I don’t believe people when they say they aren’t angels. He said he was the rain, only the rain. No miracle.
“So you’ve seen Heaven, then,” I said.
“What makes you think that?”
I bit the inside of my blooming cheek. The sky outside was a pale violet, and I stared beyond the glass, watching the gleaming driblets falling from the clouds as far as I could see. “Rain comes from the sky,” I said. “That’s where Heaven is.”
“Impeccable logic,” he says, with a smile. “But I’m afraid, I have not been as far as you might imagine.”
I don’t believe him. “What’s it like, up there?” I asked.
“Cold,” he says, after a moment.
“Cold as a number.”
“As a number?”
He grins sheepishly. “I’ve always thought of numbers as cold. Not sure why, come to think of it.”
I considered this for a moment. “Numbers aren’t cold,” I said, “But they aren’t exactly warm, either. Mr. Purcell teaches me arithmetic. It’s not my favourite. I prefer French.” I wasn’t sure if I should be telling him this, but his smile was so drenchingly wonderful, it all seemed to just pour out when I was with him. He was jittery, but graceful. Melancholy, yet exalting beyond human compare. He had to be an angel.
But who would want to admit to a thing like that?
“I suppose numbers are…salty.” I said.
He smiled. “Yes, salty. I can see how that might be.”
“Are you salty?”
“No. I am not salty. Are you?”
“No!” I laughed. “Well, sometimes, I suppose, yes. When -”
I whipped around. I hadn’t heard my father enter.
“Kitty, who are you talking to?” he asked, frowning.
“The angel.” I said, without hesitation.
He walked a few paces toward me. “And you asked if it was salty?”
He came over to me at the window ledge, and sat down. I looked for the angel to show him, but the angel had gone. My father took one of my pigtails in his hand.
“Such an imagination.” he sighed.
I wondered if I had upset him. He stroked my head.
“So you didn’t ask…this angel…if it had spoken to your mummy?”
I hadn’t thought of that.
“No? Didn’t think of it?”
I had disappointed him.
“You said she wasn’t.” I said.
“Before. You said she wasn’t an angel.”
“That was…” he exhaled heavily. “Then. I was angry. Then.”
“Yes, then. Not now.”
I looked outside, again. The rain was faltering. The angel had flown. She said she wasn’t either. I didn’t believe her, then. Or now.
But in that moment, a scintilla of fear was dropped like a seed within me. I hoped, if she was there, that she wasn’t cold.
Or a number.