Without a doubt, the last thing that Arlene expected was an angel in her living room. She had just known, instinctively, that it was an angel, even though it hadn’t arrived in a flash of light or a peal of thunder and there were no scorch marks anywhere. Just – now you don’t see it, now you do. There it was between her and the TV, particularly annoying as she was in the middle of her favourite soap. For what seemed like a long time, she looked at the angel and the angel looked at her. Not a word was spoken and the only movement was a small amount of embarrassed hand fidgeting on both sides. In those couple of minutes, Arlene took stock of her uninvited guest.
The angel appeared to be female although, as far as Arlene knew, they were without gender. ‘She’ was quite pretty and reminded Arlene of someone she went to school with. Perhaps they take on the appearance of someone you know to make you feel more comfortable. It wasn’t working. ‘She’ had long, blond hair and piercing blue eyes, a ‘perfect’ figure and was wearing a nondescript shift that – in spite of its lack of shape – showed that figure to good advantage. The only thing missing, Arlene now realised, was the presence of any wings. Shouldn’t there be wings?
“I’ll call you ‘Angel’,” Arlene said suddenly aloud and without imagination.
Angel didn’t respond.
“So,” Arlene went on, “can I help you with something?”
Still no response. More uncomfortable silence. Now Arlene was full-body fidgeting. She didn’t want to upset or – more importantly – annoy Angel, but she was getting bored and her favourite TV programme had almost finished. She’d have to watch the omnibus on Sunday to find out what Matt said to Diane that made her cry.
This new silence was stretching too far. Just as Arlene thought she would have to try again to make conversation, she heard a voice in her head.
Arlene stared, open-mouthed.
“Excuse me?” she asked, out loud as she didn’t trust that the telepathy would work both ways..
“The Word.” came back the voice in her head.
Arlene thought about what Angel had said – twice – and tried to make sense of it. Without success.
“Why are you here?” she demanded, less conciliatory than before. “What do you want?”
“The Word.” There was a little wobble in the voice this time.
“Which word? I know so many?”
Before Angel could say her mantra again, there actually was a flash of light and a peal of thunder although, mercifully, the carpet remained unscathed. Standing before Arlene now were two angels, one looking like an old school friend and the other looking like – well – an angel, complete with the most magnificent pair of wings imaginable. Finally, thought Arlene. The second angel also spoke to her inside her head but it was with more authority and, thankfully , made sense.
“Child, we have to apologise for this misunderstanding. Our dear Sister, here, is a trainee and eager. A little too eager. Her instructor – me – was explaining about how one of our jobs is to go to Earth and impart The Word. I suspect I have no need to continue. We shall now depart and continue our dear Sister’s education, which will include staying in the class until it is over.”
And they were gone. On the TV, the credits were rolling and, on the carpet, there were two white feathers.