This is the latest Christmas story I wrote for the church ladies. God is telling me to put it here instead of waiting to put it in my next book of Christmas stories. Maybe somebody needs to read it.
By Peggy Perry @ 2014
“Wow, he looks…different,” the blond angel murmured as the next soul moved up to the front of the line.
His companion looked up from the book of newcomers to Heaven. It wrote itself as each new soul appeared at the Pearly Gates. “Apparently his soul was as tired as his body,” he replied. “According to the book, he has lived in a very chaotic time and place. He barely managed to hold onto his faith in the Creator.”
Most souls were bright and shining, joyful to be free of their bodies and earthly trials. This soul was almost gray, his eyes dull, his shoulders slumped, and his feet shuffling. He looked exhausted, hopeless, and uncaring of whatever might happen next. He was a shocking change to the other souls before and behind him.
“It will be interesting to see where he winds up in Heaven. Let’s get him into the Room of Choice.” The blond angel came to the soul and gently took his arm. “This way,” he said with a wave of his hand. The soul trudged beside him silently, head down, looking as if he still inhabited an exhausted body, just waiting to fall down.
The angel took him into the Room of Choice. The room was the entrance to Heaven just behind the Pearly Gates. It was a very plain white room with only a few objects on pedestals, a tall desk with a high stool, and a large door on the other side, currently closed. “This is the Room of Choice,” the angel began his usual speech. “Whatever you are drawn to will indicate your first assignment in Heaven. Some souls stay with that assignment, some move on to others, but this will determine where you go first. Now, what are you drawn to?”
He began to lead the still uninterested soul around the room. “These wings symbolize the position of messenger. The messengers fly to Earth and deliver messages from our Lord to mortal men. It used to be more common for humans to receive these messages through prayer, but men have lately been losing their ability to hear Him. He created messengers, and they stay busy. Do they look interesting to you?”
The soul seemed to be ignoring him, still looking at the floor. A tiny wrinkle appeared between the angel’s eyebrows. He had never had that occur, but he was beginning to be concerned. “The harp signifies music,” he continued, towing the soul to the next pedestal. “It can mean playing an instrument or singing. You will just be making music to glorify the Lord and make a joyful noise to add to the happiness of everyone in Heaven. What do you think?”
The soul made an unattractive grunting noise. The wrinkle on the angel’s forehead became a crease. He hurried the soul along. “The sword is for those who become the warriors of Heaven, fighting evil throughout Creation. Do you – ?” The soul recoiled from the sword with a horrified sound, and the angel recalled how the soul had been released from his body. It should not have mattered, though. Many who had died violently had become warriors protecting the innocent from the evil that had killed them.
The angel looked around. There weren’t too many other pedestals left. Some held cleaning tools. Heaven did not get dirty, but there were actually many souls who enjoyed keeping their area neat and tidy. They happily spent millennia polishing and straightening everything in Heaven. This soul really didn’t look the type for that, and he was not looking at the tools. The angel raised his eyebrows as he followed the soul’s gaze.
He followed as the soul moved slowly toward the desk. “Um, that’s not actually one of the choices. That’s just the desk we sometimes sit at while waiting to take our shift at the Gates…” He trailed off as the soul climbed onto the stool, wiggled a bit as he got comfortable, and placed his hands on the desk.
The soul finally raised his face and stared at the angel. “This is it. This is what I want. This is my assignment. It says so right here.”
Bewildered, the angel went to look over his shoulder. There had never been anything on the desktop before. Now it held a book just like the one on the desk at the Gates, except this one had different wording. Instead of a brief description of the souls arriving in Heaven, it held notes of their assignments. The latest read: “Finn Morgan. Assignment Supervisor. Job description – Aid newly arrived souls in choosing their assignments and calling the correct escort to take them to their assigned area.” A small hand bell sat beside the book.
“But…” The angel was interrupted as his fellow angel from the Gates led another soul into the room.
“Hasn’t he chosen yet? It’s time for the next soul to make their choice.”
Finn held up his hand. “I’ll take over now. This is my job from now on.”
Both angels stared at him. “But you’re not even really in Heaven here. Don’t you want to go in?” the blond one demanded.
“No. Now go away and let me do my job.” Finn pointed at the new soul, a woman who was stroking the harp. “You like that harp?” She nodded, and he continued, “Good. Go over to the door and wait for your escort to the Hall of Music. They will instruct you from there.” He picked up the bell and rang it, and the door opened silently to reveal a smiling angel who took the hand of the soul and led her away.
Finn looked at the two astonished angels. “Don’t you two have a job to do? Who is welcoming the new souls?” He flapped his hands at them, shooing them out. “Go. Leave me to my assignment.”
Without the passage of time in Heaven, there was no telling how long Finn spent behind the desk. He loved his job. He didn’t even have to leave his stool. With no demands of a human body, he didn’t have to eat, drink, sleep, or even go to the bathroom. He didn’t have to come into personal contact with the souls, either. He just directed them around the room, explained what each object meant, and rang the bell when they made a choice. He didn’t have to talk to the angels, even though they looked in on him occasionally.
He did the same thing over and over. It was such a wonderful change from the chaos of his life on earth. He didn’t have to worry about someone attacking him. He didn’t have to worry about loving someone and having him or her suddenly die of plague or accident or attack. He felt calm and comfortable for the first time in his existence. He didn’t want to go through the door into the main area of Heaven. He had looked through the door and shuddered at how many people and angels were dashing around in there, moving, always moving. It was too close to what he had left behind.
No, he was quite happy to sit alone behind his desk and avoid talking to anyone but the occasional soul and angel for eternity. He was content. Too bad it wouldn’t last.
Finn looked up from his book as an angelic hand rapped noisily on the desk. Glancing around, he saw no new soul wandering among the pedestals. “What is it?” The book was blank, too, not mentioning any new souls to supervise in their choice.
“You have a, ah, a, well, I guess you could say special soul to supervise. She’s going to need some help.”
“Well, where is she? Why does she need help?”
The angel looked down at his side before bending over and lifting. Finn heard a grunting noise he was sure the angel didn’t make, then a pair of small pudgy hands grabbed the top of his desk and a small head popped into view.
Finn’s mouth dropped open. He recognized the moon shaped face, the almond shaped eyes, the flat wide nose, and the thick lips with the thick tongue partially protruding. Several souls with the same appearance had come through, but they were always glowing with joy and happiness, with huge billowing wings and a bright halo. One of the angels processing them had told him they had wings and a halo already because they had been messengers of God’s love on earth already. Most chose another area and went to learn something new, often musical.
In his time on earth, such children usually died early, unable to thrive and care for themselves, and the parents had no time or energy to care for them. Sometimes they left the children in the wild for predators, removing the problem from the parents’ mind.
This child looked as if she were about ten years old, and her wings were stunted and unmoving. Her dull halo sat crookedly on her head instead of hovering above her like the others’. Her white robe was actually almost grimy and looked like she had been wiping her hands on it. She was a mess.
He looked up at the angel. “What happened to her? She looks terrible! Why does she need help?” He slapped at the pudgy fingers reaching for the bell. “Don’t touch that!” He scowled as she ignored him and reached for the bell again. She grunted and frowned as he held it out of her reach. She began working her way around the desk holding on to the edge, heading for the shiny bell.
The angel shook his head. “Her wings don’t work. She can’t fly, and for some odd reason her feet don’t touch the ground. If you don’t tow her around, she just sort of hovers. Why she looks like that, I don’t know. All I know is, she doesn’t talk, doesn’t seem to be able to hear, or if she can, doesn’t understand, and she can’t move around on her own.”
Finn scowled and moved the bell back to the other side of the desk just as the little girl reached for it again. “Whatever, just take her around to the pedestals and let her make her choice and get her out of here! Hey! Stop that!” He swatted at her hand again as she turned her attention to the book and grabbed at the pages. Some of them started to tear before he worked her fingers loose.
He looked up to see the angel heading back for the Gates. “Where are you going? Get back here and help her make a choice!”
The angel looked over his shoulder and past his wings. “No, no, you’re the supervisor of choices. This is your job. I’ve done mine.” He skipped out the door and it closed firmly behind him.
Exasperated, Finn slipped reluctantly from his stool and towed the little girl behind him. Shreds of the pages were still gripped tight in her hands. He pulled her over to the harp. “Here! You like music, don’t you? All the others like it.” He remembered she couldn’t lift herself and raised her up to get a good view of the harp.
Her eyes went wide and her mouth opened further. She grunted rapidly and reached toward the instrument. Satisfied and relieved at the quick solution, Finn headed back to the desk to ring the bell. There was a nasty twanging noise behind him and he spun around. To his horror, she had broken several strings and was making happy noises as she ripped more strings loose. He leaped for the bell on his desk and shook it fiercely. He stopped and stared at it as he realized it was silent. Upending it, he discovered the clapper was gone.
He hurried back to the cheerful little vandal and towed her back to the front door. As he reached automatically reached for the handle, he discovered it was gone. “What? How? Why?” he sputtered, wondering if he were somehow having a nightmare. He pulled the little girl partway to his desk, then remembering, left her hanging in midair as he moved swiftly to look at the book to see if anything had been written about her.
The book was to the point. “No souls may go back through the front door. Processed souls may not leave the presence of the Supervisor of Choices until an assignment has been made.” Finn grabbed his head and groaned.
Setting his jaw, he went back to the child and towed her to the pedestal holding the sword. “You’re destructive enough to be a warrior,” he muttered to her. “Look, it’s nice and shiny! You like shiny things, right?” She certainly did. Unfortunately, when she reached for the shining object, she only managed to knock it off the pedestal and it landed across Finn’s foot. Without a body, it didn’t hurt, but he was startled into knocking the pedestal over and could only watch helplessly as the pedestal broke into several pieces.
His mouth worked, but no noise came out. He hastily pulled her back as she tried to reach for the sword and pulled her to the wings. He made a helpless sound as she swung past him as he stopped and sank the fingers of her free hand into the white feathers of the enormous wings. Of course, they came loose in her hand, leaving a gaping hole in one.
A gurgling noise escaped him as he pulled her back. Looking wildly around, he noticed the door handle was still present on the inner door that led into Heaven. Desperately he pulled her over to it and flung it open. The same busy crowd was hurrying by there. He had stopped thinking by now and only wanted to rid himself of the destructive guest who had introduced chaos back into his life. Grabbing her arm, he put everything he had into flinging her into the crowd intending to dash back inside and slam the door shut. Instead, he went right with her.
They crashed together against a solid body. Finn slid to the ground and then tried to protect his head against the child’s pumping feet. He looked up as he grabbed her feet and swallowed hard as the unmistakable features of an archangel met his gaze. Finn began babbling an apology, but the archangel only shook his head. Angelic arms wrapped the child up securely and prevented her from reaching for his halo, wings, or sword.
“Did you forget the rule in the book, Finn? A processed soul cannot leave your presence until she is assigned to an area. If you want her out of the Room of Choices, you have to stay with her.” He gazed down at the child, who had grown quiet and was nestled into his chest. “I suggest that if you want her to be less destructive, you keep her close to you and restrain her arms.” Before Finn could blink, the archangel transferred the child into his arms and positioned his limbs in a secure hold.
Stepping back, he snapped his fingers and another angel came up beside them. “Finn is not familiar with this side of the Gates,” he said calmly. “Guide him wherever he wants to go.”
“My pleasure!” the angel said with a beaming smile. She looked at Finn. “Where would you like to go first?”
“But what about the other souls who need to be assigned?” he wailed.
The archangel, who had started to rise as his wings began to stroke the air, paused. “There are angels to take care of that, just as before you arrived. She is now your assignment. No matter how long it takes.” With a crack of split air, he shot straight up and disappeared from sight.
Finn sagged and then straightened his shoulders as the guide looked at him inquiringly. “I guess maybe we can show her the musicians and singers. She was very, um, interested in the harp. I thought that was her choice, but I wasn’t able to call for an escort, and well, ah, shall we go?”
He wasn’t sure, but he thought he heard the angel giggle as she led them away.
The little girl absolutely loved the music. She loved one of the angel’s harps to death. Well, to destruction, maybe. Finn marveled that such a small child was so skilled in destroying such a sturdy object. The angel only laughed, and with a few motions of his hands, turned the mess of wood and strings back to a thing of beauty.
Finn sighed with relief and resolved to hold the child tighter. He was cautiously optimistic when she relaxed against him and cuddled as they listened to glorious music ring out. But after a while, just when he was feeling almost cheerful, the guide approached him and whispered in his ear.
“I’m afraid there’s a small problem, Finn. Could the two of you please come with me?”
Curious and anxious, he held the little one tighter as she tried to return to the music. When they were out of hearing range of the music (which, Finn thought later, was rather odd, since he had always been able to hear the music, even sitting at his desk), the angel shifted a bit uncomfortably. “Normally, the music director would love to have you in the audience. However, her glow is very distracting since it’s so concentrated in a small person, and the angels were starting to lose their places in the music. The director asked that you not come back until you can teach her to control her light. Is there somewhere else you would like to try?”
Finn frowned as he looked down at the child. “Glow? What glow? What are you talking about?”
The angel’s eyes widened. “You didn’t notice the way she lit up the music hall? Did you have your eyes closed?” She looked back and forth between the man and child and finally shook her head. “Why don’t we go see if she’s interested in something else?”
It was not a successful journey, although Finn grudgingly admitted later that it was very…interesting. He saw a great deal of Heaven, and observed all that went on. The child was interested, too, but Finn learned to hold her close and tight. Who knew an archangel’s sword could break? Weren’t those supposed to be even demon proof? He still wasn’t sure if even the Creator Himself could fix what she had done to several messengers’ wings when they ignored his warnings and treated her to a toss back and forth between them. And oh, my, what she had done with the cleaners’ tools…
Nobody minded. They just laughed, fixed what she broke, and patted her on the head or kissed her cheek. They started calling her Twinkle. When he asked why, several mentioned the way she glowed when she was happy. He still couldn’t see it.
He had no idea how long they wandered around Heaven, observing everyone at work, meeting numberless angels and souls. They finally found themselves back at the door into the Room of Choices, and Finn said farewell to their guide. He looked in the room cautiously, and felt relieved to see it fully restored. He wrapped up Twinkle before she could launch herself off the doorway and aim for the pedestals again. Carrying her over to the desk, he blinked as he saw the desk was wider and a second stool next to his. A smile began to stretch his face as he noticed the straps that would hold Twinkle firmly in place.
On the desk next to his book was a drawing pad, pencils, and crayons. Since time had no meaning in Heaven, these objects from a time far distant from his were not out of place. He just hoped she didn’t try to eat them. Twinkle seemed to know what to do with them. Grunting, she reached for them and was drawing all over the pad before he could get her completely strapped in.
Before he could take his seat, she tore off a colorful sheet and waved it at him. When he took it, she pointed at the white blank wall behind them and grunted some more. “You want me to hang it up there?” he asked, and blinked as light flashed in the room when she smiled. The light went back to normal as she turned back to the pad.
He looked at the colored lines and shapes but could make no sense of them. He looked up at the white wall and shrugged. The walls did look rather plain. Wondering how to attach the picture, he held it up to a likely place and dropped his hands swiftly as the art suddenly attached itself to the wall. “Heaven!” he muttered, and went back to his stool.
When a new soul entered the room from the Gates, he looked at the bell on the desk suspiciously. Sure enough, the clapper had returned. The book now showed the soul’s name. After a short trip around the room, the soul chose the harp, and Finn rang the bell with a feeling of relief. Just as he was about to direct the soul to the inner door, Twinkle ripped a page off her pad and grunted urgently, waving the paper at the soul instead of Finn.
The soul looked bewildered. “She wants you to take the picture. Is it a picture of them, Twinkle?” Finn asked. He and the new soul blinked as light flashed in the room again. When the light died down, Finn handed the paper to the soul. “Do you want her to hang the picture on the wall?” He had learned the hard way to ask very simple yes or no questions. When Twinkle smiled and bounced in her seat, the light flashed again. “Just pick a spot on the wall and hold it to it,” Finn told the soul. “It attaches itself.”
The soul smiled at the picture and picked a spot near the first. “Looks good. Go to that door now, and an escort will take you to your destination. Welcome to Heaven.” Finn waved the soul along and waved at the angel, one he had met at the music hall. After the door closed, he looked at the picture Twinkle had first done. There were two objects in the picture, unlike the second, which had only one. “Hey, is that a picture of the two of us?”
Light flashed so brightly he had to rub his eyes. “Wow. I can finally see why they had to ask us to leave the music hall. Can’t you dim that down a little?” Light flashed again, just as bright. When his vision came back, he saw that she was silently laughing. “Guess that answers that question.”
He discovered he enjoyed chatting to the new souls now, explaining the picture that Twinkle drew of each of them and helping them choose a spot on the wall. He got used to the flashing as Twinkle expressed her happiness. The room became a busy place as angels dropped in through both doors to chat with him and visit with Twinkle, and post their pictures on the wall as she drew them. The once serene, featureless room became a riot of color as Twinkle’s artwork covered the walls.
His own spotless robe became as messy as Twinkle’s when her waving hands swiped him with the colors and pencils. He just shrugged when newcomers looked at it. “I’m an artwork in progress,” he told them with a chuckle.
His cheerful new world suddenly crashed when two archangels with solemn expressions appeared in the room in the midst of a laughter-filled conversation with several angels and a new soul. “We have come for the soul called Twinkle,” one said gravely. Twinkle’s light flashed at the sound of her name, but Finn barely noticed. He didn’t like the expressions on the archangels’ faces. Was that pity?
“What do you mean, come for her? She can’t leave; she hasn’t made a choice yet! She has to stay with me!” Glancing around for support, he discovered the other angels and the soul had vanished.
“She has no ability to make a decision,” one archangel said quietly. “It has been made for her.”
Finn’s heart would have stopped if he still had one. “Made for her? Why can’t she stay here? She’s happy here! I’m happy to have her here! Why can’t that be the choice made for her? Where are you taking her? What can she possibly do?”
“She is to be a messenger.” Angelic fingers waved toward Twinkle, and her straps and stool and art supplies vanished. She floated up and toward the archangels, but Finn grabbed her robe and clutched her to him desperately.
“No! She can’t be a messenger; her wings don’t even work! All she can do is hover! And she can’t speak! How can she be a messenger?” His frantic hands suddenly held empty air, and the archangels held Twinkle’s hands between them.
“There is a purpose for the existence of all of God’s creations.” The words echoed in a suddenly empty room. Finn fell across the desk, crying out in despair. The little girl had made him finally feel alive for the first time in his existence and they had taken her away! How could he go on?
He was rubbing his hands over his face wondering where the joy of heaven everybody kept talking about had disappeared to when the door to the Gates burst open and the two angels handling the processing dashed in. They snatched him out of his seat and headed back to the door. “Come on! You have to see this! It’s fantastic!”
They ignored his protests. Sullenly, he fell silent and tried to block the music swelling through the air. What was so special about beautiful music? They wouldn’t even let poor little Twinkle listen to it because they couldn’t deal with a little light. His eyes clenched shut in renewed pain, but the sudden flare of light burned through anyway, making his eyes water furiously. Everyone around him was exclaiming and cheering while rubbing at their eyes. He finally managed to get a little sight back and shaded his face as the light continued.
“What happened? What is that?” he demanded.
“It’s Twinkle, of course!” an angel nearby shouted joyfully. “Haven’t you been paying attention to anything? The Messiah has been born to man and the Star shines over Him to show the world where He lays!”
Finn stared, open-mouthed, toward the light. Very dimly, within the glare, a smiling, moon-shaped face appeared. Her arms were out wide to her sides and her almond shaped eyes were wide with excitement and joy. Finn thought he could almost hear her joyful grunts.
One of the archangels appeared beside him. “She was an obvious choice,” he murmured. “She couldn’t move except to hover, and she shines when she’s happy. Apparently she likes babies as much as music.”
The other archangel appeared on his other side. “She brings a message of happiness and hope to everyone, even you. You were never supposed to be isolated, but you chose to be alone rather than move on and mingle with the family of God. Dealing with her taught you that being around others could be a good experience, and chaos is only bad when you are alone in the midst of it.” He looked down at Finn. “Don’t waste what she gave you, Finn. Don’t go back to hiding from everybody. Twinkle won’t be there in the sky forever. Don’t make her dig you out of your hole again. Cherish what she taught you, and teach it to others. There are many others like Twinkle you can visit as well.”
Finn blinked hard several times. “Will I be allowed to keep her pictures?” he asked humbly.
Both archangels smiled. “The pictures will remain on the walls. They do brighten the place up, don’t they? Almost as much as she brightens the heavens now for humankind. Go, Finn, and spread her light to everyone you meet. Show each new soul you meet what heaven really is before they even enter in; a place where love abounds and joy and peace are a daily gift. Someday the Messiah will bring that to earth, but until then, humans will find fulfillment here. Just as Twinkle did, and I think, you finally have.”
Finn looked back at the new star shining over an earthly stable, and imagined he could already see humans being drawn to the light. He smiled at the archangels. “I probably can’t light up the Room of Choices like Twinkle, but maybe I can make it brighter for new souls.” He looked at Twinkle’s bright glow once more. “Shine on, Twinkle,” he whispered, and blinked as the light flashed.