Authors: Angel's Touch
“There is a heaven,” Scottie said with certainty, following his father. He hesitated in the doorway to his great-aunt’s room.
was there. The man. The fire and brimstone man who had scared the—who had scared him half to death.
But now the man winked and smiled somewhat sheepishly.
“There is a heaven,” Scottie repeated firmly to his father. “And Aunt Mary is going to have her place within it. Escorted there by an angel.”
“Oh, Scottie, that’s beautiful,” Judith whispered softly to him. “Such a help to your dad right now!”
She smiled at him. He smiled back. It seemed so strange. His great-aunt was dying, and it was sad, but yet…
For the first time—in forever—it seemed that everything was going to be all right.
Cathy came in toward the end, slipping into the room to stand beside her husband, who had kept his place at Mary’s side. Rowenna had stayed for hours; it was late now, and she had just been sent home.
Mary was at peace. Very near the end.
“Where have you been?” Don asked his wife.
She shrugged. “I had a few little errands.”
He arched his brow.
She shrugged. “There was this guy with a little too much money for his own good, and he was about to fly off on Christmas Eve to meet some friends down here and party off to the Caribbean.”
“Well, he has a little girl. About seven years old. And she wanted him to stay home.”
“And I needed his seat on the airplane.”
Mary opened her eyes suddenly, looking at the two of them.
“Angels?” she whispered.
“Don and Cathy,” Cathy told her.
Mary smiled, moving her lips. “Help me,” she whispered to the two of them.
“We’re here,” Cathy began. “We’re both here, we’re going to help you into the afterlife, the new life. We won’t leave you until it’s time…”
Mary shook her head, smiling. “Help me make them hear me, understand. I’m not afraid anymore. I can see you. God has given me vision at last. That poor beautiful dear creature who was here… I think I have one last gift to give. Please, get Father William, and my nephew. Help me make them understand.”
That they could do.
They had become a great deal more practiced at the power of suggestion.
Between them, they brought Father William and George to Mary’s side. Helped them hear the words she could barely whisper.
In the end, Mary didn’t need help from either of the Angels. She had found her own peace. She held her nephew’s hand, and that of Father William.
And in another ten minutes, she was gone. She slipped from them quietly and peacefully. Don and Mary both saw a trio of angels, decked in sweeping, Biblical splendor, hover over her. She smiled in death, then her soul arose.
She waved, maintaining that beautiful smile. Her eyes glowed.
There was no uncertainty within them.
George Garrity cried softly, but his tears were good ones, natural ones. They flowed silently down his cheeks. He said goodbye to a woman he had loved. But he was going to be fine. His son and Judith were at his side.
“Shall we check on Rowenna?” Don asked Cathy.
“Oh, yes, we have to do that!” Cathy said. “And quickly,” she added. She glanced upward, to the clock in Mary’s room.
Christmas Eve was coming to a close. They had, perhaps, thirty minutes left.
And two more miracles to perform.
And if they failed…?
They could not—would not! Don assured himself.
She heard his voice; Joshua’s voice. Coming from the center of the living room.
His arms were suddenly around her. He swept her up. He held her tightly, so tightly. Whispered that he loved her, over and over again. She pressed his face between her hands. Felt him, touched him, again and again.
“How did you get here so quickly?”
“It must have been a miracle. I walked into the airport twenty minutes before a Delta jet left. There was a last-minute first-class cancellation, and I grabbed it.”
“Oh, Josh …”
She tightened her arms around him.
“Ro …” His voice was constricted. “There’s so much to say. I’m so, so sorry, too.”
“No!” She pressed a finger against his lips. “My God, you can’t be sorrier than me.”
“Can’t be, I’m sorriest!” she said, and laughed. “But not tonight, it’s Christmas Eve.”
“I haven’t a gift for you.”
“You are a gift to me!”
He caught her arms, holding her a slight distance from him. “I forgot. I don’t believe it, but I forgot—I was so excited to see you again. Rowenna, your cousin William just called. He said the nun who died had donor cards for just about everything in her body, but she insisted at the end that you were to get her retinas. She said you made her see, that she had been blind and you gave her sight, and she wanted you to see the world now through her eyes, wanted to return the gift.”
“She can’t… just do that, can she?” Rowenna asked.
“Apparently. I don’t know. Your cousin, Father William, has connections, you know. If there is any possible way—if her eyes are still sound enough—you are to receive Sister Mary’s gift of vision.”
Rowenna started to shake. He held her more closely. “Rowenna?”
“It’s Christmas Eve. I thought I had nothing left, and now I have life and sight and you. Oh, Joshua, I have nothing for you.”
“All I want for Christmas is to have my wife back. Marry me again, Rowenna?”
“Say yes!” Hissed a pair of voices simultaneously.
“Did you hear something?” Joshua asked, perplexed.
She shook her head, smiling. “Just a pair of angels. Telling me to say yes. Yes, yes, yes, with all my heart. Oh, Joshua…”
She didn’t need to see him to know his kiss. He swept her from the floor and into his arms.
She heard a soft sigh.
Then, she was dimly aware that her strange visitors left her.
She didn’t need them anymore. She’d already been touched by them.
Touched by angels.
“Angels we have heard on high,
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous cry…
In Excelsis, De-eee-o
HRISTMAS MUSIC, ONCE AGAIN
, came sweeping through the night, emitted from a car radio. There were lights blinking on and off, intermittent sirens; there were people everywhere.
Don and Cathy had quietly departed Rowenna’s only to find themselves back in the cold. A wind was rising; snowflakes were beginning to descend. It was a pretty snowfall, light, soft. The kind that would later be great for building snowmen, waging a snowball fight, sledding; and perhaps, in higher elevations, skiing.
“Where are we?” Cathy murmured.
Don looked around himself. They were in the middle of a disaster scene. It seemed that his heart took a sudden lunge, landing at the bottom of his stomach with a thud. They were back where they had begun. Nice touch. They had died here, but they’d been sent back to make miracles happen for others.
He slipped an arm around his wife. “We’re back where we started. At the scene of the accident. Our car is just over there. Our bodies—unless they’ve picked them up—are on the other side of it.”
“Oh,” Cathy breathed out. She tried to speak emotionlessly. “You’re right.”
Don continued to stare toward their car. Cathy heard a moaning that seemed to be coming from close by. “Don?”
“Dozens of people are hurt. And some of them are dead,” he reminded her bitterly.
“Near us. Don, please…”
He turned toward her, hearing the sound she was talking about. There was a crushed car near them, the driver’s door hanging open on a twisted hinge. No air-bag.
Cathy started moving toward the vehicle, stepping through high drifts of snow as quickly as she could. He followed her, realizing that most of the rescue workers were still crawling on top of the train’s cars. A quick glance at this vehicle would lead most people to assume that any survivors had gotten out.
“Cathy, wait,” Don warned. He could smell gas. Then he wondered what he was worried about.
He kept forgetting that they were already dead.
He hurried after her nevertheless, reaching the car with her, standing behind her and looking over her shoulder. The front seat was empty. The moaning was coming from the back.
Cathy slipped into the driver’s seat, trying to look into the darkness behind it. Don started to struggle with the door handle.
“Who’s in there, Cath?” he asked. “He or she is going to have to crawl over the front—”
“It’s a she, and she can’t crawl over.”
“Broken leg, arms … ?” Don ducked into the car along with his wife, staring into the back seat. There was a woman lying back there, panting, breathing, panting. She was bundled in coats. It took Don a few minutes to realize the problem.
Cathy laughed. “Very observant,” she teased. “But not for long,” she said worriedly. “Don, I think she’s in labor.” Cathy reached out a hand to the woman, who twisted and moaned. “Hey! We’re here, we’re going to help you, it’s going to be okay.”
“The baby is coming, the baby is coming!” the woman gasped. She was small, blond, shaking and sweating. She was young, perhaps twenty-one.
“Your first?” Cathy asked her quickly.
“Cathy,” Don warned, “this isn’t the time for a friendly chat or an interview.”
“I’m trying to keep her calm, Don.”
“It’s coming now!” the young blond cried. She gritted her teeth, tears rushed down her cheeks. She screamed suddenly, unable to bear the pain. “The baby is coming, we have to get out, it’s coming, the gas, we’re going to die, oh, God, oh, God, oh God …”
She lay back, screaming again. Cathy slipped over the seat in the very tight space. “Don, get the door open.”
He could see Cathy talking to the woman. Assuring her. Trying to help her. The space was so tight.
The smell of gas …
The blond woman was screaming again, gripping the seats, gripping Cathy. Cathy had her on her back, had her positioned properly for the baby to come.
Don stuck his head in.
“Cathy, the gas …”
“Don, the head is out!”
“I’m doing it, I’ve just never had obstetrics, I’m trying not to kill her.”
Cathy’s words were drowned out by another scream.
“The shoulders are here!” Cathy cried. “One more push, come on, come on …”
“I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I—”
“You have to! Dammit, now!”
The woman must have pushed.
But there was no little baby cry.
“Cathy, now, or she’s dead!” Don said.
“Get the door,” Cathy agreed.
Don jerked on it. Stubbornly, it remained fast. He started to struggle with it again before remembering that he was an angel. He set his hand upon it, stared at it, willed it to open. It popped free like greased lightning. He reached in for the woman, dragging her out by her feet. He hefted her into his arms and started to run, Cathy, with the infant, at his side.
They covered ten feet quickly, twenty … a hundred yards.
Then the car exploded. Fire shot up into the night. Pieces and splinters of the twisted, burning metal began to rain down around them. Others started screaming; rescue workers began shouting.
Don had fallen into the snow with the woman, thrown down by the force of the blast. He straightened himself, dragging his weight from her. She was so pretty, so young, and so terrified. She looked up at him, amazed at first to be alive. Then her eyes filled with waves of tears.
“Lady, you’re alive!” Don whispered to her softly.
“And the baby is … a little girl!” Cathy said, coming up around Don. He stared at his wife, frowning. He’d been convinced that the child had been born dead.
But now he heard the infant gurgling. Cathy had managed to wrap it in her scarf. It was—in Don’s eyes—a sodden mess. It had hair, but what color it was he couldn’t begin to tell.
The blond mother shrieked out, hysterical with happiness, reaching for her infant. She wrapped her child in her arms, shaking, crying.
“Oh, thank you, oh, God, thank you, oh…”
“Cathy, we’ve got to get her help. That baby could freeze to death, this lady could still be bleeding.”
“We’ll get—” Cathy began, but then they heard the man shouting.
He was young, as blond as his wife, with soft blue eyes, terrified. He was standing in the snow, a firemen with the “jaws of death” standing beside him. He was staring at the burning car, stricken. He fell down to his knees in the snow, his cry of anguish bursting through the relentless Christmas carols that continued to spill cheerfully from a car radio.
“My husband … Robert! Robert, here!” the woman called out, “Oh, Robert.”
Don caught Cathy’s hand. Simultaneously, they exerted their power to disappear, and did so quickly. They walked swiftly and silently away as they watched the young man run to his wife, fall to his knees again at her side, sobbing. The firemen were quickly with them, ready to rush mom and child to the hospital.
“They’re going to make it, Don,” Cathy said.
“Yes, they are.”
“Oh, sweetheart, don’t be bitter!” Cathy said softly.
Don stood straight, looking back on the young couple and their newborn child. “I’m not, I’m happy for them.”
“Being angels isn’t so bad.”
“I know. It’s just that I felt…”
“I don’t know. That we had more living to do. That there was more we might have done, somehow.”
“We’ve done very well tonight.”
He paused in the snow, drawing her against him, kissing her forehead and the tip of her nose. “I know, we’ve done well. It’s just that—”
“Oh, my Lord. What time is it? We’re running out of time! We helped that woman, but was that what we were supposed to do? Cathy, we’ve got about fifteen minutes left. I don’t mind being an angel, as long as I’m an angel with you. I made that level of heaven by your shirttails, remember?”