I was amused the first time I saw her desperately trying to stay awake and conscious while her body slept. Not many humans have the desire to achieve such an exploit, let alone possess the courage to temporarily let go of their physical form. Or a quiescent enough mind to enter another realm.
I thought it was just a mistake, that she would quickly go back to her human whereabouts and forget all about her sudden breach. I was wrong. She would often arrive at the same astral passage - the one between my domain and Boethiel’s - a passage that was open to anyone, similar to what humans call a street.
The more she showed up, the more thrilled I was. I daydreamed of connecting with her so I would help her expand her knowledge on everything her mortal life kept secret. There was so much to learn and to do, and so many places to discover and explore. She had the potential, and I could be her guide. It was a pleasant, though silly, reverie.
“Still obsessed with her, Meir?” Boethiel placed his hand on my shoulder. It was the seventh time she had visited, and as usual, I was watching her slow progress. She had developed the ability to slightly perceive through the darkness, revealing shapes close to her. A lush pathway and some pine trees had bloomed because of her need to see something familiar.
“I’m not obsessed, merely curious.” I kept my focus on her. Human views of faith, magic, and life beyond physical death are quite limited to their general level of consciousness and curiosity. They like to poke at things with their five senses - things that are around them and part of their life and interests. Most of them also believe that only their environment is responsible for how they thrive and feel - never the self, never inside.
She, on the other hand, was curious enough to push her boundaries and limiting beliefs, and to dive into the unknown.
“It’s useless to hide the truth, brother, you know I feel through your intentions.” The tall redhead beamed at me. Most of us liked to identify with a specific form from creation. Boethiel liked elves, so he looked like one.
I grumbled and moved further away from the human. “It’s not like I’m allowed to interfere, Boethiel, I’m not an Archangel like you.”
“Who said you needed my job title to interfere? Last time I checked, Demons also have a free will.” He nudged me back in her direction. “And if it worries you so much, just change job.”
I must have gotten too close to her because she suddenly froze. She squinted her eyes and waved her hands through me as if trying to clutch at my form. Thankfully, she couldn’t touch anything astral yet.
“She can feel me. How is that even possible?” I asked Boethiel.
“Beats me.” He shrugged. “A soul living a human life can get pretty crafty.”
I looked at our visitor again and realized that she was also looking at me. I tried to move back but my desire to connect was stronger. Our gazes briefly locked, revealing our identities to each other. She gasped, then vanished.
“No!” I watched as her trees slowly faded. “I scared her.”
“You Demons usually do.” Boethiel laughed heartedly.
“Funny…” I reproachfully glared at him. “What now?”
“You ask too many questions brother, just go with the flow. Greet her next time she comes and maybe you’ll become friends or something.”
“That’s not healthy. She’s a mortal, living in a pretty constricted world. They don’t even have dragons! And I’m a Demon!”
“What’s not healthy in what I hear are excuses. Another unhealthy thing is to go against what you feel is right. Look.” He pointed at the ground, where parts of her lush pathway still existed. She had left her mark.
“Well, I don’t think it feels right.”
“So, what’s her name?” Forthright as usual, Boethiel ignored my whining.
“Leonie. Twenty-first century. Canadian.”
“And?” He wasn’t asking for more information about the human - he could find that by himself. He wanted me to tell him what I was planning to do.
“And… nothing. I should mind my own business.” I scowled.
“You do that then.” He cheerfully waved me goodbye and returned to his domain.
The following times Leonie appeared I stood far away and kept fighting the desire to greet her. She always looked like she was searching for something or someone - certainly not me - while adventuring in the passage. Boethiel started calling it Visitor Avenue because various trees and butterflies had been added after her visits. We thought that if this persisted, she would undoubtedly create her own domain, thus expand our part of the universe.
Eventually, I tried approaching her again but quickly pulled back, my soul filled with worry and uncertainty. I wasn’t as bright and attractive as my brothers and sisters. I preferred night colors, galaxies, asteroids, and black holes; not shiny waterfalls with crystal flowers and cute animals. If she saw me, she would once more run away scared.
A few human months later, I was floating above my fountain, enjoying the vibrations of the water against the onyx structure. My place was dim and peaceful as usual, unlike my mind. My musing was foolish, yet I could not shut it down. Skillful as she was, guiding Leonie meant traveling together, discovering different parts of creation, and teaching her how to forge and mend with her will. We could even create new worlds, that would then inspire others to do the same. The problem was that I knew a lot about her, and she knew nothing but my outer form.
“Hey, Meir!” Had I not been so preoccupied, Boethiel’s sudden visit wouldn’t have surprised me - he has access to my place, after all. “You forgot something; everyone has free will, including humans.”
“Yes, common knowledge…” I wasn’t sure where he was going with it. “Also, welcome back.”
“Thanks.” He floated next to me, legs crossed. “My point is, you never questioned what she wanted. Here you are, struggling to make a decision you’re not supposed to make yourself because you’re not the only individual involved. Don’t you think I’ve given you enough time to figure out you’re being selfish?”
“Selfish?” I frowned. “I’m trying to stay away, to not interfere with her life. And you call that selfish?”
“That’s what I said, yeah.” He nodded. Grouchy, I decided to keep quiet and wait for him to finish the lesson. Whatever he meant had to make sense, and I knew better than to not listen to an Archangel. The last time I decided to ignore one of their warnings, I wasted a considerable amount of energy.
“We’re not humans, or souls in a temporary shell, Meir, but we do worry nonetheless. We don’t have all the answers because we haven’t asked all the questions. Every moment a new question arises, somewhere a new answer comes up. As humans do, we have to learn through experience and wisdom.”
“I still don’t see your point. From my perspective, there’s nothing selfish in refusing to interfere in a mortal’s life. I help them, sure, but I don’t let them see or communicate with me. I don’t want to shatter their reality.”
“You’re talking about the people you help when there’s an opportunity. I’m talking specifically about Leonie.” He confirmed. “She came here on her own, forged a path and even left traces. If there is one human that could use some guidance right now, that would be her.”
“Sure. But why would I do it?”
“Because you care.” He smirked. “You’ve been mesmerized since the first time she appeared. You even connected!”
“Yeah, and she was spooked.” I groaned.
“Sure she was,” he tapped my back, “in an unknown territory, alone, afraid, struggling to keep the focus away from her physical body. C’mon Meir, get your senses together. She’s done way more than enough to prove she’s worthy.”
“That’s the point!” I exclaimed. “She is! I’m not.” My words echoed with so much weight that my whole domain shook. I had not realized how insecure I had been. It was not about scaring the human - it was about avoiding a possible rejection. A question to which I did not have the answer and could not answer by myself.
“Now you understand.” Boethiel gracefully stood up, ready to leave. “You’re in a duet, not a solo. When you’ll reconnect with Leonie, you’ll know if you’re a worthy guide or not - you’ll both feel it.”
I kept quiet, letting his words sink in, while the wobbling of my environment slowly stopped. Once peace and quiet had settled back in, I looked for Leonie on Visitor Avenue, but she wasn’t there. I realized it had been quite a while since she had last come. Perhaps she had lost interest, I thought, or perhaps I had not put in the right amount of effort. Something deep within me called for action, proactiveness. Boethiel was right - it was a duet and the solution could not come only from me or her. It was my turn to visit her world. “And if it causes trouble, so be it.” I murmured.
I floated again to the fountain and slid my fingers on the dark stone. As I stopped reflecting and was ready to leave when I saw her. Right there, at the edge of my domain. If I had had a human heart, it would have probably jumped to my throat.
With an underdeveloped astral sight and slow steps, she was following the pathway towards my house. Trees, butterflies and dense grass had appeared, completely messing the view. I appreciated it, though I could not comprehend how she could sprout those on someone else’s territory.
I stepped on the pathway and let her come to me at her pace. As last time, she could feel my presence but could not see me. Her hands reached in front of her and when they came in contact with my cloak, she stopped her course. She was able to touch.
“Can you hear me?” I asked.
“Good. Your sight is hazy because you focus on the five senses as you know them. Here’s an idea; if you mix sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, you would obtain feeling. This is, sort of, the sense you ould use here in order to function well.” I was sure this was the worse definition anyone had ever given, but it was the best I could provide.
“You mean… feeling would unlock all senses?”
“Doesn’t this require a pristine mental discipline?” She worried.
“No. You’re doing fine.” I said, but I really meant more than fine. She smiled.
“I saw you last time.” She slightly bounced on her feet.
“Weren’t you scared?”
“No,” she shook her head, “but my alarm went off and I was pulled back, otherwise I would have stayed.”
“You saw me clearly?”
“Hmm-mm, yes! You look like a winged dark elf, with horns.”
“Close enough.” I sighed with relief. If that didn’t worry her, we were off to a good start. I could tell her sight was getting clearer by the way she squinted her eyes - exactly like the first time. She raised her gaze slowly until it locked with mine once again. We were compatible.