Isaac handed Gail a cup of tea before sitting down across from her. “You seem a bit tense today, Gail. Has something happened?”
“You could say that,” Gail murmured as she sipped the tea carefully. “There was, uh… there was this party on Halloween and I ended up passing out on the lawn. I wasn’t drunk or anything, it just happened all of a sudden.”
Isaac’s eyes widened a little. “Are you alright? Do you know how it happened?”
Gail swallowed and leaned back against the couch, looking past him toward the back wall of the office. “I could tell you but I doubt you would believe me.”
“Try me. I’ve heard a lot of crazy stories in my day.” He smiled at her encouragingly. Gail stared at him for a moment before setting her tea down on the end table and leaning forward.
“Well, first I have to ask you something. Are you… uh, spiritual in any way?”
Isaac tilted his head to the side. “In a manner of speaking I suppose you could say I am, yes.”
“Do you believe that things like angels and demons exist?” she asked, cautious in her tone.
“As a matter of fact I do,” Isaac said.
Gail pressed her hand to her mouth and rubbed over her chin slowly, delaying her explanation a little longer. “Right, okay. So if someone were to tell you that they had met either an angel or a demon, you would believe them?”
“Hmm…” Isaac leaned back in his chair and pressed his hands together, a thoughtful look on his face. “I wouldn’t dismiss them, certainly, though I do think people make claims of the supernatural when often there is nothing supernatural happening at all. There are many people who will place blame on things like that simply because they won’t face reality, but you don’t strike me as one of those people.”
“Yeah,” Gail said, letting out a heavy sigh. “I’ve… never been particularly religious or even thought about supernatural stuff before as being real. More just something made up for fiction, you know? But things have been happening lately and I can’t really ignore it anymore.”
“Tell me,” Isaac said. “I won’t dismiss it as nonsense, I promise.”
She nodded her head and peered up at the ceiling, taking a deep breath and clearing her throat. “Do you remember how I mentioned I had a friend that had gone missing and his brother was looking for him?”
“I do,” Isaac said with a nod.
“Well… that friend of mine happened to be… my guardian angel.” She flinched visibly as she said the words out loud, but when Isaac didn’t react she kept going. “He disappeared one night and I had no idea why. Then the next day this other angel came around and said he was my guardian’s brother and wanted help finding him.”
“Did he ever come back?” Isaac asked.
“Briefly,” Gail muttered. “Then he ran away again when he saw his brother. He said his brother was a fallen angel. His brother claims otherwise, saying he was once fallen but isn’t any longer. I believe him. He mainly wants help from me to convince my guardian that he is no longer fallen.”
“How curious,” Isaac said. “Why is he asking for your help?”
“Because he said that Cecil trusted me,” Gail said, still staring up at the ceiling. “That I had a better chance of getting him to listen than anyone else. Not sure how I’m supposed to do that when he keeps running away, though.” She sighed and shook her head.
“Why did he disappear the first time?” Isaac asked. “Was it because his brother was looking for him?”
“No,” Gail said with a shake of her head. “There’s… a demon after him, and when Cynder went after Cecil on Halloween and left me alone…” She paused for a moment and bit her lip, turning her face away.
“What happened, Gail?” Isaac pressed, his voice gentle.
“The demon… came for me.” She took a deep breath. “I don’t think it really did anything to me, though. It was terrifying, and after I looked into its eyes I thought I was drowning, I don’t know why. The next thing I knew I was waking up with everyone standing around me and they said they had found me passed out.”
Isaac closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I see, and have you seen either of those two angels since then?”
“Only Cynder,” Gail murmured. “The one who used to be fallen. That’s when he explained things to me. He said fallen angels can’t heal others and then he healed a few minor injuries I had from that demon, so it seems to me like he isn’t lying.”
Isaac nodded his head and peered at Gail. “He knows the demon attacked you then, does he?”
“Yeah, he said he’s going to keep watch over me until Cecil comes back and make sure that demon doesn’t try to hurt me again.” She frowned and leaned forward, peering down at the floor. “So now I’m just stuck waiting for Cecil to come back. I didn’t know what else to do and I wanted to to tell someone about all this. Most people wouldn’t believe me. I wasn’t sure you would, either.”
“Would you have told me all of this if I had said I didn’t believe in the supernatural?” Isaac asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No, probably not,” Gail said. “I’d rather not have my counselor thinking I’m crazy and delusional after all.”
Isaac smiled and shook his head. “No, you wouldn’t, and fortunately for you I don’t. I believe every word you’ve told me, though it is perhaps a bit… unusual. There aren’t many cases of angels interacting so personally with humans, after all.”
“Guess that makes me special, huh?” Gail muttered as she leaned back against the couch once more. “I never asked for this, it just happened. It happened that day I was on my way back to college and I just happened to run into Cecil. I didn’t know what he was then, of course.”
“You saw him before he became your guardian?” Isaac asked, his curiosity piqued.
“Yeah. He showed up again later and said he knew me. He said he used to be my guardian back when I was a kid. I have absolutely no memory of it, though.” She went silent for a moment then murmured, “Cynder said he left me all those years ago because of an incident with that demon. I don’t know or remember what happened.”
“Perhaps that’s something you should try to find out,” Isaac said.
Gail turned her head up to look at him, breathing in deeply. “I just… this is all kind of overwhelming. Realizing that angels exist and that my guardian angel needs my help more than I even need his? I don’t really know how to process all of this.”
“Many strange things happen in the course of one’s life,” Isaac said rather carefully. “Perhaps we may not always understand it, but I think so long as you can accept that it’s happening you’ll be able to face it head on. Someone needs your help. I don’t think you need to question it any further than that, do you?”
Gail frowned and tilted her head down. “You mean I shouldn’t be asking why an angel needs the help of a human and just accept that he does so I can help him?”
“Precisely,” Isaac said. “It’s alright to ponder on it, of course, but don’t let those little details keep you from doing what you need to. Even if you think you couldn’t make a difference, the best thing for you to do is try.”
Gail nodded her head and rubbed her hand over her face. “Yeah, I know. I’m going to do whatever I can for him, assuming he does come back. Cynder seems convinced that he will so I guess I’ll just wait until he does and go on with my life until then.”
Isaac smiled and nodded his head. “I believe that is the best thing you can do for now, yes.”
“Thank you,” Gail said with a nod of her head. “I feel a whole lot better being able to talk about it. I wish I could tell someone else, but like I said, I doubt anyone else would believe me.”
“Perhaps not,” Isaac said with a light shrug. “Though I urge you not to shut your friends out by hiding all of this from them. If it gets to a point where they’re beginning to take notice and asking questions about it all, don’t hide things from them. It may be difficult for them to understand at first but lying would probably make things worse in the long run.”
Gail frowned and shook her head. “Yeah, I hadn’t really considered that fact. I’ve been thinking of telling Haley on occasion but I’m not sure how she’d take it.”
“Well, perhaps it isn’t important for her to know right at the moment,” Isaac said. “It is something to consider, though.”
Gail nodded her head. “Yes. Thank you. Thank you for listening and understanding and not thinking I’m crazy.”
He smiled at her. “It’s what I’m here for, Gail.”
Though she still felt a little lost as to what she should be doing at that point, Gail did feel a bit more confident after talking to Isaac about all that had been going on. Now that she had someone to tell all of this to she felt like she could face it head on.
She met up with Haley for lunch and, to Gail’s relief, Haley didn’t mention anything about what happened the other night. It was obvious that she did want to talk about it, but she refrained from doing so for Gail’s sake. Ivan, on the other hand, was a different matter entirely.
He came and sat with them at lunch and stared rather intensely at Gail. “Hey, you okay? I didn’t see you going to your class this morning.”
“I’m fine,” Gail muttered. “I just went to see the counselor instead, that’s all.”
“Did you remember what happened to you?” he pressed, leaning in a little closer to her.
“I told you nothing happened,” Gail said with a frown. “I just felt sick and passed out, that’s all. It’s nothing to worry about, I’m fine.”
“I’m just worried,” Ivan said. “I don’t want to see you getting hurt.”
“She said she’s fine,” Haley snapped at him. “You don’t need to act like her bodyguard.”
Ivan looked like he wanted to challenge Haley on that but he kept his mouth shut. Gail sighed and stood up, suddenly no longer feeling hungry. “I should go,” she said. “I have class soon.”
She spent the day between her classes avoiding Ivan every chance she got. It seemed like she spotted him anytime she was outside of her classes, as if he was waiting for her and wanting to talk to her or walk with her. It wasn’t until she got back to her apartment that she felt safe from having to avoid him.
“He’s getting worse,” she told Haley later that evening. “I can’t deal with him. I’m this close to telling him to take a hike.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed,” Haley said with a sigh. “Do you want me to talk to him?”
“I don’t see what difference that’s going to make,” Gail muttered. “I already told him to stop trying to get me to change my mind. He hasn’t brought that up again but he’s being so… clingy.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Haley said firmly. “If he still doesn’t leave you alone after that…”
Gail pressed her face into her hands. “I hate this. It’s stupid. I thought he was nice but no, he had to turn out to be one of those sorts of people. I should’ve known.”
“Yeah, well. Don’t worry about it too much,” Haley said. “You don’t need him around if he’s going to be like that and you shouldn’t feel guilty over it one way or the other. Please don’t make this harder on yourself, alright?”
“Yeah, okay.” She smiled a little. “Thanks for always having my back, Haley. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Haley smiled and nodded her head. “You know me.” Her expression changed a bit and she murmured, “Did you talk to the counselor about what happened last night, then? Ah, just curious, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
Gail breathed in and nodded her head. “A little, yeah. He didn’t think it was anything to worry about, honestly. Just stress, if anything.”
“Well, alright. I’m just worried for you and I don’t want you to be hurt, that’s all.”
“I know.” Gail quirked her lips and shook her head a little. “I wouldn’t hide anything from you, Haley. You’re my best friend, after all. I tell you everything.”
“Almost everything,” Cynder said from the corner. Gail gripped the edge of the table to keep herself from reacting to him. She breathed in deeply and nodded her head, as if to signal to Cynder they would talk soon.
When she finally got back to her room, she glared in Cynder’s direction. He was standing in the corner, looking as if he had been waiting for her for some time. “Do you have something to say to me?” she asked, a little annoyed.
“You lied to your friend,” Cynder said with a slight frown. “Shouldn’t you feel bad about that?”
“Would you rather I tell her all about you and complicate matters further?”
Cynder stared at her for a few moments before sighing and shaking his head. “No, I suppose not. I doubt she would believe you anyway.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing,” Gail said, taking a few steps toward him. “I might want to tell her at some point if things happen and I can’t hide it any longer. At that point I think it’s only fair that you prove you’re real.”
“You do realize angels aren’t supposed to reveal themselves to humans unless the occasion calls for it, like with you,” Cynder said with a frown.
“Well then the occasion might call for it that you reveal yourself to Haley at some point, or maybe you should just help keep the situation from getting out of hand so I won’t be forced to tell her.”
Cynder sighed and nodded his head. “Yes, I understand. I’ll leave you be and try not to get you involved in anything too life changing, if at all possible.”
“Good. Great.” Gail rubbed her hand across her face. “I’d just like to get my life back to normal, honestly. At this point, though, I don’t think that’s possible.”
“It isn’t,” Cynder said. “There’s not really any such thing as normal anyway. Things are always changing. Your life won’t be the same after having met my brother and I. I apologize, truly.”
“Well.” Gail glanced toward the guitar case leaning against the wall and frowned a little. “I’m not sure how far I would have gotten without your brother showing himself to me anyway.”