The Angel, The Pen

Sadie felt her heart sink, or at least a sinking where her heart had been. “And diapers, teething, learning to walk, being a teenager, all over again? What’s the alternative, if I decide to stay unborn?”

The angel smiled happily. “Oh, that’s easy. Eternal bliss, just as you imagined when you used to pray at night.”

“Tell me, what exactly is eternal bliss like?”

“Eternal bliss is just that,” the angel said. “Happiness. Bliss. Day after day . . . happy . . .” Its voice trailed off.

“That sounds a little—well, boring. Doesn’t it?”

“Well, some souls do complain after they’ve been there a while. But once you’ve been processed—paperwork and all that—it’s not reversible. Sorry.” The angel closed the book with a snap. “I’ll give you a few minutes to think about it.” With that, he or she disappeared.

Sadie sat on a fragment of cloud that looked a little more solid than the others and thought. She had always assumed that she wanted eternal bliss, but now that she had been given the choice, well . . .

She thought of how her heart had been broken when her husband had left her for a younger woman. She thought of the aches and irritations she had felt as her body had grown older. She thought of those last few days before she had slipped into the coma, when she had been in pain, real pain, all the time.

Then she remembered the joy when her son was born, the deep, serene pleasure when he had taken her breast for the first time. Her first lover—she had almost forgotten him—and the feeling in her heart when they had first held hands.

Her mind flooded with memories as she sat on the cloud and looked at her surroundings. The walls were a pearlish hue and she could hear voices singing in the distance, perhaps the people who had chosen bliss. They sounded happy, but she felt that somehow bliss wouldn’t do for her.

The angel reappeared. “Well?” he or she asked, the eyebrows rising even higher than before, if that was possible. “Have you made a decision?”

“If I were to go back,” Sadie asked, a little shyly, “could I be something different this time?”

“Oh, by all means. You can choose whatever talent you would like, and we’ll install it. Of course it will be up to you to utilize it.”

“Do you think I could go back as a writer?”

“We can certainly reinstall that talent,” the angel said crisply.

“Reinstall? You mean I’ve had it before?” “Oh, yes. We’ve sent it with your package several times in the past, but for some reason you have chosen to ignore it. Of course, you have always been born as a woman. Yes,” and the angel peered closely at the book, chewing the end of the Mont Blanc. “Yes, that would explain it. You’ve started motherhood early, and you’ve been so busy supporting your offspring that by the time you were free, you thought it was too late.”

Sadie thought for a moment. “If I go back, can I change it this time?”

“It will be up to you, of course.” The angel made notes in the book with the beautiful pen. “But I see no reason why we could not install a little extra compulsion.”

“Would it be a compulsion to write no matter how many children I have?”

“That can be arranged.” The angel smiled, and began to fade.

The light was bright in the delivery room, at least it seemed so after the darkness of the womb.

“It’s a girl, Mrs. Spelling.”

The midwife placed Sadie in the arms of her new mother.

The angel appeared at the mother’s side. He/she smiled and flourished the pen.

Sadie waved.