The angel flew so low over the lake, I could see its reflection in the water. I had no camera right then, just did a lot of jumping and screaming. Me, not my kids, though my dogs were barking like crazy. It flew only twelve feet or so above the lake, its wings, proud and strong, stretched perfectly straight from its shoulders, horizontal over the water’s surface. In an act of sheer will, it tipped upward and barrel rolled into the clouds above the lake, its blue robes camouflaging itself. I had to squint to see as it disappeared into the mantle of the sky.
My kids and I kept walking. Me practically skipping, my son and daughter meandering along where the lake met the land, looking for good rocks and snail shells, accepting what they had seen as part of their world. There was no need for them to keep watching the sky for anything more for the world of children is filled with the impossible which does not always, and does not need to, fit into an adult’s view of everything. I kept to the path with the dogs, barely watching where I walked, my eyes over the water, the leash in one hand, my phone in the other, ready to snap some video.
When the angel appeared again, all I could do was jump and scream once more as it flew even lower this time and closer to the shore, riding some low current of air. The wings weren’t what I expected, not a brilliant white, but with the checkered pattern of a hawk or falcon. An archangel, clearly, though it wore no armor that I could see as it flew so close to me that I could hear its blue robe flapping as it moved through the air, the angels arms kept close to its sides. I could see the angel’s face with its gaze focused on the shining water, searching and so beautiful that I almost cried right there, standing in the path. I yelled out at the kids to get them to look. They glanced up casually, said it was cool and went back to filling their pockets with the shells of zebra mussels, the angel already a part of their reality and having little more novelty than the raccoons that show up in our trash cans each autumn.
The angel turned away from the shore, increased its altitude, pumped its wings and flew out over the lake, rising into the sky, once more disappearing. Something told me this was all I’d see today, so I pulled on the dogs’ leashes and called the kids from the water to walk home. In the elevator to our floor, I shut my eyes and tipped back my head, imagining.
The kids filled their father in on everything once we got inside our unit. He asked me about it, using the indulgent tone that all adults give their children when they share stories of the fantasy that exists for them. My response came with some unintended irony, as if by the retelling I had stopped believing. My husband went back to making dinner as I unleashed the dogs and let them loose in the kitchen to hover around his legs hoping for some kind of food to drop from the counter.
Leaving the kitchen, I walked over to one of the giant thick sheets of glass that made up the exterior wall of our unit and looked out over the water. The next morning these windows would shake as I was awakened by the sounding of trumpets from over the lake.
Writers: Joe McCauley with Nickie Sage
Photographer: Benjamin Lipsman