On my lunch hour, I bundle up and head to a local gift shop nearby. I wait for the WALK sign to blink and then rush across the slushy street.
Inside the shop, attached to a lighted display, a sparkle gets my attention. It’s a tiny gold angel pin with a diamond embedded in one of its wings. This would be perfect for my grandmother for her Christmas stocking.
She had more than a passing interest in angelology. From the picture that hung in my childhood bedroom of two frightened toddlers about to walk across a rickety bridge over a canyon with a glorious angel protecting them on their journey, to the sagging shelves of books on the topic, she was well versed.
I had recently finished reading a book she gifted me, This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti. It was an interesting story, but I wasn’t sure where I stood on the subject.
With the purchase in my coat pocket, I stand on the curb at the corner beside one other shopper and wait for the WALK signal. When it flashes, I lean forward, about to step off the curb, when the man standing to my right swings his left arm out and stops me. That same instant, a car that had turned right on red, that I had not seen, rushes by, inches in front of us, and splashes icy muck over our feet.
We hurry together across the street and as the the weight of the moment lightens, I thank the stranger. We reach the sidewalk and he responds with nothing but a tip of his hat and a smile. He turns and walks in the opposite direction. I watch him for a few minutes until the spell breaks and I notice how cold I am.
On Christmas Eve, I help Grandmother attach the pin to her blouse. She’s delighted with both the gift and the validation when I tell her the story about the stranger who kept me from potential harm.
It’s been a year since Grandmother passed away. All that remains are boxes full of ephemera that need excavated and sorted. Keep or discard. The pin, its back missing, slips from between a stack of old bank statements and lands on my lap.
Since then, I’ve kept it pinned at the top of the cork board beside where I work. It looks down at me, keeping me safe.
This is the 34th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series.