbe’s here,” Roland said quietly. “Queen Bad Ass
herself.” They weren’t looking at each other.
They stood side by side, against the wall, gazing out at the rest of the students without seeing them.
“Does she have a message ? “ Daniel asked, because
That would make sense.
Though she’d fallen after the war, Gabbe had been
one of the first angels to return to the folds of heaven.
Very quickly, she’d gotten her status back and had been
messaging again for some time. Daniel sawher occasionally
: she’d deliver a message, and would then be on her
way.Every once in a while, Daniel missed his old employment.All angels fulfilled by their original purpose as messengers. But it had never felt like the only thingDaniel was meant to do. It was that sense-that maybe he was meant for something else-which was theroot of
all of Daniel’s trouble.
“I don’t know about a message.” Rol
and said. There
was a halt in his voice that Daniel didn’t trust.”But she’s
all primped and gussied up and ready to bust God knows whose skull. She just turned upthis morning. Said Miss
Sophia dragged her here.”
When Sophia Bliss found Daniel and brought him to
this school, she thought she’d been saving him.
She talked of having cared for him always,since the war, and it hurt her to see just how far he hadfallen.
You can be a
conscientious objector, Daniel
, she’d said,
but you can’t go
around vandalizingshopping carts
Daniel hadn’t cared enough to correct her, to say that
all he was trying to do was pass the time. SkidRow in
Los Angeles or some reform school in Georgia, it didn’t
matter to him. Neither were placesLuce would ever
show up, so he wouldn’
t have to worry about breaking his vow to stay out of herlife completely. In the meanwhile, it had been almost interesting to help Sophia with some of herresearch. She was leading a commission on the Watchers-the old sect of Angels
who’d been charged
with loving mortal women. It was something Daniel knew a thing or two about. She read his book.
Sometimes she’d come to him with questions. It
passed the time.