Uraraka remembered the first time she saw one of them, those beautiful winged creatures that fluttered around her friends and family. She was only three and her father was leaving for work that day. She stood in the door of their house and waved him goodbye. He had turned around to wave back at her but took a step too far, his foot sliding off the sidewalk and into the road. Her mother had screamed as a car sped around the corner and toward her stumbling father. Then, like magic (or heavenly intervention), the car swerved, barely missing him...or at least that’s what it probably should’ve looked like.
She, however, saw the wings in their shining glory. She saw a woman descend from the sky and push the car to the side. She remembered the singular stray feather floating to the ground, almost immediately turning grey and disintegrating. She was three years old and she had just seen an angel.
When she was four, Uraraka noticed that the woman that protected her father never strayed too far away. She shimmered in the dim light of their living room as if she had a shroud cast over her. She reminded Uraraka of the moonlight bouncing off the ocean waves. Still, as beautiful as she was, she always seemed so cramped in their tiny home, her wings held tight against her body. She always seemed like she was meant for something great.
Uraraka’s parents thought she had a wild imagination. She didn’t understand why until she was nearly six. “Isn’t it about time that you gave up your imaginary friends, Ochako?” her mother said, sounding both amused and exasperated as she interrupted Ochako’s newest story of her favorite angel. Her father’s angel had recently stopped her father from being crushed by a construction beam. Ochako and her mother were both there; they had been delivering his lunch. So, why was her mother talking about imaginary friends? She blinked, confused. “What?” Her mother frowned softly, “I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, honey. I just...well your teacher sent home a report yesterday. She said that you were having trouble making friends, baby. She said you got in a fight with one of the other kids.”
She wasn’t having trouble making friends. The other kids were just mean; they said angels weren’t real, which wasn’t true because Ochako had seen one. She had never thought it was strange that they had never seen one. Ochako had only ever seen her father’s. It didn’t seem like very many people had a celestial companion; they probably just hadn’t met one yet. But, if her mother was talking about imaginary friends…
“Mama? You can see Daddy’s angel, right?”
Her mother’s beautiful brown eyes gazed down at her sadly. “No, baby. I can’t. She’s, well, she’s imaginary. No one can see her but you.”
A wave of embarrassment rolled through her body, her cheeks heating up and her nose starting to burn. She was going to cry. Ochako tried to hold it in, sniffling and wiping at her face. She didn’t have to cry; her mom just couldn’t see the angel. That didn’t mean her father’s guardian wasn’t real. Her mother reached for her slowly. “Do you want to talk about it, baby?”
Ochako nodded but instead of crawling into her mother’s arms, she turned around in search of her dad. She found him in his well-worn recliner, feet propped up on the coffee table and newspaper in his hands. Just behind the chair, the angel was pressed lightly against the wall. Her dad looked down at her as a soft frown stretched across his face. “Is everything alright, baby?” Behind her, her mother’s voice echoed his concern, “Ochako?”
But, Ochako had her eyes fixed on the woman behind the chair. With quiet determination, she reached her hands forward and wrapped her fingers around the white fabric draped over the angel’s body. She tugged the dress-like cloth toward her as she turned back toward her mother, “See, Mommy? She’s right here! She’s not pretend; she’s right here.”
Her mother’s alarmed eyes were the last thing she saw before she lost her balance and hit the floor.
“This is unprecedented. She has no reason to be able to see me.”
“You haven’t touched her before? You haven’t given her the sight?”
“No! I have only been trying to keep her father out of danger. He takes my full attention; he is not a very lucky man.”
“Are you sure you’ve never come in contact with her before?”
“We have no time to be lost in thought. What are we supposed to do about this?”
“You said she took hold of your gown?”
“Then when she awakes...For better or for worse she will have the sight.”
“I’m fairly certain that she could see me before.”
“And her mother’s guardian? Could she see him?”
“No, I don’t think so…”
“And her school teacher’s?”
“She will probably be able to see them as well when she opens her eyes.”
“What should we do?”
“There’s not much we can do. It’s not as if we can revoke her ability to see us. You have technically gifted her with this. She’s done nothing to justify removing your blessing. Besides you know we’d have to go through the higher-ups for that anyway and that’ll take a while. They’re always busy.”
“That’s true. Still, we can’t just have her running around raving to the humans about our existence. No one benefits from that, especially not her.”
“So we’ll explain. She’s a kid right? We’ll pretend it’s a fun secret and that’s special because she knows. She’ll keep the secret if she thinks that it makes us happy, right?”
“Not all the time?”
“I mean she seems like a good kid, you know? I really doubt we’ll have to do much to fix this.”
“Yeah? And what if the first plan doesn’t work? What do you do next?”
“I don’t need a back-up plan when the first plan is good.”
“I’m certain the first plan will work!”
“Is that so?”
When Ochako opened her eyes, she could vaguely see two faces in a pool of shimmering white light. She was familiar with the dark grey eyes of her father’s celestial companion; but, she had never seen the shoulder-length blonde hair of the man standing beside her. Ochako blinked a few times to get rid of the blurriness. She briefly wondered if angels grew up like her and her friends did. She had always assumed that angels all looked like her father’s. The heavenly woman looked like she was about the same age as Ochako’s parents. She had the same lines around her eyes that Ochako’s mom had, those ones that got deeper when the smiled really big.
But, it seemed like not all angels were the same. The man next to her father’s angel looked much younger. He looked a lot like the high school students she sometimes saw on the train or at the mall. He was smiling bigger than anyone she had ever seen before but there were nearly no lines anywhere on his face. His bright blue eyes were full of excitement and wonder. He extended a hand toward her before confidently saying, “Hi, my name is Yagi Toshinori! What’s your name?”
She fit her hand into his as he pulled her to her feet. “Ochako.”
He nodded, happily. “That’s a very pretty name. Well, this is my mentor, Shimura Nana, but you’ve met hr already haven’t you?”
Ochako nodded. “She protects my daddy.”
Ms. Shimura smiled softly but said nothing. Mr. Yagi on the other hand squatted in front of Ochako and began excitedly chattering, “She does, you’re right! She’s your daddy’s guardian angel! Do you know what that means? Well, I’ll tell you! It means she makes sure that your daddy is safe and happy as often as possible. And you can see her! Which is special because--”
“Please, call me Toshinori.”
“Just Toshinori is--” he paused, “You know what? Never mind. What do you need?”
“Can my friends at school see angels too?”
Mr. Toshinori frowned slightly for a second before seriously shaking his head. “No, Ochako, they can’t,” he said before smiling widely, “That’s what I was saying before! You’re special because you’re the only one that can see us! Not even your mommy and daddy can see us. So--”
“What? Oh, um, well...That’s hard to explain.”
Ms. Shimura interrupted him, “Ochako, honey, you’re special. You’ve been blessed with a special ability. But there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being special like you.”
“‘With great power comes great responsibility!’”
“Oh, um, yes. That’s exactly what I mean. Now--”
Mr. Toshinori took the lead again. “Ochako? Do you think that you are grown-up enough to take on this responsibility?”
Ochako blinked. “Will I get to save people?”
Mr. Toshinori tilted his head to the side. “What do you mean?”
She took her most heroic stance, legs firmly planted shoulder-length apart and one arm in the air. “Like Spider-man! He saves people!”
Both angels seemed a little confused, which was silly because everyone knew who Spider-man was. Mr. Toshinori was the first to speak, “Um...well, you won’t be saving people like Spider-man but if you listen then you’ll be able to help us save people, yes.”
Ochako felt excitement course through her. “Really?”
He smiled and nodded before continuing to speak, “Yes, of course.”
So, he began to outline the rules of guardian angels. He told her all about what was expected of her. She couldn’t remember everything he said to her, but she remembered three rules.
- Guardian angels will always be there for anybody that needs them.
- Guardian angels are usually assigned to a human being when the human turns ten years old and will stay until the human passes away.
- She must not, under any circumstances, tell other people about the angels that she can see. It is dangerous and just like it would be wrong to tell someone who Spider-man was out of costume, it is wrong to tell other people about the angels.
She knew she should’ve remembered more of what Mr. Toshinori said but those three rules seemed like they were the most important to her. There was very little hesitation on her part before she agreed to follow all the rules. Shortly after her promise to comply, both her new friends disappeared as if in a cloud of feathers.
Just moments later, she found herself opening her eyes to her parents’ concerned faces. She remembered the day that she found out she would eventually get her own guardian angel. She remembered her mother telling her angels weren’t real… and she remembered the two celestial beings that told her the exact opposite.