• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 02
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He was born, then born again, though not like that – not made anew in the love of the Lord or anything. Or was he? There had been that moment of feverish clarity, the brief burning of the world in which all things, idle and ill-fitting, were revealed as inarticulate and perfect flame. But soon after the coruscating flash he had found himself seated quite naked on a pew in a dim and dusty room, his articulated hands arranged politely on his knees. It was not the waiting room of a doctor’s office or an employment agency – there were no magazines, no forms to fill, no fish tank – but certainly it was a room in which he waited. He could not say how long.

A single high, narrow window bore a beam of dusty light across the room, so that at certain intervals it fell like velvet across his knee, his chest, his face. In this way time passed, but painlessly: its passage a sensation of gold velvet. He grew used to this, the circular embrace of light and dark, and might have mistaken it for eternity, had a bird not come in through the window at the very moment in which the beam had kissed his face and passed him again into darkness. He could hear the bird fluttering disconsolately in the eaves, and for the first time since his arrival he found himself filled with intolerable sadness. A bird! A bird! The place that had been his heart cried.

“Why are you crying?” A voice said. It belonged to a man crouched before him, an ordinary man he knew nevertheless to be an angel.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“An angel,” the angel said.
“Have you come for me?” he asked.
“I have,” the angel said, and reached out a hand to wipe away his tears.

At the touch of the angel’s hand upon his face he knew that he had been comforted before, comforted and cast out, comforted and cast.



The angel stroked his hairless head with a broad, warm hand. Then, pulling him close as if to kiss him, the angel swiped a hand down his brow and over his eyes, closing them.

All was dark. In the dark, he heard the beating of a bird’s wings. The sound was closer now, then closer still, until it seemed to come from inside his hollow chest. With a gasp, he remembered everything, but when he opened his eyes again on the turning world, it was as if for the first time.