‘Poor fortunate soul,’ he said, walking on without turning. He was tall, simply dressed in a black dress shirt, new black jeans and cowboy boots. He smelled of leather. It was an odd way to say it. I was intrigued.
I wanted to follow him, but that wasn’t my job. I could sense something in him, like, yes, he was a bible-basher, possibly even clergy. I could have read his mind if I cared to. There wouldn’t be anything in it of use. His was a simple mind, benign but filled with dogma. He pitied me because I smelled like the street. It had been three weeks since my last shower, and two since I had slept on a bed.
My wings were a little worse for wear, but he couldn’t see them. I was just someone to be pitied, and the way I was dressed, he probably thought I was an addict or a hooker, or both. I was just poor and had a job to do. The problem was that I didn’t know what it was. When an angel takes human form, they have amnesia. At least I can remember what I am and who I am, except maybe not who this body belonged to.
Pamela? That’s what feels right, but a gaze in the mirror shows me I’m Asian, maybe Chinese, light-skinned and petite. I speak English, though, with no accent – well, an Oxbridge accent. I must have gone to a posh school. I’ve spent the last of the 20 quid I had in my pocket. No purse, and not much more than that little zipper pocket in the back of my black ¾ tights. On top, my white lacy camisole leaves little to the imagination, and it is a little tired, in truth very tired. I could pass for 14, but this body is more mature, perhaps 20. I wouldn’t mind a pair of shoes.
My real name is Anekirja, Neki for short, and I’m an angel. What kind of angel? I can’t tell you that. I am here to give a gift to someone. What gift or to whom, I don’t know. I’ll have to figure that out and soon.
The original owner of my body is dead. Up or down, I don’t know. It isn’t relevant. All I know is she is clean (though not now in the physical sense), and that is all that matters to me. This body has a time limit, or shall I say is in extra time. Aside from the bruises I awoke with, it is healthy. This body was raped not long before I appropriated it. I am sad for the trouble that she left this life in. I don’t know what caused her death. I am not allowed that information. The fatal blow has been erased, so that I may live.
I awoke amidst some bushes in Hyde Park in London. I don’t know why she was there, but I do know she had enough time after the attack to put some of her clothes back on. I never found the rest, nor a pair of shoes. She must have been dumped there.
I spent the first week wandering the park, using the Serpentine to bathe. I couldn’t find my mission, so I’ve branched out. When I need to eat, I sit on a stoop and beg until someone moves me along. I’ve found the best way to beg is to not say anything. My Oxbridge wouldn’t quite hack it anyway.
‘Spare a few pence, m’love?’ That’s better, but my unfortunate visage works the best.
Considering my attire, I’ve been propositioned several times, and even groped. Angels aren’t good with sex. We usually can’t decide on our gender in a meaningful way, and that is problematic. My body is female, lean, a bit sexy, and smells like a toilet. I must do something about that soon.
He didn’t even drop a few coins for me. That man in the black shirt. I don’t know why I keep thinking about him. If I decided I was female, I might have fancied him. This body definitely did. This body wants to wrap itself around him at a cellular level. It’s not the first time it has felt this way, but this is the first time I have acknowledged it.
He’s gone. I should have run after him when I had the chance, but what would I have done? Sold my body for a meal? My angel-self would have recoiled.
He’s married. My perfect recall … yes, I have amnesia, but not only am I inclined to perfect recall, this body had it, as well as perfect pitch and synesthesia. I’m not used to that. It’s difficult to ignore the colours every time I hear a pitch. She was a violinist, I’m sure. She had an old bruise under her left chin and callouses on the fingers of her left hand, perhaps also a hint of tendonitis in her left elbow. So, to continue, my perfect recall sees a gold wedding band glint in the sunlight.
‘Can I get you something?’ a voice asks. I hadn’t seen him approach. He had a guitar case slung over his shoulder.
‘Just a few pennies for food, guv?’ I didn’t ask for more.
He dropped two shiny new pennies on the pavement in front of me. Talk about literal. He didn’t walk on, though.
‘Are you sure that’s all?’ he asked.
I looked up. He was stocky and slightly unkempt, with red hair and possibly a three-day beard. ‘I can’t buy much with 2p,’ I answered with my normal accent.
‘Is this enough?’ He held out a tenner.
I didn’t know what to say. He was generous. I liked him. I liked him a lot. I shrugged my shoulders. Was this him? Had I found my mission? What did he need? What could I give him? My body tingled with anticipation, surely an over-reaction.
‘Anything,’ he added.
Outrageously, I said, ‘a shower?’
‘Sure, come with me,’ he answered, holding his hand out.
The alarm bells should have been pounding. Sex. He wanted to take advantage of me. I couldn’t read his thoughts. Surely, he was the one. He was clean. I could smell his shampoo, even through my pong. His red dress shirt and blue jeans were, to be kind, comfortable. I took his hand and stood up.
More tingling. I’m sure he was the one. Too much tingling. I’ve never felt as nervous as this.
I followed him silently for about ten minutes before he stopped at an unmarked door next to a music shop. ‘This is it,’ he answered, fishing out his keys from his pocket. He opened the door and I followed him upstairs.
We stopped again in front of a door, 2B, which he unlocked. ‘Second door on the left,’ he said, pointing down the hallway. ‘Should I put your clothes in the wash?’ he asked.
‘Err, um,’ I hesitated. ‘What will I wear?’
‘There’s a robe hanging on the hook. It’s clean.’ His flat was in better order than he was, sparsely furnished but clean and tidy. His hi-fi took pride of place and was probably the only thing in the room that was expensive. ‘Would you like some eggs?’ he asked. ‘I haven’t got much food. I’ve been away.’
‘Anything,’ I replied. As hungry as I was, anything would do.
I showered and emerged wearing his white bathrobe, and nothing else. The tingling was becoming unbearable. Was my clock running out? He placed two plates of scrambled eggs and sausages on the table with orange juice and took my clothes, careful not to breath too deeply, and put them in the washer.
I sat across from him, literally shaking at the knees. I devoured my entire plateful before he had eaten two bites.
‘You don’t recognize me, do you?’ he asked.
I stared at him hard.
I couldn’t see anything familiar. ‘How do you know my … name?’ He couldn’t possibly have known me as Neki, surely Pamela, or something similar. I was very good at guessing the names of the bodies I possessed.
‘I can’t remember anything,’ I answered. ‘Nothing more than the last three weeks. I had an accident.’
‘You had a date,’ he said, flatly. ‘We had a date.’
I hesitated. He knew my body from before. This was awkward.
He reached his hand across and touched mine. I almost jumped out of my skin. I flushed, and Pamela’s body (for that was surely her name) reacted in a way that I just couldn’t understand.
‘Neki,’ he said, almost as if he could read my mind.
‘I really don’t remember,’ I pleaded.
‘It’s Mikael,’ he said. ‘We made a promise.’
‘How do I know you?’
‘We met about four weeks ago. We have one chance and that is now.’
‘I don’t understand.’ Nothing was coming to me.
‘You don’t feel it?’ he asked.
I nodded nervously. My body was overruling my mind. It wanted him.
‘Don’t resist. I am your gift.’
‘Anekirja, I am your gift. You deserve one after all these centuries. Let go and enjoy.’ He held my hand firmer.
‘I don’t understand.’ What I understood couldn’t possibly be happening. I was a Gift Angel and I was being gifted something repulsive to me.
‘Something you need,’ he insisted, reading my thoughts. ‘It will make you better. You’ll understand.’
I bit my lip. My body so craved his.
I couldn’t restrain myself any longer. I leapt so quickly that my robe slumped on the chair that I had vacated. The ecstasy that followed only later became clear. Pamela and Michael had died at the same time in separate incidents, both having intended to pledge their undying love over dinner that evening. Mikael (that’s the archangel) and I had been sent to make that happen, although it was more for me, as it was intended to teach me to love, to understand the meaning of human love and physical need.
Both had been granted extra time to deliver their promises through us.
Only time will tell if I remember this lesson.