Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Cell Phone Bible, Part VIII

Idea courtesy of apostate, who found the 'What if...?' text in his Facebook feed. If you're coming in late, you can start at Part I.

VIII. The Nature of Human Adaptability
The Archangel Gabriel turned his attention to the image in front of him. What was ordinarily a blank rectangle - a frame without a picture - assumed light and life, color and depth, and finally movement. He was looking at another mortal, not so different to his eyes from all the others he had spoken with. This one had pale skin and silver hair, was located in North America, and had opened a Bible.

"Jonathan," said the Archangel, by way of greeting. "You need guidance?"

"Well, no," said the mortal. He was looking at his Bible, as if he could read its expression. "I need you to get in touch with my daughter, Fiona. She forgot her uniform this morning, and she'll need it for practice. I'd call her myself, but she also forgot her cell phone."

Gabriel considered this, for a period of not-exactly-time which the mortal would never perceive. Beside him, Uriel was guiding a French policeman to the home of a murder suspect. On his other side, Isda was directing an African girl to the nearest United Nations relief effort, where she could find food - a distance of just over one hundred and fifty miles, which would doubtless prove longer on foot. Behind him, Anael was explaining to a disconsolate fifteen-year-old in Estonia that love should always be something to live for, and never a thing to die for.

"You want me to contact your daughter... about her uniform?" Gabriel let the question hang, expecting the man to realize just how petty a reason this was to occupy Heaven's attention, and just how arrogant he was to ask favors of the angels.

"Look, I know you can do it. You call people all the time. I've heard Bibles ringing myself. Just call her and let her know, would you? She'll have her Bible with her. She's been carrying it around ever since you people started talking."

Gabriel considered his options. He could simply refuse. After all, this business of speaking to mortals directly through their Bibles was simply a ritualized version of prayer; and while prayers never went unanswered, very frequently the answer was no. He could simply disconnect, closing the Bible and severing the contact. In either case, though, the mortal seemed very likely to try again. Heaven's Call Center was busy enough already; it didn't need that. Then too, Jesus had exhorted the angels to help the mortals wherever they could - barring direct intervention, of course. After all, if the angels couldn't answer their questions, where else might mortals turn? Gabriel had no doubt that Satan had introduced his own, competing system just as soon as Heaven's work became known to him.

He realized that the mortal was still talking: "...will only take a minute, and this is important. She only has three more practices before tryouts, so missing this could cost her a place on the team."

For a brief moment, the Archangel's hand dropped to the horn at his belt. The man had no sense of perspective. None. And none of his fellows did, either - if they did, they'd be working together instead of fighting all the time. It would serve them right if he sounded his trumpet...

A hand fell on his shoulder. "Not yet," said Jesus quietly. "They're still learning. And the time has not yet come."

"So what do I tell him?" Gabriel gestured at the image before him, a portrait of a man growing impatient with the divine.

Jesus smiled at him, and suddenly the archangel Gabriel knew exactly what to say.

"Jonathan," said Gabriel, cutting the mortal off in mid-exhortation. He had to; the man wasn't going to shut up on his own. "Has it ever occurred to you that if a place on the team was that important to your daughter, she would have remembered her uniform? I know you want that for her, but has it occurred to you to wonder if she wants that for herself?"

"She's fifteen," the mortal responded. "She doesn't know what she wants for herself."

"...But she wants a chance to find out," finished Gabriel. "Also... next year, in about sixteen months, when she's pregnant...?"

The mortal made a choking noise and reached for his Bible as if to shake it. "Wha-?"

"...Just remember that it isn't about you, will you? She really will have thought that she was in love. The best thing you can do is be there for her. Let her make her own decision about what to do."

And with that, Gabriel blanked the image and severed his connection.

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