Trumpeteer At World's End
Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm an atheist.
The dark streets were illuminated by street lamps and dim lights trapped in shop lots around the corner. When someone strolls around the streets at night, it's because they have some cigarettes to purchase let alone condoms. Nothing ever delightful happens at night. It's best to stay home. Unlike the others, I strolled around the streets without purpose if not to reflect upon my troubles.
I'm a painter - that's what I address myself as, although I never did made a fortune out of my freedom of expression. A few bucks could only sustain my addiction to nicotine; the rest that came out of my bank account is for food supply. It's been awhile since I've put anything into it. I guess I'm not much of a saver. But then again, I've never spent money on things that I've wanted - just the things I've needed. There I was, puffing away between smokes. I glanced around to take joy in everything around me. There's a second-hand shop that never really sells useful items. On the opposites are the record shop that hid a stash of pirated CDs underneath the cashier counter. At the far distance stood a pet shop with all sorts of vicious and creepy crawlies to sell. The only good thing in it is the lethargic cats they are selling. I'm pretty much a cat person.
Random faces walked past me. Their expressions were as if nothing ever happened in this world. If anything, I would not be too surprised to see someone kneeling on the floor, crying for their troubles in their life. Troubles - everyone has them. It makes the world go round.
I found myself at my front apartment door. It was already 12, and all I've brought from the streets are a small pack of cat food and a pack of Virginia Slims. My cat, Whitaker, had been feeding on neighbours' leftover the past few days. I'm sure she can survive the lack of cat food; her green little eyes were built to detect food. She had her habits of rolling her tail around my legs every time I come home to show that she missed me. They say black cats are unlucky, I'll say that Whitaker had made me forgotten entirely about fortune of the world. Cuddling with her every day is the only thing I looked forward to in life.
The tranquility Miss Whitaker gave me is enough to make me fall asleep as quickly as a suicidal man jumps off the building. The tranquility lasts not for long, as someone knocked on my door. The knocker seems persistent, as he or she knocked quite frequently for 5 minutes despite my witting ignorance to continue my slumber.
I prepared myself to open the door and mock the one who knocked on my door at 3 am.
"What trouble are you looking for, knocking on my -" I said as I opened the door, and a figure in white suit adjusted his tie on my home entrance. "Are you one of the Jehovah's Witnesses?"
I did not realize why I said that. No Jehovah's Witness ever dressed that neatly. I wasn't that fond of Jehovah Witnesses that knocked on my door most of the afternoon. I'm an atheist, after all. They often found themselves ridiculed by my sarcastic remarks before I slammed the door on them. Besides, it's already 3 am. There's something in his eyes that triggered me to say that.
"No, I'm not. I'm homeless. Can you let me stay for the night?" The man said. His hair resembled the hair of one of the famous Japanese actor, Takeshi Kaneshiro. He looked like he's on mid 20s. His face was clean, white and attractive.
There's no time for names. Just questions. He definitely doesn't look like a homeless citizen. His way of dressing up screams out that fact. I figured that he might be some tourists that failed to check into some hotel. But he didn't bring any suitcase.
"You must be crazy to think a young lady like me would let a grown man to sleep in my apartment." I said. I really can't help being rude. I'm sleepy, and it's not a usual occasion to feel sleepy. I'm insomniac most of the time.
"I don't mean any harm to you, lady. It seems tonight, you needed me and I needed you for a room to stay in. Just for a night. You can lock me in a room if you wanted to. If that makes you feel safe." The man said, really not showing any harmful intent for me. He's either a good actor or an angel.
"Wait. Why would I need you? You're a stranger." I said, somehow I found my voice to be protesting rather saying.
"You need someone to talk to. I can see it in your eyes." He said, as if he can see through me into my weary heart. "You need a friend, lady."
I looked around as if to decide. I saw Whitaker walked around the window sill, her body was blended with the night as if she was a part of the puzzle piece of the night sky that fell into my apartment. Then I looked back at him. And I said yes.
I invited him in and asked him to take off his shoes. He glanced around in my living room and examined most of my works of art. I can tell he appreciates my paintings; he's the only one to do that.
"You painted all this yourself?" he asked, while I turned on the lights to let him see well. "It's impressive."
"Thanks. You are the only one to say that, if you really do mean it." I chuckled. I went straight to the kitchen and looked for my coffee jar.
As I walked out of the kitchen, the man was already sitting at the dining table; enjoying every single details of my home. Not much of a living place, really. Just a few painting hanging on the wall next to the small television. A rack of books I've never read were standing next to it, accompanied with a small red circular sofa beside it. On the opposite, another red sofa which I got for bargain (the smaller red sofa next to the rack) was there. The only thing that separates the TV and the sofa is the little tea table for me to put my remote control, which usually ended up under one the seats in the sofa.
I offered him some coffee; he made a face as if he'd never know that coffee existed.
"You know, mister. I forgot to ask for your name. I'm Sarah, by the way."
"Greetings, Sarah. I don't think you should know my name."
I should have asked him why. He is acting weird the second I saw him standing in front my door. But names are not important, anyway. He'd be leaving tomorrow morning and I might not see him ever again, after all.
"But there is something that you should know. I'm an angel."
I was shocked. The weirdness in him grew ever larger. I laughed him off, dismissing it as a bad joke. But then, the solemn face of his shows otherwise.
"You've gotta be kidding, man. I've had too much for today. Please, don't mess up my mind." I said, waiting for the moment for him to burst out laughing and slap my shoulder. It's far from April Fool, not even Halloween yet.
"I can see that you lack of belief in God." He said, trying to sip his hot coffee with the edge of his lips.
"Yes, I do. And you're just one of the Jehovah's Witnesses trying to restore my faith." I have never been so angry. "Came up with a new approach, didn't ya? Sending an attractive guy in suit to restore an atheist girl's faith?"
"I'm not lying. Angels never lie. I'm here on a mission, and before that, I need to stay somewhere before the time comes."
"Does your mission require you to dress up like a groom?" I said, pinching his tie. I'm trying to be sarcastic with him. It's not that I believed in him, but somehow, every answer he gave me is making me more confused.
"Things happen for a reason, Sarah. I did not choose this appearance. None of these features you've seen resembled my true self." He said, checking out his own outfit. "Although I agree, these suits do seem a bit out of place in these streets. People can't help staring at me."
I laughed. Perhaps he was right. I do need a friend to amuse me. I don't really care anymore that whether he's really an angel or not. I decided to dwell in the amusement of conversing with him.
"You mean God Himself dressed you up like that?"
He nodded; a faint "yes" came out of his mouth.
I laughed even harder; I slapped my knee in amusement. Whitaker came over to me as if to check whether I'm still in possession of mind or not. I assured her that everything is all right by holding her up and put her on the table.
"So, what it's like... You know, to be in Heaven?" I asked, stroking Whitaker's fur.
"I can't tell you. Why Heaven is such a wonderful place, is because of the mystery. If I let it out, Heaven might not be that beautiful anymore." He replied.
"Does that mean Heaven is not really that wonderful?" I asked again, and then I realized I might have offended him. I waited for him to be mad at me. But instead, he looked at me and smiled.
"You'll soon see, Sarah." He said. "You'll soon see."
"Is it really that bad to be an atheist? Is it bad to use logic?" I asked, starting to believe that this man really does know the affairs of Heaven. "Are atheists the unwitting worshipper of Devil himself?"
"Not at all. Denying the existence of everything supernatural is the first step to believe that God is one. In fact, you are one step closer than the other paganists." He said calmly, as if he predicted everything that I will ask. "When you deny God, you deny Satan himself, how can you worship the Devil when you're atheist?"
"Makes sense, Mr. Angel. It's just that most believers had called me the worshipper of Satan and stayed away from me as if I'm contagious or something."
"It's just common human traits, Sarah. People judge when God can judge best. But time will tell, Sarah. Time will tell the accuracy of the judgements made by them." He said.
Surprisingly, I find this man's word soothing. Never before I heard a delightful word from a preacher. All I heard from them are Hell, Hell, Hell, Sins, Sins, and only then the beauty of God's love. But this man, he tells it without a single hatred in his eyes on me. And I found myself to respect this man more. I don't think he's one of the Jehovah's Witnesses. I think he's really an angel.
"As I said before, things happen for a reason. You must have one for your denial of God." He said. "An atheist don't really deny out of reasoning and logic."
And I opened my heart. Tears fall as I reminisced my past. About a young girl who lost her parents in a fire. About a young girl who lived in an orphanage. And suffered abuse from her 'mother' nuns. How she were forced to live a life of a woman despite her delicate age. Life had never been kind to her. Priests and nuns were not seen as figures people would look up to. God does not seem like a protective and loving father from above that gives you joy and suffering. He gave you suffering, period. Or at least how He seems to me.
Without saying a word, the man in white came to me and accepted me into his shoulder. Somehow, I did not resist. I had a feeling that I've waited for these arms a long time ago. He said nothing to console me. Perhaps, he understood that words are not enough to heal a broken heart. Our soul touches with one another, and he shed a tear for me.
"Thank you so much, Mr. Angel." I said, with tears in my eyes. "Never before I felt so liberated in my life."
Simple actions can change someone's life.
"No, Sarah. I did not liberate you. You liberated yourself. No one can help you but yourself."
He looked at his watch.
"Goodbye, Sarah. It's time for me to go. Duty calls."
"But, will I ever see you again?"
"Yes, you will. In Heaven."
"Will I enter it?"
"Yes, you will."
"How do you know?"
"Time will tell, Sarah. Time will tell."
He smiled at me. I ran over to him and hugged his back.
"When I leave this door, you will no longer have memories about me." He said, without looking back at me. "Nor our previous conversation. But those conversations will have no use for you. Because in time, you will discover everything yourself."
"Before I forget, can I know your name?"
"I'm Raphael, the Trumpeteer of World's End."
He smiled at me and touched my chin softly.
I lost my consciousness.
And the door closed.
It was already morning; there was a coffee jar and two cups on the dining table. Should have been there since last week. The last time I had guests in my house was last week. It was my colleague from the studio.
I picked up my bag full of brushes and set out to the street.