I hitched a ride to Portland, Maine. From there, I rode the train. I had looked up online which trains to take to get to New York City from Portland, Maine. It was relatively simple. I had enough money to purchase the first few tickets. And sometimes people gave me tickets saying that they didn’t need them anymore.
I thought maybe that would happen but was worried that it wouldn’t.
But God provided. And nobody ever questioned my right to be on the train.
On 2:20 Thursday I arrived at Penn Station in New York City.
I was pushed from the train by a cascade of people, rushing for destinations unknown to everybody but them.
The shouts of demons, the whispers of angels, their outright fights and subtle battles filled up my mind along with the noise and smell of all the people pressing against me. Overwhelmed, I crouched into a ball and covered my ears with my hands.
I couldn’t deal with my version of reality right now!
“God, help!” I cried, trying to make my voice heard above the pandemonium.
I felt the agents of Satan chanting my name, surrounding me, trying to consume me amidst the thousands of people who could not see them.
I rocked back and forth on the balls of my feet.
“Help me.” I moaned.
All these people…was there no pity in a single heart?
Then I felt strong, strong arms lifting me up, up. I squeezed my eyes tight, pushed my hands harder against my ears. Those strong arms pulled me against an even stronger chest.
Who was this? What was he going to do with me?
Still the demons made my name their mantra, praying on my fear, my insecurity.
“No. Please, God, no…” I whimpered. Too many people…too many problems…to many demons to deal with. The man carrying me murmured something. I didn’t hear it, but I could feel the reverberations of his voice since he held me so close.
Then I felt something I had never felt before.
A burst of power seemed to shoot from him. I opened my eyes to see a light fading away. A light that had burst forth from his heart. The demons’ screeched so high and loud I thought my ear drums would burst. But then their voices faded away until I didn’t hear them anymore.
He stopped walking and gently lowered me to a bench in the train station.
I pressed my hands against my heart to quell the quaking within me.
“Agoraphobia, hmm?” He murmured as he reached out and brushed his fingers against my cheek.
I jerked away from his touch before lifting my own trembling fingers to my tear-streaked cheek.
He seemed to study my face—or tried to since I was staring at my lap.
He gave a small sigh and stood to sit down by me, putting about six inches between us.
He stretched his arm behind me on the back of the bench.
I reached up and swiped at my cheeks. I saw a flash of red out of the corner of my eye and looked up slightly. He was offering me a handkerchief. A red handkerchief.
I blinked, surprised.
Who carried handkerchief’s around anymore?
That was like a 1800’s thing.
I took it anyway and wiped away the remaining wetness. I made sure I gave my nose a good honk, thinking maybe I could scare him off doing so. I paused to think, my mind clearing of fear. Reasoning took over. Surely, if this guy was a creep he would have done something to me by now. And he did save me from the crush of the crowd…I peeked at him. He was in a casual position, his left ankle balanced on his right knee. He wore tinted glasses and seemed to be staring right ahead. I tried to follow his line of sight and found myself looking at Crystal and my new guardian angel Rade. I wondered vaguely if this was simply a temporary position for Rade or otherwise. To be my guardian.
Then I realized…was the man beside me…could he actually…see my angels?
I looked around him to see if he had any. I saw no one. Angel or demon.
I remembered the light that had seemed to come from him…
It occurred to me that the man was sitting beside me doing nothing. He wore fancy dress clothes that probably cost more than most middle class folks made in a year. His silk shirt was so blue that it nearly bled across the other blander colors I saw.
“What are you still doing here?” I ventured. My voice quavered slightly, but not much.
He turned toward me, tinted glasses reflecting the light.
It frustrated me that I could not see his eyes. I could always see a person if I looked into their eyes.
“I’m making sure you’re all right.” He replied.
“Well, I’m fine now.”
He went back to where he was looking before. “You weren’t five minutes ago.”
I certainly couldn’t argue with that.
I looked down at my feet and pressed my tiptoes to the ground.
“Are you waiting for somebody?”
I scrunched up my nose. “I don’t think so.”
That made him pause and look at me. “Were you separated from someone, then?”
I shook my head. “You wouldn’t understand.” I said.
I turned to look at him once more. I wondered if I met his gaze, for he seemed to be looking at me through those glasses of his. His hair was a unique white-gold color that I had never seen on anybody else. His skin was tan and ruddy. His physique was as perfect as a man’s physique can get. His broad chest and biceps strained against his shirt.
I felt my cheeks turn red and I hurriedly looked away from him. Seriously? The man could be an Olympian god he was so beautiful. An Adonis.
I wondered if he was a narcissist since it seemed good-looking men always seemed to be.
I crumbled the cloth handkerchief in my hand.
Well…my dad hadn’t been. And he had been really handsome.
Tears filled my eyes at the thought. Sometimes my grief snuck up on me at the oddest moments.
Or when I was most vulnerable.
I gulped down the sobs aching to come out and forced my chin to the sky.
“You obviously need help.” The man said. “If nobody knew you were coming and you arrived with nobody, do you at least know where you’re staying?”
I looked down again, tempted to let the tears quivering on my lashes drip freely. I forced them back and stood up. “Please,” I said, staring in the opposite direction as he stood with me. “You need not trouble yourself any longer with me. He told me to come here. And I’ve come. And I will be protected.”
Despite my brave words, my voice dissolved into a whisper at the end. A tear rolled its way down my cheek. Not knowing where I was going, I saw a sign that said EXIT just behind him. That seemed as good a place as any to start. I tried to dash by him but he caught my wrist in his strong grasp, jerking me to a stop. His hold was firm, though it did not hurt.
“Let me go.” I said in a breath.
“Tell me your name.” He demanded.
“Meredith.” He said, as if tasting the name and finding it sweet. His grip strengthened in intensity slightly. “Look at me.”
I hesitated, scared this strange, powerful man who had saved me might do something against me.
“I need you to look at me.” His voice gentled, turned almost pleading.
I turned my face toward him. For a moment, I thought I caught the shape of his eyes behind his glasses.
The clenched muscles of his jaw relaxed, his grip slackening along with it.
I pulled away finally, and held my before captured hand to my chest.
For the space of a heartbeat we stood. Breathing. Staring. Both of us, I sensed, trying to determine what exactly had happened when he had picked me up and walked me toward the bench.
Then I broke away. I ran, toward the exit, pushed against the door, and burst into freedom. Into air and light.
Away from the beautiful man good enough to save me from the madding crowd.
“God, show me the way.” I pleaded as I chose a direction and began to run.
I ran and ran and ran.
Finally I stopped in an alley and sank against a wall.
I pressed my hands against my heart, trying to stop the pain coming from my soul, coursing through the very blood of my veins.
In an achingly long space of time my heart grew numb. I opened my hands and found I still held the stranger’s handkerchief. I rubbed the fabric between my fingers.
Who was he?
What had been that light I had seen come from him?
I gasped at a sudden realization…had he been…a strange sort of angel?
But he had picked me up and carried me.
Angels could only go as far as the spiritual in warfare.
“Or…usually anyway.” I whispered. I looked up, searching for my angels. I saw Rade fighting against a few annoying demons of despair. I wrinkled my nose at the sight. Eww…they were so disgusting to look at, those tiny little demons.
I jerked myself to my feet, biting my tongue as my numbed legs protested.
I looked at who had spoken.
A little boy stood at the entrance of the alleyway.
His curly red hair bounced slightly as he took another step toward me.
His bright blue eyes were as friendly as they were curious.
He was perhaps five or six.
He gazed at my face for a long moment before meeting my eyes.
“Were you crying?” He asked, something like concern in his voice.
The utter innocence of the question made me smile. I noticed his angels. He had four or five. Not unusual for a child. Children were more vulnerable so they almost always had more angels to guard them.
Crystal still needed to explain to me the process of how exactly it was determined when the child was grown up.
“Because I don’t know what God wants me to do next.” I answered.
“Oh.” He reached up and scratched his nose. “Maybe my dad can help you.”
I titled my head. “How?”
He shrugged his little shoulders. “Don’ know. He’s a pastor, though. He helps people all the time. What’s your name?”
That name really didn’t seem to fit him. “Do you have a nickname?”
“Well…people like to call me prodigy a lot.”
He nodded. “I’m a musical genius.” He rolled his eyes as he said it, as though he could care less.
“Edison! Edison, where are you! Young man, I told you to walk right to our car. Why are you all the way—”
“Mom, I met somebody who needs help.”
A woman appeared beside him.
“I think dad might be able to help her.”
I studied the woman. She was in her late forties with greying blond hair and pale blue eyes that peered at her from behind spectacles perched on the tip of the her nose.
But it was her angel I noticed.
He was huge. Even bigger than Rade. His armor gleamed like freshly polished gold, though I could see several noticeable dents in it. Across his back was a long, long sword. He met my eyes and I was nearly overwhelmed at the incredible glory I saw there.
I gasped and stumbled back.
Edison’s mother frowned a little but I hardly realized it.
“What kind of prayer warrior are you?” I wasn’t sure after if I asked the question to the angel or to Edison’s mother. But surely it applied to both of them.
I looked back at Rade, who had conquered the demons and was now standing right behind me.
I noticed for the first time that he had some armor, but not like the other angel.
“What? What kind of…Honey, do you need help?”
My eyes snapped to hers. “Yes. I—I think so.” I said. Lord, am I supposed to go with them?
“Her name’s Meredith, Mom. Meredith, this is my mom, Mrs. Pastor Smith Cornelia Silverton.”
“Edison…” She sighed. “You can just call me, Nellie, if you like, Meredith. Or Mrs. Silverton if you like. My husband’s name is Pastor Smith Silverton.”
I smiled the tiniest bit. “That makes much more sense.”
She smiled back. “Could we take you home somewhere? Tell me what you need and we’ll try to help.”
“Actually…I need a place to stay.”
She nodded and eyed my clothing, rumpled from travel.
“We can give you a room for the night. Come with us, now. I left my husband in charge of making sure the soup was perfect. Which can be dangerous. He often gets caught up in writing his sermons at the strangest times.” She rolled her eyes to the sky. “Heaven help him.”
I followed Mrs. Silverton and Edison to their car.
Edison opened the front passenger’s door for me and bowed, looking up with a mischievous grin.
“Why, thank you, Edison.”
His grin seemed to spread from his face throughout his body. He bounced on his toes and said. “I only do it for pretty girls like you.”
I giggled and got in.
His mother shook her head, a secret in the smile on her lips.
Edison took up any silence that might have prevailed. I enjoyed listening to him. He talked about everything from school to friends to food to his father’s church.
We stopped at a red light. I glanced out the window to watch the people who were walking along the sidewalk. A brilliant blue caught my eye. I sucked in a breath when I recognized him.
Edison stopped talking long enough to gasp and plaster himself to the window.
“Hey, Mom, there’s Finn!”
“Really? Well, Adam said he gave him the day off because he’s been acting strange.”
Edison rolled down his window and hung his arm out it, waving furiously. “Hi, Finn!” He shouted so loudly I winced.
The golden haired Adonis looked our way. He smiled, his teeth a flash of white against his deep brown tan. He lifted a hand and waved back to the energetic boy.
No way…they know him?
“Finn…” I said under my breath.
The light turned green and we slowly inched our way forward as the other cars in front of us began to move. Just as we began to pick up a little speed, he noticed me in the window. His grin faded, his fingers, stretched to wave at Edison, curled into his palm.
I could not breathe.
So…if he wasn’t an angel…wasn’t a demon…had no angel or demon…who was he?
Or was I just missing something somewhere?
Though I could not see his eyes behind his glasses, his head followed me as the car moved past him.
“Edison, roll your window back up, please!” Mrs. Silverton had to say over the noise of the wind blasting through the open window. Edison rolled it back up, talking all the while. “What’s he been doin’ lately, Mom? How’s he acting strange?”
I didn’t hear her answer for Crystal’s melodic voice flowed over it.
“Meredith…look!” I followed Crystal’s urging and continued to look at him.
And I could have sworn…I saw a tear falling down his tawny cheek.
This was a fascinating chapter to write. It's one of the most important one's I've written so far since it segues into a new season in Meredith's life. If you want to find out who Finn is then you'll have to subscribe so that you won't miss next week's chapter! I really need new subscribers so don't hesitate.
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson