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Angel in My Coffee Cup

by Walter Giersbach

Hamlet wasn’t talking about angels when he said, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The phrase kept going through my head as my grand-daughter Morgan sat across from me at breakfast.

“I don’t care if you believe me or not.” She spoke with a teenager’s haughty indifference. “If I want to believe there’s an angel watching over me, then I can believe anything I want.”

“Even if it’s not rational? All I said was I do not want you driving with a 16-year-old who just got his license.”

Morgan’s mother had been killed by a drunken moron with a suspended driver’s license and no insurance. No angels on Interstate 80 that day. Can you forgive me for hovering over Morgan?

“Why can’t there be angels, huh? The Bible says there are. People say they’ve seen them. Are they faking it? Huh?”

“You’re going to be late for the school bus.” Time to change the subject, or at least get back on more comfortable grounds.

At that, Morgan dropped her coffee cup. I watched the eggshell-thin china fall like a time-lapse sequence in the movies, watched it slowly hit the kitchen table, bounce and crash to the kitchen floor.

“Thanks,” I said. “That was part of the set your Grandma Laurie and I got for our wedding.”

“I’ll glue it, for God’s sake! See?” She held up two pieces. “It’s just the handle and a little chip. I’ll get some glue, for God’s sake.”

I settled into a blue funk after she went out of the door. Angels! How about vampires and ghosts, werewolves and witches? What the hell hope was there for these kids?

The argument wasn’t over. Just postponed until that night when I lit into her again.

“Didn’t I absolutely prohibit driving with Sammy? No... sixteen-year-old... drivers!”

“I had my angel with me. We were safe, Daniel.”

I never broke Morgan from calling me by my first name, but since she moved in it was a better alternative to her calling me Gramps. Her father had divorced Morgan’s mother. She had no one else. I was her angel.

“Okay, tell me about this angel thing.” Resignation kicked in. “You never went to church. Is it something kids are reading this year?”

“Don’t have to be a churchgoer. He just appeared when Mom died. The day after her funeral. Sometimes he’s there, not always, but I know he’s nearby. I guess angels have other things to do beside watch over people all the time. Errands to run maybe.”

“Morgan, the world is hard and unjust and not very responsive to spiritual foolishness.” I kept my voice even and reasonable. We had to establish a basis for living together, and irrational superstition wasn’t going to hack it, even in Iowa City.

“I don’t ask you to believe. I never told you to think like me. I know you don’t like my clothes and slang and music, but why can’t you just give me the benefit of the doubt?”

“It’s not doubt. It’s a plea for healthy thinking.”

“You didn’t even thank Jacques.”

“Who the hell is Jacques?” This was getting on my nerves.

“My....” I knew she wanted to say angel, but I interrupted.

“Wait a minute. Thank Jacques?”

“For mending your precious coffee cup.” She pointed to the cup in the dish rack. I got up and retrieved the Haviland Limoges china. There were no breaks or chips, no glue, no imperfection. It was as pristine as the day Laurie and I unwrapped it forty years earlier.

“I’ll be in my room if you want me,” she said. At the door, she turned. “I’m sure Jacques will appreciate it if you say thank you to him. Maybe he has a co-worker angel who can spare a few minutes to look in on you.”

Copyright © 2010 by Walter Giersbach

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