The Assignment

Aggie settled back contentedly in her pillowish chair as she scanned the screens floating before her. Aggie felt today as she felt since she died, perfectly healthy. The tired old body she had inhabited when she’d walked amongst the living was good and vanished. No more burning kidneys, arthritic knees and hips or shaky limbs.

Almost absently, she reached towards one of the screens and waved her hand in front of it. The image that came up was of a busy sidewalk on a city street. Aggie pointed her finger at the screen and waved it around in small circles until she had the magnification she wanted. A part of her assignment was hurrying along the street, trying to catch a bus coming up behind her. She was supposed to miss the bus but Aggie had moved a few of those obstacles that made her late. She was about to change this young woman’s future. As the woman approached the bus stop, she slowed down to a fast walk, realizing she was going to make it after all. Aggie watched, her smile widening as she watched the first part of her plan come together. Coming through the door of the bus was the other half of her assignment. Oh my, Aggie thought, he was a fine-looking young man. This was going to be fun.

            There was a most perfect collision. The young man was looking to his right, the woman to her left. There was a full frontal clash between the two and the woman started to fall. Based on her glimpses into the man’s life, Aggie was counting on his chivalrous and gentlemanly behavior so she could leave out the meddling and he didn’t disappoint her. He caught her just in time. She’d have fallen backwards, probably quite painfully, considering the force of the collision. Aggie watched them gaze into each other’s eyes meaningfully for just a moment, then the woman jumped back, brushing her skirt down and backing up. She muttered her thanks and hustled onto the bus, turning at least twice to see if he was still there. And he didn’t disappoint the young woman or Aggie, for that matter. He stood and watched the bus pull away.

Aggie clapped her hands happily. It had worked beautifully. Such chance meetings were difficult to arrange and usually took years to set up. If the young woman had missed the bus, a few years of hard work, hope, and a gentle meddling would have been for naught.

As she leaned back in her chair, she sighed with pure contentment. If the living had any idea how wonderful it was to be dead, they’d all want to be here. Her life had been long and full and filled with love, and now that is was over, she’d given a most wonderful task. Here in the afterlife she was one of many whose job it was to find parents for special children. Aggie’s current assignments, Jerry and Janine, had been chosen by Sean. Aggie had never actually seen the faces of the children she helped, but she felt them. Sean appeared to her only as a small bright stroke of light. He rarely spoke to her and when he did he used telepathy. Aggie almost always knew what he needed though. She suspected that is why she’d been chosen for the job.

Sean had been more special to Aggie than other children she’d helped because his need was so acute. Unlike some of the other children, he’d been born many times already but hadn’t survived. With an unspoken kind of desperation he’d communicated to her how important it was for him to find the right parents. He’d been waiting a long time for the right match and had been watching Jerry and Janine since they were born. Sean frequently buzzed around her excitedly white she worked. It was as if he just couldn’t wait to begin again.

Aggie was always amazed at the children’s optimism in the face of the odds that lay against them. These special children were chosen for reasons that only her boss knew. Sean’s spirit was loving, playful, and tireless, and he was well loved by all he’d worked with before Aggie. Knowing that Sean would always get another chance helped those who tried before her to have hope. His unfailing optimism was infectious, his spirit so pure that Aggie sometimes flet that she had no choice but to feel how he felt.

What little Aggie did know of Sean’s previous lives saddened her. Each of the bodies Sean inhabited had been flawed in ways which she didn’t know about. Aggie had recently learned grudgingly from Sean that on his last trip to earth, he’d had some sort of chemical imbalance in his brain. His parents had not been able to help him and he’d died in a place other than his home. Sean’s spirit lived on though, and would continue to live on until he found that one special place where his spirit could be at peace. Aggie’s boss may not have control over his children’s physical beings, but he made sure their spirits were beautiful.

Sean had made an appearance while she watched her handiwork. Aggie smiled at his happy buzzing, then with a blink, he was gone. One of the screens showed Janine at home, by herself. She was sitting quietly in her favorite chair with a book in her lap. Aggie adored the fact that Janine loved to read, but at that moment she watching Janine staring into space. That collision was on her mind. On another screen she was also watching Jerry. He was in his office but wasn’t working. He was standing and staring out a window at the city below him. To Aggie’s delight, his mind was on the collision.

Wiggling her finger at another screen on the far upper corner, she found Jerry’s car and his mechanic. With a waving motion of her hand, she made sure Jerry would continue to take the bus to his office. This was not her favorite method of meddling, but she suspected the mechanic was fair and knew Jerry could afford it.

As time moves quickly where Aggie lives, it was soon morning again for Jerry and Janine. She sat watching them both get ready to set out for the day, her hands quietly clasped together. This was one time she hoped she wouldn’t need to interfere.

Janine boarded the right bus while fervently glancing around her, finally settling in a window seat at the back of the bus, disappointment etched on her face. After the bus stopped a few times, Janine’s disappointment in not seeing Jerry showed keenly and Aggie felt her sadness. Finally the bus reached Jerry’s stop. By the time he got on, though, poor Janine was staring out the window. Jerry’s view of Janine was blocked by a very large man taking up two seats in front of her. Thinking quickly, Aggie decided that the only way for jerry to see Janine was to move that man. With a gentle downward movement of her palm, she lightly twisted his intestines a bit. Nothing more or less than he was used to, she sensed, but it was enough to get him off his seat and off the bus before the bus drive could move again.

Jerry was moving dejectedly towards the back of the bus, just passing the large man’s seat when he bolted up to get off the bus. Jerry was a small man, but the large man knocked Jerry off balance momentarily, spinning him around, and he landed in the seat right next to Janine. Aggie laughed out loud, thrilled that at least that part had gone perfectly unplanned.

Sean appeared then, buzzing around even more excitedly than usual. After a few spins around Aggie’s head, he finally rested serenely next to her head. Apparently he wanted to watch his future parents fall in love. When Sean was happy he changed colors and he was currently a beautiful shade of lavender. Lavender faded to pink, then to blue, then continued on into the most beautiful colors she’d ever seen and couldn’t begin to name.

For hours, Aggie and Sean sat and watched Jerry and Janine bringing their lives closer together. Aggie wasn’t sure how much time elapsed on earth during the time she watched them, engrossed with their journey together. They watched movies, saw plays, and went to dinner at lovely, romantic restaurants all over the city. There were many intimate moments, with kissing, lots of hand holding, and long walks through the city on moonlit nights. They were falling silly in love with each other and it was heavenly to watch. Sean’s colors grew more intense as he watched. She guessed he was waiting, knowing it was approaching his time to leave.                                                                                                                                                     

Sean suddenly grew more excited and was buzzing excitedly around the screen where Jerry and Janine were walking hand in hand towards Janine’s front door. When they stropped to kiss, Sean moved quickly around the screen, then winked on and off. This was his signal for volume, something Aggie was uncomfortable with. She figured it was intrusive enough to meddle as she did, although it was always for good, so she comprised by never using volume. Trusting Sean’s instincts, she closed her fingers around an invisible knob and turned.

As Jerry and Janine walked into her apartment, all was silent except for the ticking of a clock. Jerry stood back by the door, watching Janine move to hang up her coat. She then moved to Jerry and held up her hand to take his coat, smiling. He took it off, but not before pulling a small black box from his pocket. Smiling nervously, he quietly asked Janine if she’d marry him.

Even with the volume on low, Janine’s happy cry seemed to vibrate through the room and right through Aggie. Hope filled her old woman’s heart. What came next was also something she did not care to hear or watch. Sean understood and let her turn down the volume, but not the picture. Aggie did make it fuzzy though. Sean may be a spirit but he was still a child.

Something most amazing happened then. Sean appeared to her in the form she knew he would eventually take. He was a beautiful boy, dark haired like Jerry, with bright blue eyes like Janine’s.

“It’s time for me now, Aggie. I’ve never been able to do this before. Isn’t it wonderful?” he said to her.

Tears rolling down her face, Aggie said to him, I love you Sean, my boy, and I’ll be here if you ever need me again. I’ll be watching. We’ll all be watching.”

“I love you too Aggie. Thank you”

Unable to stop her tears, Aggie watched as Janine went into her bathroom. She was standing at the sink smiling at her reflection with a hand on her stomach. Sean had once again landed one earth and it had only taken one loving encounter.

Aggie checked in again a few days later. About a year in earth time she supposed, which would make her friend about three months old. There on the screen was a whimpering infant. Chuckling she waved at the screen and the baby stopped. He looked straight at her and smiled an infant’s toothless grin. The light in that baby’s eyes belonged to her sweet Sean. There was no mistaking that. And the smile told Aggie that his soul had finally found his peace.