I yawned, covering my mouth with my wing.
I leaned against the wall beside James’s apartment door, listening to the complex come to life with activity. James is a rather punctual person, but he drank too many beers the night before, in celebration of a coworker’s birthday. He’d hit snooze on his alarm two times.
I heard a thud from inside the apartment, accompanied by a groan. The door flew open and James stumbled into the hallway. His normally sleek hair was a mess, and it fell in his eyes. He wore a rumpled button-up shirt and the same khakis as yesterday.
He shut the door and closed it on his foot. He whimpered, and I chuckled.
The second try was without injury.
Except, he left the door unlocked. I waited, hoping he’d check it before he left. No such luck. I watched him sip his coffee and hurry down the stairs.
I rolled my eyes.
I grabbed the doorknob and focused my power on turning the lock. The lock clicked into place and drifted down the stairs after him.
He made it to the bottom of the stairs and halfway through the lobby without incident, but an acquaintance distracted him. He turned his head to wave.
Since he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings and he didn’t see the large mop bucket directly in his path. I flapped my wings, producing a burst of wind. The bucket rolled out of the way.
He opened the lobby door, only spilling a small amount of coffee on the floor.
I followed him onto the crowded street. It was early morning in New York City, and the sidewalks overflowed with commuters.
“This may not be an awful day,” I said.
James’s phone rang. He answered it with a chipper hello.
I had spoken too soon.
He was so wrapped up in his phone all he wasn’t paying attention to the traffic light. The light had changed to red, but he strode into the intersection without noticing.
“Yes, I got the email. I needed to check the numbers at the office before I could confirm the price. I’ll let you know before the end of the day. I will be in contact soon.”
I acted quickly, seizing him by the collar of his shirt, and yanking him backward onto the sidewalk. He stumbled and fell on his butt, but he didn’t get run over by the line of taxis driving through the intersection. He realized the light had changed. His face turned bright pink, and he glanced around at the crowd. He was unsure who had pulled him back onto the sidewalk, out of danger.
He wasn’t always so reckless, but he’s an easily distracted person. He used to live in a small town in Minnesota with a different guardian. When he moved to the city, someone with more experience had to replace his guardian, aka me.
Initially, I thought everyone had finally seen my talent and hard work. Though now, I felt they did this to punish me. I never got a break. James was always putting himself in danger.
We walked another few blocks to the subway. While we waited for the train to arrive, I stood guard. James took out his phone to scroll through his work emails, oblivious to everyone around him.
Out of the corner of my eye, a man with a dark hoodie inched up behind James. I spotted the outline of a knife blade in his pocket. James was too oblivious to notice that someone was approaching him, and no one else seemed to pay attention either. It was probably a straightforward robbery with no actual violence, but he had a weapon.
I stepped between the mugger and James. I put my hand up and focused my energy. I slammed my palm into the man’s chest. He flew backward and hit a wall. The knife fell from his pocket and clattered to the ground.
A security officer saw the man fall and confiscated the knife. The officer escorted the man out of the station. James didn’t even look up from his phone.
When his train arrived. He walked on to the overloaded train car. But he didn’t stand clear of the closing doors, and a part of his computer bag became stuck between the doors. The train began moving. His eyes were wide, and he grabbed onto anything for balance as we moved through the tunnel.
He wasn’t in danger, just embarrassed and uncomfortable. He remained trapped in the doors until the next stop, then he inched himself further onto the train.
Four stops later, we exited the station.
“Almost there,” I muttered. But I spoke too soon. A street performer juggling knives on a unicycle caught his attention. He was walking straight toward an open manhole cover.
I groaned. What a hopeless creature.
With the snap of my fingers, time stopped, and everyone on the street froze in place. I had to use this ability often, but it made me tired.
With some effort, I moved James a foot to the left. When I was happy with his location, I snapped my fingers again. The world unfroze, and he walked safely past the hole. Then we arrived at work.
I followed him into the lobby.
James never needed me while he was at work. There weren’t many dangers at his desk job, except the time he got his tie caught in a paper shredder.
I let out the breath I’d been holding. At least, I could have some hours of peace before we left for home.
I dreaded the afternoon commute. I mean, the man was hopeless. He’d be dead already if he didn’t have a guardian angel. Not every human has a guardian, because not everyone needs them. They give only the individuals who will have a profound impact on the world guardians. Knowing James, I did not understand how he would impact the world.
I stretched my wings to the ceiling and rolled my shoulders. This morning had been rough.
It was time for a new assignment. Another guardian could protect James.
A young woman in the lobby caught my attention. She had long, dark hair that lay down her back in long, thin braids. I watched her approach James and tapped him on the shoulder. She needed help to find her new office. She introduced herself as Tia Mercer. She got a job as a Human Resources Specialist.
They shook hands.
“What is the name of the company? I’m sure I can point you in the right direction,” he asked.
“H&O Marketing,” she replied.
“Oh, we work in the same company. I’ll take you to the HR department.” he said.
As I watched them disappear into the elevator, I followed them. I manifested myself in the elevator between them. There was something interesting about this woman. They talked and joked like they were old friends. James is a very calm person, but something about this woman made him nervous. He fidgeted with his phone, which he never did.
Was he scared of her? I looked her up and down. Nothing about her seemed menacing. She looked of average height and had a thin build. She didn’t seem to have a weapon.
Maybe he wasn’t afraid. Was she nervous?
Then a thin glimmer of pink light caught my attention. There was a cord of light connecting the two of them.
“Interesting,” I said, examining the cord. It appeared to be strong, and the light was luminous in the small space. Neither of them noticed it.
With a snap of my fingers, a book manifested in my hand. The Book of Human Interactions should give me an idea of their connection. I flipped through until I found James.
Then I saw their future together, their story playing out on the page like a television show. Tia and James would begin dating in a few months, in two years they would marry, and in three years Tia would birth a child.
I now understood why protecting James was so critical to the human timeline. He wasn’t the one to impact society. No, it was his future daughter.
She would become an intelligent and morally sound person. She would lead a crusade that will provoke a social reform and impact millions of lives globally.
This news gave me a burst of hope about being a guardian. I’d never think of abandoning my job as a guardian again. I’d look after James for the rest of his life, so his daughter could carry out positive change.
The elevator opened, and I watched them walk away.
I closed the book and smiled. I had work to do.
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