Excerpt: Angel Mine
Angels In The Afterlife
I don’t believe in destiny or meant-to-be or whatever else you want to call it. The idea that there’s one perfect someone out there for each of us…that’s just depressing as fuck. I mean, think about it. The universe is so vast, and so timeless, that even if your fated soulmate does exist, what’re the odds of your actually finding him?
I dunno. I didn’t used to be this cynical. So, maybe I just don’t want to believe, you know? Because now that I’m dead, now that I’ve missed my shot at hooking up with my other half…I’d rather not know.
Hold up. I’m telling this badly aren’t I? Right. Let’s start over.
Hi. My name is Mattie—Matteo Matinucci, if you want the whole thing. I’m an angel. And this is my story.
To start with, I suppose I should explain that I wasn’t always an angel. Up until about a month ago I was as human as you or anyone else. I was living in Los Angeles, studying to become a doctor. I was young. I was healthy. I had friends and lovers, a place to live, money in my pocket, food in my belly—basically everything you’d need for a pretty good life. Sure, there’d been times that pretty-good-life had kicked my butt and left me emotionally shattered, but who hasn’t been there. Am I right?
I was one of the lucky ones—don’t think for a minute that I didn’t know that. And if I wasn’t precisely living the dream yet, at least I was living my plan. My life was on track. I was going places. Then an elderly woman lost control of her car, jumped a curb, took out a kiosk on the Santa Monica Promenade where I’d been shopping…and that was that. Game over. I ended up here.
Where I was still one of the lucky ones. Because, sure, there were things I’d left unfinished back on Earth, things I never got to do at all, but winding up in heaven a few decades ahead of schedule—that’s not something you complain about, you know?
Besides, being made an angel means I still get to help people, just like I would have as a doctor. Only without all the studying. Without the long hours, without the student loans to repay—if you ask me, that’s a definite perk right there.
And, like I said, I don’t believe in soulmates or love everlasting, anyway. So, what did I really miss out on?
All the same, there’s this guy. There’s just…something about him that catches my eye and tugs at my heartstrings. I can’t stop watching him, can’t stop thinking about him, can’t stop wondering things like, who is he? What’s his deal? “Why’s he always look so sad?”
I don’t even realize I’ve said that last bit out loud until Sophia sighs in response. “Because he is sad, Mattie. He’s frustrated and unhappy. He feels stuck—like he can’t move on.”
“Of course, he feels stuck,” I answer, not bothering to hide my disbelief, because what the fuck is she talking about? “He is stuck. He’s in limbo! ‘Stuck and unable to move on’ is textbook definition; that’s what limbo is about.”
“I know what limbo is about, okay?” She slants me a look that shuts me up fast because, yeah, I guess she does at that. Word around here is that it was Sophia—or Holy Wisdom, as she’s sometimes called—who created limbo, back in the day.
Of course, that might just be a rumor, but I see no reason to doubt it since, as far as I know she’s the only one of us who can’t get stuck there, who can come and go as she pleases.
“And, anyway, that’s not the point. He could move on. There’s nothing keeping him there but his own issues. He’s so weighted down with guilt, and grief, and regret, that he can’t see his way out.”
The ancient Egyptians had it right, it seems. You really can’t get into heaven if your heart’s too heavy. For that matter, being lighthearted is apparently what allows angels to fly. Wings have nothing to do with it. Which, frankly, still disappoints the hell out of me.
I mean, having a set of wings…that would be so fun, wouldn’t it?
“So, what’s he feel guilty about?” I ask, as I continue to stare at him across the Great Divide—which, as it turns out, is not really all that great. It’s like a two-way mirror. From my perspective, I’m standing right beside him. From his, I might as well not even exist.
Sophia shakes her head. “That’s not my story to tell.”
“I want to help him.” The words pop from my mouth without conscious thought and I’m a little surprised to realize how much I mean them.
“Well, of course you do, love. We all want to help him.” Then something in my expression seems to register. Her eyes grow wide with alarm. “Oh, no. No, Mattie, forget it. No way.”
“Why not, huh? Let me go there. Send me to limbo.”
“For what purpose?” she demands, turning to meet my gaze full-on. “What, precisely, do you imagine you can accomplish there?”
“I’m not sure, exactly,” I admit. “But, you know, once I’m there…I’m sure I’ll figure something out.”
Sophia sighs. “It’s not as simple as you seem to think. It’s a little like being born. You won’t remember that it was your idea to go there. You won’t remember this conversation, or anything about your time here. Who knows what could happen? You could get side-tracked, lost. What if, instead of you lifting him up, he weighs you down?”
“Not gonna happen,” I insist, although, really, I have no idea if that’s the case. I just know I have to do something. “We’ll be fine. Besides, the greater the risk, the greater the reward, right?”
“I hope you’re joking. I hope you realize this is not a game—do you?”
“I do, yeah. But that’s what angels are for, isn’t it? To help people who can’t help themselves? Let me do my job!”
“There are a lot of other people you could be helping,” she points out. “A lot of other assignments I could send you on.”
But I’m having none of it. “I don’t want other people. I want him.” And that’s the problem right there. Because, yes, I want to help him. I want to know that I can still make a difference, want to prove to myself that my existence matters. But, more than anything, I want what I can’t have.
He can’t see me. I can’t touch him. And it’s making me fucking crazy.
“You could get stuck there,” Sophia says, and something about her pained expression lets me know that I have her on the ropes. I move in for the kill.
“Shouldn’t that be my choice?” If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here, it’s that heaven is all in on the concept of personal choice. She has to let me do this.
“It is your choice,” she says, though I can tell she doesn’t like it. “Always. And if that’s truly what you want…”
“Then I can’t stop you. But, I do hope you’re not just doing this on a…a whim of some sort. I hope you understand what you’ll be up against—and just what’s at risk. You might never find your way back here. You could be trapped there forever. We could lose you both.”
“I know.” It sounds scary, but…I can’t just stay here. I can’t just do nothing. “I understand all of that. I do. But I’m willing to take the chance.”