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Fantasy Adventure

If I asked you to describe an Angel, how would it look? Would it have wings, a halo, or maybe a flaming sword? Perhaps you think of a naked baby with a bow and arrow? I’m guessing you wouldn’t describe an orphan, with no job, no friends, living for free in a studio above a bakery. You wouldn’t describe me, basically. But I am an angel.

 

I have a unique ability. I can understand people. Not just in an empathetic way, like understanding that someone is upset, or reading their body language, but really understand them. I see or hear what they need. When I was a child with various foster parents I thought I was just super-empathetic, but as I became an adult I found that I didn’t even need to talk to someone for it to happen, so it has to be more than just empathy. It’s difficult to explain, I get a feeling that someone needs something, and I follow, like a moth to a light and help them. I don’t really understand how it all works myself, I’ve never met anyone who has the same ability to compare – let me just tell you how it works in practice, on an average day...

 

It was morning, and I was riding the subway. Public transport is where you run into most people who need help, so, since there’s nothing else to do during the day, I’ve taken to just riding around and waiting for the ‘call’. Out of curiosity, I did the maths on it, and it does actually save time to be constantly moving.

 

Some days, like this day, I can feel the draw from a lot further away, like a giant magnet drawing me in that I have no way to resist. This is why I don’t have a proper job by the way, I did try a couple of times, but I ended up just walking off to help people, and got fired. It wasn’t intentional, I tried to ignore it during work hours but the feeling just overcame me, like a deafening noise that drowned out everything else, like my vision blurred to the point where that was all I could sense, and I had to follow it. It kind of makes a full time job hard. Also relationships – people don’t tend to like it when you can’t focus on them.

 

The feeling seemed to be coming from further into the city, so I tried to follow it. I ended up in the city square station, the major transport hub of the city. It is scheduled to be converted into a park above ground with the transit links hidden underneath 2 years ago, but they haven’t even started yet. Now it’s just an ugly meeting point of trains, taxis and buses, with a few to-go coffee places scattered around. It has about as much soul as a public bathroom, and some parts of it smell like one.

 

As I entered the main concourse, working out if I needed another train the feeling became suddenly stronger. Someone needed help very close nearby. This is where it always gets tricky. There are a lot of people you could try to help, and a lot of people who could use help. It is a major city after all – at any given time someone is running late for a bus or a train, and you could get on the bus and stall the driver until they get there. Or someone would be missing some money for a coffee and you could buy their drink. That doesn’t seem to count though. This feeling, this giant magnet that pulls me out here means someone specific truly, desperately needs help.

 

I looked around, trying to focus on people, what they were doing. There was a lady by the coffee shop that needed her car fixed, a man waiting for the bus that needed a job, an out-of-town teenager who needed to find a map, but nothing specific, nothing that gave me a strong feeling. I headed outside, past a new mother who needed sleep and walked past the taxi rank.

 

Approaching the first car in the rank it hit me full force like I had just walked into a wall. An older lady wearing a headscarf was pleading with the taxi driver, who was shaking his head. This must be the place. I steadied myself and listened in to get a bearing on the situation.

 

Her language was foreign to me, the syllables harsh and throaty, but the tone was unmistakable. She was pleading, asking for something. Her hands came together in front of her chest like a prayer sign.

“I don’t know where you want to go.” The driver was saying. He emphasised the last part by pointing randomly around him and shrugging. I listened close to what she was trying to say.

“Hos...pi...Hosp...i...tal.”

Hospital. That was strange, I didn’t get a feeling of physical pain from her, or see any obvious sign of injury: no walking stick, no crutches, no bandages. The driver sighed and rubbed his temple.

“Which one lady? There are 4 hospitals. Four.” He was holding up four fingers. The lady kept repeating the word, but slower and quiter. I offered my help. The driver shrugged and waved me to the lady, glad to have a break.

 

She was short. I am not a tall person, but I had to lean down a fair bit to her nonetheless. She had olive skin and a strong jawline, and my guess would be Arabic descent.

“Hello Ma’am.” I said, as slow and as softly as I could. “Maybe I can help you. I guess you are trying to get to a specific hospital, not just any hospital?” She didn’t reply.

I always keep a city map in my pocket – a lesson learned from getting lost too often – so I pulled it out and tried to point out the hospital locations and the suburbs they were in. The lady looked at the paper for a moment and then gave me a sad smile. Not for the first time I wished this understanding included languages. I looked around to check no one was paying too close attention and looked her in the eyes, trying to see what she had seen.

 

This lady had beautiful eyes. I’ve looked a lot of people in the eye doing this, but these still stood out. They were like emeralds, dark, and glittering – they were slightly wet, maybe she had been crying recently. They seemed to grow wider as she looked at mine, the crow’s feet spreading out to her temples. They were eyes that had seen much in life.

 

The feeling was coming back again, with force. See, when I understand someone, I feel them. I feel their pain, their frustration, their hopes, their desires...all those emotions at once can be pretty overwhelming. This lady had fear, a lot of fear right now. Flashes of hardships came into my head, along with sickness, desperation, and determination. I closed my eyes as it all hit, trying to filter through the emotions hitting me. Sadly, none of this came with specifics or hospitals.

“Malak.” She said, in almost a whisper.

It didn’t ring a bell. I looked at the map to be sure, but none of the hospitals, suburbs or routes seemed to contain the word in them. The taxi driver had given up, and was leaning on his car lighting a cigarette, talking to another driver, watching us with slight amusement.

 

A quick glance around showed no one else paying close attention. I took the lady’s hand in mine and took a deep, calming breath, before the onslaught. The lady had started talking quietly, and my ears strained to hear anything. The few words I caught were foreign, but I started to see flashes, glimpses. A young woman with green eyes sat in a waiting room, constantly checking the time. A swell of immense pride accompanied the vision of her. Beyond a closed door, doctors and surgeons surrounded someone else. This was the source of the fear. She must be trying to get to someone in the hospital. A family member perhaps? That was straight-forward enough, but which hospital?

 

I took another deep breath, and tried to focus. The woman in the waiting room was making a phone call. She had the same green eyes. She was emphasising one word, repeating it slowly.

“Saint. Aw-gus-teen. Mama? Saint. Aw-gus-teen. Augustine.”

Saint Augustine Hospital! The map was on my lap and I found a hospital with that name on. Great! I opened my eyes and looked at the lady again, who was beaming from ear to ear now and holding her hands together again. I wondered if she could sense what was happening.

 

I stood and cracked my neck, leaving her with the map while I went to the taxi rank.

“St. Augustine Hospital!” I said to the driver, “That’s where she’s trying to get to. I think a relative is there.” To my disappointment the driver just shook his head and looked away. “...what’s wrong?” I continued.

“Look man, unless you’re some mind-reading freak, then there’s no way you know where she’s trying to go from...whatever that crap was that you did. I’m not taking her there only to find it’s the wrong place.” He got back into the taxi and started tapping on his phone. Clearly there was no arguing this case.

 

He had a point. In reality I had no idea if this was the right place, or even if what I saw was related to current events. Oh well, there were other drivers. I started to walk towards the other taxis but it seemed word got around quite quickly and the other drivers were shaking their head or turning away from me and the lady. Well that was just fantastic.

 

I went back to the Taxi driver’s window.

“What if I come with her? If St Augustine isn’t the place then you just drop us there, and I’ll take care of her from then on.” The driver almost considered it for a second, but then his radio buzzed. He waved me away from the window and drove off in a hurry, I guess to pick up a less complicated fare. He was followed by another taxi, who had evidently found someone else in the meantime. The last driver had turned off the taxi sign and walked off. It must be time for a coffee break.

 

So now what? I stood there for a second thinking, so absorbed in thought that I barely noticed the lady coming to take my hand again, until I felt the sharp point of folded paper and realised she was handing me back the map. She smiled at me again, a smile of complete trust. Her eyes seemed to have dried and I sensed a confidence in her. I wish I could have said the same about myself.

 

I stared at the folded map she had given me for an embarrassingly long time before I realised something. St Augustine was near the east-side mall complex, right on the number 36 bus route. I looked at my watch. 10:12 AM. That was a stroke of luck! The 36 would go straight past the St. Augustine.

 

I folded the map away and smiled at the lady, trying my hardest to point and mime very slowly that we would take a bus. I have no idea if she understood – sadly making myself understood is not part of this – but she smiled back at me still. Presumably, this meant I should lead. So, with no other objection I led her to the Number 36 bus, leaving in a convenient 5 minutes time. I got a dark look from the driver for not having the correct change, but that was pretty standard.

 

From the central hub to the East Side Mall would take 45 minutes in average traffic, so I settled back into my seat. Getting to the hospital was easy, but if she was there to visit someone having an operation, probably we would need to find the ward they were in, and possibly sign visiting forms. That would mean interacting with hospital staff, and that meant I needed some details. The lady next to me was staring out the window, and still holding my hand.

 

I looked at her closely, thinking about the hospital scene that had come to me before and I closed my eyes, focusing on the incoming wave of feelings, now mixed with relief and hope that hadn’t been there before. Slowly the picture began to reappear, and in my mind the blank parts of the story were being filled in.

 

The woman in the waiting room was Alya, her daughter. The man in the operating room was the lady’s brother and Alya’s uncle, Fikri. He was having an emergency appendectomy and was in the West Wing of the hospital. As the picture became clearer I could feel the huge amount of fear again – Fikri was not in great health and he had ignored the pain for nearly two days before it had become unbearable. He made up a large part of this lady’s life, the only non-offspring relative who was still alive. The possibility of losing him weighed heavily on her mind.

 

As I opened my eyes she turned and looked at me, as if again sensing what I was doing and the picture in my mind disappeared. I opened my mouth to say something, but of course I had no way of telling her what I wanted to say. Words like ‘it will be ok’ rarely offer comfort to people in difficult times, even less if you can’t understand them. Instead I closed my mouth and smiled at her, gripping her hand slightly tighter. She smiled her wrinkled smile again and sat back into the seat.

 

A stop before ours I nudged her slightly, and we made our way to the doors. We crossed the street, and entered the hospital without any problems. I almost stumbled on the visiting forms, realising I didn’t know her name, but I signed them under mine. The staff didn’t seem to mind. As we came into the waiting room in the west wing Alya beamed into life. She ran over to her mother and hugged her. I could only guess at what was being said, but I could feel the relief washing over her as Alya talked.

 

I stood back through the exchange - I didn’t really have anything to say – when Alya looked at me for a long moment.

“Thank you for what you did. I told my mother she should wait for me to come and pick her up, but she insisted that I go straight there, and that she would be fine alone.” I smiled and shook my head as she continued. “I do not know what she would have done without you.”

“My pleasure. Is Fikri ok?”

Alya looked a little surprised that I knew her uncle’s name, but she nodded. The operation had gone fine and he would be awake soon for them to see him. The elderly lady spoke up again and Alya shook her head with amusement, speaking to her mother.

“She says she knew her brother would be fine, when she was approached by an angel.”

I mumbled ‘my pleasure’ again and didn’t comment. I never really know what to say when people say that. I was about to take my leave when I realised something.

“I...” I started. “I never actually caught your mother’s name...”

“Nubia.”

“That’s a lovely name. Please tell her that she has beautiful eyes. For me.”

There was a short exchange and Nubia beamed that wrinkly smile again, and both of them laughed together, like a pair of children.

I smiled and bowed my head at them, and took my leave. I might not have much choice in doing this, but seeing the two of them smiling at me certainly did make me feel good about what I do.

 

So that’s how it works. That is what I guess I will spend my life doing. You might have guessed that I didn’t make up my title. I don’t remember who first called me an Angel, but I’ve heard it a fair few times and I prefer it to the other titles, like ‘freak’. So, why not? I’ll let you decide what I am, just keep it to yourself. According to popular choice so far, I am an angel.

June 06, 2020 03:32

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4 comments

21:14 Jun 30, 2020

Loved this! Especially since it was written in first person. There's always stories about people who are mysteriously helped, but not usually from the point-of-view of the helper

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Josh C
01:06 Jul 01, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't normally write 1st person, so this was a little new to me.

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Alyanna Sy
05:07 Jun 09, 2020

Very nice!

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Josh C
09:18 Jun 09, 2020

Thank you!

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