This month, I decided to give you the next couple chapters of my fiction story The Chosen One. No curse words this month. #religiousguilt
1.5 – Dec. 31st, 1999
Anne's bare feet pivoted on thick lavender carpet as she danced. She bounced by pink walls covered in record sleeves and glow-in-the-dark stick-on stars. She was still in her clothes from track conditioning, yellow shorts and a blue tank top.
Her radio up as high as it could go, bad nineties pop scratched it's way through the speakers. Her mom was at work. Her Dad was across town in his apartment. She was blessedly alone and didn’t intend to waste the opportunity to do whatever she liked. It was her senior year of high school and she was trying as hard as she could to let loose more often. It didn't work very often.
A tiny pack of cigarettes sat high atop a shelf, hidden behind rows of glittery nail polish. There were only three cigarettes missing since she acquired the pack from her best friend during their sophomore year. Even though she could’ve smoked the whole thing by now, Anne was the type who cared about rules. Really cared. Even though she wasn’t brave enough to smoke them, she cherished the tiny rebellious thrill of knowing they were there. Plus, they were gross.
Physically, she was strong. Her calf muscles flexed as she whirled absent-mindedly to the music. The cross country season just ended. She was already practicing for track and field in the spring, strength training alone in the weight room.
She was so lost in the melody, she didn’t even notice Jeremiah materializing.
He was so annoyed by her utter disregard for his miraculous entrance, that he simply hopped up onto her lavender dresser and crossed his arms. Why did it have to work this way? He was almost six thousand years old. It made him uncomfortable popping into the rooms of teenagers.
He didn’t allow himself to feel the jealousy that resided in the back of his mind. That’s what lead his brother down a very dark path. He tried not to think of the lives they got to live, the changes they could enjoy, the place they’d have in the light when it was all over. They could create life. Other living beings…from their own bodies.
Time was but a construct, anyway. He could wait. He glanced around the room, trying not to look at the girl. There was a blue cardigan with a glittery flower laid flat across her bed. A pair of khaki pants hung on her closet door. He leaned back on his hands and accidentally shoved a palm into a tin of hair ribbons. It was the tinny, faraway clattering sound that finally alerted her to his presence.
Anne spun around, curiously looking in the direction of the noise. When she saw him, her eyes went wide. She screamed and took off like a bat out of hell. He simply materialized in front of her in the hallway. He hated this part. It made him feel like a creep.
He really needed to start doing the bright, shining angel thing instead of appearing as a man. It would’ve prevented this exact scenario. Then again, over the centuries, he learned there was simply no way to do this without frightening the poor, fragile things. So he began treating his calls directly. Head on. Appear and say as much as you can as quickly as you can to mitigate fear and panic.
At this point, the whole spiel was boring for him anyway. It didn’t matter if he was sent to call a male or a female. To him, they were all the same, inexperienced little brats who had no business whatsoever getting to save the world…and there goes that jealousy again. Watch it.
“Peace,” he spoke to her. A new calm settled over her features. “I have a message for you.”
2 - 2018
“So, how does it work?” she asked. Anne and Jerry stood atop a parking garage, the wind whipping their hair into unattractive formations. They faced each other in an empty corner of the lot overlooking the college campus where she worked.
Jerry took a long deep breath. “Truth?”
“No, I want you to lie,” she said, clearly irritated.
He rolled his eyes and took out a small vial of oil. It looked like a perfume sample. He unscrewed the cap and turned the cylinder over in his hand. A few droplets rested on his palm.
“Hey, you don’t have a lifeline,” she pointed out.
He shoved the vial back into the pocket of his pea coat with his dry hand. He remained focused on his task as he closed the vial. "Please don't talk about the dark arts. They're an abomination."
Her eyes went wide with amused surprise. "The dark arts? Were you calling them that before Harry..."
"That is also an..."
She interrupted him, "Abomination. Got it. I read Leviticus back in high school. Everything is bad. I remember."
He took a deep breath and made eye contact. “The truth is, I have no idea how this works. So let’s get started.” He placed his hand gently on top of her head. Then he closed his eyes and tilted his head to the heavens. Anne didn’t know if she should keep her eyes open or closed, so she tried both. Frustration overtook her in a matter of seconds.
She batted his hand away and began to rub the small slick of oil into her scalp. “What do you mean you have no idea? You’ve been calling Chosen Ones for hundreds of years. You must be able to venture some kinda guess.”
“Thousands. I anoint you with oil, I say the silent prayer, then I’m done.”
“So I guess you’re done.”
“Guess so,” he turned around and began to walk away. She felt bad. She always felt bad. She wondered if she really hurt his feelings. Then she wondered if he had feelings. But there was no more time for sarcasm. He was about to vanish again. Probably forever this time.
She called out in an even voice, “Do you care about what happens…to me I mean?”
He stopped. For the first time since he appeared, his shoulders dropped. He turned around, his demeanor softened, “I do care. But it’s not my place. If it makes you feel any better, time passes quickly and everyone ends up in the afterlife anyway.”
She took a few steps toward him, “Thanks for the incredibly foreboding tip. I guess I’m just the next girl in line, huh?” Her ears were getting hot. She always had a problem controlling her temper and it was rising again.
His walls went right back up. “I don’t have some desperate human need to know everything at all times. It’s arrogant to be so upset. It’s weak to question.”
She kicked at the ground a little. “I’m not trying to be - how about some basics, at least? Once you poof off into the ether or wherever you go, how will it work for me? Do I just go back to work? Do you have a pamphlet, at least?” He was her only connection to this…to this. She wasn’t ready for him to go, irritating as he was.
He was suddenly fascinated by the view. Students dotted the fresh cut grass below, traffic-clogged the streets. Once again, he looked at anything but her. “You’ll receive a power. It’s your job to discover what it is and begin to use it, trusting that the path to saving the world will be unfurled to you at the right place and the right time.”
She nodded her head. “So I stop someone from stepping on a butterfly and somewhere in the world a general decides not to push the button? Like that kind of thing?”
“Something like that,” they stood silent for several seconds after he spoke.
For the first time since he reappeared, she smiled. Relief washed over her in soothing waves. No more wondering or worrying what would’ve been. This time, she said yes. Did the right thing. “And you’re not gonna guide me? I don’t get three ghosts or a cricket or something? Who’s gonna teach me to wax on and then also off?”
He smiled too. It was a small, closed mouth smile. She noticed that his eyes crinkled at the outer corners. This time he focused on the ground at his feet. “That’s never been my job.”
“Well, I’m the last one. So I guess you’re out of a job.”
“I’m sorry I’ve been mean. I’m scared.”
“That’s okay. I forget you have to deal with that. That disposable body. Feelings.”
“It seems like you have those too," she noticed him make a slight half turn away, "But what do I know? You're right. It is a lot, so maybe you could just say, ‘See you around,’ or something instead of goodbye. Even if it’s a lie.”
He finally looked at her face again, “See you around.”