3. Chapter 2
"Do you have more of these…windows…at your house? Do you have pictures? Do you have your own choir? Do you have a dog? Do you-"
"Yes, yes, no, yes. Happy?"
"Very. Oh, look Christian!"
Christian’s hands jerked involuntarily on the steering wheel at this outburst. He closed his eyes for a second, wondering if doing a little praying of his own would get the big man to relent. "What?"
"A leaf flew past the window!"
It was going to be a very long drive home, Christian thought.
"What is your dog’s name?"
“My what? Oh, her name’s Svoboda. Means freedom."
"Oh, I knew that already."
Christian wasn’t sure whether Emmanuel meant that he knew the name of his dog already, or what it translated to. Perhaps he was better off not knowing. The car’s tires crunched on a thin layer of gravel. "We’re here."
Emmanuel stared at the modest little cabin for a while, then patted feebly on the car door to see if it would open. When it didn’t, he rolled down the window and wriggled out backwards. Christian was impressed despite himself. It couldn’t have been easy to get so much wing through such a small space.
Opening his own door, he heaved Emmanuel up off the ground, steadied him with his shoulder, and half-carried half-walked him to the door. Emmanuel smiled lopsidedly.
"What did you just say? Dude, guys don’t call other guys lovely. It’s not..guylike."
Emmanuel pouted. "I’m not a guy."
‘Wait…you’re a chick?’
"No." They had arrived at the cabin door. "I’m a physical representation of a spiritual and metaphorical presence who’s ulterior objective is to inspire goodness in others."
Christian nodded. "I see. So you’re not a chick?"
"Oh look, there’s your dog."
Emmanuel stumbled off towards the barking German Shepard, leaving a slightly bamboozled Christian in his wake.
"Oh, look Christian!" Emmanuel’s voice was already echoing through the house. "A little person!"
Christian felt a rushing sense of dread. It was surprisingly easy to forget that you had your daughter in your house. Pushing himself off the wall, he staggered down the corridor towards the barking.
"Emmanuel, don’t touch her, she’s-" He stopped. Emmanuel was kneeling down, stroking Svoboda. The ‘little person’ was leaning on his shoulder, gazing at him adoringly. She turned to Christian.
"I like him."
"Just you wait." Christian muttered pointedly.
"Why does he have wings?"
Christian pondered this. "He’s an angel. Or something. I think."
"I want wings." Colette's voice was soft, dreamy.
"You already have, my little one."
Colette smiled at her father, then went back to leaning on Emmanuel. Christian was overly touched by the scene, and went to have a cigarette to restore his manliness.
The air outside cooled his face, sending little puffs of smoke into the atmosphere. After a while, he heard soft footfalls sidle up beside him.
"I’m slightly worried."
"My insides just vibrated."
"Your wha- oh. You’re hungry. Go get Colette to make you a bread roll or something."
"She is very lovely. You are lovely, and she is lovely."
"Whatever. Go away."
"Very well. Goodnight, Christian Hale."
"I said, go."
That was the last Christian heard of Emmanuel and Colette before turning in that night. He’d once had to babysit two sets of vomiting triplets, but had to admit that this was probably going to be worse.