This short story was inspired by recent events in the life of a friend.

She couldn’t hold back the tears.  Why was this happening to her all over again?  Why did it seem that every time she allowed herself to follow that rainbow, it ended in a pile of fool’s gold?  No matter how life managed to sprinkle in amounts of success, cheer, and happiness, it was simply a small coating on a cake of sheer cruelty.

She couldn’t hold back the tears, and every breath she took was wrought with pain and disbelief.  She couldn’t believe this was happening to her again.  She couldn’t believe she was once again relegated to the role of the strong, brave rock.  The rock against which the weakness of her special someone would lean and find safety and comfort, if only for a brief moment.  When would it be her turn?  When would she find her rock?

And the tears kept coming.  The floodgates of her soul were opened and there was no way to stop it now.  She knew that after holding them back for so long she had no choice but to cry.  Cry until the reservoir of emotion was depleted and breathing was no longer a struggle.  She knew she would find peace in the physical exhaustion of dealing with her pain, but for now, all she could do was cry and cry and cry.

Her name was Angel, and at the moment she felt anything but angelic.  She managed to smirk ever so slightly when she reminded herself of the rhetorical question, “If the angels watch over us, then who watches over the angels?”  And that was the irony of her situation, the ironic story of her life.  Angel was always there for everyone else, but who, in the end, was there for her?

The tears subsided as she allowed her emotions to turn to anger.  She was enraged as she thought of how unfair life had been to her, especially when she went out of her way to be fair and honest with everyone she met.  She was there when her brother hit rock bottom with his addiction.  She helped turn his life around and was solely responsible for the fact that he was still alive.  She was there when her best friend found out she was pregnant.  An unwed mother doesn’t get much support in the Bible belt, but this young woman received undying support from her Angel.  She was there when her lover’s parents tragically passed away, nursing the wounds of guilt he felt for being the one to buy them the tickets for that fated flight.

Her brother survived rehab and finally finished school.  Her friend found the courage to trust men again, and was on her way to finding happiness with the new man in her life and her baby boy.  Her lover never quite recovered, becoming reclusive and cold.  Still, she was there for them all, but once again left to be an afterthought in the stories of their lives.  Where was her rock?  Where was her angel?  When would her knight in shining armor arrive?

The anger faded to despair as she thought of living her life without ever finding that someone special she so deeply deserved.  And once again the tears came, washing away the anger, at least temporarily.  What was it about her that allowed people to get ever so close and intimate, yet never to the point of commitment?  Was she destined to be the woman everyone loved but no one was in love with?  “Why, why, why?” she sobbed, each breath more painful than the last.

She would cry herself to sleep that night, a routine with which she was all too familiar.  She would try to find solace in the fact that her cat on the bed meant she was technically not alone.  But no one felt lonelier than she did at that moment, and it would take all the angels in Heaven to make her feel she wasn’t alone.  “If the angels watch over us, then who watches over the angels?”  Who was watching over her?

Before she drifted off to sleep, a sleep she greeted with open arms, she was reminded of something she learned as a little girl in Catholic school.  Sister Rose Bonaventure always reminded the children of her fourth-grade class that we are all put on this earth to fulfill God’s will, and angels exist to assist us with our tasks.  Gut feelings, intuition, and dumb luck are all forms in which the angels look over us with care, love, and grace.  This is their divine duty, and their reward is found in the faith of God’s children, for every time someone utters the words “Thank God”, God is quick to share the credit with His supporting cast.

God looked down on Angel in anticipation of the moment when she would realize her reward for being the woman that she is.  God looked down on His child, this woman tortured with pain, doubt, and despair, and He knew her time would come.  For it is God who watches over the angels as they watch over us, and His plans always serve a specific purpose no matter how mysterious they may be.

Angel allowed her eyes to close for the final time that lonely evening.  On her cheek, a small circle of salt was all that was left from that last tear that trickled down her face.  All she wanted to do was sleep.  God looked down on His child and planted a pleasant dream in her mind.  He smiled for He knew her time would come and that soon her angel would be revealed to her.  For through it all, Angel never lost faith in Him.

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