With the rage and force of a meteor, she plummeted through the black vacuum of space. Darkness gave way to reddened skies as she struck the ground, hitting with enough force to rouse all of Heaven.
She looked around. Mist rose from the ground.
The screams, the horrible, agonizing screams of those hurt or dying, rose through the ground, piercing her ears again. She clutched her hands to her ears and fell to her knees, desperate to drown them out, if only for a moment. They had grown in number and intensity over the past hour. They could not drown out her own conscience, the eternal voice in her head telling her that she had failed, that they were all dead because of her. The mechanical sirens echoing from down below, a universe over, only indicated to her that many more would be judged that day. Those that were already screaming took the sirens as a sign that help was on the way.
There would be no hope for them. Not today.
She couldn’t bear it anymore. Her heart threatened to beat its way out of her chest, and her teeth were clenched so tightly that it hurt.
“GOD!” she shrieked. She knew this wasn’t the way to reach Him; through anger and despair. At the moment, she didn’t care. “ANSWER ME!”
“Ariel,” the gentle, masculine voice was omnipresent, everywhere and nowhere. It would’ve been calming if she hadn’t been so angry. Instead, she stood, fists clenched, shaking, and she looked around. “What troubles you, my daughter?”
“What troubles me?” she echoed, her voice shaking. “Do you not hear them, my Lord?” For the first time, the screams existed outside of her head, flooding Heaven. There wasn’t an Angel—or demon—that was unable to hear it.
There was a thunderous explosion that emanated from the ground, and the screams doubled. Ariel could see in her mind’s eye what had just occurred; hundreds more had just died on Earth. Another plane had crashed into the second structure. Fires not even hell could produce billowed up from the gaping hole in the once-mighty structure. She fought back tears.
“How…” her voice was quaking. Tears flew from her eyes as she turned her head to the sky. “HOW could you let this happen?”
“No matter their sins, they did not deserve this,” she continued, trying to raise her voice above the screams and sirens. Her knees gave out, she fell to the ground. “They did not deserve this…”
Her mind was flooded with images of what was surely to come: an endless string of funerals, memorials, grievances, wounds that no counseling would ever be able to heal. “Is it any wonder they turn away from You?” she whispered, knowing the consequences such a question could bring, and no longer caring. “You say You love them, yet You do nothing in their hour of need.”
“My child…” God’s voice finally returned. “It was no mistake that I appointed you Guardian of Earth. You feel their pain as they do; you seek Me even when they will not.”
“Then why?” Ariel managed, her voice cracking. “Why did you not warn me? I could have stopped this.”
“Observe,” God replied.
To Ariel’s left, the fog dissipated. The reflective onyx opened to reveal clear glass; the screams and madness had ceased. She braced herself on her hands, leaning over to see. A gaping crater, four miles wide and twice as deep, now stood where the towers had been. It was no longer blocked off. People walked around it freely, some stopping to observe solemnly before going on their way.
In another part of the world, a teacher educated her class. Pointing to a child’s design on the chalkboard, she said something Ariel couldn’t hear, and the children laughed. The teacher laughed with them.
A man returned home from work that night. His two children ran up to him, embracing him tightly around his knees and nearly knocking him off balance. His young wife chuckled as she watched, gingerly wrapping her arms around her husband’s neck and kissing his cheek.
The world’s law enforcement somberly geared up, securing bulletproof vests around their torsos and buttoning their dark uniforms. They joked with each other. Outside of the building, the flags of their countries blew proudly.
Ariel shook her head. “I don’t understand.”
“They will move on, my daughter,” God replied easily. “They are a resilient people. They will recover from this, and they will go forward.”
Ariel still wasn’t sure she understood. God’s explanation brought no satisfaction. “But what of today, Father?”
“Today they must suffer.”
The onyx closed and the fog reappeared. The heavy weight returned to Ariel’s stomach as the screams began anew. “They will never find their way back, will they?”
“They will when they are ready. They are strong, Ariel. They will get through this. But we will never intervene directly; doing so robs them of their free will. And we have no right to do that.”
Ariel lowered her head; as always, no immediate resolution or closure, just a promise that everything would be alright.
“I have shown you what is to come,” God’s voice was more authoritative this time. Now, we have work to do.”
Ariel nodded. “Yes, Father.”
With that, she rocketed into the sky, bound invisibly for New York and the chaos that had been unexpectedly unleashed.
But she had seen.
They would move on.
And in that knowledge, she smiled. It would all work out in the end.
This story is dedicated to the memory of everyone who perished on September 11, 2001. This story is also dedicated to those who continue to survive.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.