Just Enough Rain

1. The Funeral

I wasn’t surprised when God showed up for Mom’s funeral. They’d always been close.

He slipped in the back during my eulogy in the form of a stranger. I don’t think that any of the various relatives noticed Him. For all they knew, it could have been some old flame of hers come to pay his last respects.

After the service, as the various relatives were clearing out, I thought someone should say something, so I approached Him. He was standing off to the side of the room, sipping a glass of water.

“It was good of You to come,” I said, taking care to capitalize the Y.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” He said, and sipped His water again. “She was a great lady, your mom.”

“She was.” It was a bit awkward. I hadn’t spoken to Him since that failed prophetic vision the summer I turned 15.

“Do you remember the first time she had cancer?” God asked.

Did I remember? “Of course.”

“Do you know what she said to Me, when I sent down a dozen angels to carry off her sarcomas one by one? She said ‘I need to check with my oncologist before I try any alternative medicine.'”

I didn’t laugh, but I smiled. “So what did You do?”

“What else could I do? I waited for her to check with her oncologist and then I sent down a dozen angels to carry off her sarcomas one by one.”

“Thanks for that,” I said, and meant it. Another two decades.

“You’re welcome,” said God. “Least I could do, really.”

We stood in the awkward silence for another few seconds.

“So,” God finally broke the silence, “about that…”

“Yeah?” I asked.

“I was thinking about bringing her back to life.”

My knees buckled and I nearly pitched over. God held out a hand to steady me. “You were WHAT?” The spot He’d touched my dress began to glow faintly.

 “I was thinking about bringing her back to life.”

 “But, why?”

 “Don’t you want me to?”

 “Of course I do, I mean, God, what I wouldn’t give for another day with her, but.” I stopped, noticing what I’d just said, and blushed. “Sorry.”

 “Oh that?” said God. He dismissed it with a wave of His hand. “It’s not a big deal. You’re not really taking My Name in vain if you’re actually talking to Me.”

 “I mean aren’t there other miracles You should be doing?” I couldn’t believe I was saying. Mom always told me I’d gotten twice the family argumentative streak, but was I really going to argue with God about His miracles? Particularly when He wanted to bring my mom back to life?

 “Should? Like what?” asked God. He seemed genuinely curious.

 “I don’t know: ending world hunger?”

 “You already have all the food you need to end world hunger.”

 “Sure, but if we just give the food away, it collapses local agricultural prices.”

 God shook His head skeptically. “Is that really true, though?”

 “You don’t know?”

 “Economics isn’t really My forté.”

 “Okay, how about bringing peace to all humanity?”

 “Every time I get involved in politics,” said God, with a touch of regret in His voice, “it goes completely off the rails.”

 “There must be something!” I said, still not quite believing that I was having this argument.

 “Oh, there is, I’m sure. Probably a lot of things. But this is an easy one. I liked your mom. We were close. I miss her already.”

 “So do I,” I agreed, trying as hard as I could not to ask about the afterlife.

 “So I’ll bring her back from the dead,” concluded God, His eyes shining. “Easy.”

 “Why are you even asking me, then?”

 “Oh, I wanted to make sure it was okay with you. You weren’t relying on an inheritance or something like that?”

 “No!”

 “Just wanted to check,” He said, then snapped His fingers.

 From inside my mom’s plain pine coffin, I heard her begin to move.

 “And by the way,” added God on His way out, “if you ever want to talk again, let me know. You’ve got my number, right?”

 I did, indeed, have His number. But I wasn’t paying attention to Him anymore. My mom had just sat up out of her coffin and was looking around, about as surprised as you might be if you woke up at your own funeral.

 “Annie!” she shouted at me. “Go get me a dress!”

 “Mom?” I couldn’t quite believe it.

 “These funeral clothes have absolutely no backside. You still keep that emergency dress in your trunk, don’t you?”


2. Honi the Circle-Drawer

My mother used to tell us the story of Honi the Circle-Drawer. “He’s our ancestor,” she’d always say. “You can look it up in the Talmud.”

Long ago, in the land of Judea, there was a great drought. When the month of Adar had passed and rain had still not fallen, the people came to Honi, who was beloved by God like a member of His own household, and said “We pray to God for rain, and none comes. But you, Honi, are beloved by God like a member of His own household. If you pray, surely it will rain.”

Honi prayed for rain, but no rain fell.

Thereafter he went outside and drew a circle in the dust and stood inside it. “Master of the Heaven and Earth,” he said, “Your people have turned their faces toward me, who You love like a member of Your household. Therefore, I swear this oath by Your holy name: I shall not leave this circle until You have mercy on Your people and grant their prayers for rain.”

Thereafter, rain began to lightly trickle down, just enough to fulfill the oath, but Honi was not satisfied.

“Master of Heaven and Earth,” he said, “this does not grant the prayers of Your people. I shall not leave this circle until You send enough rain for them to water their crops and fill their cisterns.”

Thereafter, it began to rain in great torrents, soaking everything, tearing the roofs off of houses, sending great rivers through the streets. It seemed like the Great Flood had come once again. But Honi was still not satisfied.

“Master of Heaven and Earth,” he said, “I did not ask for a harmful rain either, but a rain of benevolence and blessing.”

Shortly thereafter, the rain lightened and began to fall in a standard and appropriate manner. Honi, finally satisfied, left his circle.


3. Phone Calls

After God brought my mom back from the dead, they were closer than ever. For a while, they talked all the time, but eventually they settled on a long phone call every Saturday afternoon, which drove cousin Miriam up the wall.

 Mom wouldn’t say what exactly what they talked about. “He’s very busy,” she’d say vaguely, “under a lot of stress.”

 “You could call Him sometime,” she would add, when I pushed her. “He always asks about you.”

 I did think about calling Him. But then I thought about that failed prophecy, the whole Conversation we’d have to have, and ugh.

 For the most part, though, Mom had other things on her mind. “You know,” she’d say, as if I hadn’t heard it a hundred times before, “one of my great regrets was dying without getting to meet my grandchildren.”

 “Mom,” I’d say, “you’re still alive.”

 “Only because of a miracle, dear,” she’d say, “and we mustn’t count on miracles. What happened to Brett, anyway? I liked Brett. Good Jewish boy. And a doctor!”

 “Brett threw plates when he got mad, Mom. And he wasn’t a doctor; he was a nurse practitioner. There’s a difference.” And he never let me forget it.

 “If he can prescribe medicine, he’s a doctor in my books!”

 “It wasn’t going to happen.”

 “Well, when is it going to happen, Anat? You’re thirty eight years old, you know. Your ovaries aren’t getting any younger! And after 35 fertility–“

 “I know about fertility rates, Mom. I’m just busy with the new job and the new city and I haven’t met the right person yet.”

 “Listen,” said Mom. “I’m being serious.”

 “You think I’m not being serious?”

 “Sweetie, listen. Your whole life, you’ve been struggling just to get your feet under you. It’s not your fault, but you’re here, you made it. You’ve got a good job, you’re in a new city, you’ve even got a condo you love.”

 “You say that, but–“

 “But nothing. I know it’s not perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. I’m telling you, all the things that you wanted to do, everything you’ve been putting off until you got your life together, whether that’s getting married or having kids or, I don’t know, writing a novel, I don’t care. Whatever it is, for you, now is the time that you get to do it.”

 I thought about it. I thought about the kids I wanted to have with Brett before he started throwing plates. I thought about the Rimbaud notebooks in the back of my closet. I thought about that time when I was 15, the prophecy, and then I needed to stop thinking.

 “Of course,” Mom continued, “even if it isn’t your only goal, you can still have kids. I’m not saying you have to choose. We have feminism now! You can have it all!”

 “You’re just saying that because you want grandkids.”

 “Anat. I’m 68 years old. Of course I want grandkids. Take it as a given.”

 “Can’t you just put in a word with your pal God? He helped Sarah conceive when she was 90.”

 “Anat Bethesda Meagel! Don’t joke about this!”

 “I’m not joking, Mom. He already brought you back from the dead.”

 “Well, honey. You know what they say: God helps those who help themselves. So maybe you should start helping yourself. If you get what I mean.”

 “Mom, don’t be gross.”

 “I’m just saying.”

 “Mom, I love you, but I’m hanging up now.”


 That weekend, she called again.

 “Hi Mom, it’s not a great time, I’m in the middle of cooking dinner. Can I call you back?”

 “Oh, that’s fine, I just wanted to let you know that I brought up your problem with God and He said He’d see what he could do.”

 “My problem? What problem?”

 “Your problem finding the right guy, of course.”

 “You told God? Mom. Isn’t He busy ruling the heavens and the earth?”

 “Well, He said He’d be happy to help.”

 “Of course He did! Look, it’s just not a good time for me to be dating right now”

 “Annie, it’s never a good time for you. Just tell me you’ll keep an open mind, okay?”

 “Mom!”

 “Okay, okay. I can tell that I’m not wanted. Cook your dinner, cook your dinner. Love you.”

 “Tell Dad I love him,” I said. And then “I love you too.”


4. The Butterflies

I was fifteen when I saw God for the first time.

I mean, it wasn’t the first time, not really. I’d heard Mom talk with Him on the phone. And He’d been at my bat mitzvah, of course, sort of nebulously hanging around the back in the form of a golden cloud. And, of course, in the broad sense, God is everywhere, and every person is His image.

 But none of that really mattered. Because when I was fifteen, I saw God for the first time.

 It was morning and I was walking up the hill to school and thinking about my crush on Andy Tanaka and then He was there, right in front of me, in the form of a pillar of fire, in the angle of a beam of light, in the fullness of the creation and endurance of the world. I staggered and fell to the ground and the entire time I couldn’t take my eyes from the vision of His form.

 He said: “Hello, Anat.”

 But when God said “Hello, Anat,” I didn’t just hear “Hello, Anat.” Instead, here is some part of what I heard: Every name that I have ever had, every name that I would ever have, every part of my nature fundamental and superfluous, every woman who had ever had my name, all of my mothers and their mothers and the whole of my family back to the years before we even had names, before we even were people. Every implication and meaning and every echo of my name Anat, from the incense-filled temples of Canaan to the streets of occupied Paris.

 I heard all this and so much more than this at once, echoing through my head. I slapped my hands over my ears, trying to shut it out, but all of the implications and interpretations and understandings just kept reverberating, louder and louder.

 God didn’t seem to notice. Then He said: “I’m worried about the butterflies.”

 When God said “I’m worried about the butterflies,” I heard the fragility of a butterfly’s wing, the twists of air against it as it flies, the shapes and storms that those twists became, the caterpillar that the butterfly was, the pupation that created it, each and every mark on its wings and the chance and evolution that put it there, the image of the butterfly to the human eye and its beauty and poetry and triteness, the great swarms of monarchs resting in the branches of my thought, each meaning that the words might take, each way I could have turned them into scripture and into prophecy, every misinterpretation, all the cults and all the heresies that might spring up from them–people praying to butterflies, breeding butterflies, eating butterflies as sacrament–the ancestral tree of life, the fundamental genetic connection between me, as I live (the divine image) and every butterfly (every one its own divine art) as they lived, a thousand other things, a million, the bonds between all life everywhere, all of it living and all of it dying, the bonds between the stars and the sun and the Earth that I could feel spinning underneath me, that I could feel rocketing through space, the whole of the universe, even beyond the edge of our event horizon, the entire eye of God.

 I screamed.

 “Anat,” said God, concerned, but I couldn’t hear Him. Still screaming, now crying, I tried to stand, stumbled, tried to stand again, and when finally at the least I’d scratched and scrabbled to my feet, I ran. Not to school, not back home, but just away, out, as far away as I could get. I ran until I reached the edge of town, and I kept running, into the cool damp of the old municipal forest.


It was already dark by the time my mother found me there, curled up in a tree stump and still crying myself hoarse and wet and gross.

 “Anat!” she yelled and ran towards me.

 “Mom,” I tried to say as she hugged me, but no sound came out.

 “What happened?” she asked, and then looked into my eyes.

 I tried to tell her. I really did. But I couldn’t fit it into any words I knew.

 “Was it God?” she asked. “Did He say something to you?”

 I nodded.

 She hugged me again.

 “I’ll talk to Him,” she said, in a voice that made ‘talk’ sound like murder. “This won’t happen again.”

 “Mom?” I finally managed to say.

 “Yes, honey?”

 “Does it ever get easier?”

 “It does,” she said. “But it isn’t ever easy.”


5. The Light Rail

I was on the Blue Line, reading The Guermantes Way–the new translation–when I noticed him–her? them?–sitting across from me, beautiful.

 It was their skin, I think, that caught my attention. Strong, muscled, but still soft as a feather. I sucked in my breath and, without thinking, bit my lower lip. There was no question of going back to The Guermantes Way. I just sat, and looked at them, beautiful, God they were beautiful.

 Then, just as we left Elmonica/SW 170th, they stood up–tall, broad-shouldered, the slowest curve of their chin–and unfurled their wings of holy light, almost the length of the entire train car.

 “Oh no,” I said, but I couldn’t look away.

 “HARK,” they said, their voice filling the entire railcar. “BE NOT AFRAID, FOR I AM A MESSENGER OF THE LORD YOUR GOD.”

 Some people were fumbling with their phones, but most of them just gawped, open-mouthed. I felt the cold-warm rush of embarrassment and I wanted to hide under my seat almost as much as I wanted to keep staring.

 He’d sent an angel. Of course He’d sent an angel.

 The angel turned to a slightly paunchy man–nice curly hair, though–in glasses, khakis and a polo shirt. “DAVID ELIAS RUTENBERG,” it said.

 David blanched and looked for all the world like he’d just had a dream about taking a final exam in his underwear. “Y-yes?” he finally managed.

 The angel pointed to me and I tried my very best to blend into the seat cushion. “THIS WOMAN, ANAT BETHESDA MEAGELE, IS SINGLE. SHE HAS A GOOD JOB AND SHE’S EMOTIONALLY MATURE AND READY FOR A COMMITMENT. YOU SHOULD ASK FOR HER NUMBER. SO SAYETH THE LORD.”

 David stared at me and swallowed hard. His face was covered in sweat.

 “TAKE HER SOMEWHERE NICE, NOTHING TOO FANCY, IN THE $20-30 RANGE,” continued the angel, just when I thought that this couldn’t get worse. “ARGUE ABOUT WHETHER TO SPLIT THE CHECK BUT THEN PRETEND TO GO TO THE BATHROOM AND SECRETLY PAY.”

 David, still sweating, gave me an appraising look that made me instantly aware of every wrinkle and sag. “She’s, uh” he started.

 “YES,” said the angel, turning their magnificent gaze upon me. “HURRY IT UP.”

 “She’s a bit old for me, isn’t she?”

 The angel snapped their gaze back to him. “WELL YOU’RE NO SPRING CHICKEN YOURSELF, DAVE.”

 Dave looked like he’d just swallowed a toad. “I-is that also the word of G-G-God?” he managed.

 “NO, DAVE, THAT’S JUST A SIMPLE OBSERVATION THAT ANYONE COULD MAKE. YOU’RE NOT EXACTLY GOING TO LAND A SUPERMODEL.”

 “Uh, well,” said Dave, and pulled the emergency brake.

 After we’d all filed out of the halted train–Dave had taken off running–I sat on the bench of the Merlo/SW 158th stop and started to cry. The angel sat down next to me, their shining wings filling the shelter awkwardly.

 The angel reached out and gingerly patted the back of my head. “THERE THERE,” they said.

 “Am I really,” I paused to sniffle back a wad of snot, “that horrible?”

 “DAVE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE’S MISSING.”

 “It’s just even when God Himself gets involved, I still can’t get a date!”

 “IT’S NOT YOU.”

 “I know, but, I mean–” I sniffled a little bit more. “Men are terrible.”

 “OH HONEY,” said the angel, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA.”

 I looked up and remembered all over again how beautiful they were.


6. Phone Number

“Okay, listen,” I said, when God picked up the phone. “You have to ask me before you do something like that.”

 “It’s good of you to call to thank me,” said God. “So when’s your date with Dave?”

 “I’m not going on a date with Dave!” I yelled, “because Dave is a humongous jerk.”

 “I’m sure you’ll warm up to him. He’s a good guy once you get to know him. Eventually this will just be your meet-cute story.”

 “We’re not going to have ‘a meet-cute story’ because he said, and I quote, that I was ‘a little old for him.'”

 “He’ll get over it.”

 “Then he pulled the emergency brake just to get away from me!”

 “Oh My Me,” said God. “That didn’t go as planned.”

 “How did You not already know this,” I asked God, “aren’t You supposed to be omniscient?”

 “Oh sure,” said God, “but I like to leave things up to all of you sometimes. It’s fun have a surprise or two.”

 “Please refrain from using my love life as Your entertainment.”

 “No promises.”

 “So, speaking about my love life–” I said, trailing off. My heart was racing. Was I really going to do this?

 “Oh?” God sounded curious.

 “Can I get the number of the angel that You sent?”

 There was a silence at the other end of the line.

 “Can I get the nu–“

 “I heard what you said,” said God. “I was just very surprised.”

 “I wanted to ask them on a date.”

 “I figured.” God still sounded, not exactly angry, but not definitely not happy.

 “So–?”

 “So, just let Me clarify: you want Me to give you the angel’s phone number so that you can ask them on a date?”

 “More or less.”

 “That seems like a lot to ask.”

 “I would have said that sending an angel to fix my love life was a lot!”

 “Well, your mom was really worried about you.”

 “You mean she was worried about grandchildren.”

 “You know how she can get.”

 “Oh, yeah, absolutely.”

 “So, about this phone number thing–“

 There was a pause. “Yes?” I asked.

 “I don’t think I can do that.”

 My heart collapsed. Damn it. And just when I’d found someone I liked.

 “Why not?”

 “Well, the last time we tried it, it really didn’t work out.”

 “I’m not talking about having kids! I’m just talking about a dinner date!”

 “You’re just talking about a dinner date, but your mom is talking about grandkids.”

 “Sure, but–“

 “Look, we really shouldn’t risk it.”

 “We can use protection!”

 “I don’t even think that angels have phones.”

 “Okay, God, but You’re the one who has to tell my mom why her daughter is still single at 38.”

 God paused for a long time. Finally, He spoke.

 “I’ll think about it.”


7. I’m sorry

Eight days later God called me back.

 “Okay I’ve been thinking,” He said.

 “Oh?”

 “And I think that I owe you one.”

 “You what?”

 “I owe you one. From that time.”

 My skin suddenly went cold and my stomach immediately reminded me of the precise burrito that I’d had for lunch.

 “So we’re talking about this now?” I asked.

 “I just want you to know that I’m sorry,” said God, with genuine contrition in His voice.

 “No,” I said. “No, I’m not ready to deal with You saying ‘I’m sorry.'”

 “But I am,” said God. “It was too much for you, and I knew it would be too much for you, but I hoped…”

 “No!” I said, almost yelling into the phone. “You’re not sorry! I’m the one who’s sorry! You had a message for me, a mission, and I was young and stupid and I didn’t want to think about it and now it’s gone, it’s too late. I read about the butterfly sanctuaries, about the monarch die-offs, and I know… that I could have…” I could hear the words, I could feel God’s meanings in my mind, even twenty two years seven months five days later, but I still didn’t know how to say them.

 God didn’t reply.

 “Do You know what it’s like? Do You know what it’s like to have had a purpose, a meaning in your life, a divinely-appointed task for you and you alone and you’ve already fucked it up because you were fifteen and you were scared and you didn’t understand?”

 “I know,” said God, because of course He knew. I could feel His reticence, holding back the fullness and truth of His words.

 “What am I supposed to do now? It’s one thing if I was just like everyone else, wondering if life had a purpose, if I had a purpose. But I’m not. I haven’t been like everyone else for a long time. Because I know that my life had a purpose, I’m absolutely certain of it, more certain than anything, and I know with the same certainty that I lost my purpose and I’m never getting it back.

 “Anat,” said God, and I could hear the echoes of His voice, that first time He said my name. “That’s not what your purpose is.”

 I was stunned. God didn’t say anything, either. We stayed on the phone in silence for a moment and then another moment.

 “What?” I finally managed to croak out.

 “I didn’t make you just so you could tell people that I was worried about the butterflies. Or anything else.”

 “What?” I croaked again.

 “I don’t create things for only one reason. I certainly don’t create people for only one reason. I created you in My image, with the capacity to dream and think and create and convince and destroy on your own. I made you, like everyone else, to find out what you’d make and what you’d become! To take a person and turn them to only one thing would be…” He stopped talking, seemingly reaching for a word, before finally saying “Well, I wouldn’t do that.”

 “Then why?” I started to ask.

 “Because your mom was telling Me about you,” said God, “and I wanted to meet you. So I said hello. I was just trying to make conversation and I’ve given you some kind of permanent existential crisis. So I am sorry. That’s true even if you’re not ready to deal with it yet.”

 I didn’t say anything. Then I just said “okay.”

 “So here’s the angel’s number,” said God, and told me. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”


8. First Date

The angel and I met at a tapas bar right off Waterfront Park. It was a summer evening; we sat outside. I was wearing that yellow sundress that probably shows a bit too much cleavage. The angel’s wings lit up the entire block.

 “So,” I said, staring at the angel’s gorgeously defined collarbone. “What do you do for fun?”

 “PERFORM THE PRECISE WILL OF THE ALMIGHTY, PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO HEALING AND RESCUE,” said the angel.

 I looked at their face, which was impassive.

 “I mean, other than for work?”

 “EXECUTE THE TASKS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN ME.”

 Okay, so this isn’t going well. “So do you ever dance on the head of a pin?” I ask.

 The angel looked at me. Their eyes! “GOD HAS NOT COMMANDED ME TO DO SO.”

 “So, any other interests?”

 “GOD’S COMMANDMENTS, PARTICULARLY WITH REGARD TO HEALING.”

 I looked at the angel, then looked down. I was not going to be able to make a smart decision while I was looking at that jawline.

 It felt like pulling off a band-aid.

 “You are so, so hot,” I finally said to them, “but I don’t think this is going to work out.”

 On my way out, I stopped by the front desk and paid the bill. It was the least I could do. Anyway, I was pretty sure that angels don’t carry money.


The next morning, I got a text from the angel.

 REALLY ENJOYED LAST NIGHT, it read. WANT TO DO IT AGAIN SOMETIME?

 I ignored it. A few hours later, I got another text.

 WHAT’S UP? it said.

 I left my phone behind when I went out to the gym, and when I got back I found that the angel had sent a series of escalating messages in all capital letters.

 IS EVERYTHING OKAY?

 WHY AREN’T YOU RESPONDING?

 WHAT IS THIS EMOTION WHEN YOU WON’T TEXT ME BACK? IS THIS WHAT HUMANS CALL “ANXIETY?” IT IS VERY UNSETTLING.

 I AM CONFUSED. DID I ERR?

 I SEE NOW THAT I MUST HAVE ERRED. I AM NOT USED TO ERRING. GENERALLY I ONLY ACT ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL, WHICH IS ABSOLUTE. YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THE CONFUSION.

 I ENJOYED SEEING YOU. DESPITE MY ERRS, I HOPE TO DO SEE YOU AGAIN.

 ANAT? ARE YOU GETTING THESE?

 I’M SORRY FOR MY ERRS.

 I HAVE DISCUSSED THIS MATTER WITH MICHAEL AND GABRIEL, I NOW UNDERSTAND THAT I WAS “BORING” AND NEED TO “HAVE INTERESTS” AND “ASK YOU ABOUT YOURSELF.” I APOLOGIZE. I WILL DO BETTER NEXT TIME.

 NOT THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE A NEXT TIME.

 I UNDERSTAND NOW THAT I SHOULD NOT HAVE DISCUSSED THIS MATTER WITH MICHAEL AND GABRIEL. THAT WAS A VIOLATION OF YOUR PRIVACY AND I APOLOGIZE.

 BUT I REALLY WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

 ANAT?

 I scrolled through the phone, and sighed. They really were trying. And Mom was always saying I’m too quick to judge. And they were really hot.

 Fine, I text back. But you’re paying.


9. Second Date

For our second date, we met at the Korean place in the strip mall near my condo, because their broiled fish is amazing and if things went wrong again, I wouldn’t have to take the train home.

 By the time I showed up at 7:05 the angel was already there, wings furled this time. When I stepped in the door, they stood up out of the corner booth and waved.

 “ANAT! YOU CAME! I’M OVER HERE!” They were wearing some boot-cut jeans and a white T-Shirt that read “I knelt before Man on the Eighth Day and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” and fit very tightly. Mrs. Pak, the waitress–she’s the only one I’ve ever seen working here, and she always remembers my order–caught my eye and gave me a big smile and a thumbs up.

 Without the wings, wearing a T-shirt, in the dim light, the angel almost looked like a human, but not quite. There was still something about them, something a little too perfect.

 “I WAS TOLD TO ‘DRESS DOWN’ SO I COULD ‘KEEP IT CASUAL.'”

 “It’s a good look on you.”

 “THANK YOU,” replied the angel. Was that a blush? They gestured to the booth seat and I slid in.

 “SO,” said the angel, “WHAT’S GOOD TO EAT?”

 “What isn’t good to eat here?”

 “IT’S JUST A BIT CONFUSING.”

 “First time eating Korean food?”

 “YES.”

 “Well, why don’t we start you with bibimbap?”

 “IT’S ALSO MY FIRST TIME EATING.”

 “First time eating what?”

 “ANYTHING.”

 Oh, I told myself. Right.

 “I AM USUALLY SUSTAINED SOLELY BY THE WILL OF THE DIVINE.”

 “Oh?”

 “BUT I AM ALSO VERY EAGER TO TRY BIBIMBAP.”

 “My friend Katherine says that bibimbap is the perfect food, because it has a little bit of everything. It’s a pretty great first food to eat.”

 “BUT WE’RE JUST TALKING ABOUT ME AGAIN. TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.”

 Of course, I thought. Now it’s awkward again.

 “Look,” I said after an awkward moment. “I’m sure that someone told you that you have to ask about me, and it’s not exactly bad advice, but you can’t just make open-ended demands like that. Ask me a real question about something you’re curious about.” Someone needed to drive this date and it certainly wasn’t going to be the angel.

 “IT’S TRUE,” said the angel. “GABRIEL DID TELL ME TO ASK ABOUT YOU AND NOT TO TALK TO MUCH ABOUT MYSELF.”

 “It’s okay to talk about yourself!” I said. “I want to know about you, too. But let’s try this again. Ask me a real question, about something specific that actually you want to know.”

 “YOUR BOOK,” said the angel. “ON THE TRAIN. YOU WERE READING A BOOK. WHAT WAS IT?”

 In Search of Lost Time! “Only the greatest novel ever written!” I started in. “Proust is writing this novel where it seems like not a lot happens, but it’s about how ultimately we live in our own memories, but also that those memories are imperfect and incomplete and ultimately cannot contain the joy of actual lived moments in time. So in a way the lack of action–and the self-absorption of the main character–is fundamentally underlining the premise of the book.”

 “INTERESTING,” said the angel. “HUMANS EXPERIENCE TIME SO DIFFERENTLY FROM ANGELS. PLEASE, TELL ME MORE.”

 “Are you sure I’m not boring you? I studied French Lit in college and can go on and on and on about la Recherche.”

 The angel cocked their head sidewise and looked at me. “WHAT WAS THAT?”

 “What was what?”

 “YOU SAID THE SAME NAME, BUT IT SOUNDED DIFFERENT.”

 “Oh, yes, sorry, la Recherche is the French name. Or, I mean, it’s a part of it. The full original name is À la recherche du temps perdu. The English titles are ‘In Search of Lost Time’ or ‘Remembrance of Things Past.'”

 “WHY DID YOU SAY IT IN FRENCH?”

 “Oh, I don’t know, just habit I guess? When I’m talking about the translations I use the English names, but when I’m talking about the original I use the French.”

 “SO YOU’VE READ THE ORIGINAL?”

 “Of course! I wrote my senior thesis about it!”

 “BUT IF YOU’VE READ THE ORIGINAL, WHY WOULD YOU NEED A TRANSLATION?”

 The angel’s eyes were wide and curious.

 “It’s–uh…–hard to explain.”

 “OH NO! IS THIS A SENSITIVE TOPIC? I HAVE VERY CLEAR ADVICE TO AVOID SENSITIVE TOPICS.”

 “No! I mean, it’s not that sort of thing. It’s just, whenever I read a new translation, if it’s any good, it gives me some insight into the novel that I never had before.”

 “WHY? ARE THE WORDS DIFFERENT?”

 “Sort of? Like I said, it’s hard to explain,” but the angel is so curious about it that I keep trying to tell them anyway: “There’s no such thing as a perfect translation, right? Because languages aren’t all the same. So every translator has to make choices about what words to use, which show the reader how the translator themselves read the original text, as opposed to other translators. So I read the new translations as a way of getting a deeper understanding of the text, because I get to read it through the translator’s eyes, which are different than my own.”

 “HUH.”

 “Or sometimes I just get really mad about some specific verb they got wrong– I mean! Not that they got wrong! It’s more that they had an interpretation that I wouldn’t…” I trailed off, embarrassed.

 The angel looked thoughtful for a moment, or maybe bored.

 “I’m sorry, most people probably don’t to spend their date on a lecture about the semiotics of translation.”

 “NO!” said that angel. “YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. THIS IS FASCINATING. IS THIS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO KNOW ANOTHER LANGUAGE?”

 “What do you mean?”

 “WELL, I ONLY SPEAK ONE LANGUAGE. SO I’VE NEVER REALLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT IT’S LIKE TO KNOW MORE THAN ONE.”

 “You’re an angel! How can you only speak English?”

 “I DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH. OR FRENCH.”

 “What do you mean, you don’t speak English? Then how are we talking?”  

“I SPEAK THE TRUE LANGUAGE OF ALL CREATION. I SPEAK THE LANGUAGE THAT WAS SPOKEN IN THE TIMES BEFORE THE GREAT TOWER, THE LANGUAGE WHICH EVERY BEING OF GOD’S CREATION CAN UNDERSTAND WITHIN THEIR VERY SOULS.”

 I thought for a moment, and I realized that, even though I understood their words, the sounds that the angel was making weren’t anything like English or any other language that I knew. It was amazing, and I was about to say something, to ask some question about this miracle that’s happening right in front of me, but Mrs. Pak was already there to take our order, and it seemed rude to make her wait.


The angel looked askance at the sizzling bowl of bibimbap in front of them.

 “I CAN EAT THIS?”

 “Yeah, just… pass it over here.” I pulled the paper cover off my chopsticks, stuck them into the bowl, and mixed vigorously. The angel watched me until I passed it back to them.

 The angel lifted up their chopsticks and split them apart uneasily.

 “Do you need help with your chopsticks?” I asked.

 “I AM ENDOWED WITH THE ENTIRE GRACE OF GOD,” said the angel. “I CAN USE CHOPSTICKS. I AM MERELY SAVORING THE MOMENT.”

 “Try it! I want to see what you think.”

 The angel took a deep breath, nabbed some bulgogi, bean sprouts, and rice with their chopsticks, and stuck it awkwardly into their mouth. Their eyes went wide. They tried to say something, but all that came out was “MHRGWLD OR ICSOUS.”

 I laughed. “Chew and swallow, then talk.”

 The angel’s eyes sparked with realization. They chewed and swallowed, then spoke. “THIS REALLY IS DELICIOUS!”

 “Isn’t it?”

 “IT HAS ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT TEXTURES AND FLAVORS, BUT IT’S NOT CONFUSING. THEY ALL WORK TOGETHER.”

 “Try some of the banchan.”

 “ARE THESE CUCUMBERS? THEY’RE AMAZING.”

 “Cucumber kimchi, yeah. And those are the fishcakes. They’re even better.”


“So, tell me something about yourself.” We’d been talking about food for almost twenty minutes; time to change the subject.

 “THERE’S NOT MUCH TO TELL, REALLY. LIKE I SAID BEFORE, MOSTLY I PERFORM THE EXACT WILL OF GOD THE ALMIGHTY, PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO HEALING.”

 “Okay, sure, that’s your job. But what about your interests? Your hobbies? Do you ever do anything just for you?”

 “WELL,” said the angel. They looked off to the side, embarrassed.

 “Well?” I asked, leaning in.

 The angel leaned over and cupped their hand around their mouth. “DON’T TELL GOD I SAID THIS,” they began. I could feel their breath on my cheek. “SOMETIMES, WHEN I’M ON MY WAY TO PERFORM DIVINE HEALING, LIKE, IF I’M IN A HOSPITAL…” They trailed off, but stayed leaning towards me with their hand cupped.

 “Yes?”

 “SOMETIMES I HEAL OTHER PEOPLE IN THE HOSPITAL. NOT JUST THE ONES I WAS SENT TO HEAL. BUT OTHER PEOPLE WHO NEED IT.”

 Oh! My heart. I looked up into their eyes and smiled. They smiled back–that mouth!–and then they looked away.


10. Fourth Date

After the fourth date, we were making out on my couch. I held up a hand. “Hold on a moment.”

 “IS SOMETHING WRONG?” asked the angel, and stopped.

 Mom always said nothing before the fifth date, and the idea of taking off my clothes in front of this embodiment of physical beauty… But Mom also told me to “help myself,” and it had been quite a while since… Anyway.

 “Do you want to take this to the bedroom?” I had to look away to ask, but I looked back after.

 The angel stared at the carpet. “OH, WELL, I MEAN, THAT IS…”

 I felt a rush of embarrassment. “It’s all right if you don’t want to! I don’t want to pressure you.”

 “NO,” said the angel. “IT’S NOT THAT IT’S JUST. YOU KNOW. I REALLY LIKE YOU.”

 The rush I was feeling was no longer embarrassment.

 “LIKING SOMEONE ELSE IS STRANGE. I HAVE ALL THESE NEW FEELINGS. I’M ANXIOUS THAT YOU WON’T LIKE ME IF YOU SEE ME WITH MY CLOTHES OFF.”

 “Oh honey,” I said, and stroked their hair. “You have nothing to worry about.”


The angel’s wings lit up my bedroom as bright as day. “I guess there’s no option for lights out with you,” I quipped, and they looked puzzled. “Just a joke,” I explained.

 “I COULD LEAVE MY SHIRT ON,” said the angel. “I CAN HIDE MY WINGS UNDER A SHIRT.”

 “It’s fine. You’re beautiful this way.”

 God, they were beautiful. God.

 God! How was I going to explain this to God? I looked at the angel, fussing with their pants anxiously, their soft hair falling down in ringlets. God was a problem for tomorrow.

 “COULD YOU TURN AROUND?” asked the angel, “I DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE ME TAKE OFF MY CLOTHES.”

 I turned around and began to get undressed myself. The angel’s light, somehow, became even more intense.

 “OKAY,” said the angel, and I turned around.

 Their human guise–clothes, but also skin and eyes and everything–lay in a pile beneath them. What remained was a great cloud of a thousand different hands, in each hand a different eye, in each eye a different name of God, all wreathed in light and holy fire.

 “THIS IS ME,” said the angel, with a voice that seemed to come from everywhere.

 I stepped forward, took one of the hands, and kissed it. “You’re beautiful,” I said, and meant it.


The next morning, I woke late and the angel was already out of bed. I heard noises in the kitchen and made my way out to check.

 The angel was in the kitchenette, making breakfast. They had their clothes and skin back on, but were wearing them loosely, with a few spare hands and eyes poking out. Not wanting to disturb them, I padded softly across the room and curled up on the couch to watch them.

 “ANAT,” said the angel when they finally noticed me. “I HAVE MADE YOU BREAKFAST.” They gestured to a stack of pancakes nearly four feet high.

 “I see,” I said, and smiled.

 “I WAS NOT SURE HOW MANY OF THESE PANCAKES A HUMAN MIGHT REQUIRE,” said the angel, “SO I USED TWO BOXES. I HOPE IT IS ENOUGH?”

 I slipped off the couch and over to the angel. I wrap my arms around their back and kissed their hair. “It’s lovely,” I said, “but I really only need three.”

 “OOPS,” said the angel, and turned to kiss me back.


11. The Rest of the Story

It was a Thursday night, alone in my pajamas with delivery Pad See-Ew, and I’d just ignored two calls from God. So I called my mom.

 “Anat!” she said. “Are you okay?”

 “What kind of question is that?”

 “Well, you never call unless something’s wrong. I’m always the one who has to call you.”

 “Mom! That’s not fair!”

 “It’s true. The truth is extremely fair.”

 “I’m calling now, aren’t I?”

 “Did you get fired? Was it because you had an affair with your boss? Are you pregnant with your boss’s lovechild? Is his wife suing you for custody?”

 “Mom! No! I’m fine! I promise!”

 “If you’re fine, then why are you calling?”

 “Can’t I just call to talk to my mother?”

 “Anat, as much as I would love that to be true, and as much as you would love for me to believe that was true, we both know that it’s just not true.”

 “Mom! This is why I don’t call more often!”

 “Okay! Okay! What is it that you wanted to talk about?”

 “Do you remember that story you used to tell?”

 “What story? The one about your father and the Roosevelt Elk–“

 “No, no, the one about Honi. And the rain?”

 “Oh, yes, that one. He’s our ancestor you know. It’s in the Talmud.”

 “Yeah, I remember. Anyway, it was a slow day at work today and I thought ‘Hey, I wonder if I can look up Honi online?'”

 “So you’re saying you were fired. For slacking on the job.”

 “Mom! No! It’s fine. Even the lawyers– just let me finish.”

 “Finish! Finish! I’m not stopping you.”

 “Anyway, I found this site, Sefaria–it turns out that the entire Talmud is online now, amazing, right?–and I found the whole Honi story. Why didn’t you ever tell us the rest of it?”

 “The rest of it? What do you mean?”

 “There’s a whole second part, about the rain continuing to fall, and flooding all of Judea. And since you’re not allowed to pray for a miracle to stop happening, Honi can’t fix it, until he goes up to the temple and sacrifices a bull in a gratitude offering and then the waters recede. And then, after that, they almost excommunicated him! For being disrespectful to God! Even after he saved them twice.”

 “Oh, is that how it goes?”

 “Mom!”

 “Anat, I’m an old lady. I can’t remember all the stories I told you, even if they are stories about our ancestors.”

 “You’re not old. You’re sixty-eight.”

 “I’m a card-carrying member of the AARP. I am officially an old lady and you can’t take that away from me.”

 “Anyway, I wanted to ask you–why didn’t you tell us the rest of the story? When we were kids? Why only tell us the first half?”

 “Oh, honey, I don’t know, really, it’s just a story–“

 “But it’s not a story, is it? You always said that Honi was our ancestor. And you’re friends with God right now. I bet you wouldn’t even have to stand in a circle to get Him to make some rain. So I don’t think it is just a story. I think that it actually happened.”

 “Okay, fine, it probably happened. Why does it matter, anyway?”

 “Because I want to know why you didn’t tell us the rest!”

 “Why is this a problem for you? Did your therapist say that you have an attachment disorder and it’s all my fault?”

 “Mom!”

 “Look, honey, I truly don’t remember. If I had to guess–and it’s really just a guess–I probably didn’t want you to be scared for me. You were always so timid, and you would listen in on God and me. I didn’t want you to think that we were going to get flooded, or cursed, or excommunicated. Who even knew that Jews could excommunicate people?”

 “Don’t change the subject.”

 “I’m not trying to change the subject! I just don’t understand why this is such a big deal for you.”

 “It’s just. It’s so hard. And I don’t think I ever knew how hard it was. For you. Or for me.”

 “What’s so hard?”

 “Being friends with Him.”

 Mom didn’t reply for so long that I thought she’d dropped the call.

 “Mom? Are you there?”

 “It is hard,” she said. “But it’s worth it.”

 “Is it, though?”

 “Oh yes. Honey. You don’t get it.”

 “What don’t I get? He honestly seems kind of high maintenance.”

 “He’s just lonely.”

 “How can He be lonely? He’s God! He’s literally worshipped by more than half the planet!”

 “Well, sure. A lot of people worship Him. And some of them love Him. Some of them might even obey Him, although I’m skeptical. But does anyone listen to how He’s feeling? Do any of them spend quality time with Him? Do any of them call Him just to catch up?”

 “Still–“

 “Still, nothing. Sweetie. He’s lonely. He needs friends and, better or worse, we’re what He’s got. I’m not saying it isn’t hard. It is hard. We might get flooded. We might get excommunicated. And, regardless, a lot of other people won’t understand. But it’s important. And He cares about us– about you. He tries His best.”

 “I know, I just–” and stopped. I wasn’t ready to talk to God or my mother about it.

 “So who is the guy?” asked Mom.

 “Who is what guy?”

 “The guy you met. The one you’re not mentioning.”

 “Mom!”

 “What?”

 “Did God tell you something?”

 “Oh, no. God didn’t tell me anything. He’s ‘respecting your privacy,’ believe it or not. But I can still tell. A mother always knows.”

 “I have not ‘met a guy!'” Which was technically true.

 “It’s fine; it’s fine. Tell me when you’re ready.”

 “Good night, Mom.”

 “Good night, sweetie. I love you.”

 I sighed. “I love you too. Say hi to Dad for me.”

 I hung up, and looked at my phone. I pulled up my contacts. My finger hovered over God’s Name. But I clicked the phone off and set it down. Not tonight, I told myself. I’d tell Him soon. But I wasn’t ready.


12. Translation

“CAN I ASK YOU A QUESTION?”

 It was a lazy Sunday in bed a couple of weeks later. I was nestled into the crook of the angel’s arm, still half-asleep. I smiled. “‘kay.”

 “WHAT’S IN THOSE BOXES IN THE BACK OF YOUR CLOSET?” One of the angel’s hands came flying out.

 My notebooks. I buried my face in their shoulder. “Uuuuuuuuugh.”

 “IF IT’S TOO PERSONAL–” started the angel, but I cut them off.

 “No, it’s fine, it’s just, you know…”

 “WHAT DO I KNOW?”

 I sat up. “Old dreams that I’m never put the time into.”

 “WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?”

 “It’s embarrassing.”

 “IT IS GOOD FOR HUMANS TO DREAM. IT IS EXTRAORDINARY THAT YOU CAN.”

 “Not if you don’t follow through.”

 “EVEN IF YOU DO NOT, YOU WILL HAVE GROWN AND LEARNED IN THE ATTEMPT.”

 Ugh. “Can you can it with the positivity for a second?”

 “SORRY. I DIDN’T MEAN TO–“

 I reached out took the angel’s hand; interlaced our fingers. “It’s fine; I’m sorry. I’m just being touchy.”

 “THIS IS CLEARLY IMPORTANT TO YOU.”

 I didn’t say: Is it, though? If it was really that important, wouldn’t I have made time for it?

 “WHAT IS IT?”

 “What is what?”

 “YOUR DREAM. IN THE BOXES.”

 I sighed. “It’s poetry.”

 “YOU’RE A POET?”

 “No! I mean, they’re not my poems. They’re translations.”

 “OH! OF La recherche?” The angel very carefully pronounced the French.

 “No, I’m not… Even I’m not ambitious enough to try to translate that whole thing. Anyway, it’s not poetry. No, it’s Rimbaud.”

 “WHAT IS RIMBAUD?”

 “Rimbaud is wild! He’s this brilliant French poet from the 1890s. He starts writing amazing poetry when he’s only fifteen. By the time he was 20 he’d run away from home, had a torrid abusive affair with Verlaine–who was also a brilliant poet–completely changed the face of poetry in western Europe. Then he swears off of writing, tries to become a soldier, ends up representing a French coffee concern in Ethiopia, just in time tragically die young of cancer.”

 “THAT’S A LOT.”

 “I know, right? Anyway, he’s been translated about a million times, but I after I moved back to the US, I was looking for a way to keep my French sharp so I started to translate some of his poems. And there are really some ways that translators have gotten them–“

 “WRONG?”

 “No, they’re not wrong, but just some of the implications in French, I don’t know–“

 “I SEE.”

 “It was a dumb idea anyway. I’m not a professor or a poet. It’s not like anyone is going to be interested in my translations.”

 “I’M INTERESTED IN THEM.”

 I looked at the angel. “Why? Can’t you just read the original poems in your perfect language?”

 “I CAN. BUT I WANT TO READ THEM LIKE YOU DO. THROUGH YOUR EYES.”

 … Really?

 “I WON’T IF YOU’RE NOT COMFORTA–“

 “No, it’s okay.” I stood up and walked over towards the closet in bare feet. “I’ll get you one. But they’re really not very good!”

 “WE’LL SEE.”

 “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” as I hand them one of the black-speckled composition books.

 “I WON’T.”


I came home from work that Monday and the angel had all my notebooks spread out around the living room–each one with a hand or two leafing through it–along with my Collins Robert Unabridged Dictionary (three hands on that one, with another circling around) and a bunch of other hands scribbling angelic glyphs on the remains on my printer paper.

 Thud! I dropped my bag. “What?!”

 “ANAT!” said the angel. “YOU’RE BACK!”

 “What on in G–” I stopped myself.

 “I’VE BEEN READING YOUR TRANSLATIONS,” said the angel, gesturing to the chaos. As I looked at them, the hands looked up, made eye contact, and waved. “THEY’RE REALLY GOOD.”

 I held my face in my hands. “Oh no.”

 “I MEAN IT,” protested the angel.

 Not helping. I didn’t look up. “I know you do,” I muttered into my palms.

 “LIKE THIS ONE,” said the angel, holding up a notebook, “ABOUT THE BOAT. YOUR TRANSLATION ISN’T JUST REFLECTING THE ORIGINAL MEANING, BUT IT’S ALSO DISCUSSING THE DISCONNECTION OF THE POST-MILLENNIAL GENERATIONS FROM THE IDEALS AND VALUES OF THEIR PARE–“

 I walked over and hugged them, mostly to get them to stop talking.

 “I’M SORRY,” said the angel. “I GOT CARRIED AWAY. I CAN CLEAN THIS UP.”

 “It’s okay,” I said. “This is just a lot.”

 “YOU’RE GOOD AT THIS, ANAT. YOU REALLY ARE.”

 I blushed but didn’t say anything.


13. Good News

Six months later, I called my mom on Friday after work. The angel was in the kitchen, working on dinner, listening in.

 “Anat-honey!” she said, “is everything all right? You haven’t been in a car accident have you? If you were in a car accident make sure to get–“

 “Mom! I’m fine. I just wanted to share some good news.”

 “Good news? Are you finally ready to talk about that guy you’ve been hiding?”

 “Yes, Mom. Fine! You were right. I met someone.”

 “You met someone? Oh, honey! That’s fantastic.”

 “Mom, you don’t have to fake surprise. I know you’ve known for months.”

 “Sweetie, I have been waiting for this moment for years. I am going to savor it and you’re not going to stop me.”

 “You know what? That’s fair. Savor away.”

 “So tell me about him.”

 “Well, they’re very considerate.”

 “That’s great. Is he Jewish?”

 “Yes,” I said.

 The angel looked at me: “technically i’m not,” they whispered.

 “More or less, anyway,” I added.

 “Is he a doctor?”

 “Yes, they’re also a doctor.”

 The angel’s look intensified.

 “Technically not, but–” I began.

 “Sure sure,” said Mom, “whatever they call them these days.”

 “Anyway, I think I’d really love to bring them down to meet you; they’ve heard so much about you.”

 “Oh, honey, that would be lovely. How about next month? You could both come down for Pesach!”

 “Great. I’ll book tickets.”

 “Anat? Is there something you’re not telling me?”

 The angel, overhearing, made a gesture with their hand. “it’ll be okay,” they whispered uncertainly.

 “All right, Mom, you’re right. I have some more good news.”

 “More good news? Really?” She sounded skeptical.

 “But you have to promise me that you’ll be the one to talk to God about it.”

 “Sure? Honey: What is it?”

 Here it comes. “Well Mom,” I said, “you’re going to be a grandmother a little sooner than we expected.”

 “Oh honey! That’s great to hear. But–” She cut off.

 “But?”

 “I don’t mean to complain.”

 “What is it?”

 “Isn’t this all a little sudden?”

 What was I going to say? That I thought I’d missed my life’s purpose and then it turned out I hadn’t? That I spent my whole life too worried that I was going to have to run out into the desert and be a prophet to form attachments, and now I was in deep, serious, committed love with an actual angel? It was all too much, so I just made a joke. “Well, you know what you said about eggs after 35.”

 “I know, I know, but I just want to make sure you’re making the right decision here. How well do you really know this guy, after, what, six months?”

 “Eight months.” Had it really only been eight months?

 “Eight months is not a long time, sweetie.”

 “I know, Mom. But just… Please trust me. Sometimes things just fit together.”

 “I bet things fit together real well…”

 “Mom!”

 “Sorry, honey. I’m just so happy for you.”

 “I’m happy for me too.” It felt weird to say it, but it was true.

 “But you should really be the one to tell God.”

 “Mom!”

 “What? He hasn’t heard from you in forever.”

 “It’s just… it’s not that simple, okay?”

 “What is it?”

 “Well, it’s just. It’s not exactly that I met a guy.”

 “What do you mean? Is this one of those new gender things?”

 “No– I mean. Not exactly–” the angel was looking up from the stewed eggplant to give me a confused expression, “It’s not not that, but it’s more that– they’re not really–“

 “Anat. It’s okay. Take a deep breath and tell me.”

 “They’re not really a guy. They’re not really a human at all. They’re an angel.”

 “Oh, honey. That’s so sweet of you to–“

 “Mom. I mean it literally. They’re literally an angel.”

 …

 “Mom? Are you there?”

 “Anat. No jokes.”

 “It’s not a joke.”

 “Do you really think that this is a good idea?”

 “I mean, I know that there were–I know. I know. But I really love them. And they really love me. And it just feels right.”

 “Okay. But, Anat, you have to tell Him.”

 “Mom! You promised!”

 “Look. Honey. I know. I know it’s hard. But He should hear it from you. And I think He might surprise you.”

 “You think he might surprise me? Mom, the last time this happened He literally flooded the entire world.”

 “That’s from the Book of Enoch! It’s apocryphal!”

 “That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!”

 “Even if it did, honey. This is different.”

 “Is it?”

 “Well, Anat. I don’t know. Are you going to use this baby into a weapon?”

 “What?”

 “Are you?”

 “Of course not!”

 “Because that’s what happened last time.”

 “Mom…”

 “Are you going to start a cult with her? Are you going to sacrifice her? Are you going to treat her like she’s anything less than human?”

 “No! Mom!”

 “Because if you’re worried about what happened last time–“

 “That’s not what I meant.”

 “You’re going to love this baby?”

 “Yes!”

 “Then it’s different than last time. If ‘last time’ even happened.”

 “Still… He told me not to.”

 “He tells lots of people not to do lots of things. And most of us do them anyway.”

 “Still.”

 “Plus, He likes you. You’re friends. And He trusts you.”

 “Mom, I just don’t know if I can–“

 “You can. You’re just scared. And that’s okay. You have to tell Him, though. I love you. But I’m not the one you should be talking to.”

 “Mom–“

 “I’m hanging up now. I love you. Your father says hi.”

 I looked at my phone. I looked over at the angel, who was busy wrestling with the dutch oven. I reached out and opened my contacts, scrolled down until I found His Name.

 I squeezed my eyes closed. I could hear the rain outside; beating gentle and arhythmic against the window. I reached out and made the call.

Special thanks to ‪Alastair Zaraza, Rabbi Naomi Steinberg, and Lia Swope Mitchell, PhD, for their expertise and advice on various topics.

About the Author

P H Lee

P H Lee lives with the rose bushes behind an old walnut tree down a dead-end road out past the highway. Their other writing has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy. Their hobbies include cooking and translating Classical Chinese texts.

Find more by P H Lee

6 thoughts on “Just Enough Rain

  1. Alexis says:

    I don’t know much about Jewish mysticism, and usually I’m not big on romcoms, but I love this so, so much. It’s sharp and snappy and delightful.

  2. Endeon Ekpo says:

    This is beautiful, funny and amazing story

  3. Yes! I absolutely love the conversations and appearances of God in this. Fabulous job. It’s rare to see it done right without “Biff and Bob” angels or cupids on clouds.

  4. Jeff Reynolds says:

    Beautiful, wonderful, funny and heart warming story, P H! Really great rhythm to it, your dialogue is brilliant. Totally loved this piece!

  5. Bruno Azevedo says:

    I feel like I had to read this story at this exact moment in my life . Weird

  6. Amanda says:

    such an incredible blog, Great and funny story. Thank you so much for sharing your story. keep sharing, your positivity is infectious.

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