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Deirdre helps Out

by scribbler121 

Posted: 02 February 2004
Word Count: 2486
Summary: The Second instalment of short stories centred around the hapless Angel, Deirdre

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Deirdre Helps Out
The sun was shining, the air was filled with a delicate perfume, and all was well in the Heavenly Realm, in fact, peace reigned. Not a huge surprise really, much the same as any other day. All around were groups of Angels chattering away, bobbing around on pretty, fluffy white clouds, swapping bits of news, and indulging in a bit of gossip. Yes, dear reader tranquillity was indeed the order of the day. Everywhere that is except in one tiny place. In one small corner of the heavenly realm someone was not at all happy, oh dear me no. It all started rather well you see.
Raphael, a senior Angel, who worked in the library, had been getting rather “fluffy” of late. His wings were causing rather a stir, literally. Every time he flapped, papers would be lifted into the air, only to descend in splendid disarray. Oswald, chief librarian, muttered darkly, as for the umpteenth time that morning, he had fluttered about picking up great sheaf’s of papers, and placed them back into some kind of order.
“ RAPHAEL” he thundered, quickly realising that it was a most un-angelic thing to do to roar with quite so much gusto.
“Will you please, for the love of all that is Holy, please sit still”
“Sorry Oswald” Raphael beamed, “ I think I need a trim”.
“You certainly need something” Oswald muttered, “Why don’t you go for a trim, take away some of that bushiness.
Raphael stopped flapping and dropped rather too quickly to the floor, his halo slipping over his face as he landed with a thud.
“You know Oswald, that’s not a bad idea, I’ll go now”
Before Oswald could say Walk, Raphael lifted himself to the sky, and with a flourish, and a trail of paper, zoomed out of the Library.
Oswald groaned, and suppressed a sob,
“ Be careful, PLEASE oooooh” He shook his head sadly, and picked up again the pile, he had just picked up a few minutes ago.
Raphael arrived at a large door with a huge brass knocker. On the door was a plaque with the words,


Raphael pushed against the door, which opened easily, and stepped inside. Stretched before his eyes were row upon row of chairs, each one faced a mirror and, and unusually for a barbershop, although perhaps not in Heaven, each one floated on its own small cloud. Not only did the chairs stretch into the distance, but, thanks to the clouds, they stretched high into the rafters as well. All of the chairs, bar one, were taken, and much snipping, and oooing and aaaring could be heard.
This was the first time that Raphael had been to Boniface’s shop, and he found the whole experience rather daunting, not being a particularly brave Angel. He made his way through the throng towards the vacant space.
“Hello Raphael, come for a trim?”
Raphael followed the sound of the voice, and spotted Deirdre waiting with outstretched arms holding a white gown,
“Come and sit down, I’ll be with you in a jiffy, I’ve just got to finish setting golden curls on a particularly wriggly Cherub. Won’t be two ticks.”
Raphael gulped, a feeling of horror rising within him, and causing his little Angelic heart to pound. Deirdre was a legend in her own lifetime, which considering that Angels are immortal is an awfully long time. Everything that she did usually spelled disaster, and she rocketed from one department to another in a hopeless quest to settle on something that she was good at.
“No problem, don’t rush, I’m not in a hurry” he blurted. In truth he was rather hoping that whilst Deirdre was away, another chair would become vacant. But, dear reader, it was not to be. Within a few moments, Deirdre returned and in a most artistic and dramatic way flung the gown around Raphael’s shoulders, knocking his halo to the floor with a loud clang. It rolled around getting faster and faster as it gradually spiralled to a halt, right at Boniface’s feet. The general hubbub stopped and Boniface, who could be a very grumpy Angel, looked at Deirdre balefully.
“ What on earth are you doing, do be careful Deirdre.”
Sheepishly, Deirdre picked up the fallen halo and placed it on one of the hooks specially designed for the job.
“ Sorry Boniface, just a slight knock, no problem.” She grinned and turned to Raphael, a large pair of golden shears in her hand.
“Now then Raphael, what can we do for you?” she said as she opened and closed the shears with a loud SWISH SWISH.
Raphael could swear that she had a manic gleam in her eye, but gulping down his panic said,
“Well urm… just a trim really, nothing too much”
Deirdre set too with gusto, and was soon surrounded by a cloud of feather clippings. It looked for all the world like a pillow fight in the Cherubs dormitory.
Deirdre was lost in a world of concentration, her tongue firmly gripped between her teeth. A snip here and a snip there, the golden shears flashing in the bright lights. Deirdre narrowed her gaze as she tried to make sure that both sides were even. Sadly all was not going as well as planned, because every time she snipped from the left, she spotted that the right was uneven, so, she snipped more from the right, then in total exasperation, she saw that the Left was now uneven.
“Oh bother,” she snapped grumpily, “these dratted shears just won’t do as I want”. She continued to snip, snip, snip and the feathers continued to fall.
Raphael grew increasingly alarmed, as his wings became visibly smaller.
“ I think that’s enough now, Deirdre….. Deirdre…… DEIRDRE!”
“OOH, gosh, sorry, I was miles away, it these shears, there must be something wrong with them, you would think they had a mind of their own.” Deirdre focused on the foreshortened wings before her eyes Poor Raphael looked like he had been plucked. She quickly moved in front of the mirror and spread her wings to prevent Raphael form seeing the disaster before his eyes. He would be furious, graceful wings were the mark of any Angel, and the sorry sight of the tatty shreds where Raphael’s wings should have been were simply not going to do.
“All done, there you look much better” Deirdre did her very best to hide her true horror and put on a professional smile of satisfaction.
“Short is the new long?” she blurted, cross with herself for spouting such twaddle. “New <go faster> wings shapes are all the rage” she scrambled mentally for re-assuring things to say, and in the end trailed off, her cheeks glowing red with a rising shame, that not only had she ruined Raphael’s fine Angelic wings, but that she had not had the courage to own up to the mistake. Poor Deirdre, Apart from the obvious advantages of being an Angel, such as being able to fly, living in a place where the sun always shone, and choosing your own bedtime. It did carry the most awful responsibility. Angels always, yes always felt terrible if they did naughty things. Oh I know that the Cherubs can be a little bit mischievous, but they are after all Cherubs, Angels were expected to set the example. After all, Angels served in the very throne room itself, and kept an eye on the comings and going in the earthly Realm. No, it simply does not do for an Angel to “slip a bit”, but that’s another story,
“ Thanks Deirdre” Raphael looked up and tried to see behind Deirdre, when he did catch a glimpse in the mirror he thought it did look a bit short, but it did look neater. He gave a timid flap, and nothing was knocked over.
“Hey Deirdre, that really isn’t bad” Raphael began to relax, and a thankful smile lit up his face. Angels do thankful smiles rather well, and within a short while he began to look positively angelic, a most useful quality in the Heavenly Realm. Sadly, the more that Raphael beamed, the more miserable Deirdre became.
Raphael jumped down from the chair, and retrieving his Halo from the halo hook, headed for the door. Halo in place he flapped his wings and rose into the air, reaching for the door handle he realised it was not there, in fact he had turned round and was not facing the waiting chairs in the barber shop. With a puzzled look he gave another tentative flap, and spun round in the most un-majestic, and un-angelic fashion. As hard as he tried, he simply could not fly in a straight line, every time he tried he just spun round and around. This was not good, and with every spin he began to feel decidedly queasy.
Raphael stopped flapping, and in graceful, if disconcerting spirals, he sank to the floor. The barbershop was in uproar; gales of laughter rang in peels from every corner. This had to be the funniest thing to happen in years. Stung into action Raphael gritted his teeth and attempted to take off again, and again, and again. Each time he spun in crazy circles, and each time the laughter became louder and louder. Finally, as Raphael thumped to the ground in splendid disorder, Boniface appeared with a look on his face that could melt candles.
“Raphael” he said in very measured tones, forcing a patient smile to appear on his otherwise stony face.
“ Just what in Heavens name are you doing”?
Straightening his halo, and mustering a dignified look as best he could, Raphael turned to Boniface and said, “Deirdre, my wings, she clipped my wings she, she, she, his voice trailed off as he broke into uncontrollable sobs.
The thing about Angels is that they are, well, just simply angelic, and as Raphael sat there, surely the saddest Angel in the Heavenly Realm, Boniface’s heart melted, and he bent down, gently lifted Raphael to his feet and sat him on one of the chairs.
“Now, now, hush, don’t cry.” From deep within his voluminous sleeve Boniface pulled out the largest white handkerchief that you ever saw. He dabbed Raphael’s eyes and amidst much hushing and there thereing, gradually helped the disconsolate Angel to stop crying.
As Raphael looked up, between sniffs, he saw that all the laughing had stopped, and as far as he could see Angels were looking at him in sympathy. The worst thing that could happen to an Angel is that he would have his wings clipped, and poor Raphael was now well and truly grounded.
“ All right everyone, back to work there is nothing to see, now where’s Deirdre?” he scanned the room before him, “Deirdre, Deirdre,” he called out seeing no sign. Deirdre had been watching the unfolding scene with horror, She had seen Raphael’s vain attempts to fly, and had witnessed the gales of laughter as he buzzed around like a drunken mosquito. Having a great deal of experience of being at the heart of most disasters, she knew that discretion was usually the better part of valour, and had made a hasty retreat. Whilst everyone had been watching Raphael, Deirdre had taken the opportunity to slip quietly out of the door.
She did not bother to fly, but shuffled along lost in a world of misery. She knew that she had to put matters right, but she dared not go and find Raphael or Boniface. Maybe later, when everything had settled down a bit, after all, what good would it do to stir things up when everybody was so cross? She tried to make herself feel better with these thoughts but in her heart of hearts, she knew just what she had to do. She stopped walking, took a deep breath and turned round, making her way back to the huge doors of Boniface’s barbershop.
Stepping inside, she saw Raphael being consoled by a big hug from Boniface, and felt tears of sadness well up form deep inside her. She knew just what she had to do.
“Erm hello Raphael” she stuttered
“Go away Deirdre, can’t you see what you have done, everyone is laughing at me, and I can’t fly, I just sort of buzz about” Raphael turned his back on her.
“Raphael” Deirdre pleaded, “please let me talk to you, I have something to say”.
Boniface, lifted Raphael up, and put his arms round both of the younger Angels,
”Now Raphael, listen to what Deirdre has to say”
Raphael hung his head glumly and folded his arms, “well go on then”
Deirdre gulped, “Raphael, I am so sorry about your wings. I really should have been more careful, and I’m sorry that I tried to cover it up.”
Boniface smiled, he knew that Deirdre was truly sorry, and he turned to Raphael,
“Well Raphael, what do you have to say?”
Raphael lifted his head and looked at Deirdre, her wide eyes welling up with tears. He knew that he just could not be cross with Deirdre any more.
“Oh that’s alright Deirdre, you did your best, I forgive you. “ He gave Deirdre a great big Angelic hug and both of them cried tears of joy.
As they hugged something really wonderful began to happen, Boniface became bathed in a bright light and slowly rose into the air. His wings unfurled behind him, and the breeze washed over Raphael and Deirdre.
“ When someone is truly sorry, and when someone truly forgives. All that is broken can be made whole”
Deirdre and Raphael looked at each other, more than a little puzzled, but then Deirdre gasped,
“Raphael…your wings”
Raphael looked into one of the mirrors, and saw the most fantastic sight, his tatty wings were growing! He unfurled them, and gave a tentative flap, rising into the air to join Boniface. They were truly magnificent. Deirdre beamed with pure pleasure. “ I don’t understand” she looked at Boniface.
“When you made a mistake, you tried to hide it, and therefore the mistake could not be made right, but when you came and said sorry to Raphael, it made everything right. You allowed Raphael’s wings to grow. This is the grace of the Heavenly Realm”
Everything became crystal clear; Deirdre thought her heart would burst with joy. She had learnt her lesson, she had learned to say sorry, and Raphael had learned to forgive.
Peace reigned once more in the heavenly Realm. Deirdre knew that her days in the barbershop were over, and strangely felt relieved, so I suspect did everyone else. Raphael went back to the Library, and peace descended. Deirdre pondered on the events of the day, and all that she could think was that alls well that ends well.

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Comments by other Members

Malachi at 14:08 on 05 February 2004  Report this post

I like what I'm reading; its warm, clear characterization, funny and breathes originality into a popular view of heaven.

The voice of the storyteller is strong, and I love the use of little asides such as: '...legend in her own lifetime, which, considering angels are immortal, is an awfully long time.' I really liked the way we drift in towards Raphael, drift over to Deidre and then drift away from them - fits with the drifting cloud scenery.

This did raise one question in me head which often bugs me in my own writing: It works really well in this, I think because of the way you bring us into the story and then out, but I have read that it's frowned upon to switch POV half way through a short story.

What do you think about this?

Inspiration at 13:40 on 28 March 2004  Report this post
Yes a lovely piece of work and well written. I too wondered about the point of view changing, but as I'm not an expert it is also something I would like to find out more about.

I must go and find the 1st instalment to see how it all fits together.

Well done scribbler, keep on scribbling!


Terry Edge at 20:06 on 14 April 2004  Report this post

You asked me to have a look at your writing, and I'm pleased to do so. I hope you won't be put off by my comments. It's very obvious that your heart is in the right place; however, since you want to get your work published, your writing head has to be in the right place too.

This story has qualities of gentleness and charm. The central idea is not bad: life in heaven with angels who are less perfect than we might expect. I'm not familiar with Christian-based children's stories so can't say if it's original. For me, the problems with it, as a story, are in terms of voice, characterisation and plot. By voice, I mean that I can't tell who it's aimed at. There is a pervading wise-old-uncle tone to the story, reminiscent a bit of those Werther's Original Toffee ads, but I'm not sure this is intentional on your part. If it isn't, therein lies a fault. If this slightly treacly tone is running you, the writer, then your audience will be limited strictly to those who are already predisposed to this kind of approach (old-fashioned Christian parents looking for inoffensive stories for their children?).

The problems with characterisation, for me, blend in with the problems about the plot. Mainly, because it is heaven, everything and everyone is ultimately safe, unchallenged and, unfortunately, bland. This blandness of goodness spills into your analogies too, e.g. " ... he [an angel] began to look positively angelic" and "the thing about angels is that they are, well, just simply angelic". So Raphael and Deirdre don't have any of the shadings that make for interesting characters. Yes, Deirdre is a little 'naughty' sometimes but only mildly so and everything is soon made right again (miraculously so, as it turns out).

When everything's so good and peaceful and angelic, there is no conflict. And conflict is what makes a plot grip the reader. Our hero desperately needs to need something that he or she is prevented from getting by the bad guy who needs it for evil reasons. But in this story, no one needs anything. They're all angels and they're all perfect. All that Raphael needs is 'a trim', but why exactly is not explained - surely in heaven nothing ever grows or dies? The trim goes wrong and there are a few tears but after much blubbing and hugging, the wings grow back to make everything perfect once again. Incidentally, I think the amount of crying at the end of the story is rather melodramatic to say the least. Remember, less is more (particularly in blubbing scenes).

As a non-Christian I can relate strongly to the stories of Jesus tackling hypocrisy or the powerful messages in the Sermon on the Mount. But this is because he is dealing with real, dark and destructive forces that get into all humans. Heaven, by contrast, bears little relevance to anyone's life. A modern child will need a reason to go there with you, which means you need to make it a world the child can at once feel a sense of wonder about and yet also identify with. C S Lewis, for instance, didn’t base his stories in heaven, he placed them in a world the children accessed through the back of a wardrobe and we’ve all rummaged in wardrobes hoping to find it!

In summary, if you are serious about publishing these stories, I'd say you need to think hard about the audience you're aiming at. If it's a Christian readership, then it would be best to approach a Christian publisher. It may well be that this kind of story suits that particular readership, I don’t know. However, if it's a more general children’s readership you want, I really think you need to radically change the infrastructure of your heaven. Why not surprise us, and make it a place that humans have got wrong, i.e. while it's a kind of reward for leading a 'good' life it’s also in fact the starting point for further struggles in one's development, therefore introducing contrast and conflict. Give Deirdre something to be aiming for, instead of just being a cutesy little minx who strays slightly away from perfection only to quickly return there. The fact is, children’s books are much more sophisticated these days, not in terms of complicated but certainly in respecting the range of their imaginations. There is a strong sense in this story of the author writing from notions that are very comfortable and stoic in himself. Although you don’t intend it, this gives it a patronising air. I think you need to push yourself more when writing – find a form that tests your own limits of understanding and experience. When you get excited by your material, so will your readers.

All the best,



I've just read the previous comments about POV. Basically, this refers to the character we witness events through. It's generally best, especially in children's fiction, to tell the whole story through just one character's POV, preferably the hero. This way, the reader builds a strong sense of attachment to the story, desperate to know what will happen next to the hero. By contrast, it's unwise to use the villain, simply because the writer is then faced with the dilemma of either having to explain the villain's reasons for being evil (which spoils the fun) or dilute his nastiness so we sympathise with him more. (Check Artemis Fowl as an example of this.) You can sometimes switch POV between characters but really this should only be a chapter at at time, and then only between say the two main characters. We're all used to watching movies these days, or TV, where there isn't an obvious POV (because the camera focuses externally, while book narrative focuses internally) but if you watch carefully, you'll see that there is always a character who is the emotional focus of a film, an episode or a scene.

Christie at 21:07 on 26 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Scribbler,

Bearing in mind the above comments by Terry i've got a few thoughts for you.

Perhaps you could add in Purgatory or Hell for conflict. Although not if this is for a Christian audience as it may cause offence.

Your writing creates clear images and perhaps this could be trimmed and illustrated for very young readers. Or perhaps an illustrated paperback for first readers (with some conflict). I think there are quite a few options and this is a good base to begin with.

Good luck


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