When I was a girl, angels used to visit me at night. They led to to a secret staircase where I climbed up, up, up into the radiant light that shone brighter than the midday sun.
"Drusilla, what are you up to?" My sister, having stepped back out of the shop, tugged at my arm when she found me transfixed on the sidewalk.
"I'm looking at the light," I told her.
"Light?" she asked, following my gaze. "Ugh, it's a rat."
"God?" She pulled me close and whispered, "Drusilla, you know you mustn't say such things. People will think there's a devil in you."
"But they are all God too. Surely they'd understand."
Giving me a harsh tug, she reluctantly looked back at the hat she'd wanted to purchase before leading me quickly home. When sister told what had happened, Mama dragged the both of us to church to pray for my soul. Sister sat there, looking very devout with her hands in prayer but she kept sending me dark glances, angry because I'd spoiled her morning plans. Even so, the light of God shone from her face.
I didn't always see the divine light and I tried not to because it upset my family but if felt, oh, so wonderful. It was as if everything in the world was a gift, wrapped up like a surprise but the beauty of it shone through the wrapping, glowing so brightly that I hardly needed any other lights at all.
We left the church after a few hours to make it home in time for lunch because Papa, taking a break from work that day, was joining us. When he asked me what I had planned for the afternoon, I told him I was going to practice my singing. Everyone smiled at me then. Papa because I was a dutiful daughter; Mama and sister because they thought I couldn't misbehave while I was singing.
"Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Unto God's almighty world. Hallelujah. Unto God's almighty world. Praise the Lord, in holy songs of joy..."
What they never did realize was that I was singing about the angels and about the lights that I saw shining through everything. I was singing about the joy and wonder I saw in God's world but which nobody else ever saw, much less understood.
It was hard to feel so isolated even when in my family's bosom. That evening, after dinner, Mama passed out lemons, which she loved and it was odd because even though they puckered up my mouth, the lemon tasted sweet on my tongue. I kept that to myself though, laughing at sister's joke and pretending I felt all the same things everyone else felt. They didn't like it when I was different and, loving them so, I didn't want to upset them.
But the next day, just at dusk, upsetting my family became the least of my concerns. I saw a devil and, for the first time in my life, I understood why my family was so worried about me. If I had thought someone I loved carried that evil inside of them, I'd have been on my knees night and day, praying to God to save their soul.
The devil was shaped like a woman, a beauty with golden tresses, who wore the most proper little gown but I could tell it was an evil thing. That first day, it passed by as if it hadn't even noticed us. I prayed that night, thanking God that we'd escaped it's malevolent attention. I was wrong. Two days later, it was back again. It didn't do anything more than glance at my family before nodding at me but that was enough. I knew it meant us harm.
I spent the next day in church, praying. I wanted to ask God to turn it's attention elsewhere, to some other family, but that was an evil thought. I thought it again and again. That's when I realized Mama had been right. There was a devil inside of me and it was calling out to that other devil, drawing it to my family.
My angels had abandoned me but they couldn't have been angels, not if I was as evil as that thing. Everything that had so disturbed Mama, even the things she hadn't know about like the sweetness of the lemons, was gone. It was as if meeting the devil had driven all of those lesser devils away. That's when I was certain they couldn't have been divine. Nothing that truly belonged to God could have been driven away by any devil.
I tried to keep my family inside but, of course, I had no good reason to give them and if I had told them the truth, they wouldn't have believed me. I went with them, trying to keep all of us together, so I could protect them. That's when I saw the devil again, along with another, shaped like a man but with the most angelic face I'd ever seen.
I'd thought that, if I were lucky, they'd take only me and leave my family alone. Whenever I figured they might be safe for a while, I rushed off to church to pray for God's protection. Mama began to look at me strangely but I couldn't let that stop me. It was a prideful thought but I was certain that only I stood between them and certain destruction. I think God punished me for that pride.
Everywhere we went, if it was close to dark, I'd catch them out of the corner of an eye but, when I turned to look, they'd be gone. Mama feared that I was ill. I thought I might be going insane, that I'd be dragged to Bedlam and plagued with devils forever.
Then they vanished. For six whole weeks, the devils were gone and I'd finally allowed myself to believe that my family was safe. I'd even, once again, started to feel God's peace descending on me as I prayed.
It was Sunday evening and I'd been feeling particularly secure because nothing evil could happen on God's day. We were in the parlor, playing charades, when there was a knock. "Don't open it," I shouted to my sister. She gave me a puzzled look, opened the door, and invited them in.
"Charades," the female devil said derisively. "How quaint."
"Guess what we are," the other added as they showed their true faces.
When I was a human girl, the angels carried me closer to the warmth of God's love but then Angel transformed me, setting my steps on a different path. I never felt the sun again.