The little man sounds like a rhino despite the fact he is only four inches tall. He walks across the kitchen counter, chewing on the crumbs he’s found in the biscuit tin. “What’s going on?” He says.
The other man, perched on the pile of takeaway menus and post, sighs. “She’s on the phone to her lawyer. The scumbag wants to change the arrangements for Adam and Chloe. Again.”
The biscuit -eater expands his glowing red wings. He flies up to meet his colleague, spilling tiny crumbs as he lands on the pile. His wings fold away but he always has a hint of red around him, matching his colleagues white glow. He thumps down beside the other man, swinging his legs over the edge.
“I thought this was sorted.”
“That’s why I said again, Harry. As in why the fuck does he have to keep changing the goal posts every five minutes just to fuck her over? Has he got nothing better to do? I always said-”
Harry rolls his eyes and cuts him off before he starts again. “Get over it, Eric. You were right. James was a cock and broke her heart. We all know this.”
Eric spins on him. “But you had to go and encourage her fall in love with him!”
“Hey. I just said the motorbike looked cool and anyone who actually went home on time wasn’t living their life properly. That’s my job. The fact she did it shows she liked the look of the leather jacket, long-haired, fucker of a drummer.”
Eric shakes his head, face twisting as it always did. He had never forgiven Harry for that suggestion. He had spouted about the damage that James would do from day one, telling Harry that they needed to work together to keep them apart whilst telling Delilah, their ward, to turn around and walk away.
Instead, Harry shouted louder to Delilah to drown him out. And it worked.
Eric fixes the sleeves on his impeccable white suit. “If she had listened to me and gone home for curfew-”
Harry barks a laugh, crumbs spitting like rain from his mouth. “If she always listened to you, mate, she would have been locked away in her room at 16 and allowed to touch anyone! Maybe with the exception of rubbing your cock with a cotton bud late at night.”
Eric said nothing, his blushing cheeks saying it all. Neither of them could remember how long he had loved Delilah for. Longer than James ever did.
The red man howled at his own joke whilst Eric tried to ignore him. He watched Delilah. That was what he was here for after all.
“James knows that I have to work late on that night. That’s why he was supposed to look after them in the first place.” Delilah sinks her head into her hands. The men know she’s close to tears when she racks her hands through her hair. “No, that’s not what I’m saying but he agreed to the dates before and I can’t see why he’s switching them around now.”
“Because he’s a twat-arse!” Harry calls from the side lines, throwing a whole crumb in his mouth. Delilah can’t hear him. Not as a tiny man sitting on her kitchen counter. But there is a voice inside her head full of colourful names for her soon to be ex-husband.
Delilah’s head drops again. She’s not made for fighting. It took seventeen years for her to listen to Eric screaming at her to stand up to James. Even after being out of the house for a year, he was still draining her of life. For years, Eric had watched her spiral, sucked along with her as her guardian angel. He would never have left her alone with that man regardless of his duties.
James had partied. He’d spent the money on nonsense. He chased his dream around the country while he stamped on Delilah’s. Her smile lost its shine if it ever came out at all. Watching him talk to her like that, disregard her like she wasn’t the most fantastic thing that had ever entered his life, was like a parasite burying into Eric and eating him alive from the inside.
“Tell them he drinks!” Eric shouts.
Harry chokes, spluttering his biscuit all over the place.
Delilah’s expression darkens, hearing him. She’s thinking, Harry realises. Holy fuck, she’s thinking about it! “Do it, Del!” Eric shouts again. “He doesn’t deserve any better than what he’s giving you.”
Her face sets. But it looks like something has lifted from her, a spark glinting in her eyes now. “I didn’t want to say this before because I wanted to keep things civil,” She says calmly. “But I just don’t know if I feel safe leaving my children in his care that length of time without me. Especially at night. It was fine when I was around to look after them but I’m not sure he’s ever gone that long without at least a little nip of something to take the edge off from the kid’s screaming.”
She nods. The lawyer’s changed his tune; the men can see it in her face.
Harry swallows the chunks of biscuits, ignoring them scratching his throat raw. “Eric, what did you do?”
The other man shrugs. He doesn’t take his eyes off Delilah “I suggested something. She took my advice. That’s my job.”
“You’re a guardian angel. Your job is to lead her down the path of virtue. You lied. Those were the kind of suggestions I’m here for. You’re supposed to be the good guy.”
“Whatever,” Eric mutters, determination digging the frown he had been wearing for fourteen years deeper into his face. “Tell him about when he smashed Chloe’s head into the doorframe. Or when he made your neighbour pick Adam up because he wanted to go to the bar instead. Or all the drugs he fired up his nose on his tour.”
Harry stares at Eric. Was this really the man he had worked with for thirty-nine years? The man who preached about values and integrity from the opposite shoulder to him. The man who wouldn’t let him keep a fly as a pet. The Angel to his Devil. Literally.
Delilah spouts off the reasons he listed, more coming after as she remembered all the poor examples of James’ parenting. Her face reddens as she started talking faster, her lawyer getting more excited as she finally helps him with her case. Even her lips were threatening to curl into a smile.
She was listening to him. She was listening to Eric telling her to be devious and get her own back. This wasn’t good. That was Harry’s job. That was his whole life.
“Fuck that bastard over like he did to you,” Eric says. Delilah puts the phone down, staring in front of her. And then she smiles. It’s small but it’s there. The fuck you, James smile.
Eric grins too. The temptation of being bad. Of getting your own way, consequences be damned. The angel had tasted the other side of life and liked it.
Harry tosses another crumb in his mouth. Couldn’t have that now.
Three taps at the door. Eric sticks his head around it. “You asked to see me?”
The man behind the desk gestures at him to come in, finishing off his writing before acknowledging the meeting that he called.
Eric fidgets in the seat across the desk as he waits. He’d never been called to Human Resources before. The office looks almost identical to Delilah’s lawyer’s office covered in filing cabinets and wooden walls. Minus the clouds for carpet, obviously.
Harry always told him it was better if they didn’t know you existed. After all, Angels and Devils didn’t get a wage. The only reason for HR was punishment.
The man drops his pen and checks the file on top of his large pile.
“Eric, is it?” He asks. Eric nods.
The man – Oswald, if the nameplate on his desk was to be trusted – takes a deep breath. Preparing himself for a difficult conversation. Eric wonders if he could convince the clouds to open underneath him so he could drop away from this meeting.
“How do you think things have been going recently?” Osward asks.
Trick question, a voice in his head whispers. It sounds suspiciously like Harry.
“Everything’s been fine. It’s a tough time with the divorce and all but Harry and I pull together well. Everything’s fine.”
Oswald nods. “Good. Good.” He leans back in his seat, fiddling with his glasses. For the first time, he looks at Eric. Only for a second, then back to the computer screen.
“Some concerns have been raised about your performance.”
Eric blinks. “My performance?”
“We are concerned that you may be…compromised.”
Eric’s heart drops to his feet and through the clouds below. No one ever questioned his performance. What could he have done wrong? He follows every rule to the letter. He was nothing less than a committed workaholic. He had nothing in his life to be compromised by.
“In what way?” He asks.
Oswald sighs and takes his glasses off. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he closes his eyes. “We know you’ve always had Delilah’s best interests at heart.”
“Of course. That’s my job.”
Oswald smirks. “It’s a little more than that.”
Something down there squeezes his fallen heart. He was sure he had hidden it well. Sure Harry knew but they were together all the time. The higher ups weren’t supposed to know. His mouth moves but he can’t think of the words to say. How could they have found out? Someone must have told them. They don’t pay enough attention to insignificant angels to notice something like that themselves.
“There are rumblings,” Oswald says. “That you’ve fallen in love with her. We’ve reviewed your performance to date and it seems to match with the theory-”
Eric finally finds his voice. “There isn’t anything wrong with my performance. My ability is actually the same as when I was assigned to Delilah.”
“Others would disagree.”
Eric goes to argue that no one could disagree when he realises. Harry. That coward. That cowardly devil.
Oswald leans forward with a sad, resigned smile. “We can’t have an angel running around driven by their feelings for their charge.”
The world strips away from him until he feels empty.
“I just want the best for her.” His voice wavers.
The older man pats his hand. “I know.” Oswald explains what his decision is but Eric already knows. The rumours were true about what happened when you step over the line. The ground seems to shake under him and he’s sick to his stomach.
“Please,” He says to Oswald. The older man, with a weary look, waves his hand and Eric drops through the clouds.
Through some form of magic, Eric crashes into a dark cupboard, mostly unharmed although. He lies still for a moment, body aching, a feeling he had never felt before.
He chokes, gasping and suddenly he realises that not only does he need to breathe, he isn’t doing it. It takes a few tries but after a minute he’s a natural. But he doesn’t get up. The weight of his spectacular failure weighs him down as he notices all of the mops and cleaning supplies in the cupboard don’t tower over him. They’re normal size.
He was human.
He closes his eyes, cursing himself with all of the words that Harry taught him over the years and cursing Harry even more.
Eventually, he picks himself up and dusts his suit down. There’s no hurry. He doesn’t know where to go now.
He steps out of the cupboard into the hall of an office. He walks towards the elevator, unnoticed in his suit by the workers around them. He’ll have to get a job. First he’ll need an address. Before that a last name. He needs to get a life. An entire life.
He presses the button for the elevator. People watch him – an unknown man with a dusty white suit – and he shrinks into himself. He couldn’t deal with all of that yet.
He jumps inside and heads for the ground floor. Rubbing his hands over his face, he leans against the walls. Where could he go now? The walls feel like they are closing in and taking the air from him.
The door pings. Thinking he was able to escape, he looks up. Instead, he sees Delilah. For the first time in 39 years, they’re the same height. And she smiles at him. Directly at him.
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.
This original idea stuck in my head when I was looking at a writing prompt a long time ago, so long I have forgotten where the prompt was from (although I would think terribleminds). The prompt was a random sentence/title generator and this is what I got.
Let me know if you enjoyed it with a like or a comment! Someone pointed out recently that they couldn’t leave a comment so I have fiddled with my settings and it seems that I have sorted it but it is a little strange to find out how to do it in this theme. If you look down a little, you will see a + sign on the right hand side next to the tags. Just click that and hit me up!