Authors: Christa J. Kinde
Tags: #Retail, #Ages 11 & Up
Her questions felt stupid, but she needed to check. This was too important, too close to home to leave to chance. “Do you think they’re here in West Edinton?”
“Of course! They’re probably all around us — the unseen armies of heaven!” he replied enthusiastically.
“Oh,” she murmured, hugging her empty plate to her chest. “But wasn’t that mostly in Bible times? Nobody sees angels anymore, right? That would be strange.”
“Messengers from God may be rarer now because all we need to know can be found in the Scriptures,” speculated
Pastor Bert. “Or maybe we’re like Elijah’s servant, and we don’t have eyes to see what’s all around us.”
The man reached the end of the serving table and picked up a glass of iced tea. “Anything else, Prissie?”
“One more question,” she begged. “What would you do if you saw an angel?”
“That’s a puzzler,” he said, gazing upward. “If I was face-to-face with an angel — or face to
come to think of it,” he interjected with a wide smile. “There must be a
they always introduce themselves with the words, ‘Fear not!’ “
“Yes they do that,” Prissie mumbled, trying not to fidget as she waited for his answer.
“From what I’ve read, angels don’t turn up without a reason,” said Pastor Bert. “If I had the incredible privilege of meeting an angel face-to-face, I believe I’d want to know if they had a message for me.”
She blinked. “Is that all?”
?” her pastor echoed incredulously. “Think for a moment! The messenger may be a dazzling angel, but the message is
! Whether it might be encouragement, direction, correction, or a call to action, I would definitely want to hear a personal word from the Lord!”
“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Prissie managed.
“One thing’s certain,” Pastor Bert concluded. “In the Bible, whenever someone met an angel, their life was never the same again!”
She wondered why he seemed to think this was a
“Well, little lady, if that’s all, I think you’d better give it another try.”
“Wh-what?” He chuckled and nodded at her empty plate. “Those are mighty slim pickin’s!”
“Yes, sir,” Prissie murmured, tacking on a belated, “Thank you.”
She returned to the end of the line, but only lingered for a moment. Confusion robbed her of her appetite, so she ducked into the kitchen to see if she could lend a hand. If what Pastor Bert said was true, she had nothing to fear from angels. On top of that, she’d already received a rare and precious message. The only problem was it didn’t make any sense.
tall warrior slapped his knees and took a seat beside an angel who wore his age gracefully, like a crown of silver. Lifting one callused hand, he said, “Shimron, I can still count the number of weeks your apprentice has been under my watch-care on these fingers. I cannot remember the last time so much trouble was stirred by a single misstep.”
it a misstep?” the Observer inquired.
“I have good reason for misgivings,” countered the big angel ruefully.
“The stirrings had already begun before Koji arrived,” Shimron pointed out. “He would not
here if that were not so.”
“I know it,” he replied grimly. “But he is so very new. What compelled you to choose an apprentice so young?”
Shimron smiled benignly. “For the most part, Koji was no different than any of the other potentials in his class. Inquisitive. Eager. Hopeful.”
“I was asked countless questions that day,” he reminisced. “But he was the only one who wanted to know why I was sad.”
The warrior’s gaze softened. “The boy saw through your brave front.”
“Koji sees the world with uncommon clarity,” Shimron concurred with a nod.
Prissie was only three when it happened, so she couldn’t really remember much, but in her dreams, she was always falling.
For a little girl brimming with determination, the barn was a wonderful place to explore — a warm, sweet-smelling paradise where sunlight streamed through dusty motes. Pigeons cooed in the rafters, and chickens scritched and scratched their way across the floor. Young Prissie had a vague sense of wanting to be Grandma’s helper and find the eggs their hens would sometimes hide in the loft, but five-year-old Neil lured her with the promise of kittens. Their mother cat had a new litter, and he wanted to be the first to find it. Her chubby legs barely managed the stretch between rungs on the ladder leading to the loft, but he pushed her up from behind.
The kittens were nowhere to be found, and Neil took off to continue his quest in the machine shed, leaving his baby sister alone amidst the golden bales. Soft clucks from one corner of the loft betrayed the presence of a lone chicken, and Prissie squealed in delight over her discovery. Abandoning
her egg, the hen bolted out of the little girl’s reach, and Prissie followed, giggling as she chased it in ever-widening circles across the plank floor. When the hen leapt off the edge, awkwardly flapping to a safe landing below, her pursuer stumbled, teetered, and fell.
A shrill scream, a tilting world, and helpless whimpers. She clearly remembered her fear in that moment, for it remained with her.
According to Momma, Prissie was too scared to make sense, so no one believed the next part. But in her dreams, she still felt strong arms and heard a gentle voice. “You frightened me, little one,” soothed a strange man who cradled her close to his chest. “I was almost too late.”
Her eyes were blurred with tears, so Prissie couldn’t recall his face, but she had a lingering impression of long, brown hair … tanned skin … and warm hands.
“Don’t let your big brother lead you astray,” he urged. “And if your mother says not to play in the loft, you must listen.”
The little girl’s lip trembled, but she nodded before squirming to be let down. He released her, and she ran to the house to find Momma.
Prissie woke with a start, the dream fading from memory, leaving her with an unsettled feeling that was difficult to face alone. For a moment, she thought of going to her mother for comfort, but she quickly dismissed the idea. She wasn’t a baby any longer. “Just a dream,” she mumbled into her pillow, trying to reassure herself.
As the only daughter in a houseful of sons, Prissie had been granted an enormous privilege; she was the only member of
the family with a room of her own. It was a tiny niche at the very end of the hallway, and the ceiling slanted so sharply that one corner of her door was angled. There was just enough space inside for a narrow bed, a bedside table, and a creaky old wardrobe, but there was one feature that transformed her sanctuary into something sublime. Halfway up the wall, a window seat spanned the width of the gable, and if there was one thing Prissie loved, it was the window set above it.
According to Grandpa, all four of the house’s peaks had boasted stained glass windows when he was a boy, but damage or renovations had claimed the other three over the years. This one remained, a relic from another era, and it was her treasure. A simple geometric pattern of diamonds in soft shades of green, blue, peach, and gold filtered sunlight or shone in moonlight. Grandma Nell had quilted Prissie’s bedspread in the same colors, and the hues were echoed in the braided rug, which had graced the smooth floorboards since Grandpa’s mother’s day. The overall effect may have been a little old-fashioned, but it suited Prissie.
No one else was allowed in her room, so when she turned onto her back, she was startled to see Koji perched on her window seat, gazing at the stars through the multicolored panes. His hair was tucked behind pointed ears, and the stained glass made patterns of color on his upturned face. She had to admit that at that moment, he looked the part of an angel. “Koji, what are you doing in my room?” she whispered.
The boy turned to meet her gaze. “This is a very pretty window; it reminds me of home.”
“You have stained glass windows where you come from?”
“Something very much like them,” he replied, reaching up to trace the edging of a blue diamond.
“Are you homesick?” Prissie asked curiously.
He frowned thoughtfully, then said, “I do not think so.”
“What are you doing in my room?” she repeated.
“I wanted someone to talk to.”
Prissie glanced at her clock, which told her it was shortly after two in the morning. “But it’s the middle of the night!”
“I do not sleep,” Koji answered with a small shrug.
,” she grumbled, pulling her sheet up over her face. “Find someone else to talk to.”
“You are the only one who can answer my questions, though.”
She folded down the blankets and studied him suspiciously, curious in spite of herself. “What kinds of questions?”
Meeting her gaze solemnly, he bluntly asked, “Why are you avoiding Milo?”
Prissie opened and closed her mouth, then said, “I’m
Koji tipped his head to one side. “You used to follow him around.”
Blushing hotly, she answered, “That was before I knew he wasn’t
“But he’s not who he said he was! I
he was a normal guy.”
“So are you avoiding him because he is an angel?” Koji persisted.
“No, it’s because he
,” Prissie corrected.
Koji’s black eyes sparkled in the moonlight. “Did you
him if he was an angel?”
“Of course not? Who would ask something like that?”
“Then, he did
lie,” the young angel earnestly declared.
“He has been doing his job faithfully for many years; your accusations are unjust.”
“He is very good at it,” Koji explained. “Milo has many friends, and I envy him.”
“You’re jealous?” Prissie sat up in bed and frowned at him. “Can angels
“Yes,” he candidly replied. “He has been able to interact with humans every single day, but I am only allowed to observe. There are so many questions I want to ask!”
Thinking back to Pastor Bert’s words, Prissie asked, “Why are you so fascinated by people?”
“It is my nature,” Koji replied. “I am an Observer, so I wish to know, to understand, to discover, to explore …”
“Right,” she interrupted. “But
? There has to be a
you’re watching us.”
“It is my purpose.”
“You do it because you have to?”
Koji shook his head. “I want to.”
“But what if you
want to?” Prissie challenged.
want to,” he replied patiently.
“But only because you
to want to?” she persisted. “What if you wanted to do something else, like be a Messenger so you could talk to people.”
“An Observer is what I am.” A slow smile spread across the boy’s face, and he turned to face her fully. “You truly do not understand.”
His delight only added to Prissie’s frustration. “Of course I don’t!”
“I will try to answer your question if you will explain some things to me?” he bargained.
“Only if I don’t have to answer your questions in the middle of the night.”
“Thank goodness,” Prissie muttered.
“I will answer your question about why you are interesting,” Koji offered.
“Well?” she prompted.
Koji pointed to himself, then at her as he said, “I act according to my nature, but you often act contrary to yours.”
Prissie frowned in confusion. “What do you mean, my
“It is human nature to sin,” he said bluntly. “Yet you frequently manage not to.”
“Do you have any other questions?” Koji asked hopefully.
With a flop, Prissie lay back down and turned her face into her pillow. “No,” came her muffled reply. “Why don’t you go talk to Harken or Milo, since they probably don’t need sleep either?”
“Harken is away, and Milo does not wish to talk.”
“He is too sad.”
Prissie turned her head just enough to peek at Koji out of the corner of her eye. “Can angels
“Yes,” Koji agreed, turning his eyes back toward the stars twinkling beyond multicolored panes. “Very sad.”
t’s not the first time a girl’s had a crush on you, Goldilocks.”
“I know,” sighed Milo.
“I take it you’re kinda fond of this one?”
,” Koji interjected.
be if she can see you, squirt!”
individual has value,” Milo flatly stated.
“That’s a given, but this is different. You’re getting the chance to be totally
with a person!”
The angel gave a short, bitter laugh as he raked his fingers through long blond hair. “Only to discover that she was much happier with the lie.”
lie,” his friend corrected. “They assume.”
“Then why do her eyes accuse me?”
“You did not do anything wrong!” protested Koji.
“Milo’s just a softie,” teased the other angel, earning a halfhearted glare. “It’s okay to care about them, you know.”
“I care about all of them.”
“You and me, both,” agreed his friend, then snapped his fingers. “Here’s what you do. Smooth things over, then bring her around.”
“You want to meet Prissie?” Koji asked, eyes aglow.
“Absolutely! She’s already met a few of us; what’s one more?”
talk to Harken about it,” Milo said slowly.
“Then it’s settled!”
Jude adored the farm and wanted to be a farmer with his biggest-big brother. He trailed after Tad with complete and utter devotion, convinced he was the best the world had to offer, with Grandpa a close second. While Grandpa Pete was gruff and Tad was serious, Jude was a ray of pure sunshine — bright, cheerful, and sweet-natured. The little fellow was the nurturing type, and Momma strictly forbade any teasing over the fact that even as a big boy of six, he played with dolls and slept with an assortment of stuffies, as Jude called them.
One of Jude’s greatest loves was the chickens that had free range of their farmyard. He gave them all names and chatted to them as if they were people. No one could coax an egg out from under a crotchety old hen like he could, so Neil called Jude “the chicken whisperer.” This year would be the first time the boy showed one of his hens at the county fair. A stack of wire cages stood ready in the barn, waiting to house their entries in the fair’s upcoming poultry competition.
Maddie, which was short for Madder, as in “than a wet
hen,” was a beautiful Ameraucana with black and white feathers. The name had been Tad’s idea, so of course, Jude thought it was wonderful, even if it hardly suited her. Maddie was a good-tempered chicken, tame and smart; she was one of five hens who never strayed far from the boy whenever he was out in the yard. Her eggs were always a soft shade of pale green that rivaled Grandpa’s duck eggs for beauty.
Prissie stroked Maddie’s comb with the fuzzy end of a “tickle weed” and smiled when the hen closed her eyes and endured the attention. “You’re going to win a ribbon for Judicious, aren’t you, girl?” she murmured, using Tad’s nickname for their youngest brother.
“There’s a fair chance,” Momma agreed from where she knelt further along the row, picking pole beans.
Adjusting the tilt of her straw hat, Prissie returned to the bumper bean crop they were harvesting, and after a few moments broke the comfortable silence. “Can I ask you a question, Momma?”
“Do you believe in angels?”
Naomi Pomeroy smiled. “Sure, I do.”
“Have you ever
one?” Prissie asked.
“No,” she replied, “though your uncle Loren tells some pretty amazing stories from his travels. You should ask him about it.”
“Did Aunt Ida’s last letter say when they’ll be back?”
“A few things are still up in the air, but possibly for Christmas,” Momma replied.
Prissie nodded, but steered the conversation back where it belonged. “What else do you know about angels?”
“Well, let’s see,” she mused. “Off the top of my head, I
can say for sure that angels were used to announce things. There were a lot of them in the Christmas story, and not just Gabriel. An angel spoke to Zacharias to tell him that Elizabeth would give birth to John the Baptist, and an angel spoke to Mary’s husband Joseph in dreams … twice, I think.”
knows that!” Prissie sighed.
“Only if they’ve heard it before, sweetheart,” her mother gently chided. She gathered her thoughts, then said, “One verse in the gospels implies that every child has an angel — a guardian angel.”
There it was again, as if it was common knowledge. Messengers. Guardians. “Are there other kinds of angels?”
Momma picked up her pail and moved to the next bean tower. “Umm … Isaiah describes some fantastical creatures, and in Revelation the angels sound pretty fierce. Paul talks about ‘powers and principalities’ in conflict, so I’ve always thought some angels must be well-armed, battle-ready types.”
Prissie’s mind was spinning. “The Bible talks about angels that much?”
“Didn’t you sign up to read through the Bible in a year?” her mother asked lightly. “We started Isaiah two weeks ago.”
“I’m a little behind, I guess,” she hedged, quickly changing the subject. “Do angels have wings and halos?”
Mrs. Pomeroy threw a handful of beans into her pail and answered, “That’s how artists usually portray them, but I don’t know if they’re literal or just a convention that was adopted somewhere along the way. There’s usually some truth behind a legend.” She paused in her work, propping her hands against her lower back for a stretch. “Wings
be nice. Can you imagine what it would be like to fly?”
Prissie cast a sidelong look in her mother’s direction and noted the familiar, far-away look in the woman’s gray eyes. Naomi was a little on the flighty side, and it was obvious that her mind was off in another world. “So angels are real,” Prissie stated, bringing Momma back to earth. “Do you think there are people who can see them?”
“There are stories, but it’s hard to know if they’re true. It’s certainly possible, but the instances seem to be rare,” she replied, giving her daughter a teasing glance. “Why have
been visited by winged messengers?”
Squirming uncomfortably, Prissie gave her full attention to picking beans. “Not
,” she said, comforting herself that it wasn’t a lie since Koji, Milo, and Harken lacked feathers. “I was just curious.”
Momma was summoned back to the house by Jude, who brought news of Zeke’s discovery that he could make taller towers out of building blocks if he used peanut butter between the layers. Prissie stayed behind to finish up in the garden. The beans were done, which only left a long line of green onions, their spiky tops poking out from the midst of thick weeds. With a sigh, she knelt at one end of the row and began the slow task of removing the weeds without uprooting the bulbs.
Maddie clucked softly from the shallow depression she’d created under the broad leaves of a nearby zucchini plant, and when Prissie looked up, Koji was crouched down beside the hen, watching the bird intently.
Sitting back on her heels, Prissie asked, “Can she see you?”
“She knows I am here,” he replied. Maddie cocked her
head to one side, as if listening to something, and Koji smiled as he mirrored the action. “And that I bear her no ill will.”
The young angel stood and wriggled his bare toes in the dirt for a moment before dropping to his knees across from Prissie. “May I help?” he inquired, tentatively touching the tips of an onion.
“You’ll get your pretty clothing dirty!” Prissie protested.
“Our raiment cannot become stained,” Koji explained, and he stood back up to show her how the dirt simply fell away from the shimmering fabric. “Without spot or wrinkle.”
“That’s from the Bible,” Prissie remarked.
She turned her attention back to weeding, keeping a close eye on Koji to make sure he was doing it right. “So, why are you back today?” she asked.
“I wanted to see you.”
“Because you can see me,” he replied simply.
Prissie squinted at him from under the brim of her straw hat. “Is being invisible lonely?”
“No … and yes.”
supposed to mean?” she challenged, scooting a little farther down the row. The job was going much faster with two of them working together.
“It is part of what I did not explain very well last night,” he replied. “May I try again?”
“If you must.”
“Sin taints everything, like this garden.” He held up a weed as proof. “And you as well.”
Prissie lowered her head to hide her blush. “I do the best I can,” she grumbled. “It’s not fair to criticize.”
“I speak the truth, nothing more.” She shrugged defensively, and Koji continued, “When a human has been forgiven, they undergo the most beautiful change I have ever seen.” Prissie looked up in surprise, and met the young angel’s steady gaze. His dark eyes glowed with warmth, gladness, even joy. “It is truly lovely.”
“What is?” she whispered, her heartbeat quickening.
“The presence of God,” Koji replied in a low, reverent voice. “Those who have been forgiven are touched by His Spirit. I can tell because I have met Him.”
the Holy Spirit?”
“You mean, you talked to him just like you’re talking to me?” Prissie pressed, disbelief coloring her tone.
“Yes,” Koji confidently repeated. “When I am close to those who belong to God, I am not lonely, for He is with them. I also like being with the others in my Flight,” he confided. “When Abner sings, it feels like home.”
“Is Abner an angel, too?” she asked.
Koji nodded. “We gather in the garden behind the blue door each day.”
Intrigued in spite of herself, Prissie asked, “What do you do?”
“Talk … listen … sing.”
“I’ve heard Milo before, and Harken, too. Do you sing as well?”
In answer, Koji straightened, threw back his head and, without a trace of embarrassment, sang a simple song of
praise to the Creator. As he thanked God for His presence with His people and for the onions they were tending, his sweet treble voice made Prissie’s skin prickle into goose bumps.
After the last note faded, Maddie’s approving cluck broke the silence that stretched between them. “Did you make that up?” Prissie asked in awe.
“I wish I could do that,” she sighed.
“Do you want to sing together?” Koji invited.
Prissie shook her head self-consciously and returned to weeding. “I want to sound like you.”
When she moved farther down the row, her companion didn’t move with her, and she glanced up to find him studying her closely. The expression on his face was one Prissie was beginning to equate with being
“What? Did I say something strange?”
“No.” He scooted along the line of onions so he was across from her again and set back to work. “Do you covet my voice?”
“I wouldn’t put it like that,” she muttered unhappily. “You should just take it as a compliment.” Again, Prissie could feel his gaze, but she refused to meet it.
“I have thanked Abner for his songs,” the boy shared. “At that time, he asked me which was more important: the singer or the song?”
Prissie thought about it. A poor performance could ruin an otherwise decent song, but the best singer in the world would never be heard if they didn’t perform. “I guess you need both?” she ventured.
Koji tipped his head to one side and explained, “The singer gives voice to the song in his heart, but its beginning and end belong to God.
is most important.”
“So it was a trick question?”
“Among angels, it would be considered a joke.”