On a cold day in October, people walk past Rockefeller Center bundled in scarves and coats. One young man wears only a thin sweater and jeans, hands in his pockets, his emotions bright as buttons. He is looking for answers, Lesha can tell. Lesha tells him she’s an angel, and he shrugs. They sit on a bench to talk.
“My name is Peter, like the guy at the pearly gates. You probably know him.”
Why do humans assume everyone in heaven knows each other? “Not personally. No.”
He was only joking, delaying whatever he needs to say. She waits.
“We have a daughter, me and my husband. Rob wants to have her baptized. I was Catholic once. Not anymore. Never again.”
“Here.” She produces the paper out of thin air, but he doesn’t notice. Humans never notice. She gave up trying to be subtle years ago.
“What is this?”
“If you want to stay on the organized religion path, the ones on this list don’t mind if you’re gay.”
“You have a list.” He takes the paper and stares at it, then tries to hand it back to her. It falls on the bench between them.
“It comes up a lot.”
“Did you know that sexual morality rules were made up by well-meaning angels trying to help humans be better? Like how you tell kids not to touch the stove without mom and dad present.”
“That’s interesting,” he says in a way she can tell means he isn’t really paying attention. She needs to work on her delivery.
“For example, Jesus, you know him right? From your religion.”
“I’ve heard of him, yeah.” Now, he’s at least amused again.
“He once told a bunch of guys that marriage was forever in order to stop them from divorcing their wives back in the day when that was a death sentence. He knew some people would use his words to further their superstitious beliefs about sex and marriage. He said it anyway. You know what I mean?”
“Not really. Well, maybe. Sort of.”
“We used to tell people things like you have to give captives a little while to mourn the family you just killed in front of them. Then, you can rape them. Eventually, we knew you’d figure it out, if we gave you long enough. That little delay before the rape, when you have to get to know someone or at least thoughtfully ignore them first. Tends to drive the point home.”
“That is messed up. Are you serious?”
“I wish you really were an angel.”
“Because then I’d believe you when you say there is a God, and that God does not hate people like me.”
“Peter.” Lesha stood. “God does not hate you. Don’t believe that because I’m telling you. Believe that God understands what you are going through, because God is smarter than your problems. If you are going to bother believing in God at all, then know this: there must be no other God beside that one.” With those words, she lets herself fade from view. She leaves the paper behind. Just in case.
A continuation post follows tomorrow. Now, I need to go binge-watch Carebears. You know, for something a little less sentimental and closer to reality.
So much terrible stuff was said in between when I wrote this post beginning of March and now. I have been sorely tempted to delete this and write a different story. About something non controversial, where I “just pretend” I “didn’t notice” human beings treated like dirt.
I want to apologize to the world, regularly, for the way some of my Christian brothers and sisters treat and talk about certain kinds of people they do not like or consider it safe to judge. Very not cool. Very. Not cool. I am not on “their side” when they do this. FYI.