CHAPTER 6

The first sun rays shed over the small town announcing another beautiful day on that late spring weekend. But that lovely scenario was a contrast to the sorrow of Bontiful's people, for a person who had become so dear to them was still in hospital, fighting for her life after saving the life of so many children three days before. Bouquets of flowers, prayers and messages of gratitude arrived from time to time and the hospital staff was careful enough to keep the letters in the hopes that Monica would finally get out of the coma and find out how much she meant to the whole city.

Karen came to check on the patient every now and then and under another angel's attentive eyes she verified all the machines that were connected to Monica's human body and made some notes. Andrew could notice that the nurse held great concern towards the patient as there was no sign of recovery according to her latest records. Karen left a few minutes later, and once again the angel of death remained alone standing by his dearest friend's bed.

But a familiar voice broke the deep silence inside the room.

"Andrew..."

The blond angel turned his eyes away from Monica and saw another angel coming towards the bed. "Tess..."

The expression on the supervisor's face was a mix of anguish, anxiety and sadness as she turned her eyes from the angel of death to look at her dearest friend. The image of Monica lying on that hospital bed was shocking, especially for those who got to see it for the first time. With Tess it was not different and the supervisor felt like a part of her had just died.

"I didn't know... I... For two days I felt there was something wrong but couldn't tell what it was... I thought it was something to do with my assignment... I..."

It was one of those rare occasions that she could not find words to express what she was feeling.

"There's a doctor and a nurse to take special care of her." He spoke, and a more attentive look could tell that he too was having trouble with words.

Tess stroked Monica's pale face, frowning at the image in front of her. "I can't bear to see my baby lying here so...lifeless..."

"The entire city is praying for her. Monica saved many children... Three of them might not have survived the fire had she not found them and taken them out of the building in time."

The older angel nodded her head slowly. "So I've been told... No news about our angel girl ready to help others no matter what..." She looked at Andrew and forced a slight bittersweet smile. "I'm relieved you're here, angel boy. Glad that in this meantime there was someone at her side other than the Father, so that she doesn't feel alone or afraid."

"Tess... You know I would be here either on assignment or not..." He started, not knowing how to tell her about the mission he had to accomplish in case Monica's condition worsened.

"Yes, I know that, baby."

"Everyone here is treating her with utmost care and there are so many others outside this hospital praying for her recovery that I'm sure she will react. Monica is a fighter, we both know that." He meant to bring some comfort but the sorrow that was flooding her heart was too intense right now.

"My angel girl... An angel, Andrew! How can an angel..."

"I questioned that myself when I got here. But Sam explained that, in human form, we are all exposed to risks." Andrew reached out and took her hand. "Besides, I'm quite sure Monica herself is on assignment."

"On assignment?"

"I didn't quite understand at first, but I've been here long enough to witness a few miracles that were just possible because of her." He explained. "There are so many people who had their hearts touched by Monica's actions and words... People who work at the school, her students, one of the boys she saved from the fire and his own family...I've witnessed how deep she managed to change them."

Tess turned tearful eyes at her dear charge. "I'm not surprised...our angel girl is able to bring hope even to the saddest soul, to deliver God's miracles even in the most improbable places." Tess squeezed Monica's hand gently. "I just hope that she herself is deserving of a miracle too."

"She is, Tess. And meanwhile, I'll do whatever I can so that she isn't afraid." The words came out of Andrew's lips before he could think about them, leaving the supervisor a bit confused.

But before Tess could make any question, their conversation was interrupted when the bedroom door was opened and Dr. Richards entered along with Karen. None of them saw the angels, who remained in their original forms.

"I'm quite worried about her, Karen, I confess no other patient has... touched me the way Monica did." The man said as they approached the bed.

"I understand what you're saying, doctor. I don't actually know her but after all I've heard about her and what she did for those children... it's impossible not wanting her to recover. Plus, she sort of... involves this room in a different atmosphere...her presence here is very strong."

"I totally agree." He said, staring at his patient with compassion and tenderness. "She seems so delicate and at the same time capable of the bravest actions."

"She is. Over thirty children are alive thanks to her."

Dr. Richards gave two steps forward and touched the bandage wrapped around Monica's head. "Which proves she's beautiful in and outside and even without words, this young lady has taught me so much...It seems that she's reminding me why I chose to be a doctor..."

Karen took in his words and nodded her head: to her, what he was saying had more meaning than to the two angels who were standing there, invisible to their eyes. The young nurse bit her lower lip and spoke again. "It's been three years since Helen is gone, right?"

"Three years and two months..." He replied, his suffering due to his wife's passing was palpable and what Richards did not realise was how his sorrow affected Karen. "And all of a sudden, 'Miss Monica' comes into my life and has the power to inspire in me so much affection and admiration..."

The doctor was oblivious to the expression on his assistant's face at hearing those words – there was a mix of disappointment and sadness written in there, as if those words were hurtful ones.

But surprisingly someone else shared her annoyance at the profound enchantment Dr Richards felt towards his patient: Andrew frowned at the way the man looked at Monica and could hardly hide his discomfort at listening what the doctor was saying and, most importantly, at what he could see in the man's eyes.

"But have you considered she... might already have someone in her life?" Karen spoke, with some effort.

"I don't think so. All this time she's been here only Andrew comes to see her regularly, apart from her co-workers and students' families. And Andrew is only a friend." He quickly replied. "The truth is that I did not think that someone would be able to touch my heart so deeply after Helen lost her life in that car accident... I hope I can have the opportunity to tell her so."

That statement was enough for Andrew to disappear from Tess's side and reappear in human form a second later, knocking at the door that had been left ajar.

"Excuse me..." He said, wishing the man would take his hand from Monica's hair as his eyes sought for his dearest friend.

Both the doctor and the nurse turned away and Karen greeted Andrew with a welcoming smile. His care and devotion towards Monica moved her and she wondered if those feelings plus the look in his eyes had deeper roots than mere friendship.

"Come in, Andrew."

"Good morning..." The blond angel spoke, still unsettled by what he had heard from Monica's doctor. "Any changes in her condition?"

"Unfortunately not, Andrew. But this isn't entirely a bad sign since her organism hasn't shown any adverse reaction to the medication we're administering her."

The blond angel sighed with disappointment, making his way up to Monica's bed and stroking her hair with tenderness. Doctor Richards' interest for his patient and Andrew's reaction to this were not missed by another angel, who remained on the other side of the bed, still processing the turmoil of thoughts and impressions she had about the latest events.

Andrew nodded his head slowly. "I understand."

The uncomfortable silence that followed was broken by the angel himself. "I'll stay with her for a while, if this is alright with you."

"No, it's just fine, Andrew. There are some other patients Karen and I must check on."

Not many words were exchanged between the angel of death and the supervisor after Karen and Richards had left. Tess' pain at her "angel girl's" physical suffering was too much to bear. Plus, she could detect something else going on there: Andrew's annoyance at Dr. Richards' comment about Monica was the kind of reaction she would never expect from him. There was something in the green of his eyes, always staring at Monica's sleeping form, she could not fully understand.

But what Tess did recognise was his immense sorrow, as she too felt her heart heavy and filled with fear of what they were up against on the following days.