Once upon a time many, many years ago in a world long since forgotten, there was a country called Anywhere. And in the land of Anywhere there was a fine and prosperous city called Anyplace, and in this city there lived an entirely Ordinary Teenage Boy who was about make to some Quite Extraordinary Revelations.
Eddy, the boy in question, had just turned fifteen years old. Like many boys of that age, he was somewhat awkward, unsure of himself, insecure, clumsy, spotty, hormonal and a bit smelly. All quite ordinary and typical of the breed, really.
Sadly for Eddy, though ,he did have two less than ordinary features. Firstly, he was, well, a bit chubby. In those days in the land of Anywhere, in the days before the corruption and depredations of the Greedy One Percent destroyed Civil Society, chubby children were very rare as nutrition, fitness and health education for the young were Taken Very Seriously. Secondly, Eddy had a mop of flaming red, curly hair. Oh dear. In Anywhere, curly red hair is supposed to denote (along with a tendency to Sociopathy, so present in the Evil Banker servants of The One Percent, but completely missing from Eddy) a Touch Of The Troll in the bloodline: something very undesirable in a land where Trolls are Much Feared And Reviled and held to be Murderers And Child Stealers (actually it is Fairies who steal Human Children rather than trolls but that, as they say, is another story).
And chubbiness and red hair combined had added up to a very sad childhood experience for Eddy. Children, for all their occasional sweetness, are vicious pack animals. They instinctively sniff out the weak, the vulnerable and the different and target them, their attacks unrestrained by empathy, a virtue not yet developed in their young minds.
So Eddy was a friendless and lonely boy. School for him was a kind of hell. He had been subjected to years of Bullying And Name Calling, all along the lines of “ugly, fat, ginga minga Troll face.” He had to begun to believe the lies the other children told about him and any fragile sense of Teenage Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem he might have had, had Completely Collapsed. He felt isolated, alone, unloved, worthless. To make matters worse, as he had no friends and was an only child, he had no-one to discuss his feelings with. He had tried talking to his parents, but they were far too caught up in their Own Lives And Careers to take seriously the Petty Concerns of a silly young boy, so had proved less than helpful.
There was only One Consolation in poor young Eddy’s life. Every day after school, come Rain Or Shine and Without Fail, he would make his way down to the beautiful park in the centre of the city of Anywhere: the one generally considered to be not only the Most Beautiful in the city of Anyplace, but in the whole of the land of Anywhere.
Now if you’re a student of the history of the land of Anywhere, you’ll know that this is the self-same park in which, scarcely a year before our Eddy squeezed and elbowed his way into the world, the Ragged Man sang his Famous Song Of A Sorrow So Sweet, and where a large and impressive statue was built in his memory. And it was to this very statue that Eddy would be drawn. He would simply sit there, at the foot of the statue, in the shadow of the Great Ragged Man himself. For some reason Eddy did not understand, he found comfort there. It seemed that when he was sitting quietly by the statue, his problems shrank away, became irrelevant, as though he were part of something greater and more important. He was not to know, and a fifteen year old would not have the emotional vocabulary to describe such a thing, that the Ragged Man’s entrancing song (which had sent a convulsion of near Revolution through the land of Anywhere) was so entrancing because it was a song of a love, loss and sorrow that was so beautiful as to be exquisitely painful, nor that that beauty had been crafted in and sung from the Glory Of The Man’s Soul. He could never have described, or even understood, such things but Eddy’s own Soul did understand and found comfort in this spot. A Soul, after all, knows everything, from the moment it slides into a body until the moment it leaves to make its final journey across a broad, bright blue sky.
One day, a bright summer’s day if I remember correctly, Eddy returned home from one his regular visits to the statue of the Ragged Man. His parents not having much to say to him (as usual) Eddy made his way to his room. In his room was a tall wardrobe. In this tall wardrobe was a long, full length mirror. Eddy kept it shut away there as he hated mirrors, hated seeing himself in all his ginger, flabby ugliness. But today, a Little Voice in his head told him to get that mirror out of the wardrobe and look at himself in it.
Which is what he did. Taking the mirror from the wardrobe, he propped it up against the door to his bedroom, stood back and looked at himself. He removed his shirt, trousers, shoes, socks and stood there in only his underwear, regarding his reflection. And he felt despair. For the other children were right: what an ugly, hopeless, pointless creature he was…flabby, pale, ginger. Ugly, ugly, ugly. A true Son Of A Troll.
And upon that thought, Eddy’s shoulders began to itch in a most unusual manner and he stared, open-mouthed, into the mirror as they seemed to grow and swell in size, rising up to his ears and then, in a moment of pain that was at once searing and exquisite, his shoulders exploded into a huge pair of wings, wider than Eddy’s body and longer than he was tall. Eddy knew immediately what they were, they were quite clearly Angel’s wings. At this point a teenager in your world would have exclaimed something along the lines of OMG, WTF and LOL. Which is exactly what Eddy did only in language and expression appropriate to Another World In Another Time.
Of course, Eddy should have been scared, it’s not every day you suddenly sprout a pair of huge Angel’s wings after all. But Eddy was not at all disturbed: he loved the look of his new wings, and he loved the look of himself with these Wings Of An Angel and as he stared at himself in the mirror he realised that his new wings made him feel hopeful and strong, optimistic and excited: feelings that had become strangers too him. He gave his shoulders a shrug and he saw in the mirror that his wings flapped powerfully, so powerfully in fact the he could see the curtains reflected behind him fluttering in the draught they created, and Eddy laughed out loud, in a bright, youthful way, a way that had also become a stranger to him.
And then something about Eddy’s mirror changed. It misted over, it began to glow with an inner light. It cleared, and Eddy saw in the mirror not his reflection, but the reflection of a man. He was a man of unremarkable appearance and indeterminate age, whose clothes seemed Poor And Ragged, only his eyes seemed to Stand Out in any way for they were large and of the Deepest, Most Striking Blue and had a quality that suggested that what they were seeing was Not Of This World, but something else, something far beyond. Eddy’s mouth, for the second time that day, dropped open for he instantly knew who he was seeing in his mirror…he knew from his time standing by that statue in the park and from pictures in history books. He was looking at the Ragged Man. The Ragged Man looked back at Eddy with those stunning blue eyes, which seemed to the boy to be as Deep As The Ocean and As Open As The Sky, thanked him for his daily visits and said:
“Eddy, when I lived in your world I had a son of your age and I was not always the father to him I should have been and then, one day, it was too late for me to make amends for my failings. So let me speak to you now as I should have spoken to my son a lifetime ago. Never think you’re ugly or deficient or wanting in anyway, Eddy, and never listen to those who say you are. There will always be people who say these things, they are people who have lost contact with their true self, with their Souls, and for them hatred and bitterness have become a way of life. They are lost and damned. Pity them and ignore them. You, Eddy, are fabulous and unique for the Universe is bigger than you can ever comprehend, yet somewhere in all that vastness a collection of atoms felt strongly that you, Eddy, deserved to exist and they made a most amazing journey across the infinity of time and space and came together to create you. And once you had come into existence, God looked at you and saw you were a thing of beauty and was so moved by you that he carved off a piece of himself and placed it inside you and that piece of God inside you, Eddy, is your Soul. Your soul is you and your Soul is God and God expressed as a concept is, at its most simple and most complex, Pure Love, a love which does not demand nor expect and which is not conditional or limited. You have the Power Of Love inside you, Eddy. You have God inside you. You truly are an Angel.”
The Ragged Man stopped speaking, smiled, the mirror once again grew misty and glowed. Again it cleared and The Ragged Man was no longer there, Eddy could see only his own reflection. And it was Eddy without Angel’s Wings. Ordinary Eddy…yet no so ordinary. For the Eddy looking back at Eddy was a new Eddy. A strong, confident, unique boy who, Eddy knew, would grow into a strong, confident and successful man. A boy who had beaten incredible odds simply to come into existence, a boy who was filled with the Grace And Beauty Of God. A boy who was filled with Love, who had a Soul inside him which was piece of God. A boy who was an Angel.