Jarial’s Last Chance

Life seems good for the Archangel Jarial.

She has a great job in the heavenly realm and a few good friends.  But she can’t pass the Archangel level 3 exam.  It’s the only point of pain in her otherwise happy life.

Will she be content with her level 2 rating, or will her friend Lolonial offer a better path? This is a story of friendship and unexpected consequences and how far one friend will go for another…

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They entered a cluster of cubicles with offices around the perimeter.  Most of the desks were empty.  The angels sitting at them industriously reviewed and stamped sheets of parchment.  

Jarial tapped the angel on the shoulder.   He looked at her. 

“Excuse me, where are you taking me?  This isn’t the way to the exam.”

He didn’t acknowledge her question but pointed to the first office past the door.

“This way, please.” 

“What’s going on?” Jarial asked.  Then she saw the sign on the window: Aa. Ramoziel, Counselor

“I don’t need a counselor,” she burst out.  “What is this all about?”

“Ma’am, please step into this office.  I promise we’ll get to testing as soon as possible if that’s what you want.”

Jarial stared at the angel who stood patiently beside the door. 

“Of course that’s what I want!”

“Ma’am, until you’ve seen the counselor, I am not permitted to take you out for testing.”  

He looked tired, she speculated that he had seen this scene too many times, and wished he could avoid it altogether.

“You’re not permitted?” Jarial stopped.  The angel’s eyes shifted from tired and bored to angry.  She closed her mouth and stifled the argument she was about to make.  Instead, she just nodded her head and stepped forward.

The door was closed, so she opened it and looked over her shoulder at the angel who had guided her.  His eyes said he was glad the confrontation was over.

“Come in, please.”

An angel sat behind a desk covered in stray sheets of parchment.  He beckoned her forward with his hand.

With a smooth motion, the examiner swung the door open.  Jarial recognized the view.  The way called Straight was indeed a long straight road that neatly divided the eastern quarter of the Heavenly Realm into two sections.  The way was ruler-straight, but also narrow.  Stone buildings pressed in on the roadway, further squeezing the traffic into a narrow channel.

The examiner indicated that she should step through, so she did.  She stood at the top of a set of steep steps that led down to the cobblestones of the road.  The other angel followed after her and closed the door.

“Since you’ve taken this exam before, I’ll spare you the long instructions, unless you want them.”

Jarial shook her head to say she didn’t.

The angel looked in both directions and then nodded to the right.  Two large groups of angels were approaching and filled the road from side to side.  

Oh, no!  Jarial’s stomach sank.   I want to do this on my own, but this looks so difficult.  This was her worst nightmare.  The narrow road left no maneuvering room.

“I want to see you navigate through both of those groups and the next two intersections.”  The angel had a piece of parchment on a small board and a quill in his hand.  “If you step off the paving stones at any time, it will be an automatic failure.”

“I’m curious about many things,” she said. “Like this!” 

Lolanial stepped off the edge of the stone dome and fell through the oculus. 

“Lolanial!” Jarial squeaked. She took one quick step toward the edge then caught herself. Carefully she scooted forward until she could look over into the empty space below. 

Lolanial hovered in the air about two body lengths below the opening. As Jarial watched, she spun around in a complete revolution, then ascended back toward the roof. When she reached the edge of the opening again, she stepped gracefully back in the stone. 

“Please!” Jarial screamed, but at that moment the crowd roared and hands pointed as a figure rose up into the air not very far away. 

Lucifer literally shone. Soft white light streamed off his silken shirt as if he had been bathed in spotlights from all directions. Every thread of his clothing gleamed. Even the soles of his shoes glowed. 

He hung in the air and rotated in place as if look around the entire plaza. Finally, he raised his hands to call for silence. 

Jarial stared at the radiant figure for a moment. But as he raised his arms, the spell was broken. With a last glance at Lolanial, she turned and pressed between bodies, heading for the edge of the crowd and freedom. She no longer held her focus and had to squeeze between tightly packed angels. 

This is too slow, she thought frantically. I’ll never make it out. 

Stopping, she closed her eyes as the crowd slowly quieted. Focus eluded her. 

“Draw close, my beloved,” Lucifer’s voice boomed over her head, effortlessly filling the entire plaza. 

Around her, feet shuffled and angels pressed closer, trapping her. She couldn’t move her arms, let alone take a step. Panicked she started to breathe rapidly. 

I’ve got to get out of here! The words screamed in her head.