Chapter 4 - Meeting the Announcer
Gabriel approached the window in his office and then gazed vacantly at the neighboring buildings and busy streets below. After a few minutes lost in thought, he turned to look at his office; not once did he notice the papered walls of stylized angels in heroic feats during The Fall, nor the pictures that hung, nor the images of him smiling or joking. Neither did Gabriel give thought to the dust that had collected on the beautifully rich window treatments and valance. His attention eventually turned to his Victorian-style, mahogany desk, then straight to a lone picture-frame that rose above the scattered paperwork – it was a portrait of him, his wife, and a very young Lily, in much happier times.
Gabriel then sat quietly behind his desk, but the thoughts that were churning in his brain were anything but serene. His hands clasped before his face in prayer with the tips of his forefingers touching his white-streaked beard, he waited for his daughter to arrive while his mind wandered to that fateful day, twenty-three earthly-years ago…
“Rose, she’s beautiful,” said Gabriel, tears in his eyes.
“She is, isn’t she?” Rose said, more as a statement than a question.
“Have you decided on a name yet?” asked Gabriel.
“Yes I have, hon,” replied Rose, caressing her daughter’s tiny head. “I think the Almighty has touched my heart. Let’s name her Lily. Lily the Sweet.”
“Aw that’s fantastic, I love it.”
Rose gazed at her daughter lovingly and said, “Did you hear that little one? Your name’s Lily.” She softly kissed the baby’s head and added, “I love you.”
Gabriel was about to say the same – when He spoke to them.
A truly love-filled and booming ‘Congratulations!’ was heard, He then added Lily looked beautiful and told them she would grow up to be a stunning angel. He blessed her and blessed them, then asked to speak to Gabriel – alone.
“Is there something wrong, my Lord?” Rose asked.
He assured Rose nothing was wrong. He only needed to speak to Gabriel shortly, and then her husband and Lily’s father would return. He promised not to keep him long.
Gabriel kissed his wife and then materialized in the Throne Room. The Almighty then wasted no time getting to the point.
He told Gabriel his precious child was born to perform a mission, an undertaking of such great importance it was an essential part of His Grand Plan.
“May I ask what it is?” Gabriel said, his eyebrows pinched with curiosity.
The Almighty told His beloved Announcer it was not important to know right now. Gabriel would learn in time, He promised him. What was important at present was Lily’s blessing, her life, and the love of her parents.
“May I at least know when this will happen, my Lord?”
The room shone brightly as the Almighty smiled telling Gabriel the answer: The day will arrive when I call for her. Now please, go to your wife and daughter, be with them and cherish them.
“Yes, thank you my Lord.”
…Gabriel’s mind still mused over that day. The Announcer remembered how privileged he felt over his daughter’s blessing. How he breathlessly told Rose about it, how Rose voiced misgivings and worries, and how he assured his wife everything was going to be fine. He then remembered how miffed he felt towards her – why was Rose so shortsighted? The Almighty had just blessed Lily, essentially praising us! What more did she want? Gabriel could not wait for the day to come for his baby daughter’s mission, Rose should feel the same.
Ah, but the next memory, as Gabriel palmed his slick-backed hair and then rubbed his tensed neck, he recalled what happened years later – Rose’s true-death. How Gabriel had to explain this to his pre-teen daughter, how Lily had cried for days, how he had cried and still did.
At long last the day had finally arrived – today. The Almighty had asked Gabriel to call Lily into His presence and now he finally knew. After everything that had happened to Gabriel, and to Lily, Gabriel became overly protective and watchful of his only, precious child. He went as far as assigning her (unknowingly to Lily for she wanted no favors from her father) to the one angel he trusted the most. He sent them on the safest of assignments he could find. He even checked on her everyday (again, unknowingly to Lily) for he could not bear having anything happen to her. And through all this, the day had come – a day he once could not wait to arrive – but now he feared with every strand of his angelic-being.
He intertwined his fingers and clasped his hands tightly as the thoughts of her leaving on this mission throbbed in his head. Gabriel was now the one who had the misgivings – and he knew that He knew. Gabriel felt so unworthy of His love and trust, how could he not have faith in His plan? The Announcer knew why – it was Lily. Why her? Why his daughter? Was there no one else? How was Gabriel going to cope knowing she would be exposed to the true-death?
A thick lump formed in Gabriel's throat choking back a sob. Suddenly,
a bright light flashed on his lined face and startled him. Standing there somberly was Lily with two
guardian angels beside each arm.
Gabriel sat up in his chair and pulled it closer to the desk, he said, “Ah” – he cleared his throat self-consciously – “um, welcome Lily, guardians.” He nodded at them while making no eye-contact.
Noticing her father was clearly upset, Lily asked, “Dad—ah, Announcer, is everything okay?”
The Announcer had quickly collected himself and stared back impassively at all three angels. It was then he finally noticed his daughter’s blonde mane was completely white.
She’s been in his presence, even more so than I’ve ever been, thought Gabriel quickly. This mission is truly greater than I believed. He let an awkward silence hang for a couple of heartbeats, then spoke with authority.
“Nothing’s the matter, messenger. So, tell me about your meeting with the Almighty.”
Like usual, wastes no time cutting to the chase, thought Lily, while trying to keep from shaking her head. He doesn’t even notice my hair.
“I know the meeting was about a mission,” retorted Gabriel, straight-faced. “Tell me the details.”
“I—I can’t,” said Lily nervously.
Gabriel, now fully in charge, leaned back in his chair and sighed, “You can’t or won’t? I’m sure He said I’d be preparing you for the mission. How can I if you don’t tell me what you’re supposed to do?”
“Dad—Announcer,” said Lily, immediately flustered, “I can’t tell you.” She hated it when her father acted like this – calm, detached, toying with her.
“Lily the Sweet, daughter,” said Gabriel with a tone of impatience, “I’m sure you can tell me something.”
The Almighty had given her opposing orders. Lily was to say nothing about the mission, yet she still had to ‘Honor thy father’. What was she to do?
Lily returned her father’s sharp glare in-like, and said, “Gabriel, the mission is about the Greatest Artifacts. I am to find them and return them.”
Although what Lily said did not totally surprise Gabriel, the fact that this was her mission did. Leaning forward in his chair and resting his forearms on the desk, Gabriel said, “I see, the Greatest Artifacts. May I ask what they are and where will you find them?”
“Sorry boss,” replied Lily, “can’t say anything else. I’ve already said too much.”
“Oh, come on,” chuckled Gabriel, “how many artifacts are we talking about?”
“No, topic over.” It sounded final.
“Okay…” said Gabriel, nodding his head, giving in momentarily. It was then he realized the guardians standing beside Lily had heard everything. Although not a big deal, Gabriel recalled how the Almighty wanted to keep knowledge of this mission from spreading. The Announcer was about to dismiss the guardians when his assistant entered.
“Gabriel, I have breaking news—” said the assistant, barging in. When he saw the angels standing before the desk he stopped dead in his tracks. “Oh, sorry, didn’t know you had a meeting.”
“My apologies,” said Gabriel, “I should have told you. This is another one of those, how do you call them?”
“Divinely unannounced meetings,” finished the assistant.
“Right,” said Gabriel, smiling. “Now, you were saying something of breaking news.”
“Ah” – the assistant looked quickly at his tablet – “a demon was caught just a short while ago attempting to enter Par Amor.”
“Well,” said Gabriel, surprised, “that hasn’t happened in a long time.”
“This is a serious matter Announcer,” interjected the guardian standing on Lily’s left. “If our services are done here, we should probably go interrogate the traitor.”
“Exactly what I was thinking,” said Gabriel. “The messenger will be fine, go ahead.”
“Uh, may we…?” – the guardian on Lily’s right snapped his fingers – “So we can get there faster.”
“Yes, of course, go ahead,” said Gabriel, waving his hand in consent. As the guardians disappeared with a slight breeze, he turned to his assistant (who was staring at Lily’s head) and added, “Ahem, anything else?”
The assistant still locked on Lily replied, “No sir that is all.”
“Very well, I’ll call when I need you,” said Gabriel, his eyes pointed to the door.
Mumbling something about ‘white hair,’ the assistant was still gawking at her as he closed the door.
“At least he noticed,” said Lily, once they were alone.
Gabriel ignored her statement; he did not want her to know the true significance of her completely white hair; how she was likely the first being ever – angel or human – to have been so close to Him.
“Now that we are alone, please tell me, what are the artifacts and where will you find them?”
“Daddy, you know quite well we are never alone. And I’ve already told you, I can’t say.”
“But sweetheart, how can I prepare you properly if I don’t know what it is you’re going to do?”
“Oh, please, let’s not start with this trying-to-protect-me act of yours. I’m a grown woman and He chose me for this mission. If you don’t have faith in me, then don’t forget to lose faith in Him.”
The words stung Gabriel, with a strain to his voice he said, “I have faith in Him, and I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I have faith in you as well. Can’t you at least tell me a little more? Just so I can understand the mission better.”
“No daddy, I already told you I can’t,” said Lily firmly.
“I see,” said Gabriel, leaning back once again. “But I’m sure you’ll tell Harke everything.”
“No—I—won’t,” said Lily, the tremble in her voice was obvious.
“Oh, please,” said Gabriel dismissively, “how much of a fool do you think I am? You’ll have dinner with your fiancé tonight and tell him the whole story, meanwhile, you’re father, who’s supposed to prepare you, is out in the cold.”
“It won’t happen,” said Lily, tears welling in her eyes, “because I can’t tell you” – she suddenly sobbed and cried for a few moments – “or him.” Lily cried a bit more as she lifted a hand, stopping her father from speaking. Once composed she continued, “The Almighty made it clear to me not to say anything to anyone. That means you, my friends, and yes, even Harke.”
Realizing he pressed his daughter too hard, Gabriel stood and walked around his desk towards her. Approaching Lily, still sobbing, the angel with the beautiful, tear-streaked face took a step away from Gabriel, turning her back to him.
“I’m sorry, honey,” said Gabriel, taking one step closer before stopping. “He asked you not to say anything and it’s wrong of me to believe you’d do otherwise.” He reached out with one hand and added, “Please, forgive me.”
“Are we done here?” Lily said, between light sobs. She then wiped her face with the back of her hands.
“Yes,” replied Gabriel sadly, bringing down his arm. “Come back tomorrow and we’ll start preparing for your mission.”
Without another word, Lily the Sweet walked out.