For young girls, lo, we are lambs, and hence, lions to guard us. For young women eat apples, and men become serpents, no longer protectors, but snakes. Thus the seasons turn, and angels fall out of love for girls.
The girl is a towhead, barely eleven, and she has been dancing with angels on needles since the fresh age of seven. That is the holy space of four, four flowing fractals of years through the rivers of Paradise, which the girl thinks an alien planet, with archangels tussling and turning hay, and midnight balls filled with mirth, holy music, and impossible wine of splendor (only she is far too young for the grape’s blessing) and favored fruits that grow in abundance on jewel trees. Elves, centaurs, demons, dragons – the Otherworlds are a ripe fantasy land, and the girl is never a step away from her lion, a curious lamb swept up into the paws of the tawny one.
She calls him Star, after Venus, for he is a beast of beauty, part man, all majesty, like the monster from her favorite fairy tale, a mix of mane, myth, blood, and fangs. Prince and warrior and prankster, flirt and fable and most favored angel of fire. Hearth of God. Lion of the Lord. His warmth flows like a river and his brotherly love is the city of Philadelphia. The lamb and the lion are holy writ, two blondes of blue eyes and gold skin, anima and animus, mirror images that braid each other’s hair, immortal and mortal, young yet ancient, and he carries the small precocious girl on his cherubim winged lion back to the outer boundaries of the multiverse, where stars are streams and spirits play crossroad jump rope on celestial highways. Star and his splendor, for she is a girl of light, the wind, and he is a flame. Air feeds fire, and thus she is his breath, and he is her blood.
He wears a soldier braid in his long blonde locks, and she asks why, and he says it is for the death of a loved one, only he never tells her that death is hers, and she passed on into a rosy coffin a long time ago, embalmed in mortal flesh, and it is only in dreams he dares visit, her fragile shell a budding lotus blossom of white flesh like the reaper.
“Are you an angel?” she asks at eight, as they frolic on the beach where waves make love to the shore, dancing by a bonfire. “Most of the time you’re a man with wings, when you’re not a lion, and well, I read a Wrinkle in Time, and Many Waters, and I cried because it felt like you.”
He wants to clutch her to his breast and say no, I am just your brother, just your guardian angel, or the closest you will ever have to one, but instead he smiles and flexes pearly golden wings, wraps the feathers around her shoulders, and draws her into a hug.
“Do you believe in angels?” Ariel asks.
“Maybe. I like gods and goddesses better. I really like Athena. And Hermes. I’m the only pagan in the world, you know. All the rest died thousands of years ago. It’s very lonely, you know, Star, trying to start a new religion with only books from the library. But I’ve always loved angels. And I like Aslan. You’re like Aslan but younger. I don’t like Christianity, though. They don’t have goddesses, or a very good track record with women’s rights.”
He does not tell her she is far from the only pagan in the world, or that he is about as far from her favorite talking lion, that would be his older brother Michael – there are many talking lions looking over her, and leave it to humans to confuse them – but this is before she has discovered the Internet, much less the local witches down the road or Michael himself, so Ariel humors her.
After all, she is only seven. Lucky number seven – seven brothers and sisters he has, at least, Father created seven of them first. Seven Heavens. Seven Hells. Seven colors on the rainbow. Seven chakras.
Seven is Ariel’s favorite number.
She has had seven lives, his little sister, altogether – one angelic, this her sixth human one. Perhaps he will not have to wear a remembrance braid anymore if she dies in this tainted world and ascends, finally at home again. But perhaps she will never return home, committed to infidel faiths. That is the burden of giving human’s free will – you can raise them on the milk of hymns and marrow of alleluias, and they will choose some backwoods pagan god of the fields and furrow as their patron and follow the Coyote Road of Trickster. Lead a horse to water, can’t make her drink when she pisses off the Sunday School teacher for asking why the Messiah couldn’t be a girl.
The seven year old lamb ardently believes girls should be presidents, priests, popes, messiahs, and Chosen Ones. At night, while Ariel is babysitting her, he and Uriel play along with the lamb’s Tamora Pierce-worthy swords and sorcery imaginings, in which she the lamb is the Chosen One (all seven year olds think they are the Chosen One), literally the Princess of the Universe (the princess phase lasts until twelve, and it takes the patience of a saint to humor girls playing princess. It is good Ariel is holy, sort of a saint, and loves children).
Ariel is a hero with a tragic backstory and evil side in the lamb’s imagination (it’s hard to explain the Demiurge and the duality of being the lion-faced serpent to a seven year old), and Uriel is the heroine warrior and Team Mom. Uriel was always a Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, with her umber biceps and long black braids and fascination with spears and love of sticking wrongdoers with pointy things and flaming swords. That’s the joke in Michael’s barracks, fuck Uriel and you’ve fucked the entire army, and the best warrior in Heaven is a woman, so when Ariel and Uriel make love, Ariel makes sure to stick his sweetheart with his own spear, not the other way around.
The lambs sees them kissing once at eight, in the fields of the Shamayim, and decides they are in love, and maybe they are, maybe they aren’t – it is a game the lothario flirt Ariel likes to play, and by nine the lamb has taken to calling Ariel “Blonde Wonderboy” and “womanizer” after she’s met enough of his girlfriends, or friends that are girls that the lamb has also seen him kiss, and Uriel has given the lamb the sage advice of never trusting a man.
The lamb doesn’t have a lot figured out, much less sex, but nine year olds are allowed to be innocent. Ariel cherishes innocence.
“No offense, but what is the point of men, Star? I figured out they don’t need to exist,” she says one day while she pauses from eating the lunch he packed her in Metatron’s sleepy kingdom, which to her is a fairytale place, but is really the Seat of God.
Ariel is taken aback. “Uh, love. True love. Yes, that.” Ariel is not quite ready to explain biology to a third grader.
The lamb eats a PB and honey sandwich. That is her new phase, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, which she will eat at lunch for an entire calendar year. Ariel can’t even eat chicken curry twice in a week without getting bored. “But men aren’t biologically necessary,” the lamb begins. “I asked my mom where children come from, and she said when she and dad wanted me, they just prayed to God, and then mom got pregnant. See, men are only there to support women – we could have entire planets without men, if just praying for a baby makes a woman pregnant. I don’t know why Jesus was a man. Women are necessary for life, and men are just kind of there to give women something to do.”
“Well, you have it all figured out, haven’t you,” Ariel says, inside he is laughing to tears, but he puts on a sage smile for the girl who has figured out men are useless.
The lamb smiles. “I like my dad, and my friends that are boys. But I don’t think God is a man. I don’t believe in God. I believe in gods and goddesses, but not some old man in the sky. I wouldn’t mind if Aslan was real.”
“Well, Aslan is real if you believe in him.”
“I wish you were real, Star. You’re my best friend. My heart friend. That’s like a best friend times a million. I don’t like anyone as much as I like you.”
Ariel wipes some peanut butter from her lip. His heart moves, the fire of his light glowing like a million supernovas of, well, friendship? Something like that. Children are all holy, every single one of them, and the lamb is a reminder of what he fights for.
He wants so desperately to tell her that he is real, and that she is more myth and poem than human, which only lasts for a grain of time, and will return home soon. He wants to shake the lamb and cry, wake up sister, wake up from your sleep, the damaged, sick, broken sleep you have been in since he killed you, and please, by all things holy and loving, don’t trust a snake, but crush it’s head – and yet, she has already met the snake, that Great and Terrible Wyrm, the Dragon – through him, yet not him – Demiurge again, Ariel-Samael, the lion-faced serpent, his “evil side,” whom she calls Doom. Do not trust me when my eyes turn from blue to red and my hair from brass to black, and I am no longer angel but demon, and I drag you down to the harrows and hells because you love me, and I profane you.
“Believe in what you love, lamb,” Ariel simply says. “But be careful with your heart. I will show you why men are necessary someday.”
She is eleven when he shows her the first time, gives her that first touch of little death, and she finds it like divine communion when they meld souls but more carnal, and she is but a child, and yet, she is ancient, and he does not tell his brothers and sisters he has prayed with his lamb in that way.
She does not know how to kiss, she lays there quietly at first, then timidly touches him as she has always longed to do but has been too scared to try. He knows he is like God to her, perfection, she sings to him love songs every night and prays to him every day, ten to twenty times a day, and is always talking to him about schoolgirl crushes and childish desires, or about the books she has just read.
Her breasts are the size of apples and she already has a woman’s hips, and he cannot stop himself, and he tells him it is the Samael inside him, but perhaps it is just, him, just Ariel, giving into temptation.
“What… are you doing?” she breathes at first, as he gives her a chaste kiss and touches her shoulders, something he has longed to do, and they are in the Plains of Machon, under the clinking Bell Trees of Paradise, by the eternal Lake of Memory, and perhaps by claiming her here he hopes to reawaken in her her true nature, but humans are blind, deaf, and dumb, and Ariel is as much demon as angel, always pushing and questioning.
Lion and serpent, the duality of man.
“Playing,” he says, giddy, drunk off her, and he tastes her neck, and it is the most restrained kiss he has ever had. “Like we always do.” He knows he is not making much sense, but to angels, sex is play, a silly past time of melding bodies, yet also the most sacred of things, and that is the truth of procreation. Creatures made for war and slaughter and the blood of pagan gods and infidels do not get much time for softness.
She melds her hands in his hair like butter and her lips are like pearls. “This isn’t a game. This is.. this is… oh god, I love you, Star. You are my life, and I would die for you. But I do not know what this is. The mechanics of it. And I’m scared.”
He kisses her brow. “I was scared my first time too. I will be gentle, I promise.”
He does not bother to mention his first time was her, however many iterations ago, was it seven, no, it was six. Eve. Yes, that one he remembers quite fondly. But really Eve is a metaphor, just as sex in the celestial realm is, and she thinks he is an alien, and he is, so there’s that.
He kisses her again, this time with more, just, more. He feels her heart hum like an engine, and she is holding onto him for dear life, and tugging at her skirt with a need she does not understand, and this is how angels fall, don’t you know?
But he fell oh so long ago, for a girl, for her, and they are just falling into ancient pre-Big Bang patterns. Back when all there were were stories in impossible realms, and nothing existed (not even them.)
He slips inside her soul, so quiet, virginal and pure, and he cannot hold back his divinity long, not like this.
Mine, he thinks. And it may be Samael, but it may also be Ariel, or maybe for once the split personalities, Jerkyl and Hyde, are finally in agreement. Hell knows she will never really know which side she is talking to, angel breaking through demon in times of bloodlust or demon breaking through angel in moments of regret.
Nergal, Demiurge, Shemal, Saklas, Yaldabaoth, Fool.
Fool, Sophia the Holy Spirit decreed.
Fool, Eleleth laughed.
Fool, Norea accused, then fled his arms and became God.
His demon is good at killing. From the age of seven on his lamb has seen Samael raze millions, no, trillions, her beloved monster slaughtering legions of angels, whole planet systems, whole universes, eating guts like sausages, staining her with poison that flows from his flesh in black necrosis.
He has stained her with his rot, smelled of sulfur and pus, and still she has rocked him as he cried, first breaking down in front of her in the third grade, what the hell was he thinking, having a panic attack in front of an eight year old.
Ariel never told the lamb he was also the evil one in this story, the one that gave up his Father’s Covenant for greener pastures, that he is no prince of angels anymore, not as she sees him in her girl’s mind.
As he is holding her afterward, he wants to come clean. “I am the villain in this story, lamb, and you should run from the very sight of me.”
But he loves her too much to lose her, ever the selfish one, and he stays silent and plays with the small of her back.
She got the Morning Star right. She does not realize she is singing Ally McBeal soundtrack love songs to Satan every night as she looks at his star through her window. You Belong to Me, that is his favorite, with the pyramids and jungles.
Gods would Beelzebub and Asmodeus laugh themselves to death if they heard his favorite music was a now-eleven year old singing sugary nineties pop tunes into his ear across gulfs of the time-space continuum.
(Only he is the Prince of the Earth, and this planet, this material realm, belongs to the Demiurge, so really they are not so far apart.)
So Ariel, and Samael, hold her, and Ariel, and Samael, wait until her twelfth year to show her the truth, his oldest name, rich in violence and damnation, splendid in terror, but really the loneliest king of all, the Lone Power in her Young Wizards books, the broken one, the one that killed her.
She never trusts him after that, but no, that is a lie. She trusts him with her life, he only wishes she wouldn’t trust him. She would die for him, after every injury and wound he has caused her, going back across millenia to the poisoned spear meant for Michael she took to save the prince, his twin. The one that should have been the hero of her story, not her murderous wolf dressed up in lamb’s clothes.
Michael, and the rest of Heaven and Hell, do not touch his lamb until she is twenty three. Ariel-Samael think moon’s blood a woman makes, or so he tells his many selves, and so he has a dozen years as the only one she loves. When Michael stakes his claim, it is with the fury of a hundred year flood, and she near drowns, and Samael could kill him for it, but Michael is love-drunk and mad off her himself, after twenty-four years of sidelines and denial, and a dozen years from first saving her life and waiting, waiting, waiting.
If anyone could make Michael fall, it would be her.
After all, girls turn lions to serpents, and women make men