Friday @ 6:00am
Jade awoke cold and sweaty laying in the fetal position on the old lumpy mattress. Her body was heavy and felt numb. Beads of moisture caused her nightshirt to fit like a second skin. A hoarse scratchy sigh escaped her lips while she cleared her throat. She was tired, disgusted and depressed. As if on cue the spiteful voice that lived somewhere inside of her head declared.
“Imagine that, you have the nerve to be disgusted. You are responsible for all this shit.”
Jade squeezed her closed eyes tighter and tried to squelch the voice into nothingness. She did not want to move, not one inch, so she opened one eye to peek at her clock, but a half-empty bottle of gin blocked the numbers. She closed her eye not wanting to stare at the reminder of her failure not to drink so much on a work night.
From the quiet and safety of her bed, she opened her eyes and stared at the dark bathroom where the shower demanded her presence. Jade opened her mouth to get a breath, but it filled with dank air as the gin evaporated off her body. She sighed as she thought of the nightmares that plagued her, never allowing her to get enough rest. Jade started each day feeling run down and depressed. Rolling over she swooped up the gin bottle and tucked it under her bed. She looked at the clock. It laughed at her as the numbers blinked six AM in bright red.
She wondered how another year passed by so fast, but tomorrow would be her thirty-second birthday and it would be as crappy as the last one. In fact, she could not remember the last good birthday she experienced.
“Oh,” she mumbled to herself as the thought raced through her head so fast that she almost missed it. It was her tenth birthday and she could still smell her father’s Old Spice cologne as he tipped toed into her room, careful not to wake her. She peeked at him and saw him lay her present and card on her dresser. Her father came to her bed, kissed her on her forehead, and whispered “Happy Birthday, Angel.” before turning to leave her room.
She looked at the clock when he left and it was five-thirty in the morning. She heard her parents chatting about what their day would bring. The aroma of grits, scrambled eggs and beef bacon enveloped her nasal passages. She knew that there were scratch biscuits in the oven.
Jade wanted to leap from her bed and join her father at the dining room table for breakfast, but knew that she would get into trouble for being out of bed early. She let her soul go to breakfast table instead. This was something she did as long as she could remember. She often sat with her father and watched him eat. He was a big man. He stood about six foot one and weighed about two hundred and thirty pounds. His face was round and joyful. He picked up the ketchup and poured it over his grits, and then he piled the scrambled eggs on top. The small dish to his right contained some warmed Alga syrup and a biscuit. After he put his egg and grits mix into his mouth, he smiled and then tore his biscuit in half. He wiped it across the warm syrup and his smile became broader. She loved to see him smile. Her father ate his hearty breakfast and as he got up from the table he exclaimed to himself “Come on fat boy, we gotta get going.” Her father was the light of her life. Those days were good. She lay there just a while longer trying to absorb all the good feelings from that one day and maybe she could get through this day.
Jade sat up and peered out of the window. It is going to be a hot nasty day. She sighed and dragged herself to the bathroom door and paused. She turned on the light, closed her eyes and counted to ten. When she opened them she caught sight of the slowest roach as it slid under the crack between the floorboard and the wall. She ran across the bathroom, pulled back the shower curtain and turned on the water so she could drown any roaches that found their way into the bathtub during the night. Jade walked to the mirror and stared at herself. She was looking for any lines or wrinkles when that familiar voice bellowed,
You keep up all this crap you are doing to yourself and one day you will look in this mirror and see a withered old woman. Can’t you see you’re killing yourself?
Surprised by the tone the voice took with her this time because it sounded almost concerned.
She stripped off her nightshirt and stepped into the shower. She allowed the water to penetrate her hair. It was cool as it trickled onto her hot skin. She turned her face up to the shower head and the water washed away all of her thoughts, fears and doubts so she could start the day anew. She leaned back a little to let the massaging stream of water wash away all the gin and any reminders of last night. Jade poured soap onto her sponge and she reviewed her body inch by inch. She stood about five foot six and weighed about one hundred and thirty pounds. Her light green eyes were in direct contrast to her dark brown skin and wavy shoulder length hair. Taunted in school about her looks, the kids used to ask her if she was a mutt. They would ask if she was bind or what was wrong with her eyes. Jade never understood why they didn’t like her and being a Jew did not help her situation any. She did not tell anyone, but her absence from school on Jewish holidays gave it away. They would say, “Are you related to Sammy Davis Jr.” and would laugh at their own wittiness. She knew she didn’t fit in anywhere. She turned off the shower and the painful trip down memory lane along with it.
Jade dried herself off, rubbed on peach lotion to cover the smell of gin and dressed for another day at her sorry-ass job. She wanted to eat breakfast but her stomach was already up in arms about being awake and she couldn’t risk a revolt. Grabbing her keys, she threw her knapsack over her shoulder and headed out.
The Sun, Gods bright flashlight, beamed down on her, she looked up and thought, yeah, I know, that you know what I did last night and I wonder if you can forgive me? As she walked to her car a faint loving voice in the back of her brain whispered,
You are forgiven.
She loved to hear this voice and wished it would come more often. Instead of that cranky old bitch, that bullies her way to the mental microphone on a regular basis.
She got into her car and locked the doors, took a deep breath, put her key in the ignition and pulled out.
The neighborhood was under reconstruction and looked as though it was in the middle of a war. The buildings were falling apart, a few abandoned houses and the same old people that were standing on the corner when she went to bed were still standing there this morning. This she thought as she drove by is the reason to just say no to drugs.
She pulled into the parking deck, parked the car and walked up the ramp to the elevator, she was getting a headache. It was the same ole pain for the same ole job.
Why did she come here day in and day out, but that nasty old voice reminded her?
How would you afford your vices, my dear? Do you believe you could go a night without sipping dinner?
The line was already around the corner. Jade worked as a benefits counselor for the Veterans Medical and it was hell. The patients were always angry at the government and took it out on the employees. She would try to explain and apologize but it was never good enough. One day she thought one day my ship will come in and I am out of here. By lunchtime, she was hurting pretty bad. Her head pounded, stomach cramped and she tasted gin in her throat. She went to the cafeteria and bought burger with nothing on it, which always seemed to help, she drank as much water as she could without becoming sick. A beer she thought that would help the crash. She called the day after the crash because she always felt as if she had been in a horrible car crash.
“Just four more hours of this shit and you are home free, you can make It.” she sang to herself.
She called the next patient… and we have a winner! Said the bitchy old voice, he is going to give you a run for you money and then she cackled I am going to enjoy this. She could tell by this particular patient’s demeanor that he was going to be trouble. He stood there in his khakis and black shirt and a beige hat propped on his head staring down at her with a wicked grin and a look of mischief on his face. She wiped her face with her hands and waited for the abuse.
“Excuse me Lady,” he said
“May I help you sir.”
“Well that is what you are here for isn’t It.” he smiled
Jade sighed and readjusted her chair. “Yes.”
She wanted to run and hide. She could call over another clerk because she knew this guy would be a fool.
“Good, I am glad we got that straight and now we can move onto what you can do for me. I have an appointment and the lady in that other office says I can’t be seen because someone in this office says that I am not eligible anymore. I don’t know what is going on here or who screwed up, but someone needs to straighten it out. I imagine that someone would be you.”
Her stomach began to double up and the dry burger from the cafeteria was making reappearance in her throat. The acid followed the burger up her esophagus with swiftness. She was barely able to get the words "Please give me your Veterans card and I will be able to see what the problem is." Out of her mouth before the food made its way into her mouth. She re-swallowed the food without missing a beat.
"Okie Dokie." he said, got his wallet and pulled out his VA card. Instead of placing it in her outstretched hand he dropped it on the counter and gave her a look like she was too dirty to touch. It was going to be one of those days. Why were people had to be so cruel? This guy was being an ass just for the hell of it.
Now, she was irritated.
She told him “Please have a seat and one of the clerks would be with you in a moment.”
Praying that this would be the end.
He said, “Do you all do the same job?" as me made a circular motion with his finger.
"Well then, I will have a seat, but I do not plan to be passed off to another clerk. I want you to find out what the problem is and I want you to fix it. Do we understand one another?"
She stood up, stared at him for a moment and decided against challenging him to a power struggle. “Sure sir.”
He went over to the waiting area and took a seat. She typed in his name and other pertinent information. The computer displayed his file and she saw where the problem was. She opened her mouth to call the patient over and he was standing over her.
“I want your supervisor!” Jade was confused and it showed.
“Or are you such an idiot that you cannot follow a simple command?”
His voice and presence startled her. She stood up and was about to strike but instead she picked up the phone and called the supervisor’s. Her supervisor rounded the corner and escorted the patient to her office. The familiar rise of food to her throat moved to the nearest bathroom and she threw up the entire contents of her stomach. The word “Shit.” escaped her lips.
“Just one more hour of this shit and you are home free, you can make It.” she said as she looked at herself.
She rinsed her mouth and walked out the bathroom and went back to her office.
The patients seemed come and go in a blur and the next time she looked at the clock it was time to go. Jade packed up her stuff and raced for the door. It was Friday and she was free for the next three days.
She rushed to the parking deck and looked at her beat-up old car lovingly.
When Jade closed her car door, she turned up the music and lit her cigarette. She was heading to the liquor store in spite of the old bag screaming at her in her head. She was going to do what she had to do to shut out all the voices. She wanted a nice quite weekend. Jade decided to go the liquor store near the Barnes and Nobles bookstore because she also wanted to buy book. The voices in her head were getting louder, she had to contend with the evolving awareness that something was going to happen to her. She moved slowly up and down the aisles. The shiny colorful bottles all talking to her, taunting and promising her all the silence she desired. She decided not to buy gin, this way she would not drink the whole bottle. Instead, she would buy something she didn’t really like as much. She settled on Christian Brothers Brandy. Jade smiled at the clerk as she paid for the Brandy hoping the clerk couldn’t see her need for the peace that the brandy would bring. She walked over to the Barnes and Noble bookstore. She browsed and she allowed the deep soothing voice to lead her to whatever book she would buy. It spoke to her with such love and led her to select The Holy Kabbalah and an audiotape on meditation. Satisfied, she paid for her stuff and headed home.
Relieved she closed and locked the apartment door behind her. She enjoyed it when she was able to close out the world. She dropped her belongings on the table and headed for her stereo. Her stereo was her only valuable belonging and she treated it so. She popped in an Enigma CD and cracked open the brandy. She went into the kitchen to retrieve her special drinking glass. After all, it would not be brandy without the beautifully shaped brandy glass. Jade poured the brandy into the glass and marveled at its rich pure caramel color. She sniffed it, rolled it around the glass and took one small sip like experts on the television. She began to move side-to-side as the liquid began to warm her body and the music calmed her tumultuous spirit. She walked around her apartment shutting off all the lights and replaced their brilliance with comfort of her vanilla scented candles. Jade lay across her worn couch, with the dark blue comforter on it. The Intense beats pouring from her speakers filled the room. The music reminded her of something that should be coming out of a temple far, far away where Gregorian Monks would be chanting as they beat their drum and played the cymbals. It spoke to her and she had no idea why.
Hahaiah lay on the floor at the base of the couch where Jade was enjoying the music. He stood ten feet tall. His eyes were made from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. His hair was as soft as silk and flowed to his navel. His arms, fashioned from the soil of the Amazon Rain Forrest, could hold the heaviest star. His legs made from the earth’s core and his skin, from the sands of the Dead Sea. He is an Angel and he is sublime. He can influence and reveal the hidden to these beautiful, mysterious and complex creatures called humans.
Hahaiah often talked to Jade in whispers so he would not frighten her. This being, Jade, was different. She had no idea who or what she was. It was painful to watch her and he often cried out to the Most High to help her but the answers were always the same, it was she who must seek. Hahaiah spoke to her as she slept, worked and played. When she was at her most destructive, he sang the songs of the Angels to her heart, read the poetry of Solomon to her soul and reminded her spirit of days gone by. There were times when he thought that she could actually hear him but she would drowned him out with the liquor. He did not understand her fears but he could feel the weight of her pain. How could any being fear their destiny? These humans should be clawing their way into the presence of their Creator. This particular being was slipping further and further away. Unfortunately, if her realization did not come soon, mankind would not survive. This was humanity’s last chance. Hahaiah remembered when these beings were formed, so small and frail. He did not understand the concept behind them and had seen more than one go mad at the slightest sound of the creator’s voice. They call for the creator when they feel weak but not when they feel strong. They cry out in times of pain, but not in times of joy. They poison their ground and curse their father when their crops don’t grow. They feed their animals’ death and blaspheme their fathers name when they are sick. Hahaiah also saw the beauty in this riddle called Humanity. He could see by their reactions how fantastic it must be to fall in love. To desire something so bad that it would make them act very foolish. To run with reckless abandon, to touch, taste, smell, discover and feel. They were beautiful yet they did not shine with glory. They were covered in the creators grace but rarely acknowledged him. Truly they were an enigma but as any faithful son, he did not question his creator.
He watched as Jade poured glass after glass of intoxicating liquid. She moved slowly to the music, her hands held palm up with her face tilted toward the ceiling. Her gestures were so automatic and he knew that somewhere deep down inside of her, she remembered home. He thought how sad the trade off was, physicality for the state of oblivion. Hahaiah could hear the shofar sounding and knew Gabriel was calling him. He left one of the Hafaza to watch and to record in his absence.
He presented himself palms open to Gabriel and bowed to show his respect for the Archangel. They proceeded to the Garden where other Angels awaited them. Hahaiah gave his report.
“The Word dwells in the human form of Jade. As we all know, Jade has until her thirty-third birthday to awaken and ascend to take her place. If she does not she will continue on as she is now and mankind will forfeit any salvation and continue on its path to is inevitable destruction. I offered to help with this, but he who sits on the throne, says it must be done of her own free will.” Many of the angels began to mumble amongst themselves; the term free will was incomprehensible. Mikha’el stood and looked around the garden; this act in itself was enough to quite them down. Hahaiah acknowledged Mikha’el with a nod and continued
“This means that we will have to work together to get through to The Word. Sama’el is working hard to control this situation. He has his people working hard to keep Jade full of worldly distractions. He is tired of being constrained and would like nothing more than to reign as promised. His two thousand years of compliance is coming to an end. While Sama’el interference can be no greater than ours, his earthly agents can be seen and heard. We have one year complete our mission. If we miss our mark, all hell will break loose and I mean that literally”.
Hahaiah turned and left the garden.
In the garden, Mikha’el called “Saxos, Shekinah, Uzziel, Memuneh!” all of the Angels came forward and bowed. Mikha’el was the most honored and feared of all the Angels. His presence was hard to miss. He stood Fourteen feet tall and he wore his amour constantly. He was always ready for war.