On religious paintings …
Lucifer: At least I’m wearing some clothes in this one.
Michael: Alas, I’m still dressed as a ballerina.
A scene from Roots and Wings, book 2 of the not*the*same*river series.
“I thought you had horns,” said Ezra.
Lucifer looked at him, presumably assessing whether it was a serious observation. “I’m not a goat.”
“There have been sightings of you, though,” said Ben. “The New Jersey Devil, for instance.”
“Probably just a goat,” said Lucifer.
“Aren’t you eating?” I said. “Don’t you get hungry?”
His eyes widened in surprise, then crinkled at the edges when he smiled cautiously, like he wasn’t sure if he was operating his facial muscles correctly. His eyes were gold-flecked, but mostly a mossy green. If he’d been anyone else, I wouldn’t have seen the other things that lurked behind them. Lucifer wore the world’s pain in his eyes, and he let me see it.
“Actually, I’m famished, but … er,” he leaned towards me and said in a stage whisper, “have you got any Weetabix?”
“Our goats like Weetabix,” said Ezra.
I kicked him under the table, then went to get Lucifer’s cereal. It was a bit awkward with one hand. I realised how useless my left hand was. My right hand made art, my left hand made crumbs. I frowned at the state of the sideboard. I plonked the bowl of Weetabix in front of Lucifer and sat back down. I knew he wasn’t actually the devil, but it was funny how Lucifer could get in our house, when other less dangerous beings couldn’t.
“Do you ever get any visitors, Luce?” said Michael.
“I’ve been told my demeanour doesn’t inspire visitors,” he said.
“You must get bored,” said Ezra.
“Not really. People annoy me,” he said pointedly. “Actually, I did have a visitor once. The one with the funny name.”
“That really doesn’t narrow it down,” said Michael, looking at Lucifer from beneath arched eyebrows.
“He played the trumpet.”
“Malachi? Haniel? Cassiel? Fenix? Pheron? Saraph?” said Michael, shoving bacon into his face with his fingers.
Lucifer snorted. “Are they even real people? Anyway, didn’t Saraph play the lute?”
“Oh yes, he did. God, he was annoying.”
“Still, that lute kept the fire going for an extra five minutes,” said Lucifer.
“It did, indeed.” Michael laughed. “To tell the truth, I don’t remember anyone who played the trumpet.”
“Perhaps played is a bit strong,” said Lucifer, scooping his cereal onto the spoon. “He made a dreadful noise with it. Well, whoever it was, he came to see me once. Reminded me why I don’t like visitors.”
“I see what you mean about Michael,” I whispered to Eden.
“I knew that you would,” she said.
“I need to paint him.”
She laughed. “Good luck getting him to agree to that.”
Michael’s tongue came out to lick his fingers, his face smothered in meat grease.
I laughed. “I mean, he has the table manners of Henry the eighth but …”
“What about him?” said Amethyst.
“That he’s magnificent,” I whispered, faking a swoon.
Amethyst rose her eyebrows, looked at Michael, then said “Hmm.”
“Did you ditch those shares, Grandad?” said Archer.
Michael scowled. “I wish you wouldn’t call me that.”
Archer shrugged. “Did you?”
“Of course. Back in May, when you told me to. Right on time too.”
“But didn’t you tell Magnus you were at the AGM?” said Eden.
“So, I lied.”
“What were you doing?” said Eden.
Michael ignored this. “I hated those meetings,” he said instead, a disdainful look crossing his greasy face. “Why do they need to get their ducks in a row? They don’t even sell ducks. They should get their quinoa salads in a row, or their admittedly very comfortable underwear. The only thing worse than the AGM is school staff meetings. Yawn.”
“The only thing?” said Lucifer, mouth twisted into a smirk.
Michael pointed his barely used fork at Lucifer. “You’re right. Cascade meetings are the worst. But at least when Raguel says we’re singing from the same hymn sheet, we actually are.”
“Oh god, really?” said Lucifer. “He still does the hymns?”
“He thinks Azrael can hear him,” said Michael. “And God.”
“He sings to God?” said Eden.
“Oh no,” said Michael. “He sings at God.”
“What’s Cascade?” I said.
Michael looked at Eden, who said nothing. “I’ll tell you when you’re older.”