Lillith crouched in an undifferentiated corner, her face lifted to the fluctuating light of an undefined sun. There was no wind–it had not yet been imagined. A pale suggestion of fragrance threaded the still air that hung moist and motionless, heavy with promise. Tentative sounds reached out to stroke her ears, but she brushed them away as if they were annoying flies and closed her eyes to block out the muted, indeterminate light.

She concentrated on breathing deeply, inhaling and exhaling, and was content to think no concrete thoughts as her memories slumbered undisturbed. At long last, she had reached the second level of the upper worlds, the world of angels. Its universe was a scintillation of images without acute delineation. All color was opalescent. Existence was fluid. Lillith relished this state of flux and indeterminate being. This world was always pleasantly lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. She was conscious that she was entirely ephemeral here, free floating above the pressure of tangible thought.

Then she sensed the Angel of Healing approach and settle softy into the aura of her being.

Although she felt the Angel surrounding her, she refused to acknowledge its presence. Only a latent curiosity caused her to wonder why the Angel had come. A moment later she dismissed her thought and drifted with the flow of endless time. But the Angel did not move away. Lillith complained to herself that angels were accustomed to existing in this less-than-concrete state. Time meant nothing to them, for they had never experienced its strictures. They had no understanding that their intrusions might be unwelcome. She thought of her own multiple, spiraling descents into the world of realization and wondered why the Angel of Healing had come to trouble her. As long as she remained in the world of opalescent light, free floating through the mists of incoherent image, she had no need of healing. She did acknowledge, however, that the Angel had been helpful in the course of other life times, when she had been wounded by pirates raiding her coastal village, when drought had ravaged her clan’s grazing lands, and when plague had been brought to her town with a shipment of scarlet wool. Although she’d called on the Angel of Healing to help her in the temporal world, she had no need of healing here, in the realm of unformulated thought.

Still the Angel did not leave. Lillith could sense its Presence shimmering around her. Finally, she opened her mind. “I’m weary,” she said in answer to the Angel’s unformed question.

The Angel nodded and said, “He needs you.” Its voice, though only a suggestion of sound, was clear and crystalline.

“He always needs me. He will always need me,” Lillith closed her imagined eyes and willed the Angel to go away. The Angel did not leave and did not pursue the argument. Lillith finally spoke again. “I can’t bear it,” she said. “I can’t bear to return, whether he needs me or not!” She let herself remember the many deaths she had experienced–her own and those of her loved ones from plague, hunger, the sword and a hangman’s noose. The memories shuddered her body until it swelled with pain. She felt the Angel of Healing shiver as it shared the excruciating agony of the fire that seared her memory as she relived her last destruction.

“The Nazis condemned me to death by hanging,” she remembered. “I could not bear to suffer strangulation so I tried to slit my wrists with a rusty nail. They burned me alive for daring to defy them.”

The Angel was silent.

“He must find his own way this time,” Lillith was adamant. “I cannot return to life. I cannot bear it.”

“He cannot find his way alone,” the Angel said in a voice that was as soft as the beating of a swallow’s wing.

“He must! I won’t return again! I can’t. He must find another soul mate,” Lillith exclaimed in anguish.

“He is your soul mate and no one else’s,” the Angel gently reminded her. This time its voice broke into jagged bits of glass shattering like a window.

Lillith began to cry. Her tears stung like acid and dissolved the sun. They solidified into sharp splinters of ice that shredded the opalescent light. Her weeping gave rise to an angry storm that drove the Angel from her presence.

She wept until the endless void was filled with the salt of her tears. Even as she began to drown, she could not stop her crying. Her tears washed away the world of undifferentiated light and she sank back into the world of the living. No matter, she thought. He needed her. He would always need her. She would return to live yet another lifetime and die once again, for his sake, because she loved him.

Published in Stories