"Matilda's Assignment" Chapter 1
The snow fell gently on the New York City street. Matilda stood unnoticed in the cold winter night watching the passersby jostle each other, their arms overloaded with Christmas presents. She should be feeling the warmth of the season. She should be glowing with love for all. She certainly should be, after all it was her job to feel the spirit of the yuletide, but instead she felt frustration, pure and simple.
Her eyes lifted skyward and followed a particularly fat snowflake as it made its gentle landing onto a small child’s outstretched hand and the child giggled joyfully.
The snowflake glistened and shimmered and Matilda envied the child. She wished she could be as innocent and as full of guile especially, when in a faint whistling of the wind, she heard the call. She’d been expecting it. She had failed this last assignment miserably, but in truth it wasn’t entirely her fault and they had to know that. She’d tried her best but sometimes you just couldn’t make a difference.
Matilda shrugged her shoulders in resignation to what would come and prepared to be recalled.
Instantly, she felt the scattering of her essence and the freefalling began. She may as well enjoy the brief ride for at the end of it lay reprimand.
* * *
“Record your report Matilda and I’ll submit it to the board for review,” the receptionist commanded and held out a puff of pure white, cloud mist with a small opening in the center where the events would be recorded.
Matilda looked at the small puff of white in her hand with a feeling of dread. She turned away from the receptionist and lifted it slowly to her lips. Recalling the events of her last assignment, she breathed into it, filling the little mist tablet with her version of events. When Matilda opened her eyes and saw that the little mist cloud had turned a worrisome shade of yellow she cringed. The small crystal meter on the tablet’s side registered the success of the mission, as well as the level of effort that the guardian had put into the assignment. The meter on this tablet hovered at the lowest possible level. The yellow color meant she’d barely tried. But that wasn’t true, she had tried!
The tablet must be defective she decided and shook it slightly trying to change the color, nothing changed.
Matilda turned back to the receptionist and smiled weakly, “I think there must be something wrong with this one. It doesn’t seem to be registering my assignment correctly.”
The Receptionist eyed her skeptically then shook her head. “I’m afraid it is registering precisely the way it feels it,” seeing Matilda tremble she offered softly, “I’m sorry dear.” Then she gently pried the mist tablet from Matilda’s hands and pressed it into a small disc like opening on her desk.
It was now on its way to the board.
Matilda held her breath and when the order came to stand before the council she answered with a less than confident attitude, re-thinking her opinion that she had not failed through any fault of her own.
“Matilda, it has been recorded that the soul placed in your care did not change her course with your guidance. In your assignment, you were to help her find her inner strength and teach her to resist wallowing in self-pity, and feeding that self pity with over eating. Your assignment was heading towards physical and emotional disaster and you were sent to gently steer her towards a hopeful direction. We on the council have summoned you here to explain to us what you think went wrong.”
The booming voice of the ruling Guardian was not angry, Matilda was comforted by that, so she stepped a little closer.
The council guided all the underlings at this level of learning, and they had the patience of saints, she smiled at her thoughts but noting the sudden stern look from the one who’d spoken to her, she cleared her throat and shrugged slightly as she answered, “She wouldn’t listen to me.” Matilda stated simply and stepped back.
“What pray thee, did you whisper to her subconscious when she binged on dessert foods?” The second Guardian in command asked her politely.
“I simply told her, she was too fat to eat that chocolate mousse, and that she would just get fatter, and nothing would change for her. I said to her over, and over again, every time she reached for a cookie or a cupcake, ‘don’t eat that you’re too fat already! Think about how hard it is now to climb the stairs. If you keep eating this way you’re going to have to be fork lifted up, so stop doing this to yourself!’ But as dire as all those warnings were, she just seemed to eat more whenever I spoke to her.” Matilda shrugged again and stared directly at the combined bright lights of the guardians before her.
All on the council glowed with the vibrant light of purity. She was a dim shade of beige in their presence.
The silence didn’t bode well for her. They didn’t seem pleased with her summation. As a matter of fact, several of them emitted a palpable disappointment in her. She felt it wash over her and sighed deeply.
She honestly didn’t see what she could have done differently or what would have made a difference with her assignment. The woman had been set on destroying her own health and nothing Matilda did seemed to change that.
“Matilda, we hear the truth in your conviction and believe that this is how you perceived the situation, but we want you to think again if there would have been another way to make her hear you. Perhaps in ways that would have made her think happier thoughts, thoughts designed to bring out self hope and not self recrimination?” the ruling Guardian’s voice was nearly hypnotic and it had Matilda thinking back.
She visualized Regina Calloway, the woman she had been sent to guide. The woman was a five foot three, two hundred and eight pound, unrepentant chocoholic. Trying to make her hear the truth was the best way she knew how to snap her out of it, but it just hadn’t worked. No, she didn’t think there was anything else she could have done.
“No, I don’t think so.” She replied sincerely but with her answer she felt disappointment directed at her from all of the guardians, she stepped back from the force of it. There was a quick discussion among the guardians and then the brightest of them spoke to her.
“Matilda, listen closely to your own soul’s vibration and tell me honestly what you think would have been the outcome if you had followed this course for your assignment. What if you’d had her imagine how beautiful she could look if she didn’t give in to the urge to binge? What if you’d helped her create a fantasy of all that was hidden in side of her? Talked up her many talents and shown her the healthier person that would emerge with careful eating habits? You might have had her imagine the confident, happy woman she could be instead of holding up a mirror to reflect her defeat. Do you think that might have been a better approach?” As the head Guardian spoke Matilda had images of what those kinds of thoughts would have invoked in her charge.
Yes, she admitted, it might have made a difference; those were pretty pictures and gave hope not hostility. She’d never thought about that. She really hadn’t. The quickest way to solve a problem for her had always been to tell it exactly as it was.
“I guess I really blew it. Didn’t I?”
“You may not have placed Regina Calloway on the best path but all is not lost. We’ve sent a seasoned guardian to prompt her and he is quickly gaining her trust. She is beginning to listen and we believe she will turn her life around very shortly.”
“That’s good then, right?” Matilda sighed with relief, hopeful now that she would not be reprimanded too severely for her failure.
“Yes, but we still need to address you’re dilemma. Maybe we haven’t given you a case you can feel empathy with so we have decided to give you free reign. Matilda, for this next assignment, we will let you pick. Go back, search the faces, feel the life flow around them, and then choose your own assignment.”
Matilda stared at all the guardians in disbelief. She had wanted to do just that this last time out but they had forbidden it, telling her she wasn’t seasoned enough. Now they were giving her carte blanche. Why? It could only be a test. She hated tests, always had. And if this were a test, she’d probably fail.
“What’s the catch?” Matilda asked skeptically.
“The catch?” the lead guardian repeated with a chuckle. The first level trainees always amazed him, some so serious you had to force them to lighten up, others so blasé you had to force them to be serious. Matilda was a little of both, and truly a delight, but she had a problem focusing on others and feeling their needs. Her lack of empathizing with her assignment caused her to draw on a quick solution, skim only the surface of consciousness and never get close enough to really understand the soul’s need. That was her prime problem. He hoped this time would be different. “There is no catch Matilda. We’ve assigned you three cases so far and none have been a success. Perhaps, we have been overlooking where your best work could be done. We’ve decided to let you show us.”
“That’s it? All I have to do is find my own assignment, decide what needs to be addressed in the person’s life, and do it? No interference?”
“No interference. Unless, there is a danger of a life going awry, then we will have to.”
“So, if I scr- mess up…you’ll step in?”
“Exactly,” the lead guardian assured her.
“I won’t mess up.”
“Good! Then so be it. God Speed Matilda.”
And with that salutation Matilda was cast back into the wintry New York City street in the middle of the same crowd of Christmas shoppers, but now she watched them all with a new sense of purpose in her gaze and a determination not to fail.