This time when I landed, I brought the tips of my wings together just as the last rush of wind and bellowing mist whipped around my ankles, releasing me from the blinding beam of light that guided me safely back to the world of the living, the world I missed, and the life I still longed for.
Just as my feet hit the carpet below, I arched my back, decreasing my momentum almost instantly, bending my knees upon impact. A pleasant tingling sensation radiated from the core of my being and dissipated slowly as I folded my wings tightly against my back and dropped my shoulders.
Ah, it feels good to be back. But did it?
I closed my eyes and pictured Cannon, his lips parted, the deep green of his eyes reflecting the shock and fright of one who just died, a hollow soul, confused and anxious, seeking answers, needing closure as he begged, “Ashley, don’t leave me, please. Ashley, wait!” Those last words still echoed in my ears just as his last kiss lingered on my lips.
“Cannon, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” I told him before I was pulled away. “I want to stay with you; you know I do, but it’s not allowed. I can’t be your guardian angel anymore. Now, stay here in your line, and everything will be okay,” I pleaded with him. “I promise. I love you, Cannon. I’ll always love you, just remember that.” The space between his eyebrows wrinkled with those words. His lower lip quivered as he blinked hard with disbelief, and as I tried to take a breath and failed, the image of Cannon in my mind’s eye blurred and faded away.
He knew there was nothing I could do, that I couldn’t stay with him. My former G.A. told me it was not allowed. With my next blink, my last memory of Cannon returned. “Ashley, your relationship with your former assignment must be severed here,” my ex-angel said, his eyes lacking emotion, his beard stiff and unyielding as it rubbed against his chest when he spoke. “There is no other choice. You know that. You have a new responsibility,”
Cannon’s eyes shifted between me and the bearded angel. Cannon opened his mouth like he was trying to take a deep breath, but he didn’t speak. I knew exactly how Cannon felt; that was me not too long ago. He wanted to cry, to voice his frustration and the anger that comes with dying too soon and being yanked away from the only world you know. And, of course, I made it worse when I, the girl he loved, suddenly turned away from him, crossed my wings, hard, and disappeared.
Cannon, I’m so sorry. I love you so much, but I had to leave. You must understand that by now. And by now, I was sure he’s discovered that souls, just like angels, can’t cry, that it’s physically impossible, but then again, there was no reason for him to even try to cry anymore. Right now, he was getting a proper Welcoming, and with that, he’d forget all about me. I made sure of that when I shuffled him into line number two and turned my back to him from line number three just before I was sucked away and sent back down to earth.
Unlike me, Cannon, the only man I’ve ever loved, would ripen into an old soul, having spent hundreds of years observing life below, learning all there is to know about the world and human behavior before eventually earning his wings. And if by some miracle, some divine coincidence, we were to ever meet again decades or even centuries from now, face to face, guardian angel to guardian angel, he wouldn’t be the Cannon I fell in love with, the reckless, unpredictable boy who had a surprisingly soft spot in his heart for mentally disabled and terminally ill children.
No, in time, my Cannon would eventually transform into a nonjudgmental, accepting being full of love for all people with every ounce of romantic love he ever had for me squeezed out of his conscience.
A true guardian angel, he wouldn’t succumb to my need to love him, to touch, to try to find a way for us to be together forever. Nope, my fairy tale was over; I was doomed to spend eternity aching for a man who would never be able to feel the same way about me even if I could find him again a hundred years from now.
I can’t love you anymore, Cannon. I can’t. I can’t think about you anymore. Focus on my new assignment, watch and wait – that’s what I had to do. There was no other choice; I had to concentrate on my new assignment, but where was my new assignment? He couldn’t be more than ten feet away.