Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Angel in Disguise"

In honor of the birth of Autumn Brin, grandaughter to a fellow writer and dear friend.

Rain beat upon the nursery window. Mother and grandmother smiled as the newborn whimpered, trying to ignore the raging storm and get comfortable in her bassinet. Her eyes were half-lidded as she struggled against sleep.

"Don't fight it, Autumn Brin," the mother said wearily, her own eyes tight with fatigue. The birth had been a long one. It was her first and though this new little person was a joy and a treasure, she wasn't certain she wanted to go through the process again any time soon.

"She'll get to sleep soon enough," the grandmother chided softly. "She has a clean diaper and a full tummy - what else could the little angel ask for?"

The mother frowned in annoyance. Autumn was up every three hours wanting to feed, and mom was fighting to sleep in the short interims of peace. Beautiful, yes. A joy, yes. An angel? Not at the moment.

"You know," the grandmother continued, "My mother used to tell me that little babies were really angels in disguise; that before they were born they served as angels in heaven, and that they don't forget their heritage until they're old enough to tell us about it."

"Ok, mom." The mother was used to the grandmother's wild fantasy stories. At this moment, she was too tired to think much about it.

The grandmother recognized the exhausted state of her daughter and knew not to press. "Why don't you go lie down and I'll bring you a nice cup of hot chocolate." She patted her daughter's arm and left for the kitchen.

The mother sighed and moved to the window, checking again the sureness of the lock. She had checked twice already, but the intensity of the storm had picked up in the last ten minutes and her new mother's acute protectiveness had kicked in.

Lightning flashed. A peal of thunder followed almost immediately. The mother turned instinctively to check on her baby. Autumn Brin's eyes fluttered, but she remained still. "That was close by," the mother thought, a tiny prickle of fear moving down her spine. She had never liked lightning storms. She reached to close the blinds.

Another bolt jolted down from the heavens. The intensity of the flash was so strong the mother covered her eyes with a hand. The concussive shock that followed shook the window. Afterimages clouded her vision and as her eyes cleared she saw the massive oak in the yard falling directly toward the window.

She didn't even have time to scream. The fractured trunk descended too rapidly, dark bark filling her sight.

And then, the tree inexplicably stopped. There was a slight scratching sound as branches scraped the window, but the expected crash of glass and rending of frame did not occur.

The mother stood stock still, seemingly rooted to the floor. What had just happened? Then the fear left abruptly, and she moved to the bassinet.

Autumn Brin lay peacefully beneath the coverlet. Her eyes were fully open now, and the faintest impressions of a smile played about her tiny mouth. A trick of the light made it seem as if her face were aglow. She looked just like...

"An angel," whispered the mother.

The light faded and the baby's eyes closed. Her breathing slowed into the deep rhythmical sounds of sleep. The grandmother came bursting into the room then, panting a bit from the exertion of running up the stairs.

"Oh, thank the Lord, you're both all right! Did you see that lightning flash? Hit the old oak square down the middle. I thought for sure it was going to hit the house when it fell, but that old limb with the tire on it went square into the ground - wedged in tight. The whole thing's just balancing there. It's a miracle no one got hurt!"

The mother glanced down at her sleeping child and smiled warmly. "Yes, it was. An angelic miracle."

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