Friday, August 6, 2010

In Which God (Maybe) Learns Her Lesson (Sort Of)

This is dedicated to all the new moms, the women who just pushed watermelons out of pinholes, the unrecognized saints of the universe. What the hell was God thinking, anyway?

She likes to stand outside nurseries at random hospitals throughout the world and admire Her handiwork. She usually does it on bad days, when the paperwork on Her desk has piled up to the ceiling (literally) and Metatron won't shut up about signatures and PG-98 forms and how hard he works to make Her look good.* Today was one of those days so when Meta's back was turned, She slipped out the side door to Her office, took the express bus down to Earth, and popped into the Maternity ward of a little hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.

There are ten little babies wrapped in alternating pink and blue blankets inside clear plastic cribs and each of them is asleep, their faces slack with the dreams of the newly born. They look peaceful, wonderful, and God leans Her forehead against the glass and sighs.

"Just wait until they wake up," Michael says from right beside Her and She's so susprised She bangs Her head against the glass.

"Ow," She says, rubbing the pink mark on Her caramel skin. "I've told you a million times, don't sneak up on Me."

"You're supposed to be omnipotent," the Archangel says with a knowing smirk and She frowns at him.

"We both know that statement is ninety-seven percent false." Not for the first time, She wonders who started that ridiculous rumor about Her omnipotence. She wouldn't be surprised if Gabriel had something to do with it or, worse yet, Lucifer. "What are you doing here?"

"Meta sent me to look for You."

"Since when do you do My Voice's dirty work?"

Michael shrugs. "Since You started shirking Your duties as the so-called Known Creator of the Universe."

"Hey, Zeus and I agreed to share that title, thank you very much. As such, I can disappear from My office whenever the Hell I want to." She turns back to look at the nursery. "I couldn't take another day of paperwork and that whiny voice Meta uses when he thinks I'm not paying enough attention to him."

"The one that sounds like a three year old on helium?" Michael asks and She nods.

"I feel like slapping him when he starts with that voice," She says. She turns, then, and looks at Michael. She's in a place where no one - mortal or immortal - should have known to look for her and yet, here he is. "How exactly did you find Me?" She asks.

Michael grins. "You're predictable," he says, "and a lot less complex than you think you are."

She smooshes Her lips together in an exaggerated frown. "I hate you." He laughs.

She doesn't, actually. She couldn't. Of all the angels in Heaven, Inc. Michael is by far Her favorite. He's...normal. He has flaws and vices and an unhealthy obsession with the mortals living on Her accidental planet and if She gave him just an ounce more of freedom, he'd run amok and break something, but for some reason She likes him. It helps that he isn't perfect, like his Archangel counterparts Gabriel and Raphael. Thankfully, those two broke the mold. Literally.**

"So why the babies?"

"I like to admire My handiwork."

He steps up to the glass and She looks at him from corner of Her green eye. He's wearing a dusty green overcoat over what She suspects are jeans and a t-shirt and his wings. He looks vaguely like a homeless person, especially with the beard he's started sporting recently.

"Have You seen the kind of work that goes into getting one of these little bundles of joy?" he asks.

She rolls Her eyes. "Duh. I'm God. Of course I know what goes into making a baby." Without verbally agreeing to do so, they both decline to mention Her own adventures in Motherhood, i.e., the Earth.***

He chuckles and the sound echoes in the quiet of the hospital corridor. "Not making a baby; delivering a baby."

She laughs and it's awkward. "Of course I know about delivering a baby. I'm an expert on deliveries."

"Oh really?" he asks and She nods. He checks his watch. "Well then. The other reason I came down here is You scheduled me for an onsite at 6:08 pm. The McConnells and Baby Abigail." He holds his hand out. "If You're such an expert, You should really see this. I have it on good authority that Baby Abigail has big things in her future."

She narrows Her eyes. "The Moirae or the Parcae?" She asks.****

He grins. "Both. I like to hedge my bets when it comes to newborns." He wiggles his fingers at Her. "Come on," he says. "We're already three minutes late."

* * *

Michael rubs circles on Her back while She tries to get Her breathing under control. She hyperventilated a few minutes earlier and passed out on the delivery room floor. Thankfully, no one can see them, so it wasn't too big of a deal, but Michael will never let Her live it down. They're sitting on a bench outside Baby Abigail's room and Michael has magically produced a can of Orange Slice and a straw and God is slowly, but surely, feeling better.

"That was horrible," She says and She can tell without looking that Michael is silently laughing at Her because his circular hand motions take on a decidedly free form. "Stop laughing at Me. It isn't that funny."

He leans forward so She can see him without having to sit up. "You're absolutely right. It isn't funny. It's fucking hilarious."

She scowls at the floor and hopes he can see it. She holds Her hand out for the can of soda and he gives it to Her. There are few things in the universe that make Her feel better than a can of Orange Slice. It's the drink of the Gods - literally. There are cases of it in the cafeteria at the Pearly Gates.

"Who would volunteer to go through that?" She asks, finally sitting up. Michael moves his hand away from Her back and She has to stop herself from whining at the loss of contact. I shall not have unprofessional feelings towards my employees, She chants in Her head. Look where it got Me the first time.

"Unfortunately, it's the only way to get one of those tiny bundles You thought were so adorable twenty minutes ago."

She looks at him. "Tell Me the truth, Mike - did I do that to women?"

He begins to laugh again and She punches his arm, hard. "Ow. Yes, Ellie. You did that to women."

She leans her head back against the wall behind them and frowns. "I am a terrible diety. I don't even remember doing that! I wonder if I can get it reversed..."

Michael shakes his head. "No dice. That was a PGX-007 order. Not even Yahweh himself could get one of those reversed." He steals the can of soda from Her hand and takes a long sip. "I'll bet it was one of those forms Meta dropped in front of You and demanded You sign."

"I never read those forms," She says.

"No kidding." He points over his shoulder to the delivery room. "Probably why Mrs. McConnell is currently pushing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a pinhole."

God takes a moment to think about the logistics of it, remembers She, too, is a woman, and moans in sympathy for the heroic Mrs. McConnell. "I'll say it again - I am a terrible, terrible, terrible diety!" She rolls Her head to the side and stares at him. "Planets are so much easier. I went to sleep, woke up, and BAM. Planet."

"That happened to me once," Michael says.

"You woke up and had a planet outside your bedroom window?"

He winks at Her. "Where do you think Saturn came from?"

* * *

Metatron is waiting in Her office with a stack of intake forms, a green pen, and an attitude problem. He doesn't even wait for Her to sit down before he starts talking.

"Where have You been?" he asks and She hopes it's rhetorical. "I've been collecting intake forms from that train crash in Russia since ten this morning. Zeus and Hera have called three times, as have Jupiter and Juno - You know how those four have to do everything equally. Joan gave up around lunchtime and went in search of the French Army to convert. I've been here on my own the whole day and You've been doing who knows what down on Earth with Michael!"

God stares at him for a moment and comes to a decision. She reaches out, knocks his hands, and sends the stack of intake forms flying through the air. The office is covered in a rainfall of paper and in the middle of it all, Meta stands with his mouth open, apparently trying to scream but not sure how it'll be received.

"Meta, darling," God says in Her sweetest tone of voice. Meta nods, still silent. "I've had a tiring day. Go away before I strangle you with your cravat and sell you to the British Museum as a dress-up doll." She cocks Her head to the side and smiles, reaches out and pats the top of his head. "Okay, pumpkin?"

Meta nods and silently leaves Her office. She cleans the mess up with a flick of Her finger and sits down at Her desk, pulls the bottom left drawer all the way out and roots around in it for a minute or two. Her hand finally finds what it's looking for and She pulls out a nearly full bottle of Glenlivit.

Orange Slice may make Her feel better, but Glenlivit makes Her feel spectacular. And as Her holy hoo-ha cringes at the thought of what She witnessed today, She decides that there is absolutely nothing wrong with spectacular.

She pours Herself a glass and turns to Her giant window. "Cheers, moms," She says and clinks the glass against the window. "May they be worth all that trouble."

* PG-98 Forms are the worst. It's sixty pages of bureaucratic hell with lots of check boxes, text fields, and places to initial and sign. And it's all so the newly damned get their due process. God personally thinks that being a dick in one's life is all the due process for an eternity in Hell one needs, but She was overruled by the Council. Hence the PG-98.

** Gabriel and Raphael popped out, perfect and wonderful, and before Yahweh had a chance to change the settings, the mold literally broke into six solid pieces and He had to create Michael from scratch. If nothing else, it explains why Mike is the only of the three Archangels who can grow a beard and who doesn't know all the words to "Bat out of Hell".

*** Babies and planets have a lot in common. One unprotected drunken indiscretion later and BAM. You've got a baby or a planet. And one hell of a hangover.

**** He gets along better with the Parcae, the Roman Fates, but the Moirae, the Greek Fates, serve better cakes with their tea so he usually stops by both offices whenever possible.