By Tom Elliott

The angel who will end time is on a bad second date. Coffee last week was only OK, really OK-minus, and that probably should have been enough for her. But at one point he seemed on the verge of making a joke at his own expense, and with a better haircut, well, sure, maybe. She left it a little open- ended and when he called, which she wasn’t sure he was going to, she said yes to lunch. And here she is, pushing quinoa around on her plate while he mansplains the Big Bang to her. The Big Bang? She was at the Big Fucking Bang.

Now maybe you’re thinking if she’s an angel doesn’t she have better sources of intel than your average single human, something to keep her out of situations like this? Maybe not omniscience—we know Who’s got that locked up—but really good insight.

Well, yes, she knows a guy who knows a guy. She could have put in a call. But she’s sensitive about asking. Nothing stays secret up there, and an eyebrow raised today might stay raised for eternity. Let them guess what she does on weekends.

Then too, it’s a lonely watch, holding inside you the word that, when spoken, will end time. It makes her give the benefit of the doubt to some pretty marginal guys. In Austria in the late Renaissance, she dated the inventor of the comb-over. Well, he was very polite, she would tell you with some sharpness.

And that’s the other thing. She’s not exactly Miss Perky Happyshoes. She can be a little prickly. You try remembering without saying it out loud some six-syllable magic-ass word given you by the Almighty billions of years ago, see if it doesn’t make you crabby. If she slips up and speaks it, you won’t know yesterday from next Thursday, your mother will not recognize you all grown up when she just put you down for a nap five minutes ago except of course minutes don’t exist anymore.  The universe basically ends. Well, not “ends,” because that implies sequence, which will no longer exist either. It all just mashes into itself. That’s a lot of pressure.

Meanwhile, the ham-head is still yakking. She missed it, but somehow World of Warcraft has come into the picture. Of course it has. Had she thought about it, she might have suggested Applebee’s, not this near-vegan joint, because Professor Cosmology is starting to draw an audience, woke and increasingly hostile.

The woman at the next table has finally had it. She scrapes her industrial steel chair around to face them. To him: “Shut up.” To her: “Let’s hear what you have to say.”

The angel had always thought the sign would be a little more Old Testament—fiery letters in the sky, rivers of blood, something like that. But hey, new day, new style. She clears her throat.

I live in Brighton, Massachusetts, and have had flash pieces appear in Gravel and Corner Bar Magazine. Essays of mine have been published in The Gettysburg Review, New Madrid, Mount Hope, and New Delta Review.

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