The Essence of Being Human

The Siege

On a most ordinary day in the history of ordinary days, an unsuspecting angel who had been vigilantly watching the world below slipped and tumbled off her cloud. She fell through the divine barrier and into the land of humans. Her angelic brothers and sisters could only watch as she disappeared into humanity.

She woke wailing and quite unsure why she was distressed. She vaguely remembered a trip and a fall and struggled in vain to recall more-but then her attention was diverted by a chorus of noise about her. There was sensation everywhere: something warm and soft wrapped around her, loud cheers and heavy sobs in her ears, blinding white which was constantly blended into moving color before her squinted eyes. She was lifted and passed around, a bumpy roller coaster ride that went on for so long that she became exhausted with the whole ordeal and drifted off into confused slumber.

The angels above the clouds did not fret or worry, for they could not feel such frivolous tricks of the human mind. They simply watched as their sister slept, thumb in mouth, thinking, Your time has come.

The fallen angel-for that was what she had become and it was not a dreadful fate, contrary to popular belief-woke again, this time at the sprightly age of two. She had blurry memories of crying and rolling around and sleeping at odd hours of the day. As she inched along the floor, scrubbing the floor clean with her sunflower yellow dress, she grabbed a toy and squeezed it gleefully until she heard familiar voices. She turned her head and cooed at the figures of a man and woman, whom she had come to regard with some affection and would later learn were her "parents." They approached and tickled her little feet. She laughed and unwittingly ejected her first word: "Ma!"

All of a sudden she was flying in the air and the couple was cheering and showering her with kisses. She didn't understand them but she knew she had achieved something amazing. A smug little grin materialized across her face.

The angels in the sky shifted in their positions on the clouds. "Now you know pride. And so begins your experience of a human life."

Years passed and the fallen angel was enjoying her seventh birthday party, saturated with her favorite food and toys. At the delicious aroma of food, her stomach woke from its slumber like a bear waking after winter and snorted its hunger. She had only intended to eat a bite of this, a slice of that, but her parents urged her to eat more and more, it was all for her. So she ate. And ate. And ate and ate and ate. She was a glutton. She devoured whatever was placed in front of her. She dined long past she felt 100% full. She ate until she was full to bursting, until she could literally feel her last gulp crowding her throat, until she could not conceivably swallow anything more. She let out a bellow of a burp and smiled contentedly, if a little uncomfortably, as she patted her impossibly round stomach.

"Thank you for the food!"

At the tender age of eleven, she felt the tempting pull of envy. There was a rival, a girl, who seemed to have it all. She was intelligent, pretty, likable, popular, athletic, creative, talented, and spoiled. She always tested best, finished first, and won most. The fallen angel was incensed by such an extravagant display of perfection. Why should she not be just as, if not more, perfect? Why should she have to suffer through mediocrity? She wanted the perfection. She wanted to take it for her own. So it was with wicked delight that she pointed and laughed when the girl was publicly humiliated by answering the question "What is two times eight?" with "Twenty!" She was a rival no longer.

And now she arrived at the precipice of her teenage years, prepared to fall into the characteristic vice of this notorious era. It began when a great laziness fell over her, smothering her in inertia. She would not do her homework, would not wash the dishes, would not do the laundry, would not do anything that required more than minimal effort. "You're like a sloth," her parents would complain as they tried to move her but it was a truly impossible feat.

When she finally grew irate at their criticism, she was consumed with a rebellious anger. She felt stifled and harassed by her parents' constant protests and dissatisfaction. Her eyes would flash with wrathful indignation as she yelled, "Why won't you leave me alone? Let me do what I want!" Her fury defined her words and deeds, often leading her astray just for the sake of contrariety. She insulted and stole and snuck around, in apparently self-destructive retaliation.

She finally calmed down not due to reason but to greed, to an insane desire for money. She craved and yearned for wealth, for the power and gratification it would bring. She settled into school, working her way steadily through each year until ultimately landing the most lucrative career she could find in the medical field: anesthesiology. She luxuriated in her fortune, earning excessively and spending lavishly. She wanted for nothing.

By now, she had surrendered much of her heavenly virtue for worldly possessions. But she was not done yet.

Only a few years after flourishing in success and riches did she run into-literally-a fatal disaster. Her expensive, polished, attractive, luxury sports car was far too feeble to shield her from the unyielding grille of a cargo truck. Her car crumpled immediately and she was crushed inside. Just before she lost consciousness, there was the briefest flash.

People often say after a near-death experience that their lives "flashed before their eyes." Every moment of theirs lives up to the time of their accident plays like a movie reel on extreme fast-forward. It is at that crucial, final moment that they realize: "I want to live." There is no need as strong as a human's need to live; such is the overwhelming force of the basic survival instinct. It is at that moment that a person is willing to give up everything they own or desire for more time to live.

It was no different for the fallen angel.

Before her mind's eye, her short life played out in successive images, managing to unearth even the memories she was sure she had forgotten. First breath, first word, first step, first day of school, first friend, first test, first failure, first sport, first job. Her mind reminded her of all her wrongs: purposely tripping a classmate, pointing and laughing at a rival's mistake, skewering a bully with poisonous words, eating heartily in front of a friend without a lunch, stealing food and jewelry from a store, failing tests in favor of sleep, yelling at her parents, yelling at her friends, hoarding money. The tornado of regret slammed into her so powerfully that it was almost a physical injury. What a waste her life had been!

But then she remembered the good things: the happiness and laughter and love and belonging and tenderness. She remembered the family vacations, her sparkling childhood, giggling with friends, first love and first heartbreak, conspiratorial sleepovers, whispered secrets, inside jokes, the passion of work and the intense wonder of saving a life. There was so much more she could do, so much more she had yet to do! She could not leave now.

In her near-death enlightenment, she suddenly recalled her previous existence above the clouds. As an angel, she had eternity and more. She was protected from pain and suffering and failure and stress-but also from emotion and the solely human ability to truly enjoy. And she chose.

In that infinite instant of time, she finally understood what it means to be "human." Being human means making mistakes, true, mistakes that are sometimes irrevocable. It means regretting every day, struggling every day, wanting more and more and more every single day. It means agonizing and enduring, crying and torturing, loving and laughing and hungering and hoping and loathing and seething and trying and screaming and aging and cheating and mourning and dying until at long last, when you can feel no more, when satisfaction outweighs regret, when you look back on the time you were allotted and decide you've had enough-then and only then should you lay down your body, close your eyes, and glide away from the earth and into the peaceful sky.

She chose to continue being human because her time had not ended yet. Looking back, she could not lie to herself and say, "Yes, I've done everything I could and I am ready to go home." She chose life because she was unwilling to give up the poignant sensation of being alive. So she prayed. During that very last second before dissolving into oblivion, she prayed for life. Please, please let me live. Please, I don't want to die yet. I don't want to let go of my heart yet. I don't want an emotionless existence. I will give up anything. I will stop lusting for anything other than living my best life. I will do whatever I can to fulfill myself before I die. Just please, let me live.

The angels in the clouds heard her request and sighed unemotionally. With their former sister pleading so sincerely, how could they refuse? She had made her choice very clear; she was now completely human. They nodded and down below, a woman was reborn.

When she opened her eyes, there was only white. White for innocence, for purity, for eternity. She smiled. And her life resumed with renewed vigor.

It took her a few years to fully recover from her hellish car crash, but in that time she gave away most of her wealth, saving only what she needed to support herself and her family. By the time she could walk again, she has was ready to begin her world tour. Her new calm and compassion opened her up to amazing new experiences. She ate new foods and met new people. She went hang gliding and scuba diving and unexpectedly fell in love. She nurtured her own family and built her own home, and in this way, she was able to live the better part of her life happily. Time scurried by and soon, she looked back on her life and decided she had done quite enough. It was time to go home.

And so, it was with great remorse and anticipation that she floated back up to her siblings in the clouds, returning to her divine state.

"Welcome back," they greeted her with open arms, and it was as if nothing had changed, except that the once-human angel now had infinite memories of a gorgeous human life.

"What happened?" she asked. "Why did that happen to me?"

"It was your time to fall," they replied simply. "And your time will come again." Then they left her to her own thoughts.

She sat on a cloud for timeless days, reminiscing. Humans are such contradictory creatures, she thought. She was not ashamed of the grievous sins she had committed and the tasteless thoughts she had entertained, for she also remembered all of the happiness and love she had spread. Eventually, she smiled and rejoined her siblings in their vigil over Earth, eagerly, patiently awaiting her next excursion on that exquisitely, painfully beautiful journey known as life.

A/N: So...hey.

Ehehehehe yes I've been gone for a loooooong time because I haven't been inspired much! I mean, I have, but only if they are KPOP STARS WHEEEEEEEEEEE

But I wrote this for a contest thingy so I'll post it here and hopefully receive some constructive criticism. I'm aware that this is definitely not my best writing and I don't like it nearly as much as some other stories I've written, but I like it well enough and I'd like to improve. So please review, if you can spare the time and effort! Thank you! Enjoy!

Write on. Read on. That's my motto. :D

© Copyright 2014 by The Siege