Wednesday, December 5th
The sun shone bright on this December day, warming up the temperature a bit, yet unable to compensate for the chill in the air that kept the temperature low, and the wind from causing a windchill to almost freezing. Regardless, Evie luxuriated in the warmth of the early morning sun hitting her face, and headed into the Institute with a smile, humming an old familiar song. She walked into he foyer, and turned to the receptionist, a young person and recent college graduate. “Hi, Ashleigh. How are you doing today?”
“I’m fine,” Ashleigh said. “How are you?”
“Just enjoying the fact that it’s a sunny day outside.”
“Too cold for me,” said Ashleigh, a slight Texas twang in her voice. “I’m from Texas, and we don’t have this kind of weather there. I’m still getting used to D.C. weather. This is the coldest winter I have been in.”
“You’ll get used to it,” she said, smiling amicably. “Anyway, have a great day.”
“Thanks, you too.”
As she walked away, a familiar odor wafted into her nostrils. She had smelled it before as an angel, and recognized it as cannabis. This was not good: one form of drug use usually led to the use of stronger drugs. A feeling of unease settled over her as she walked to her office. She decided to keep her antenna up on Ashleigh.
“Well, hi, guys!” Evie hugged Tony, his girlfriend Jinx, his friend Anthony “T” Harper and “T’s” girlfriend Raji as they all introduced themselves.
“We were in the area and decided to pay a visit,” said Tony. “You okay, sis? You look a little nervous.”
“I am. I’m still getting used to meeting new people.”
“Oh, it’s okay. We won’t bite. I promise you.” He chuckled.
Blue-green eyes rolled.
Anthony “T” Harper, a butterscotch-colored African American, with pale greenish-brown eyes, took her hand and kissed it in a very chivalrous manner. “Hi, Evie. Good to meet you. Tony and I go back to our school days at Virginia Tech. Now, he does his architect thing, and I practice engineering as my trade.” Unexpectedly, he broke out in a big grin and turned to Tony. “And just so you’ll know, I can out-spit your brother any day of the week, 24/7.”
“In your dreams, young...I am the master, and you’re a wannabe,” Tony countered.
Their words perplexed her. “Umm, ’scuse me, guys, but why would you want to spit at each other? Wouldn’t that be rather gross, to say the least?”
Anthony and Tony exchanged amused looks. A few seconds later, laughter erupted. Her brother came to her rescue. “Evie...we like to ‘rap’ or make rhyme to a rhythmical beat. ‘Spitting’ is just a slang term for rapping. We don’t actually spit at each other...you know, of the saliva variety.”
Evie swallowed her embarrassment, and put on her best I-knew-that face. “Oh…yeah, that’s right.”
“T” seated himself into the comfortable couch in the living room area. “Into” was the more appropriate word; big, soft, and plush cushions you literally sank into. “Say, Evie…you and your new sis got yourselves a nice crib. This is definitely the real deal.”
Rajinda “Raji” Bhindapuri, ’T’s girlfriend and a second generation Indian American walked up to Evie and extended her hand. “Hi, Evie. I’m Raji.”
“Good to meet you.”
“I agree with Anthony: I really like your condominium too. I’m impressed.”
“Thank you.” A brief pause; “So what kind of work do you do?”
“I do a lot of programming in artificial intelligence.”
Anthony’s eyes glowed with admiration for Raji’s prowess. “Actually, Evie, Raji is being modest. She could write a soul for a robot and make it work. She is killer at programming. I don’t even ask her about what she is doing anymore. Girl can work wonders with software.” Anthony beamed.
Evie tried her best to keep up with the conversation. She shook her head at appropriate moments, and interjected a ’huh” or a ’uh-huh” but had no idea what they talked about. She still did understand this phenomenon called ‘computer programming’ and artificial intelligence: too mechanical for her liking.
Gracie groaned, smiling, and came to her rescue. “Alright Raji…Anthony: no talking shop here. Any excursions of that kind will result in both of you being doused with cold water, until your fervor cools off.”
Evie shot Gracie an appreciative look. She mouthed a ‘Thank you.’
She excused herself and headed for her bathroom. As she walked down the hall, something snagged her foot, and before she could catch herself, she fell flat on her face on the floor. . “Ow-w-w-w! Gracie!”
Very un-angel like words came out of her mouth under her breath.
Gracie ran up to her quickly. “Are you alright?”
Evie got up slowly, rubbing her elbow and her knee. Not succeeding in hiding her annoyance, she answered, “Yeah. I’ll be all right. Just got a couple of bruises; nothing major.” After limping back into the living room; her mishap now aroused the curiosity of everyone there.
“What happened?” Jinx asked.
Frustration with her sister reached its boiling point. “I tripped on a pair of Gracie’s shoes, and fell over and almost broke my neck.”
Gracie’s eyes glinted at Evie with a not very happy ‘Thanks-a-lot’ written sharply on her features. Evie pressed on, undaunted, ignoring her sister’s discomfort. “My sister may seem to have it all together, but let me tell you. She and her constant disorganization are going to hurt somebody one day.” She made a point not to look in Gracie’s direction. “What’s worse, she tries to cover it up every week by trying to clean up and re-organize so she can re-gain that sense or peace and calm she wants. She becomes a ‘woman on a mission.’” A take-that look shot directly in Gracie’s direction. It felt good to take her frustrations with Gracie off her chest.
Gracie did a slow simmer across the room, her eyes burning holes in her every time their vision crossed paths. Gracie was obviously upset, but she didn’t care. Truth-be-told, she needed to point her pain and loneliness in another direction besides her own heart. Guilt, however, nipped at her conscience, and wouldn’t let her go. She had to swallow her pride and apologize.
As if to stay the execution, Tony interrupted the dueling sisters.
“Yo, sis...may I borrow your facilities?”
“Sure, Tony. Help yourself.” Gracie’s eyes immediately honed back in on hers.
Evie couldn’t avoid Gracie’s laser gaze, which burned more intently every time their eyes met. As Tony disappeared into the bathroom, she pictured Gracie’s bathroom: undergarments, socks and a few assorted t-shirts on and in the sink. She grinned, waiting for Tony to comment on the chaotic state of affairs in there. Commentes had been made before. “You should try to be neater.” Gracie would inevitably deflect her advice with, “Okay honey, I’ll get to it.” Of course, she never did, leaving Evie even more frustrated. As an angel, she had always been organized, neat and efficient. Gracie’s messiness grated on her angelic sensibilities.
“What are these undergarments doing in the sink...are they clean, dirty…or do they need to brush their teeth?” Tony quipped, loud enough for all to hear.
“Tony!” Gracie yelled back. She shot angry eyes back at Tony, who returned and just ignored Gracie’s embarrassment, laughed and went about his business.
Evie thought about it for a moment, and then chuckled. Then she broke out into laughter until tears rolled down her face. “Looks like someone other than me has noticed your not-so-organized habits.”
Gracie’s face darkened, but she soon regained her composure. A few moments later, she had to laugh at herself as well. “I think my little sis is catching on...perhaps a little too well. Oh my gracious...do you think she my secrets have been found out? What am I to do; become neat? Perish the thought!”
Everyone laughed at that.
Evie knew Gracie was just trying to save face, but the hurt in her eyes clouded her demeanor. She felt bad she had hurt her feelings, but she also felt resentful about having to measure up to Gracie: it wasn’t that Gracie was mean, or mean‑spirited. She just always seemed to want to give her advice. She felt like...well, a mother. It made her feel like a child, and she resented it. Gracie always made comments like:
“Are you sure you want to do that, Evie?”
“Are you sure that’s the best thing to do?”
The words reverberated in her head. Well of course I want to do it. Why would I have done it otherwise?” Evie’s glum face reflected her frustration. Jaxincta “Jinx” Middleton, whom Tony had met through his sister Gracie at Christ Community Church of Washington walked over to Evie, and sat down beside her. “Evie; are you alright?”
At first, Evie didn’t answer. Finally, she turned to Jinx with a perfunctory smile. “I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. It’s nothing. Really.”
“C’mon, baby; tell me what’s on your mind. You remind me of your sister when she was back in college, and unhappy also. We talked a lot during her senior year.”
Evie exhaled a long, slow rush of exasperation. “It’s hard getting adjusted to this new life. I’m still adjusting. I’m going through culture shock, and I’m overwhelmed from time to time. My sister is really nice, but…” Her words trailed off.
Jinx smiled at her, and held her hands in hers. “Does she seem a bit intimidating...maybe even demanding, sometimes?”
She fought to maintain composure. “Well…yes. I guess you could say that. I feel like I’m her daughter, to whom she is constantly giving motherly advice.” She held back the frustration rising in her. “I’m used to making my own decisions, Jinx. This is hard for me.” Her face faced the floor, avoiding Jinx’s direct gaze. “The worst part is that she’s right most of the time.”
Jinx gave her a warm hug, and just held her for a while. She hugged Jinx back. After a few moments, Jinx said, “You know, Evie; you don’t have to measure up to Gracie’s expectation of you. I’m sure if you tell her to let you learn some of life’s lesson on your own, she might listen.”
“Do you really think so?”
“Yes. Just be you, okay? We all have to work at figuring out where we fit in this crazy life.”
She sighed. “I know. I just feel like I’ve started from way behind, and I’m trying to catch up on a lot that I’ve missed in a very short time.”
Jinx hugged her again, and smiled reassuringly at her. “Just relax and enjoy the process. You can’t hurry life. It just has to occur in its own good time.”
Jinx’s understanding lessened some of the pressure. “Thanks Jinx. You’ve made me feel a little better. I can see why you and Gracie are such good friends.”
It could be avoided no longer. All their friends had left for the evening. Her sister walked up to her quietly, eyes boring into hers. “You know, I realize I am not the neatest person in the world, but you didn’t have to be so blunt about it, especially in front of everyone. You hurt my feelings and embarrassed me.”
“I know. I’m sorry. What I did was mean. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and it was a way to vent my frustrations. I live among humans whom I’m very unlike in every way. I have no human past, and I feel disjointed sometimes. It’s discouraging.”
Gracie let out a sigh, shook her head, and put her arms around Evie. “I know Evie, but just hang in there. It’ll get better, I promise you.”
“Yes, but at least you have been human all your life: you’ve always had a father, mother, and a brother. You were a child, full of wonder and innocence, and you experienced growing up.” Her eyes mournfully regarded Gracie. “I’ve always been an angel serving the Father in Heaven, and faithfully fighting the minions of Lucifer; I’m not like you humans.”
Gracie turned sharply and stared right into her eyes. “Evie, wake up! This life isn’t easy for any of us. Just because you were an angel who never grew up from a child into the woman you are now won’t change that fact. It’s part of being an adult. Deal with it!”
The bluntness in Gracie’s words made her flinch. She understood what they meant, but it didn’t mitigate the fact that she felt like a young child in a situation she was ill prepared to handle. She looked pleadingly at Gracie. “Please don’t be angry with me. I’m learning, and I’ll get it right one day” Her emotions, still raw, bordered on tears.
Gracie’s face softened. “I forgive you honey; I love you.”
“Thank you. I really need for you to love me right now.” She hugged her older sister, her tightly shut eyes willing some reassurance from the hug that all was going to be all right.