Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: The Guardian

Here’s my #FridayFlash / Author Aerobics: Emotion Challenge piece. I’m a bit early this week, but J.P. still beat me to the punch.


The Guardian
By T.S. Bazelli

I say hello to Mr. Newman as he walks down the street, newspaper tucked under one arm, paper coffee cup in the other. He brushes past me, without acknowledgment, so I keep on walking. The crowd parts as if I were a pebble in a stream, but the people here do not return my gaze, though I know them all by name.

They walk with their heads down, or looking straight ahead but not really watching. They into their cell phones, listen to their IPods. Going, always going.

“Hello Cassandra, big interview today right?” I say tilt my head and ask, but she’s too busy fishing through her purse for her keys. Around the corner is a newspaper stand. Joe’s tucked into the wooden booth, smoking a cigarette and listening to the radio. “I’d put my money on the Yankees today.” Of course, he never listens.

Someone clips my shoulder, and a few soot stained feathers flutter to the ground. They’re quickly cut to pieces under the tread of leather soled shoes, stiletto heels. I tuck my wings closer to my body, get them out of the way. They’re already in bad order. There’s a patch where the feathers were caught in an elevator door the other week when I wasn’t paying attention. I can still feel the tingling pain of it, of raw skin not yet healed. I should really take a break, but there’s no one to relieve me, and I’ve got a job to do.

The corner of First and Main St. is where I usually hang out. Something’s always bound to happen. I crouch near the edge of the sidewalk, watchful, and I don’t have to wait long. Sophia, beautiful Sophia, who was born into the world on a full moon night, is walking towards the intersection. She’s arguing on the phone with one of her client’s.

I watch as one well heeled foot steps into the road. She doesn’t notice that the light is still red. Her cheeks are flush with anger, the colors matching. I move fast and there’s no time for politeness. I knock her out of the way, as a car speeds past. Sophia falls flat on her back, onto the sidewalk, out of danger.

Her dark brown eyes are wide. For a moment I think she see’s me, but who am I kidding? It’s just an idle day dream. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” I murmur out of habit.

She gets up, her feet unsteady, her eyes unfocused, as she searches the pavement for her scattered things. I fetch a tube of red lipstick from the gutter, and place it beside her wallet. She gathers it into her purse, and smooths her hair as she stands.

No one else says a thing. No one else comes to help. She’s still shaking as she continues down the road, and I follow her until she disappears into the safety of the her office building, just to make sure she’s OK.

There’s a park at the end of this road. In the middle of the day there are few people around, and I can stretch my wings out wide. I almost fill up the width of the parched grass. I flap my wings a few times, and send dust scattering as I ascend.

I soar above the city, and my wings ache, as I hold myself aloft, as I search the streets for those that need help, as I pick out those that need saving. I wonder if anyone even cares. Not a single person looks up.

38 Comments

    1. Actually I thought that he was just lonely since he had no one to talk to, or to acknowledge his presence. I guess yes, acceptance too, because he can’t really do anything about it. Thanks J.P.!

  1. Not entirely sure where this was going as far as an emotion goes, until I saw that J.P. had acceptance listed. I am kinda on the fence whether it counts as an emotion or is more or less a state of mind you feel. Primary emotions are fear, anger, happiness, sadness, etc. Acceptance is harder to pinpoint.

    BUT a good story. It’s an interesting spin on the trope, because we see a guardian to only one person [in general], so it’s good to see the tradition broken.

    1. I imagined a world where there aren’t enough angels, and something’s happened to them. Maybe the population of angels is fixed, while the population of humans keeps rising. Or maybe, younger angels don’t want to do the job anymore. Or maybe something more sinister is at play, and all the angels are dying one by one. Those are ideas bigger than a flash piece though. Hmm!

      1. Agreed! You can make a novel out of these ideas. 🙂

        I don’t think this particular angel has acceptance in his/her heart. I picture a female complexion, so I say that she wants to be seen, to be acknowledged. Great flash!

  2. What a lovely story. I like the complexity of the guardian’s emotions; he wants to be noticed, but at the same time recognizes (or *accepts*) that he can’t be, won’t be, probably shouldn’t be. It’s not quite heartbreaking, but something close to that, you know? Something we all feel in real life, I think.

    1. Yes! That’s exactly what I was trying to do here. It’s all part and parcel of the angel’s job, and even though he cares, and he reaches out, he knows he can never have anything in return.

  3. See, I had a different interpretation, through reading the whole story. For some reason, I saw the guardian angel as a city pigeon through most of the story. Which made it really fun for me to read… thinking of an omniscient, benevolent guardian pigeon who just wants to be accepted by her/his human charges. 🙂

    Posted mine, today, which I think you’ll all enjoy! The Steed and the Page Boy. 🙂

    1. LOL you know that thought did cross my mind! I wondered if I should mention Angel at all, or just imply it. Though, that would be one mighty big city pigeon, filling up a park and all. hehe but you never know… the chemicals in the water these days…

      1. That was the part where I realized this was not, in fact, a pigeon at all. In context, though, most of the rest of the story works fine with her/him being a pigeon. Still, I am tickled by the idea of a guardian pigeon.

  4. I found a certain irony in this one. The pigeon idea worked as allegory for the humans in that they “…walk with their heads down, or looking straight ahead but not really watching. They into their cell phones, listen to their IPods. Going, always going.”

    Interesting, the way you write and thank yuh.

  5. GP Ching

    When I read this, before reading any comments I thought the Guardian felt abandoned. I immediately thought of the modern abandonment of traditional faith, of people “forgetting” God. And so it made sense to me that no one could see him- not that he couldn’t be seen but that they weren’t looking anymore (i.e. they weren’t looking for signs of a higher power). And he felt tired because with the lack of faith, more people need help and there are less prayers/positive energy to fuel angels.

    Beautiful piece and obviously complex to be interpreted in many ways.

    1. Thank you GP. It’s amazing to see what you and other people have read into it. As I was writing the piece I was wondering why people could not see the angel, and your interpretation answers the question.

  6. I got sadness. I also had a whimsical image of Rose Is Rose’s Guardian Angel hanging over New York.

    I went hiking in Denali once with a friend, but he wasn’t prepared for the cold and bailed on my 2/3 of the way through our trip. He left me stressing that being alone doesn’t have to be sad. But I still associate unexpected loneliness with sadness.

    1. If I were in the angel’s position and had been doing the same thankless job for years, I’d be definitely be sad. It’s easy to see that emotion in there too.

      Suddenly finding yourself alone makes the loneliness feel so much more acute. I think it would be worse than if you expected it.

  7. Lua

    Good job Tessa- I liked how you showed the human ignorance through ignoring the good things that happen to us- not the bad ones… And I loved that your angel wasn’t all happy-go-lucky, he’s sort of miserable and that makes your story very original 🙂

  8. I loved this story. It is very complex, and I love that it’s open to so much interpretation. Also a sad commentary on our world, when an angel can sit in a park with his wings unfurled and no one even notices.

    Excellent work, Tessa.

    1. It’s been really great to see the different reactions and impressions everyone has had to this one, some expected and some surprising. Maybe now a few people will pay a little more attention? I like to think there’s magic in the world if only we stay open to it. Thanks Grace!

  9. Tessa, that was beautifully done. I totally see what GP is saying, makes so much sense. I eas imagining the angel not as a pigeon, although that’s funny, but as John Travolta in Michael!
    So well written. Loved it.

    1. Thank you Cathy! Hehe yes I didn’t quite intend to write a story about a benevolent guardian pigeon. I’m glad the angel came though. I can see the resemblance with Michael. The movie did cross my mind afterward 🙂

  10. Aww, was so sad that Guardian suffered pain when the elevator door ripped off some of the feathers. And the fact that there’s no one else to do the job so he can’t take time off to recuperate.

    Really endearing story.

  11. Beautiful, poignant story. Reminds me about how often humans take the benevolent beings of the Otherworlds for granted and how those beings are dying out due to disregard and neglect.

  12. Sam

    I really enjoyed this, especially the overall air of downtrodden defeat rising from your MC. To be unappreciated is one thing, to be an unappreciated angel must be so much worse.

  13. Beautiful! And you know, when you said “soot-stained feathers” I imagined a pigeon–they’re all over the city, always ignored, almost stepped on. It makes sense to me that this un-thanked angel would resemble that somehow. This is a wonderful, sad picture of a real city and its secrets.

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