It was the last day of school and Melba Stevens was waiting with fresh-baked cookies for her seven-year-old son Mark to come home. She sat in a chair by the window and thought about the conversation she'd had with the child that morning.
"Mom, are there really guardian angels?"
Melba had smiled. Lately Mark had been almost constantly curious about spiritual matters and this was merely the next in a list of questions he'd asked lately. "Yes, son. There really are."
He had taken a bite of his cereal and thought about that for a moment. "I'll bet my angel's huge, don't you think so?"
Melba had stifled a laugh. "What makes you think that?"
"Because I'm the kind of kid who needs a really huge angel, that's why."
Melba chuckled to herself now, thinking of the way Mark's eyes grew large when he talked about his overly large guardian angel. Silly boy, she thought. Silly and sweet and tender enough to make up for the wilder side, the side that would never back down from a challenge.
Mark was their only child, a special gift considering the fertility problems Melba had experienced. Doctors thought she'd never be able to conceive and when Mark was born they'd had no choice but to perform a hysterectomy. There would be no other children, but that was okay with Melba and her husband. Mark was a very special child and more than enough to fill their home with love and joy and laughter. Melba smiled as she thought of the fun summer they had planned.
"Hurry up and get home, Mark...your mama's waiting," she whispered. Then she went to the kitchen to pour him a glass of milk.
Two blocks away, the children were walking home from school and Mark Stevens was in a particularly giddy mood.
"Summer's here!" he shouted.
"Yahoo," his friend shouted. Then the boy looked at the four lanes of traffic ahead of them. "Watch this!"
With that he ran across four lanes of busy traffic and jumped onto the opposite curb unharmed.
"Come on," the boy yelled to Mark. "Don't be a chicken."
Mark looked behind him at the sixth-grade neighbor girl who usually walked him home from school. She was distracted, talking to her friend. Mark glanced at his friend once more and hesitated. His mother had forbidden him from crossing the street by himself, but...He blinked hard. "Okay, here I come!"
Then, without checking for traffic, he darted into the street.
Suddenly Mark heard the children behind him scream and he froze in the middle of the road. A fast car was coming straight for him. He tried to outrun it but there was no time.
Back at home, Melba felt a ripple of panic course through her. Mark was never late, but now it was seven minutes past the time when he usually arrived from school. She slipped on a pair of sandals and began walking toward the school.
She heard the sirens almost immediately and picked up her pace.
Two blocks away she saw an ambulance and fire engine and a cluster of people gathered around a figure on the ground.
Her heart skidded into an irregular rhythm. Dear God, don't let it be Mark.
Melba began to run, convincing herself it couldn't possibly be her precious boy. He would never have crossed a street without looking for cars. But as she ran a memory came to mind of a bad dream Mark had suffered through more than a month ago.
"I'm scared, Mom. Like something bad's going to happen to me." He had tears on his cheeks and she wiped them with her pajama sleeve. "I don't want to be alone."
"Mark," she said, "there's nothing to worry about. You're never alone. God has placed a guardian angel by your side to watch over you while you sleep and to protect you by day. You have nothing to be afraid of."
That conversation must have sparked the one she and Mark had earlier that morning.
Melba was almost to the accident scene and she scanned the crowd of children looking for Mark. Please God, put his guardian angel by him now. Please.
At that moment she caught sight of the child on the ground.
It was Mark.
"Dear God," she screamed as she pressed her way to the front of the crowd. Terror racked her body and she fought to keep herself from fainting. "Is he okay?"
"He's conscious," one of the paramedics shouted. Then in a softer voice he mumbled, "This is incredible. The kid shouldn't even be alive."
Mark could hear the paramedics and his mother in the distance. He lay on the ground, not moving, but he couldn't figure out what had happened. He remembered being hit and flying through the air. But when he'd hit the ground, there had been no pain. Almost as if someone had carried him through the air and then set him gently down on the pavement. He looked up and saw a circle of people working on him.
"Check his pulse," someone shouted. "Check the reflexes."
"Don't move him yet," another cried. "Check for head injuries."
He looked at the other people gathered around and suddenly he gasped. There, hovering directly over him and gazing into his eyes, was a gigantic man with golden hair. The man was smiling and Mark understood by the look on the man's face that he was going to be okay. As the man faded from view, Mark's mother stepped closer.
Melba watched a smile come over her son's face and she knelt at his side. "Mark, are you okay?" she cried. "Honey, answer me."
Mark blinked, his face pale but otherwise unharmed. "I'm fine, Mom. I saw my guardian angel and I was right. He's so huge you wouldn't believe it."
Hope surged through Melba as a paramedic pushed her gently back from the scene. "He's in shock, ma'am. He's suffered a serious blow and he has internal injuries. We have to get him to a hospital right away."
They placed the injured child onto a stretcher and strapped him down. "He could have back and neck injuries, any number of problems," another paramedic explained to Melba. "You can ride in the ambulance if you'd like."
Melba nodded and began to weep quietly as they loaded her son into the ambulance. Before they pulled away, she saw four policemen and firemen examine the spot where the boy had landed.
"No blood," one of them said.
"Yeah." Another man approached the spot, shaking his head. "The car must have been doing forty plus and the boy sailed through the air. Came down on his head and there's no blood."
"I've never seen anything like it."
Melba felt a tingling sensation pass over her as she considered their finding. No blood? How was that possible? Then she remembered Mark's words: "I saw my guardian angel."
She closed her eyes as the ambulance pulled away and prayed the very huge angel had indeed done his job.
At the hospital, doctors did a preliminary check to determine whether Mark had feeling in all parts of his body.
"Look at this," one of the doctors said, running a hand over the boy's smooth legs and arms. "He doesn't have a single scratch on him."
"Didn't he get hit by a car?" The nurse assisting him studied the boy, her eyes wide.
"Yes. By all accounts he should have died at the scene. And I can't even find a bruise where the car made contact with him."
Within an hour the doctor had the results to a dozen different tests and he was stunned at what he saw. The tests were completely normal. The boy was neither scratched nor bruised and he had absolutely no internal injuries.
"My guardian angel saved me," Mark explained. "That's why I needed a huge angel, Mom. God knew I'd need one like that to keep me safe."
The doctor was in the room and at Mark's words he shrugged. "That's as good an explanation as any I have."