I reach for Julia’s hand but she pulls it back as if my touch will burn her, and perhaps she is right after a fashion. I have been without my powers for too long and I had lost control while I was trying to ease her discomfort. I could see it in her eyes hidden behind the fear and shock: clarity. For the first time since I had known her Julia was not seeing the world through a chemical haze. I had put her through the world’s fastest withdrawal without trying. I shortened the physical process from a week to five minutes.
The problem with addiction is that there is usually more than just a physical component. There is a reason why someone wants to hide behind the fog of drugs and alcohol. I don’t know if Julia is ready to deal with her inner demons and I’m not sure if I’m ready to help her. If this had been a couple of days ago I would have gladly sat her down and talked through everything, but it wasn’t a couple of days ago and today there are some seriously scary people looking for us and I just can’t take the time to help her the right way.
“I just gave you a little help is all, Jules.” The words taste bland in my mouth, a lie of omission that feels unnatural to me.
One of the downsides of using my powers is the nagging guilt it creates over little things like lying. The more power I have and used the more I feel the pull of my conscience. The Light Touched are capable of lying or doing horrible things, but they suffer internally for it.
“A little help?” Her voice is edged with panic as it gets louder. “I feel sick, Justin. What did you do?”
I think about how best to answer. The truth might upset her more than a lie right now, but I will eventually have to tell her the truth. “I…I helped you detox is all.”
“Detox? How? I am a junkie, Justin, and I have been for years. I know it takes more than a morning without a fix to detox. I should be crawling up the walls right now for just a little hit, but I’m not! Now tell me what you did!” The fear in her eyes is rapidly being replaced by anger. It is an improvement of sorts.
“Look Jules, I used an old fashioned remedy, something I picked up years ago from an old friend. He always swore it worked but I have never seen it done before. I gave you some while you were sleeping. You were tossing and moaning and I knew you’d wake up jonesing so I gave it a try.” The lie comes easy, a skill that life with the dregs cultivated, but the lies make my head throb with guilt. “I should have asked first. I’m sorry.” I look at her, watching the lie filter through her mind as the human tendency to fear the unnatural convinces her that my story is plausible.
“I don’t know, Justin. I’ve taken quick fix mixes before and none of them left me feeling like this.” She rolls up the sleeve of her tattered grey shirt and gasps while I lower my head and moan. “The tracks are gone,” she whispers. An odd combination of astonishment and fear infects her words. “It’s like I have never used, but I know I used. I remember using and I remember needing it.” She looks up and draws my eyes into hers. The words come out haltingly slow, filled with hot determination and anger. “What did you do to me?”
I take a deep breath and slowly let it out, trying not to let my shoulders slump in the process. She needs the truth, and to be honest I need it too. The lies made me uncomfortable and living with my secret amongst the mortals has left a hole in me that I desperately need to repair. Since I had surrendered my position I had told no one who or what I really was. I do not think most people would believe me and those that did would expect more from me than I could give. Julia has been a friend for the last couple of years and she needs to know.
“Okay, Jules, I’ll tell you the truth, but I need you to calm down a bit because this is going to be hard for me.”
“Hard for you?” Julia shouts. “I’m fucking clean Justin! I haven’t been clean since I was a kid! This is hard for me too damn it so don’t you tell me to calm down!”
“You’re right Jules I’m sorry. Now…”
“You’re sorry? Do you have any idea how much this hurts? God damn…”
“That is enough!” I let my anger show as I spoke. “It’s hard for you, I get that, but if you don’t shut up right this second I won’t be able to tell you what you want to know.”
Julia glared at me, but I did not let my gaze waver. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “Fine. I’m sorry.” She said and she sounded it too. Julia is pretty mellow, but when she loses her temper she loses it big.
“All right, now tell me this,” I say. “Do you believe in God?”
“Do you believe in God?”
“You mean like THE God? Like from the Bible?” One of her eyebrows rises and her mouth takes a little twist. “I suppose I do. I learned about it in Sunday school when I was little, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“What if I told you he was real?”
“Well sure, I mean if you believe in all of that.”
“No, Jules, it is not about belief. He is real. I have knelt before Him on the throne of heaven and been touched by the light and majesty of His glory.”
“Right. Okay, so you somehow managed to steal the drugs from my body and sucked ’em all up yourself, huh? Well I never thought you were a user and I am going to suggest you just stay away from the stuff.” She leans closer and whispers, “It’s making you sound crazy.” She thinks I am insane.
I look her straight in the eye and keep my voice level. “Julia, I am serious and I am not high.” I could have added a little bit of energy to the words, but I don’t like doing that. Faith is something earned and a conversion taken through power is false in my eyes. Not all of the Host believes the same way I do, and that’s fine. We all have our roles to play and our own methods to get the job done.
Julia looks at me, confusion and concern plain on her face. “I know he exists because I was part of his Host. I was an Angel.”
“You are an Angel?” Julia’s mouth hangs open, disbelief writ large upon her face.
“I was an Angel. I haven’t been in the Light for some time now.” I can’t disguise the sorrow in my voice. My fall was voluntary and most of my memories were locked away from me as part of the price, but my memory of the Light is strong and I miss it dearly. Standing beneath the midday sun, my face bearing the brunt of the solar light and heat gives me the barest connection to the rapture of my past, but it is a pale reflection. “A very long time indeed, Julia, but it is a burden I’ve learned to bare.”
“Wait, so you, ‘were,’ an Angel. Does that mean you worship the devil or something now? Doesn’t that make you a bad guy?” Julia backs away from me slowly, scooting back across the floor.
“No, not at all,” I say as I wave my hands in front of me, warding off the notion. “All it means is that I vowed to forgo my rank and station in Heaven so that I could live amongst mortal man.” I take a deep breath before continuing. “God gave us tremendous powers to do great works in his name, but I chose to give them up to come to earth and help in my own way.”
“So you thought you could do better than God and quit?”
“Wow, that is some serious ego, Justin. It’s not like you’re setting out to make a better pizza or something.” She mocks me so easily and part of me wants to be mad, but there is the sting of truth to what she says. I went against His judgment, ultimately because I thought myself wiser or more compassionate than God himself. What monumental hubris. I had lost my faith while still bathed in his perfect Light. What did that say about me?
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right, but it’s not like I pulled a Lucifer and tried to rebel or anything. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t get our hands dirty. Why did we have to work in the background especially at a time when people needed us?” I catch myself looking upwards and force myself to look at Julia. “The answers didn’t satisfy me. I thought I could do more here on earth, so I asked if I could fall, to walk amongst men and do some good. They said I could, but that I could not use my powers. So I gave them up and came to earth to help those in need.”
Julia cocks her head to the side ever so slightly. “Okay, so let’s assume that I believe you, which I don’t, but if you’re an angel, where are the wings, the halo, and the robes? You know I love ya, Justin, but you are the least angelic looking dude I know.” She scratches her dirty brown hair for a second. “Maybe not the LEAST angelic, but you don’t even have a good Michael Landon thing going on here. If you really wanted to sell me on the whole, ‘I’m an Angel,’ thing then maybe you should have worked on the presentation a bit.”
“What is it with you people?” I ask. “You see a couple of paintings from hundreds of years ago and you think you know what an Angel should look like? If I hadn’t fallen I could give you the whole glowing, big winged, halo thing, but that takes power and I don’t have power to spare at the moment. So you’ll have to work without the visual today okay? Right now I don’t much care whether you believe me or not because the bus will be here any moment now so we need to get to the stop, catch it and pray that no one notices us.”
“What can I say? We’re a species easily swayed by popular culture.” Julia looks at me sideways and says, “all right. I’m still not sure if you’re crazy or if you really are an angel yet, but you are my friend and I still remember enough of last night to know that if it weren’t for you I’d be in big trouble. So I’m just going to have to trust you for now.” She stands up, grabs my hand and pulls me up with her. “We’ll get through this and find you a good psychiatrist.” I’m not sure if she is joking or not.
- 100-Word Challenge: Chapter One (mywriterscramp.com)
- 100-Word Challenge: Chapter Two (mywriterscramp.com)
- The Imayran Chronicles/book One: Child of Sun and Moon/chapter Five (wordwriter1958.wordpress.com)
- 100-Word Challenge, Chapter Five (mywriterscramp.com)
- 100-Word Challenge: Chapter Four (mywriterscramp.com)
- Chapter One (heartwakerproject.wordpress.com)
- The Black Deer (eunoiareview.wordpress.com)