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Everyone else obviously had. I shouldn’t have been surprised by Michael’s request.  The two were bound by love, by brotherhood, by ties so strong a little detail like falling from heaven couldn’t come between them.  Maybe I didn’t understand the connection between them but I recognized it in Michael’s voice, in every shared reminiscence, in the devastating burden he still carried over his brother’s loss.

So I did what I always did when I was confused or upset.  I ran to Him. On my way I went through my usual rationalizations whenever I was in over my head.  This whole thing was obviously a product of my imagination.  I was a writer.  I spent lots of time in fantasy land.  This was all just one gigantic fantasy I created in my head. I was actually impressed by the depths of my imagination.  Besides, I didn’t really believe in angels.  I never bought the whole story of hell and the devil roaming the earth searching for souls to steal.  So there was no reason for the very real panic I was feeling over Michael’s absurd request.  I should just close the book on this entire crazy detour of my life and get back to my young adult novel.

I probably could have convinced myself if I stayed away from Him.  The problem with all of my rationalizations was I knew God was, is, and always will be.  I knew He was the source of all life. I accepted man was not His only children.  There were lots of sacred texts containing stories of angels, the battle for heaven and the fall of one of the great ones.  It was more arrogant on my part to dismiss all of this accumulated wisdom than to allow for the possibility I had somehow fallen into the margins of their story. So I was back to my barely restrained panic.  Way in over my head didn’t begin to describe what I was feeling.

God wasn’t any help in sorting out my dilemma.  I knew He knew why I was there, but He didn’t seem inclined to cooperate.  He was obviously aware of my grand unspoken plan.  He would tell me He didn’t think this meeting was a good idea.  I could go back and report to Michael that it was God who nixed his request and I was completely off the hook and Michael couldn’t be mad at me because God was the one who said no, not me.

“Why are you being so difficult?  You already know why I’m here.”

“That’s not the way it works between us.”

“Fine.  Michael wants me to meet his brother.  You know…Lucifer.”  I whispered the last part even though it was completely unnecessary, since I wasn’t speaking out loud.

“And you don’t wish to?”

Was He serious?  “NO! Of course I don’t wish to.”

“Then simply tell Michael you’ve decided to decline his request.”

“He’ll be disappointed.”

“Perhaps.”

“I don’t want to disappoint him.”

“Then agree to his request.”

“I can’t.”

“On the contrary, you can do whatever you wish.  I gave you free will.”

“Ha, ha.”

“I wasn’t joking.”

“What if he steals my soul?”

“No one can steal your soul.”

“Really?”

“Yes. “

“Can I give it away?”

“Is that your intention?”

“Of course not!”

“No one can steal your soul.  Nor can you give it away by accident.”

“Okay, that’s a relief.  What if he does something awful to me?”

“I sincerely doubt that is my son’s intention for requesting this meeting.”

“You doubt?…Your son??!!”

“Of course.  This surprises you?”

I thought about it.  God was everyone’s father, right?  So that meant He must be Lucifer’s father too and fathers didn’t give up on their children just because they screwed up.  There were consequences for screwing up…like getting tossed out of heaven.  That was a big one.  I was more confused now than ever.

“Can’t you just tell me what to do?”

“No.”

“He can’t steal my soul?”

“No.”

“What does he want with me anyway?”

“There’s one way to find out…”