The Creative Life

Fighting the wind Eve looked down from the cliff towards the turbulent blue-green waters of the ocean below. If it was an ocean - she had no way of telling where exactly she was. Not that it really mattered; what did matter though was where she was not.

The height and the views were breathtaking – rugged coastline descending sharply into the whirlpool of hungry waves, wild wind bending the few surviving trees almost to the ground, sinister mist rolling down from the surrounding hills. The kind of landscape you would call mysteriously breathtaking, but not necessarily one you would like to go admire in the middle of your wedding ceremony.
On any other day she would be enchanted by the view, drawn to its magic, willing to explore. On any other day she would be more than thrilled to be here, wherever here was. But definitely not on her wedding day. Not when she was supposed to be God knows how many thousand miles away, in that small, charming church, standing in front of the altar and saying the “I do” part to the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. And she was there, no more than few minutes ago, and everything seemed so appealingly … normal. For a moment there she actually thought she will pull it through.
But because apparently nothing could be normal in her life anymore here she was, cold to the bone, her wedding dress torn by the wind, wet hair pasted to her face from the rain and the exquisite make-up dissolving rapidly (never mind the three hours in front of the mirror it took to achieve the desired effect). How could she come back looking like this, with a reasonably sounding explanation of how on earth within a few minutes, if not seconds, she turned from a radiant bride into a drenched heap of misery? And that she has simply disappeared in an instant, one moment standing next to her husband-to-be, next moment not there at all? Certainly no-one has ever run from the altar with that kind of speed…She felt the fury start to build inside her.

High above the same cliff Eve was standing on two translucent figures appeared in the air.
‘Are you…scared?’ Aeriel asked hesitantly.
‘We are Angels of Destiny, we cannot experience fear. But…’- Angus’ voice lacked the usual pomposity – ‘but suddenly I’m not quite sure this is such a good idea.’
‘You know, in theory we are supposed to be omniscient as well, so something like “I’m not sure” should not exist in our vocabulary either. And yet I have this strange sinking feeling inside…Remind me again why are we doing this?!’
‘If we don’t, we will be the first ones ever who failed to complete a Task. Even I don’t know what happens if Destiny’s will is disobeyed, but I’m sure it cannot be good. We are talking torn planes of existence or Universe-wide chaos here.’ – Angus did not sound happy at all.
‘Right, I knew there was a reason behind this lunatic plan of yours’ – an Angel of Destiny Aeriel might have been but she tended to succumb to a surprisingly human need for sarcasm. ‘You do realize that we are breaking something like ten cardinal rules here?.’
‘But the Universe will survive, so we have no choice. Who would have thought that these human beings would turn out to be so complex? They are even sort of…likable’
For her companion to openly admit something like this must have meant the situation was dire indeed. 
‘In this case, it’s time to go. It’s now or never’
‘Let’s go’ Angus agreed with just a slight hint of hysteria in his voice.
The two Angels grew brighter and brighter only to disappear in a flash of light seconds later. When they reappeared, this time right next to Eve, they were not so translucent anymore.

  Chapter I: The Destined Meeting

Not more than a year ago Eve Kerry was your average girl in her late 20ties, struggling to make her living in the bustling London suburbs. Well, maybe she was not that average. Her parents’ marriage was the perfect example of how two opposites tend to attract each other, her mother being a temperamental Italian, her father a stereotypical much-reserved Englishman. This in turn resulted in a child with a nature full of contradictions and a constant surprise to everyone around her.
With her father’s looks – rather skinny build, fair complexion, pale brown eyes and a mass of chestnut hair, the only thing which distinctly showed her Italian heritage was her full, boldly shaped mouth. It is no wonder no-one expected a girl with typically British looks to suddenly erupt in a distinctly non-British fury which often involved inventive swearwords from several languages and more often than not a flying object or two. Or ten, but that was only in extreme cases.
But these days of uncontrolled temper-tantrums were over. She could control herself perfectly now – most of the time anyway. She survived the early school years well enough, even enjoyed college (a degree in chemistry was the result of it) and finally settled in a pretty suburban part of London having moved out from her parents’ house a couple of years ago. That was a rather abrupt event actually, accompanied by hers and her mother’s tempers almost wrecking their living room, which had her father running for the door. It was back when she had announced that she does not want to pursue her further carrier in the field she studied.
Five years later she was living in a quite spacious (at least according to London standards) loft at the top of a five-storey building overlooking the Thames river, and it was a comfortable life. OK, maybe it was rather cold and a bit windy in autumn and winter, and the building had no elevator, but at least she had what she needed most – a space to live with the right kind of light she required for her job, for her photography she loved so passionately. And even though this passion has not been earning her enough to make a decent living (so far), she made do with a part-time job as a secretary in a nearby solicitor’s office.
So, all in all, she was content…or she should have been. But like so many of us, she always wanted more, dreamed about travelling around the world, about magic changing her life and about thousand of other unreal things her abundant imagination supplied.
On that fateful Friday one year ago Eve was doing what she always did on Friday mornings – sitting behind the desk in the office, half-heartedly sorting through the files and dreaming about being somewhere else. At this very moment she hated these dusty files with all her heart, despised the rain drops banging heavily on the windows, felt her fury building up inside her and wished, oh so fervently wished she was thousands of miles away somewhere in Africa, having adventures even Tarzan would not be ashamed of. She had no idea that in a few seconds the Angels of Destiny will interfere and change her life forever.

And then the world turned black.

It stopped being black about 3 seconds later. But those 3 seconds ago the world was a cold, cluttered, rather run-down office with worn furniture and piles of papers everywhere. When it came back it was…an incredibly hot, vivid yellow and green open space.
Disbelievingly Eve took in her surroundings. She was not sitting on a squeaky office chair anymore, only on a moss-covered fallen log. There was no filing cabinets, no carpet, no windows; she was surrounded by huge, fervently green trees, dense shrubbery and vividly blue sky high above her. The only sounds she could hear were the noise of flowing water somewhere nearby and the buzzing of insects.
‘Hello, is anyone here?’ – Eve felt foolish saying this, but nothing else came to her mind.
‘Where the hell am I? That can’t be happening!! Jeez, I am finally loosing it, hallucinations now, what next?’ – first signs of irritation appeared.
Only if it was a hallucination, it was a pretty good one. And not a nice one at that. If this was Africa, it was not the one she was daydreaming about moments ago. Nothing seemed fairy-tale and adventurous here. The sun was pounding, the air was horribly moist, her 200-pound-worth pumps already covered with sleazy mud. She took a few steps in a random direction, slipped on something and landed heavily on her butt. The human voices and the gun shots that followed came to her so unexpectedly that she froze lying on the ground, covered by dense shrubbery.
Stricken with panic she managed to creep deeper into the greenery, completely oblivious to the sharp thorns tearing her clothes and breaking her skin. She could hear the voices more clearly now – two, no, three distinctly male voices – discussing something in a strange language she could not understand. It was only when they were a few steps from her hiding place when she actually saw them – one white and two black men, all garbed in tight-fitting, pale green linen clothes, with long rifles hanging on their backs and huge, curved knives strapped to their wastes. From the harsh tone of their raised voices she could guess they were arguing about something.
Trying as hard as possible not to think about the absurdity and the apparent danger of her situation, Eve curled in her hiding place, wishing fervently the men would just pass her by. She fought hard not to cry out when an incredibly huge mosquito – or at least a mosquito-like insect - bit tastily into her arm, but she failed to control her body’s automatic response and slapped the insect.
The resounding clap seemed incredibly loud to her, but when she peaked out, dizzy with fear now, she saw with relief that the three men were already a few steps behind her hiding place and still walking. She was halfway through her gasp of relief when the white guy suddenly stopped and turned around, saying something quietly to his two companions.
She took one look at his face and the world…shifted.
Eve was not the kind of girl who would immerse herself into colourful world of mind-blinding romance literature, so she would not have the right words to describe what happened to her at this very moment. The earth did not move, the birds did not sing and the rose petals did not float around, but something important did happen. She looked into the deeply green eyes which radiated warmth. There was a spark in them she was drawn to, a spark she felt she would always need from now on.
The stranger took a hesitant step towards her and none of her instincts told her to run away, but on the other hand she doubted she possessed any instincts that could come useful in such a situation. She started to come out of her hiding, oblivious to the fact that a better part of her skirt – an original D&G by the way - was caught by a branch and got torn away. 
It was around the time when the world went black for Eve when Jack Gardner started having really serious doubts about his choice of carrier. Although he should not really blame his inclination towards medicine for his current miserable situation. Objectively, becoming a doctor was probably one of the best choices he has made in his life – he liked what he was doing, he was good at it, and he made a decent living from it. It provided him with everyday challenges he needed so much. A pre-med school, long college years in Yale, degree in medicine with specialisation in toxicology, a well-paid position in New York Mercy Hospital R&D department – he seemed to be following a clear path.
But right now Jack was far from being objective. Something must have clearly gone wrong because at this very moment he was hot and miserable and bone weary, lost somewhere among the swamps of Africa, hundreds of miles from the nearest signs of civilisation (i.e. cold bier, a hot dog and a comfortable sofa), following two local guides whose language he could barely speak. What he did understand from their conversation was that the two ever-quarrelling guides could not agree which route was the right one to the Su’hil’da village. What they could agree on was the fact that some wild animals may be roaming about, so they should have their rifles ready, and that was no consolation at all.
When the idea of a sponsored trip to Africa was first presented to him by the Board Of South-West Toxicologists Association, it did look as a good idea to him. A great one in fact – wasn’t he always the one daydreaming about foreign travels, discovering new medicines while reaching wild places previously unknown to mankind? It was not only his captivating green eyes he’d inherited after his father, it was his ambition and adventurous streak as well.
And here it seemed that the realization of one of his most precious dreams is handed to him on a silver plate…
 But it was not supposed to be like this. The plan was to travel to a few villages deeply hidden in the African wilderness, whose native inhabitants are known to use rare herbs unique to this region to cure various illnesses. Investigating it seemed like an adventure of a lifetime. What the plan and his vivid imagination did not predict was the mundane strain of the journey. Hot and moist climate in which it was hard to breath, no amenities civilisation provides and which he so far always took for granted, immense distances to travel, food he was so totally unaccustomed to and hundreds of things which turned this adventure into a total misery. And no-one has ever mentioned the blood-thirsty enormous mosquitoes.
A sudden slapping sound brought him back abruptly to here and now. ‘Another wild animal looking for an afternoon snack?’ he thought with the mixture of irony and self misery. ‘Can it get any worse than this?!’ The two natives seemed to be so engrossed in their discussion about how to find their way out of the jungle that they did not hear anything. He told them to stop – or at least he hoped that’s what he said, he still struggled with their language – and turned around.
And then he saw her, and his world…shifted.
He should have been surprised to find a lonely girl in this wilderness. He should have been questioning the weird berries they ate earlier today; knowing his luck they were hallucinogenic if not poisonous. But to do all this he’d have to be able to think clearly – and he most certainly was not.
It did not matter that she had mud smeared over her cheeks, bloodied scratches on her forehead, that her hair was tangled and she looked like a scared, cornered animal – her face was captivating. He could not even say if it was beautiful, not under all the dirt and blood. But her big brown eyes made him want to hold her in his arms and make all the worries and fear he saw lurking in them go away – forever. He could feel a warm glow starting somewhere inside him; transfixed, he took a cautious step towards her.
This is the earth-shaking reaction you get when Destiny decides to interfere with your life, as She did this time.
‘Now, this is definitely against the rules’ complained Aeriel. As the youngest of the Angels of Destiny – merely five hundred years old – she still showed some traits of the human race she originally came from - mainly impatience and sarcasm. The others were determined to root these out of her but have not been successful so far. Worse, some even came to appreciate her ironic sense of humour – not that they would admit to it openly, of course.
‘Unfair? Why? It was their destiny to meet, so they did. I’m done here.’ – to Angus the Destiny he served was the only thing that mattered, so if She said these two were fated to meet, he just helped it happen in the swiftest and most efficient way he could. Not that he could comprehend why would Destiny, the Entity able to influence everything and everyone in the entire Universe, take an interest in two mere human beings. They were, in his opinion, rather boring creatures with an extremely short life span, inhabiting a backwater world far from the Core of Universe.
‘What a typically male response! The fact that you are dissatisfied with this task does not mean that you can pluck her from where she is sitting and transport her to another continent in a second! Such things do not happen on Earth just like that. There’ll be problems.’ – she predicted darkly.
Angus was not sure what exactly “typically male” meant but somehow he suspected it wasn’t exactly a compliment. ‘You get too much worked up about it. These humans stumble across what they naively call “paranormal phenomena” ten times a day, and still do not comprehend what’s happening right in front of them. She’ll find a twisted way to explain it to herself, and that’s the end of it. We leave her where she is.’
‘Oh no, we most certainly do not. You should know that Destiny does not work like this! Eve goes back - NOW.’ – this time Aeriel did not wait for Angus to react and simply released her will.
The girl disappeared. 
Jack was sure he never took his eyes off her, but before he even finished his first tentative step towards her she just blinked out of existence. In his 28 years of experience of living on Earth, most of which he spent studying science, people most certainly did not simply go ‘poof’ and disappear.
This did not change the fact that she did, disregarding all laws of physics. One moment there, in front of his eyes, a fraction of a second later not there. But because she seemed so real, so…vibrant with life, he dismissed the theory that she was just his hallucination.
Even though the two local guides assured him that they saw no-one, adding a few uncomplimentary comments about how soft, white men cannot withstand the African food and climate without going crazy, he made himself search the bushes. He found a few spots with trampled grass and broken branches, but that might have just been an animal. He needed more. Determined not to resign so easily he crawled under the thicket of shrubs, disregarding the ubiquitous horns tearing at his skin and clothes.  And then he saw it – a piece of garish material hanging on a lone branch.
Fingering the scrap of material he sighted with relief. It seemed he was not having hallucinations after all, the proof in his hand was real enough. An uneven piece of fabric, printed with vivid orange-red-green flowers, decorated with some of these glittery pieces women seemed to like so much. Under different circumstances he would look at it with disdain, it was much too garish for his taste, but right now it was the most precious thing in the world to him. Not only did it prove his sanity, it was the only link he had to the mysterious woman who captivated his soul with one look, and then … went ‘poof’ – for lack of better word.
For Eve, who just started to crawl out of her hiding place, the world went black again. When it blinked into existence she was sitting behind her desk in the office in downtown London. She could hear her boss, a down-to-earth solicitor in his mid-50ties, walking along the corridor, so he did not startle her when he opened the door.
‘Jesus, Eve, what on earth happened to you?? You look as if someone dragged you through the bushes – at high speed – and then damped you in a mud pond. Don’t tell me, this is another of these “cool looks” you young girls seem to be inventing every two months? The fake blood marks are definitely an exaggeration, don’t you think? Although, admittedly, this one is better than what I saw yesterday when I was walking in…..’ – for Eve, his voice blurred. She felt that if she didn’t get out of here right now, she was going to scream. Hot and sticky panic was taking over.
‘I’m sorry Mr O’Connel’ – she was surprised at how steady her voice sounded – ‘but I don’t feel very well. I need to go home. I can work some extra hours next week.’ If I’m still alive by then and not stranded somewhere in Australia.. To sound more convincing she added the classic female line which always left men confused and agreeable “You know, it’s this time of the month…”
She stumbled out of the office, followed by Mr O’Connel’s worried glance.
The way home was like a big blur to her. She did not want to think. She could not think. She just wanted to curl in her bed, go to sleep, and wake up to a normal world, to find out all this was just a very nasty dream but a dream nonetheless.
But when she finally got to her bed ( it was a miracle she found her apartment in this state of mind) and the sleep claimed her exhausted body, it was not wild Africa she dreamed about. It was a pair of eyes – green and warm – which has captured her heart during these precious few seconds of eye contact, thousands of miles away and less than an hour ago.