She takes my hand and we walk. We walk through the tapestry of my life.

As scenes come and go, she presses my hand lightly in encouragement. The scenes are painful. I watch as my younger self is bullied and abused, torn and tortured. I watch as the young me suffers doubt and humiliation and guilt. I watch me in the moments that I cry and in the moments that I wish I were dead. I note with shock that I was only 6 years old. I used to imagine how my class would react if I died. I hoped everyone would cry; including my teacher.

I watch as society makes demands of me. Be good. Follow the rules. Do as you are told. Pay attention. Be like us. You are not good enough. You are too much of a perfectionist.

I watch as my parents ignore me to tend to the little ones, but go into a fit of rage when I fail to tow the line. You are going to end up in jail. You are going to end up with no job. You are a disappointment. How could you do this to us? We will ring the police. We will get the priest.

I watch as my peers torture me. You are a coward for not breaking the rules. Why won’t you break them? Are you scared? Are you a teacher’s pet? Are you a mummy’s boy? And upon breaking the rules to gain acceptance….look, we just made him break the rules! how dumb is he?!

I watch as girlfriends come and go. You are too unfeeling. You are too soft. You are a typical man. You are not man enough. You are too attentive. You are not attentive enough.

I watch as the small version of me slowly gets sucked in. I watch as my young self struggles fruitlessly to make everyone happy. I watch as my soul is ripped in ten different directions; trying to make everyone happy. I watch as it sinks in despair.

I sob quietly.

The angel sits quietly me; and holds my hand gently.

Eventually she turns to me. And she speaks.

“If you could go back to those days, and tell yourself one thing, what would you say?” Her voice sounds like a million wind chimes blowing in unison.

I look properly at her for the first time. She is truly beautiful. Wisps of blue energy float in the air around her, and pulses of pure light crackle over her skin. She is flawless.

She smiles a life-giving smile. Her eyes sparkle.

And yet. And yet.

I look more closely. I examine. I come to understand. Those crackles… They come not from the light, they come from scars on her surface as the light passes over them. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. A testament to the struggle that she has endured. A struggle she has obviously won. The product of a million battles.

I contemplate in quiet wonder as I look upon her.

“I would not say anything.” I finally answer.

“Oh?” she chimes in amusement. Her eyes sparkle even more, and I can see she is enjoying our moment together.

“So, you would not tell yourself anything at all?” She laughs lightly.

“No.” I say. “I would just give me a massive hug.”

She laughs loudly and a million stars are born.

“Would you really?!” She replies in delight. “And what then…..John?”

I think momentarily before answering. And the words fill my mouth. And I feel my heart twist with emotion.

“I would then lay my vengeance down upon those whom opposed me.”

“Of whom do you speak?” she asks, knowingly.

“The demons.”

“Say their name so that those with ears, listen; and those with eyes, see.”

I look at her imploringly. But she nods in quiet encouragement.

“Say their names!”

I pause.

“FEAR. And HATE.” I whisper.

A contented sound emanates my mind.

“Good answer!” she whispers.. “And you will not battle alone.”