If there was one thing in this world that I believed, it was:
Nothing should be believed wholeheartedly.
If you believed in something with all your heart—be it someone else, like a friend or a spouse, or be it a creature like the Loch Ness Monster, ligers, or the Tooth Fairy—it made you a bigger target for hurt. For disappointment.
Never believe in something with all your heart.
It’s safer that way.
Plus, who believed in anything with all their heart? That’s just… weird. Bizarre. A completely foreign concept.
How could anyone be so confident?
So wholly certain?
You have to have a little bit of doubt… right?
“What’re you still doing here?”
If I weren’t so doggone tired, I’d have jumped. Startled by Jerome’s sudden approach.
Instead, all my nerves were dead. Fried. Sleeping on the job. So, I didn’t jump. I simply turned my head to greet him.
“I’m taking watch.”
“Yes, but someone else can take watch. Someone who’s had more than four hours of sleep in the past three days,” he said, his words emphasized by the coffee cup steaming in his hand.
“How’d you know that?” I asked, dodging his dismissal.
With a very serious look—like a father about to give his daughter’s boyfriend a grilling—he said, “I know things.”
Laughing was exhausting.
“I want to wait a little longer. See if he’ll wake up,” I said suddenly, my fatigue turning the course of conversation on a dime.
Jerome didn’t seem to mind the strange transition though. In fact, he took off with the switch in topic.
“Do you believe he will?”
I shrugged, looking through the glass at the male figure. His eyes were shut. As if he were sleeping.
And, I supposed he was. After all, his chest was still moving. He was still breathing. And the heart monitor suggested that whatever lied inside was still beating.
There was a possibility, wasn’t there?
“I don’t know if I believe it, but I’d like to see it,” I replied honestly, my words dragging as they exited my mouth.
This was exhausting. Just like Jerome said, I’d only had four hours of sleep in the past three days. So, of course, I was beyond my limit. Ready to pass out if a strong breeze tried to poke at me.
I couldn’t go to sleep. Couldn’t leave my station.
This was too interesting to lie down on.
Not because I believed he’d wake up, or because I believed the wings coming out of his back, but because this was something I wanted to witness. Something that would keep me up at night, even if I tried to sleep.
“Do you really think he’s an angel?” I asked, my filter clearly on hiatus.
It was such a silly question.
But Jerome didn’t scorn me for asking.
Instead, he answered. Probably humoring me.
Jerome shrugged, making a noncommittal face. “He could be. Or he could be a loon that scientifically grafted wings onto his back illegally, without having the alteration added to his physical description.”
That seemed likely. Scientific. Understandable, even if it was strange and slightly crazy.
“But,” Jerome continued, taking a seat on the chair next to me. “He could be an angel. He might wake up with a fiery sword in his hand, or wake up and eyes could start sprouting on the walls. We might find that, when he wakes up, we get treated to heaven’s fury.
“We might be treated to hell’s.”
He said it so blankly. So calmly.
It was kind of… spooky.
“Why would that be a possibility?” I asked.
“Well, traditionally, it’s believed that demons were once angels. And, according to certain beliefs that align with the aforementioned belief, sin is supposed to look good, right? So, logically, demons might look as good as angels. We have no idea, do we?”
It was a good point.
It didn’t sit well with me.
Still on break, my filter didn’t stop my next words from spilling out of me. Flowing without grace or presence, they simply showed up.
“He looks like my ex.”
There was no need for me to say it, but I did.
And the space the words filled was vast. Pushing everything aside in order to make room for the words.
And for more.
Or maybe that was just my perception.
I was, after all, nearly dead from exhaustion.
But that still didn’t stop more words from tumbling out of me.
“Same hair, same blue eyes, same scar on his left shoulder. Same birthmark on his waist even, which is abnormal, isn’t it? It looks like a shamrock, just like his did. The only thing different is the wings,” I continued, determined to fill the space my words just created.
Jerome—bless him—seemed to understand that.
“What happened to him?” he asked.
“He died in a car wreck when I was seventeen.”
It was silent for a moment.
Luckily, just the one. Any more than that, and I’d have gotten worried, or sad.
“Do you think he became an angel, then?” he asked.
I scoffed a laugh. “Angels don’t exist, and Lucky was no angel.”
“Hmm… so then… do you believe this is Lucky playing a prank on you, perhaps? Or that he survived and something went wrong?”
I shrugged, feeling a bit exasperated. “Because, that’s just… crazy. Everyone said he was dead.”
“Who is ‘everyone’ exactly?”
Because of the topic, or because I was tired, I wasn’t sure. I just…
Needed to snap.
“I don’t know, everyone! His parents, my parents, the EMTs, the firemen, the police report, the coroner. Whoever the hell decides those things. They all said that he was dead. That he died. I went to his funeral. Saw them put his body in a box, and then in the ground. Lucky is dead, and he’s no angel.”
Silence drew the room in again, held it closely for a breath. Two. Three.
Jerome’s voice was quiet. Steady, but quiet. Hushed. As if afraid the answer might shatter the glass or wake the angel.
“Do you really believe that?”
…I hated him in that moment.
Hated him for asking such a dumb question. For asking something that had such an obvious answer.
Because I did.
I did believe it.
In my mind, I knew it to be true.
But my heart?
What my heart thought?
I’d never tell anyone. Never.
I never did see the body.
And his death was so sudden, so sketchy. He wasn’t drunk or tired or anything like that. And no one was allowed to photograph the scene. No one. Even though it made the news. Even though it was so, so bad. No one was allowed to see.
It was suspicious, is what it was.
And my heart just couldn’t let go of that.
But I never said that. Wouldn’t have, even if I had the chance. Though I actually didn’t have the chance.
Jerome’s words were the last thing I heard before it finally got to me. Before I finally passed out.
I wanted to shout though.
Wanted to tell him not to be stupid.
That it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter what I believed.
Even if I wanted it with all my heart.
It didn’t matter.
Not if it was false.
Because he looked like Lucky, and he looked like an angel, and he looked like an age-old prayer being answered, I couldn’t deny it, but I couldn’t accept it either.
I still don’t want it. Still think it’s unsafe.
But when I woke up and the angel was gone, leaving only a four leaf clover in its wake, I knew.
And I can’t seem to stop myself.