Today’s Daily Post prompt:
Are you a good judge of other people’s happiness? Tell us about a time you were spot on despite external hints to the contrary (or, alternatively, about a time you were dead wrong).
Mitzy lifted the corner of the blanket, gave a ruffle of frustrated wings and watched Roberta’s toes curl under; that squidged in, ‘daren’t let all this out in the open’ motion adding more fuel to the fire of Mitzy’s suspicions. She let the blanket drop, perched on the end of the bed and studied her charge. Looking at that pale, drawn face, closed eyes underlined with delicate shades of purple, lips cracked, dry and raw from being nibbled on by anxious teeth, there was no conclusion to draw but that of sadness, of weary resignation… but oh those toes.
There were certain rules to being a guardian angel. Only one visit per day, no digging around in client minds and no apparition, ever. The rules were supposed to prevent angels messing with a soul’s free will. It still happened, of course, some methods more acceptable than others. Guardians sometimes got deeply attached to their charges, leading to miraculous survivals after suicide leaps, car brakes which healed for no reason as cars careered towards sturdy trees, and the current favourite, internet meddling. Mitzy found herself severely tempted.
Guardians had been known to set up an internet presence, quickly befriending their charge in the anonymity of cyber-space and subtly guiding them out of the darkness with the right words, the right options, the necessary information. Mitzy knew a couple of angels who’d gone that route in desperation when all else had failed to save their charges. It was direct contact and meant instant demotion to receiving duty at main reception – a job no-one wanted; newly dead souls were often heartbreakingly confused or obliteration-inducing beligerents – but some thought saving a charge was worth the penalty, and you could always work your way back with good behaviour; after all, angels had eternity.
Mitzy studied Roberta some more. The woman was hiding something, she just knew it. For six months she’d been on a downward spiral. A bad break-up, failing her teaching qualification, losing her adored father and then getting pregnant on a one night stand – whilst so drunk she couldn’t actually stand without the guy’s ‘support’ – and destroying her chances of future children with a botched back-street abortion had left her distraught. Twice Mitzy had barely managed to prevent the suicide attempts. The first time she’d ‘accidentally’ knocked the bottle of pills out the window and straight down a drain in the road. The second time, she’d shuddered recalling the abject panic of arriving at the subway station; she’d had seconds to shove a guy into Roberta, knocking her away from the platform and onrushing train.
Now, now something was going on and Mitzy needed to know what it was. Roberta was curled about some secret happiness, she was sure of it, but what? It couldn’t be a man. Roberta was so far off men they didn’t actually register as human in her mind. Work was nothing more than inputting data, hardly rapturous, and she had no family to speak of, or to. Roberta shifted in her sleep, stretched, curled her arms around the pillow and… wonders will they never cease, she smiled. It was another secret, a tiny little tilt of the lips, an upslant at the corner of the eyes and a minute sigh, the sound of unfettered happiness.
“I knew it!” Mitzy exclaimed into the silence. It was probably a good thing that her allotted time expired at that moment. As she evaporated there was a faint blue tinge to the air, and the hint of words no angel is supposed to know.
It took Mitzy a month of visits. She tried every single time of day and night, but all she found were more secret smiles, lots of luxurious stretching, as if Roberta were slowly uncurling from beneath her storm clouds, and a few moments of random giggling for no reason. Eventually, three days before Christmas, Mitzy arrived at the apartment and found Roberta sitting on the sofa, a glass of wine in one hand and a letter in the other. An actual, honest to gods hand-written letter. No-one sent them anymore, and Mitzy was happy to use that as an excuse for not finding out what was going on sooner.
She peered over Roberta’s shoulder and read the single page. It was a declaration of love, of intent to marry and it was signed Patricia. Roberta clasped the page to her breast, sighed deeply and Mitzy watched that sigh blow away the last of her charges sadness.
“I bloody well knew it!” She murmured, grinning, and leaning close to Roberta’s ear for a second before leaving one last time, “Stay happy kiddo.”