Short As Fictober #23: “Ancient”

The angel startles awake and rolls over in his hammock, squints against the glare of sunlight shoving its way through the screen of sycamore leaves. They sit up and use the hammock’s momentum to boost themselves out. They hear dogs talking to each other in distant yards. Nothing of real import. A lot of declarations of who they are and where they are. The angel’s mouth curls into a smile slightly older than the earth and a tiny chuckle builds in their belly. Humans only hear barking, just a bunch of noise, and they’re quick to hush their dogs. But for as long as the angel’s been on this planet, they’ve always found much of what humans have to say also pertains to who they are and where they are. Simple creatures across the board. The angel stoops to pick up their newspaper and walks toward the house.

Their neighbor Rolf calls to them over the fence, “Hey, Murray, you watching the game tonight?”

The angel’s name isn’t really Murray, but that’s what they’ve gone by for the last century or so. It’s easier and more fun to use human names. Besides, the humans’ tongues would never work their way around celestial names.

“Not tonight. I have some other plans that just came up.”

“Alright,” Rolf says, “but if you change your mind, come on over. We’re making chili.”

“Will do.”

The angel lets themselves in the sliding glass door, removes their shoes, and lines them up neatly. Upstairs they pour a final bowl of Cap’n Crunch and watch The Price is Right one last time. After, they do their dishes, then go to their room to change. The angel pulls a wardrobe bag from the closet, and removes their original robes, still pristine as their first day here. They change and lie down on the bed. They would’ve liked to have bowled a few games today, but there hadn’t been enough time. They’re going to miss earth. You spend a 40,000 years with something and you tend to get attached. The angel understands, though. They’ve had their run, and there are younger angels who deserve their shot too. The angel closes their eyes, and tries to savor the remnants of the Cap’n Crunch as long as they can before they ascend.

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