Anael has seen the rise and fall of empires; she has seen war, famine, plague, and all manner of destruction; she has seen Earth—this bright little gem of her Father’s creation—torn and battered by disasters beyond the power of anyone she has ever met.
She looks at the specks of life scattered across the surface of the world and she admires them.
They are fragile and messy, prone to sin and to decay, filled with fluids salty like the sea from which they came. They die. They die so quickly, so easily, and Heaven swells to welcome them, generations gone in a moment’s abstraction.
And yet—they fight, still: they fight themselves and each other and Earth itself until their souls blaze across all Earth like starfire, from the highest mountains to below the surface of the sea, from horizon to horizon and beyond the ends of Earth, brave in the face of all the horror and all the futility of their lives. They take their chaos and make of it meaning.
Anael traces the edges of her grace and thinks about the sameness of her siblings’ songs.
(They have a choice, she thinks, these most-beloved of all her Father’s works, and He has a choice as well, and He speaks to them in the same crushing silence she has always heard, and still they die, still they hurt each other and Earth rises against them and there is no angel—not even the Morningstar-who-was—who can throw the plates of the world against each other and move the oceans like a lake.)
She wonders what it would be like to choose. She wants to know, wants that mortally tempting fruit of a forbidden tree and the intensity of it, how it would taste (sweet, she thinks, but what is sweetness?), how it would feel beneath her teeth and against her tongue as she takes that first damning bite.
This is doubt, she thinks, and that’s a terror all to itself: doubt is sin, sin is unangelic; she is not—she is not—
Her fingers are human-shaped at the ends of arms she’s never needed before when she sets them to the edge of her grace and reaches in. She takes her fear and spits in its eye. She chooses.