Inside Drops of Crimson

   
   
   
Blind Love by Jennifer K. Wolfe

The cliché is “love is blind.”  It hides from you the imperfections of the person you have given your heart to.  It’s such a silly phrase.  How can you not know whom it is that you love?  Blindness doesn’t prevent you from seeing those that you love best.

 

I know…I am blind.  But I’ve always seen the face of my beloved.

 

To be fair, I used to be able to see once.  I was born with perfectly normal vision, two china blue eyes.  My mother used to tell me that even as a baby I would stare at everything, watching her as she would move across a room, reassuring myself that she was always near me.  And I remember watching things, for hours.  I took delight in sitting quietly, my eyes fixated as I caught the little things in my world.  The way that my mother curled and pinned her hair for church, the special smile my father had for Mrs. Hartbridge down the street, so very different than the one he had for mother.  I saw when the neighbors across the way argued, and the bruises on the wife’s face, the ones she tried to hide with too much make up.  And I knew about Billy Broward, the big kid from the high school, who used to make little kids do things to him he always promised to kill them for if they ever told.

 

I saw a lot of things in my short span of sighted life.  Perhaps with my keen eyes I could have been anything, a reporter, novelist, even a gossip columnist.  But I made the mistake of not looking one day, while riding a bike.  The car wasn’t looking either.  I only remember the roll I took up the hood, and the sickening crack to the back of my skull.  When I woke up, a week later, my mother was crying at my bedside.  I knew I could hear her sobs beside me.  But I couldn’t see her.  I couldn’t see anything.

 

Except for him.

 

He was about as boring and plain of a man as I had ever seen.  He wasn’t tall, nor was he fat, nor was he skinny.  His hair was brown, his eyes were dark, and he wore a rumpled gray suit and hat that seemed to blend in with gray cloud that filtered over my eyes.  He stood over me, watching me, a sad smile on his pale, average face.

 

“Your name is Kathy,” he asked conversationally, his hands clasped in front of him.

 

“Yes,” I murmured sleepily.  Everything felt muzzy at the moment.  I wondered why.

 

“I’m Kathy,” I confirmed again, blinking at him curiously.  I wasn’t afraid of him, not really.  There wasn’t anything about him that struck me as particularly frightening.  He looked like one of the accountants at my father’s office.  “What’s your name?”

 

“Sam,” he replied simply, holding out one of his long, thin white hands.  I took it politely, just like my parents taught me to do.

 

“I like the name Sam.”  He seemed nice.  His face was serious, but his eyes smiled.  He held my hand much longer than most people would.  His fingers were icy cold against my skin.

 

“You had a very bad accident, Kathy,” the man sounded upset about this.  He pulled up a chair out of the gray mist around me, sitting till he could look at me levelly.  There were tears in those dark eyes.  “The doctor’s do not know if they can save you.”

 

Save me?  I frowned hard, trying to understand what happened to me.  I had been riding my bike, and I blinked.  The impact, my head…nothing…there was nothing after the smashing brightness of white in my eyes.

 

“Am I going to die?”

 

The sad faced man nodded softly as he stroked my arm with his long, cool fingers.  “I am afraid you have to, Kathy.  You hit your head, you injuries are severe, and they do not know if they can fix what is wrong.”

 

I should have been scared, perhaps, but there was something about the grief in his eyes.  I felt so sorry for him, sitting there, holding my hand, and telling me I was going to die.  It hurt him to say that, I could tell, he didn’t like telling me that I was going to die.  Was this what he did all the time?  Sit at people’s bedsides and hold their hand while they went to heaven?

 

That must be an awful thing to do.  “Does it hurt much,” I asked quietly, wanting to hug the man, to tell him it was OK I had to die.

 

“You dying…not at all.”  He didn’t understand what I meant.

 

“No, not dying, your job.  Sitting here watching people like me,” I meant the words, but they seemed to surprise Sam.  Had that not occurred to anyone else?

 

“Sometimes,” he admitted slowly.  “It is not an easy thing to do, but its part of life.  It’s the One’s will.”

 

I nodded, deciding that the One must be God.  “Why does God make you do it if it hurts so much?”

 

“It is what I was made for, I can not be anything else.”  The man looked even more startled that I would even ask.  “Why?”

 

“I don’t know.  You seem so upset.”  It didn’t seem right to me that anyone should be sad about something like that…well, outside of my parents.  I was told that the dead went to heaven.  Wasn’t that a happy place?

 

“Are you an angel?”  It finally occurred to me that I hadn’t ever asked the most obvious question here.  Who else would be sitting here telling me I was supposed to die.

 

“Yes,” the man’s sad expression softened, and he looked almost as if he wanted to laugh.  I didn’t understand why, I hadn’t said anything particularly funny.

 

“My name is Samael.  I am an archangel.  I oversee all matters of life and death.”

 

“Do you watch over me then, like a guardian angel?”

 

“No, no, they are very different angels.  No, I just fill a very specific duty.”

 

I was curious now.  Perhaps I was dying, but I wanted to understand who this angel was and why he felt so sad for me.  “If you were made to make sure I got to heaven, Sam, why is it so upset?  Is heaven a bad place?”

 

“No,” Sam exclaimed, “No, heaven is a good place, a safe place.  Most souls are happy to go there.”

 

“Then why would you cry for me going?”  It seemed a very logical question to ask.  After all, if heaven was a good place, why cry about someone going there.

 

He shifted uneasily in the seat beside me, his gray suit looking suddenly tight around his collar.  “You are a child.  You have a life left to live, and that’s being denied to you.  That is something to cry about.”

 

I suppose it was…I hadn’t thought about that.  “That is sad,” I agreed, thinking about the sound of my mother crying.  I didn’t like the sound.  I wished she wouldn’t.  It hurt to hear that sort of keening noise out of her, as if it was her that was hurting instead of me.  I wanted to stop it somehow, to make her better, to make Sam not sad.

 

“Sam,” I asked gravely, turning my eyes up to his deep, dark ones.  “Is there any way I can go back?  I don’t like to hear my mother cry like that.”

 

He looked as if he was going to say no, his white lips forming the words in his face, but the sound not quite leaving his lips.  He paused, cocking his head carefully, as if thinking about it for a long moment.

 

“No one has ever asked me why it is I cry, or what makes me so sad.  Not in thousands of years.”  Sam sounded awed I even did.

 

“Why not?”

 

“I do not know,” he admitted, eyes darting down to where I lay.  “Kathy I can do something I have never done for anyone, not once in all of existence.  I can give you back your life.  I can give you back to your mother, and I can let you live out your days as anyone else does.  But you have to give me something of value in exchange.”

 

Value?  I had nothing.  Perhaps my favorite doll or my bicycle?  I was sure that was destroyed when I was hurt though.  “What do you want?”

 

“You are a little girl who sees and observes much.  Much more than the average person does.  You saw the truth behind me immediately.”  There was a sort of pride on his face as he smiled so gently it made me want to cry.  “If you will give me your eyesight, I will give you your life.  You can return to your mother, return to your friends, and live your life.  And it will make me happy seeing you alive.”

 

“You’ll be happy?”  I hoped he would be.  I didn’t like seeing Sam cry.

 

“Very,” he reached a hand up to brush at the hair on my forehead.  “I have never met a mortal so curious nor so concerned about me before.  You’ve touched a part of me that I did not think was capable of being touched before, Kathy, the compassion I had forgotten I had.”  He leaned over, his breath smelling of lilies and lilacs.  “I’ll watch over you always, Kathy, till I come to see you again.”  His lips pressed against my forehead softly, like the fluttering of butterfly wings.  I sighed as my eyes fluttered closed, stirring, opening again to the sound of my mother’s quiet gasp.

 

“Kathy, baby,” she choked, her fingers smoothing my face.  Fingers that I could feel against my skin but couldn’t see, “Kathy, its mommy.  I’m here…can you hear me.”

 

“Yes, momma,” I murmur, tears already clogging my now blank eyes, I could hear her, but I couldn’t see her.  Sam had been right.  He took my eyes away from me.

 

I’ll watch over you always, Kathy…

 

I cried more because I couldn’t see my mother’s face than because I truly missed my eyes.  But I learned to see again, after a fashion.  My eyes never worked, but I could hear, and I could smell, and I could touch.  I learned to read the things around me that not even keen eyesight could reveal to me.  I learned the nuances in my parents’ voices when they spoke to each other over dinner, the hardening and cutting of simple words such as “pass the peas” and “how was work today, dear”, words that had I been seeing I wouldn’t have understood nearly as well.  I could feel the emptiness in the house after my father left, mourned the lack of his familiar tobacco and whiskey sent, and still stepped over the spot where his slippers always used to lie in the living room.

 

I missed my father, but I hated him as well.  I knew about the secrets he didn’t even tell my mother, not just the women, but also the money, the other children, things he had lied about and thought well hidden because no one could see them, least of all me.  He didn’t have to sit in the dark at night, listening to my mother’s sobs, muffled by the pillow she clung too, nor hear the despair under the tight smile I knew she was wearing.  She always smiled, even though I couldn’t ever see it.  It was important to Mom to keep up appearances.

 

People in this world often don’t say what they mean.  The lack of eyesight meant I learned to listen to the world around me just as much as I had once watched it.  And I learned, about what people thought, and how, and why.  I learned the complexities of what we hear and what it might mean.  It is fascinating what people will say around you when they think you can’t see them in their lies.

 

The ink on my psychology degree was hardly dry when I saw Sam next.  It was my first job, a counseling service for troubled students.  I hadn’t thought I would see him again so soon, not really.  I was young, vibrant, thriving.  I had someone who loved me, and I him, and we were discussing marriage and family, a life together.  He didn’t care that I was blind, and I didn’t care that I couldn’t see what he looked like.

 

I had to admit, seeing Sam worried me this time.  I had so much more to lose than I had when I was just a child.  I felt his presence before I saw him, the lighter-than-air touch on the shoulder, the scent of lily and lilac, his fingers on my shoulder as his lips found my forehead.

 

I closed my eyes and sighed.  “Hello, Samael.”  I turned to him; surprised I could see him, but not overly so.  His eyes were just as fathomless, his smile just as dark and sad.  He seemed less plain now, more angular than I remembered, almost beautiful, but in a way too sharp and bright for most humans to find beautiful.

 

“You remember my name,” he seemed so pleased, lounging against the far wall in jeans and a sweater, much like any of my students would wear.  “You have grown up, Kathy.”

 

“It’s Kathleen now,” I pointed out with a shy smile.  “I want a PhD, they have to take me seriously now.”

 

“Oh, Kathleen it is,” he grinned broadly, a smile so dazzling it nearly hurt to look at.  “You are doing well for yourself, my dear, so well.  I am so very proud of you.”  There was pride glowing in those dark eyes of his, the sort of pride I always envisioned on my father’s face.  If he had ever bothered to pay attention to the achievements his blind daughter had earned.

 

“Thank you, Sam,” I smile shyly at him, basking in the appreciation so rarely granted to me in life.  “I could have hated you for what you took from me.  But I didn’t.  I grew despite of it, I achieved my degree, I want to help people like me who have gone through what I have.”  I could have allowed my lack of eyesight to beat me.  I didn’t.

 

“I suppose I should thank you, Sam,” I murmur softly holding out a hand for one of his thin, long ones.  “You not only gave me life, you gave me a purpose.  And I can’t thank you enough for it.”

 

The angel’s eyes bore down on me, wide and full as something within him welled and burst to the surface.  I didn’t know if angels can have feelings, or if they feel so much more than we mortals do.  It was so lovely, so blinding, that for the briefest of moments I had to look away, unable to stand seeing his face for al the sheer joy he radiated.

 

“You beautiful creature,” he whispered, over and over.  “You beautiful, beloved creature, Kathleen.  You once touched my heart by caring enough about me that you wanted to make me feel better.  Now you thank me for taking from you that which you valued most?  What the One did in creating you, I do not know, but I thank him for it.  You have given me something I never thought I would ever have as one of the angelic host.”

 

“What is that,” I wonder allowed, finally able to look upon him again.

 

“Love,” he replied, his fingers in my hand untangling to stroke my face ever so lightly.  Love?  My thoughts swirled in a whirlwind of panic, thinking of my fiancé, whose face I had never seen, only touched.  Here was an archangel offering me his heart, a creature I had seen at least, the only thing I could see with my ruined eyes.  But he wasn’t flesh and blood, he wasn’t mortal, he couldn’t live with me, be by my side, love me as a mortal man could.

 

What did he want from me?

 

As if sensing the anxiety and fear welling within me, he snatched away his caressing hand, sorrow filling those glowing eyes.  “But I am divine, and you are not, Kathleen.”  There was a well of sorrow and pain in those words.  “There are many who have chosen to leave behind what is divinely theirs by right for the world of man, for the love of mortals, for the weight of the world.  But I am Samael, the ‘bitter beverage of God’; I am the cup that all mortals must drink from, even you.  And I can not turn my back on the One, not even for the love of a woman as dear to me as you.”

 

I sighed, relieved, yes…but saddened.  He was such a beautiful creature, such a lovely thing, so sad, so lonely, so misunderstood.  Humanity loved to fear and hate him for what he was, death.  But they never saw the beauty in death that was Samael, the kindness, and the compassion.  All they saw was an ending, not a beginning.  He was a creature to love, to admire.  But he wasn’t human, and we both knew that.  And somewhere, deep inside of me, I mourned that, despite the amazing man whose ring I wore on my finger.

 

Even as this realization solidified within me, Samael’s affection turned darker, sadder, taking on a seriousness that broke the warmth of our greeting.  “I haven’t come here merely for social visits, Kathleen.  I do have grave news for you?”

 

“I wouldn’t have imagined you’d come to me if you didn’t,” I replied, the worry returning with the gravity in his expression.

 

Like the young people he was dressed as, he slid to the floor, crossing his legs in front of him, looking up at me as if pleading for an apology.  “Kathleen, your father is dying.”

 

My father.  Somehow I knew he would say someone close to me, my mother maybe, perhaps the man I wanted to marry.  But my father?  I didn’t know what to say to that.

 

“Oh,” was all I could manage softly, meeting his apprehension with confusion.  “I didn’t…has he been sick for long?”

 

“Cancer,” Samael replied.  “He has had it for years, but he refused to say anything to you about it.  He was afraid to.”

 

“Afraid,” I scoffed, anger rising up within me rather than the hurt, or despair, or sadness I should have felt at the news that my father was dying.  “Afraid that I would be hurt, or afraid to face what he did to my mother and me?”

 

“Both,” Samael acknowledged reluctantly.  “He knows the sins he committed against you were wrong, Kathleen, they were things that broke your mother’s heart and hurt you gravely.  But he is dying.  I can not spare him like I spared you.  He deserves to have the ability to make his peace with you before I take him away.”

 

“Make his peace,” I spat angrily, staring at the archangel as if he were crazy.  “He had no use for me, his blind daughter.  Not once in all of these years has he offered to help.  Why should I forgive him?”

 

“I did not say forgive him, Kathleen, merely listen to him.  Give him the chance to clear his conscience before he is never given that chance again.”

 

Damn him and his angelic gaze, it cut through to my soul, and it hit the part of me that knew that he was right, but didn’t want to admit it.  Damn it, and damn him, I seethed privately, as Samael smiled softly, knowing what my thoughts were.

 

“I can not be damned, Kathleen.  But you are making my heart very glad.  Go see him, soon.  He’ll be waiting for you.  And so will I.”

 

His fingers reached up again for my cheek, grazing the bone just below my eye, as he dissolved from before me, my vision clouding, my world turning drab and gray once again.  The brightness that was the Angel of Death now was nothing more than a vague play of light against shadow in my quiet office, alone.

 

“Kath…Kathleen, you there?”  It was my driver, one of the students who made sure I got in and got home every night.  Her voice was bemused, frightened as she opened my door.  “You OK in here?”

 

“Yeah,” I turned by sightless face towards the voice.  “Why?”

 

“I don’t know, just sounded like you were talking to someone.”  She laughed, reaching for my elbow to help me up.  “I don’t know, perhaps I’m just imagining things.”

 

“Maybe you are,” I agree with a teasing smile that I don’t quite feel in my heart.

 

I had a heart, and my father broke it, a man who had betrayed my mother and I in the worst way.  But I did go to him, as Samael asked.  He was ill indeed, his lungs eaten away by a hunger from within.  I couldn’t see my once vibrant, athletic father with my own eyes anymore, and for once I was glad I couldn’t.  Just hearing the wheeze in his voice, the sound of the machines surrounding him, keeping him alive, that was enough for me, enough to know that my father was indeed dying.

 

I sat by his bedside for those last, final days, as he told me idyll stories about growing up, about how he had once loved my mother so much, about how proud he was of me as a daughter.  But with each shared story, each remembered laugh, I could tell he was failing.  I could hear the fading in his voice; I could sense that the end was coming.  And something about that moment made me wish I could hold it back, just for a moment, just to have an extra minute, an extra second with this man.

 

It was on the last day, in the morning, that he finally admitted to me why it is that he left my mother and I.  It wasn’t the women he had been sleeping with for years, those were a dime a dozen he said.  “I couldn’t forgive myself for what had happened to you, Kathleen.”  He cried, dripping tears that choked his feeble voice.  “I was your father, I was the man who was supposed to protect you from everything, and I couldn’t even protect you from losing your eyesight.”

 

Somewhere from within the room I could smell the soft, heady sent of Samael’s passing, even thought I couldn’t see him.  My vision remained clouded and gray.

 

“Daddy, it was an accident.’  I used term of endearment I hadn’t used since he left us.  “You couldn’t have stopped it.”

 

“No, but I could have kept a better eye on you, called out to you when that asshole hit you.”

 

“You couldn’t, and didn’t,” I replied softly, my fingers searching for and finding his tear streaked, wasted face.  “Just think, how much worse could it have been?  I could have died in that accident.”  I should have, and would have if it weren’t for one archangel who took pity on me.

 

Samael’s hand rested on my shoulder though it wasn’t visible.  There was comfort there in the ghostly presence, and I drew from it as my father sobbed.  I wiped at the tears, murmuring soft and low to my father that I loved him, that it wasn’t his fault, and that I knew that death was not a thing to be frightened of.  I knew because I had seen it.  And it was a lovely, peaceful event, and one that would take him from this painful world to heaven.  I knew it was true; I had spoken to Samael myself.

 

He died later that day, with me at his bedside, holding his withered hand, dozing in a chair beside him.  Samael had come and gone, without even a word of goodbye.

 

My father was buried, but I went on.  I married my young man, his name was Rick.  We moved to a suburban house, much like the one I had grown up in, so my mother said.  I don’t know, I never saw it.  I wanted children.  Rick loved me desperately, but worried about how I would cope, blind as I was, with small children in a home.  My mother moved in, eager to remove an impediment to her status as a grandmother, and eagerly encouraged us “young ones” to get into the process of baby making.

 

I can’t say I complained about that part at all.

 

I knew I was pregnant almost from the moment my body began its physical change.  I couldn’t see the glowing that everyone said expecting women had, but I could feel it.  I sensed the new and difference changes with my baby everyday.  I would wake to sense of another awareness fluttering within me, a small life awakening to life.  And at night I would lay down, humming my baby softly to sleep, eager with the anticipation of finally holding and meeting my child, of touching its soft face, of breathing in its sweet scent.  My days became centered and focused on that one event, when everything in my life would change forever.

 

So familiar was I to that sense of being within me that when I awoke one day nearly nine months into my pregnancy and realized that it wasn’t there, I felt naked and alone.  As if someone had stolen something vital from me while I slept in my own bed.  My hands reached across my swollen abdomen, but it was still just as full, just as heavy as when I went to sleep that night.  But the presence was still, silent.  And fear quaked in my heart.

 

I waited for it, refusing to rise out of bed, thinking perhaps the baby was simply sleeping.  Perhaps it was resting, and I was just unaware of it.  But I knew when the baby slept, and when it was awake, and neither of those times felt like this, the absolute quiet within my womb.  Dread cut through me as I lay in the silence of my room, hugging the round firmness of my middle and wondering what had happened to my child.

 

“You know it as surely as I do, Kathleen.”

 

It was the voice I had feared the most.

 

I rose up in my bed to face the one creature I had prayed not to see.  Samael sat on the end of the mattress, more delicate, more beautiful than he had been before.  He was ethereal, his shining jet eyes meeting mine, unflinching, wrapped in robes that were neither fabric nor light.

 

Angel or demon, at this moment I didn’t care.  “Samael, you can’t have my baby.”

 

“Kathleen, it is done,” he said firmly, in a voice that lacked the gentleness of my childhood and the love of my youth.  It was tired, sad, regretful…perhaps frightened.  I couldn’t tell as the angel tore his gaze from mine to my swollen belly, covered in the fabric of my maternity nightgown.  There was anguish in his face, horrible anguish.  Worse than the tears he shed for me as a child, dying in her hospital bed.

 

“I am sorry, Kathleen,” he murmured, so low I could barely hear him.  “It is the will of the One.”

 

“The will of the One to take my child?”  My voice was ringing so loud, it hurt my ears, and caused the angel to flinch back, his divine presence shrinking slightly at the sheer weight of my outrage.  “God can spare my life as a child, take away my eyesight, destroy my family, and now take my child?”  How could this be, I wondered, silently demanding this of the angel.

 

“Kathleen, I can not question the One’s will, no more than I can…” he paused, stopping in what he was going to say.  I knew the words that almost tripped off his lips.  He didn’t have to say them.

 

“No more than you can restore my child back to me.”  The syllables fell cold from my mouth, landing in between us like an accusation.  “Twenty years ago, you felt compassion enough to save one little girl.”

 

“The first and only time in existence, Kathleen.  And I asked something from you that you gave freely, that you gave out of compassion for someone about to take your life.”

 

This was hurting him, paining him, tearing at him like nothing I had ever seen for Samael.  And somehow I couldn’t bring myself to care.  “You couldn’t show the same for my child?  I thought you said you loved me, Samael.”

 

If I had slapped him, I couldn’t have wounded him deeper.

 

“I love you, Kathleen, more than any mortal I have ever known.  But I can not change what I am.  And I can not be anything else other than that which the One created me to be.  I told you that before.  Not even for the love of a mortal woman.”  He rose, slowly, his deep eyes aching as they swam before me, his long, white fingers splayed as they reached, not for my hand or my cheek, but for the swollen belly I cradled in my arms.

 

“No, no, please don’t,” I wept, as his touch, so familiar, so cherished once, fluttered across my skin, as the cramping and pain began, fluid gushing from between my thighs as tears brimmed over my eyelashes.  Solemnly, Samael leaned in close, his scent wrapped around me as I moaned and cried, the pain cutting across my abdomen in ripples.

 

“There will be other joys, Kathleen, those that I will not take away from you.  And I promise, I will take care of this little one for you.  You will see her again, and I will love her as I love you…as I will always love you.”

 

“I hate you,” I cried through bitters sobs, twisting away from him in pain and grief.  “I hate you.  Leave me, get away from me, and never come back.  I hate you!”  I screamed and screamed as he watched me, exquisite anguish on his face.  I didn’t care.  I took my child away from me.  How dare he say he loved me?

 

I squeezed my eyes against the rippling contractions as my mother rushed into my room, terror lacing her voice as she called first and ambulance, then my husband.  When I opened them again, the world had returned to the dark shades that my life had become, and no Samael was in sight.

 

I gave birth to a little girl…still born.  I name her Angela.  It just seemed fitting.  Rick thought it appropriate for his lost, little girl, “an angel up in heaven” he said, sobbing the whole way through her funeral.  I didn’t shed a tear that day, I couldn’t.  I thought over and over of Samael’s promise, of how he would take care of her, how he would love her.

 

Did he take her to be with him because I didn’t want to go?  I wondered that some nights, as I lay beside Rick in our shared bed, he sleeping soundly beside me as I patted the womb that had once again been filled with Rick’s seed.  This baby survived, a boy named for his father.  Three more came after Ricky, two girls and a boy, all adored by their father, doted on by their grandmother, and patiently loved by me.

 

But my heart never stopped aching for Angela, the daughter I knew was somewhere, with Samael.  I wondered if he was living up to the promise he made me.  I couldn’t imagine he wasn’t.  Samael loved me dearly, something he had never given a mortal before.  And I returned his love with hate.

 

He had taken my child.  But would she have been happy living?  Rick had asked the doctors why it was this had happened.  The had sighted some confusing explanation of birth defects, a random sequencing of genes in the cellular division that meant Angela was created sick, even before she was born.  It was a combination that had missed her brothers and sisters.  Some strange twist, some fluke of fate, of will…of the One, and Samael had been right.

 

I had been wrong, but I couldn’t ask for his forgiveness.  I hadn’t seen Samael in years.  My children had grown, married, and had children of their own.  I dotted on them as my mother had dotted on my children, blind, Nana Katie, who would tell them stories about the angel who visited her when she was a very little girl.  They grandchildren thought they were pretty stories, and were amazed that Nana, for all of her inability to see any of them and their antics, could tell them such vivid stories about an angel with eyes as deep and as black as midnight, who cried for a little girl who should have died.

 

Rick passed away shortly after our fiftieth anniversary.  They didn’t allow me to be with him that day.  He had developed Alzheimer’s, and being blind they didn’t trust me to take care of my own husband.  Instead they trundled him to a nursing home, far away from me, where he died in his sleep one night.  I don’t know if Rick ever remembered who I was.  I had wanted to be there in the end, to be with him…and in the hopes that Samael would be there, waiting for me.  I had wanted to apologize to him.  To admit to him that after all these years, I knew I had been wrong.  But my children hadn’t allowed me to go to him.  They thought it would have been too much for me to be there in Rick’s last moments.

 

The indignity of old age is that one can’t force their children into submission any longer.  Not when they are grandparents in their own right.  And so I waited, at the house of my eldest daughter, waited for the day when finally Samael would come to me, as he came to everyone.  My days moved by patiently, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, more funerals than weddings, birthdays.  I had passed my own 87th.  I accepted the gifts, the well wishes, and waited, patiently for Samael to arrive.

 

It was evening when he came.  I was on my daughter’s back deck, enjoying the last lovely evening of summer, a warm breeze on my parchment cheeks, the mild sunshine I hadn’t seen in decades.  Roses bloomed out there, and their scent mingled with the lily and lilac that was as familiar to me now as the sound of my grandchildren’s laughter.

 

He didn’t appear to me, not at first, but I could feel him, waiting behind me.

 

“Hello, Kathleen,” his voice was soft and low, full of sadness and longing.  His fingers brushed against my wrinkled cheeks, his lips glided against my brow.  It was so welcome that sensation of my old, familiar friend, that for a moment I basked in it, the feel of him, and the smell of him, knowing that he had returned at last.

 

“I’m sorry, Samael, I’m so sorry,” I whispered, tears leaking out of my aged eyes.  “I shouldn’t have blamed you for Angela, I’m sorry.”

 

“Kathleen,” he whispered gently in my ear, “I forgave you before you even grew angry with me.  How could I not, my love?”  I felt him tip my face up, to look at him as he stood before me.

 

I couldn’t breath, he was so beautiful, they say his name meant “bitter cup”, or “poison”.  But there was nothing vile about him.  He stood before me, an archangel in all of his majesty, tall and terrible, so bright I could barely stand seeing him.  Around him showed the aura of what he was, the glowing brilliance of the divinity that marked him as the powerful, awful being known as Samael, an Archangel of God.

 

He was as naked as an angel could ever be, I suppose, hiding nothing from me.  And I could somehow stand it without losing my mind.

 

“You know why, my love,” he chuckled, his eyes, once dark, now glowing with silver fire as he smiled down on me.  “It’s because you are not mortal any longer.”

 

That made sense.  “Oh,” I replied absently, realizing for the first time that I wasn’t resting on the chaise lounge on my daughter’s deck.  I was standing before him.  And despite the brilliant, blinding presence that encompassed him, it wasn’t just Samael that I was seeing.

 

It was everything, all of creation, in bright, vivid colors.  Just like I had seen them as a child, so long ago.

 

“Have I died,” I murmured in awe, just as I did when I was still just a girl, and he first came to my bedside, so long ago.

 

“This time, yes,” Samael replied, bemused.  “I do not think you can give me anything to save you this time, Kathleen.”

 

“That’s all right,” I assured him, laughingly spinning to face him, this lovely, divine creature.  “You’ve given me so much already.  A life perhaps that I should never have had?”

 

“Perhaps…or perhaps it was the will of the one you should always have it.”  Always with the will of the One, I smiled.  It was maddening.

 

“And it is not for any of us lesser beings to understand,” Samael’s smile nearly outshone the fading sun.  “Kathleen, I have waited for a long time for you to be with me.  Are you ready to leave this place, to see those you love?

 

To see those I loved?  My heart nearly sang with the idea of it.  Seeing them, really seeing them.  My parents whose faces were locked forever in the memory of a child, my husband whose features I only knew from fevered fingers playing across them in the heat of passion.  My daughter, my darling Angela, who died before I could even hold her, kiss her, get to know her.  I could see them all…really see them.

 

And Samael, whose face was now fully revealed, and just as comforting to me as it had been all of my life.  Bright and brilliant and shining in the eyes that I had forgotten I had.  Or at least the eyes that had been, up to this point, veiled, waiting for the moment when I would understand all of the things that my keen observation saw.

 

Samael held out his hand to me, gleaming and shining, surrounded with shimmering, fiery light.  “Come along, Kathleen.”

 

Without hesitation, I took it, my heart full and my eyes wide.  “I’m ready to go now, Sam.”

 

About the Author

Jennifer K Wolfe

A minister’s daughter raised on a steady diet of science fiction, fantasy, and classic literature, Jennifer Wolfe grew up in Virginia and Missouri before settling down in Monrovia, California, just outside of Pasadena. Giving up on a music degree, she now holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA in Los Angeles, and currently is working on a Master of Arts degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. A lover of all things historical, Jennifer loves to read, write, cook, and obsess on American football.
Copyright (c) 2008 Drops of Crimson. All rights reserved.