"The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs."
~~Joan Didion

Hi all,

I've been sitting on this story for over a month because it's one of those things that I feel like I could constantly tweak and the way I write it now would be different than how I write it in a year, three years, a decade, etc.  But in light of an onslaught of recent news coverage, now seemed like the time to send it.

As the title might suggest, this story finds JenniAnn dealing with an unexpected "birds and the bees" talk with Violeta and also Shelby.  I realize that not everyone will agree with her/my views (and, to be clear, I don't always agree with JenniAnn but here I do) but I think the bigger message is that adults need to be open to having frank, informative, and sensitive discussions with the children they're responsible for.  While I think my sex-ed experiences in school were better than what most had, they were definitely lacking.  And I turned out fine but some people genuinely suffer because they didn't get the information they needed.  So I'm not sending this as a means to promote any particular agenda... only to suggest that when people of goodwill turn a blind eye to the reality of sexuality and sexual abuse, bad things happen.  So difficult, emotional discussions need to happen.

All that being said, this is not a super-serious story.  Writing it made me laugh a few times.  But if you're not in the head space right now to deal with some difficult issues, please hold off on this one and take care of yourselves.

Thank you.

God bless,

The Birds, the Bees, and the Duckling

March 29th, 2021

A gentle Spring breeze blew through the open balcony doors of a certain bedroom in Willowveil Castle, making the atmosphere even more idyllic.  However, for the room's occupants, the idyll was nearing its end.

"I wish you didn't have to go any where today..." JenniAnn murmured as she stroked Andrew's hair.

The angel of death lifted his head from where it rested on her chest and kissed her forehead.

"I do, too, Laja.  But... I'll be back late this afternoon.  It's just a short assignment.  I've been promised that."


Andrew sat up and pulled the woman into his arms, holding her tightly.

JenniAnn sighed with contentment as he buried his face in her hair.

"Maybe after Belle and Avi are in bed tonight, we could go dancing in the conservatory?  It's supposed to be a clear night.  Lots of stars," Andrew suggested.

"Mmm...  Yes, please."  JenniAnn shifted and rested her forehead against Andrew's.

The angel closed his eyes as she stroked his face.

"You're not making this any easier," he whispered into her ear.

"Sorry, not sorry."

Andrew chuckled.

"My Laja..." 

They kissed then, reluctantly, Andrew extricated himself from their bed.

"Are you taking Violeta with you today?" JenniAnn asked as she watched Andrew gather his clothes.

"No.  Not today."


Andrew returned to the bed just long enough to squeeze JenniAnn's hand.

"It's nothing... gory or anything.  But there's a family trying to make peace with their absentee father before he passes away and all those complex emotions...  I'll have my hands full with them."

"Yeah...  And Violeta's not yet at the place where she sees a whole lot of nuance in those sorts of situations."

"Exactly.  She'll get there.  Just not yet."

"Probably for the best.  I think she and Shelby were planning on a hike if Violeta didn't have to go with you."

"That'll be nice for them!  And it's only right for Violeta to actually enjoy her Spring break after a crazy semester.  Actually...  I wouldn't mind a hike myself," Andrew mused.  "I'm off this coming weekend.  Maybe you and I could take one?"

JenniAnn smiled happily and nodded.

"I'd like that a lot!"

"Good!"  Andrew beamed at her and planted a kiss on her cheek.  "I'm gonna go change then maybe we could have some coffee together before I head out?"

JenniAnn affectionately tugged his hair and nodded.

"Sounds good, my love."

Once Andrew had stepped into the bathroom, JenniAnn sunk down amongst their pillows for a few moments more and sighed with contentment at the life they shared, the life God had blessed them with.


JenniAnn was sitting on a couch near a window in the ballroom, folding laundry, when she heard hurried footsteps in the hallway.  A moment later, Shelby and Violeta entered the room.  The latter was grinning.  Shelby looked more contemplative.

"JenniAnnnnnnnnnnnn!" Violeta exclaimed.

"Violetaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" JenniAnn replied with amusement.

The angel plopped down beside JenniAnn and hugged her.

"How was your hike?" JenniAnn asked.

"Great!  We saw so many birds!  And we saw some deer!"  Shelby pulled out her phone and showed off some photos.

"So pretty!  And you have a good eye, sweetie."


"Something else happened!" Violeta chirped.  "My Fordham group text started going wild!  Miguel and some of the others have an awesome idea.  Since the President is saying everyone could be vaccinated by summer... well, they're thinking maybe we could all celebrate with a trip this summer!  A camping trip.  Maybe to a national park.  Nothing expensive.  Just a time to reconnect, you know?"

JenniAnn glanced at Shelby who only shrugged.

"Honey, that sounds like a really fun idea.  And I hope it works out.  But... sometimes things don't go as planned.  I really, really hope everyone is vaccinated by summer but if not... I don't want you to be disappointed."  JenniAnn hugged Violeta.  "I know this has been really hard... being away from your classmates."

"It has been.  But I've loved being here.  And I know summer might not work out.  But it's gotta happen eventually, right?  Would you and Andrew let me go... whenever it ends up being?" Violeta asked.

"I mean I'd want to talk to Andrew before making any promises.  But I don't see why not."

Violeta grinned.

"Would you have your own tent?" Shelby asked.

"Oh, I dunno.  I don't think they've gotten that far in researching places.  We might get a cabin, though.  I think some weren't so crazy about not having running water and electricity."

"A cabin?  Like... one?  Like... boys and girls together?" Shelby pressed.

Violeta shrugged.

"Maybe.  Like I said, I dunno.  But even if so... is that bad?  When we all went on that trip to North Carolina, we all shared a cabin... except for Clay and Kylie.  And that was fine."

"I just... I think it's a little different when it's all younger people... no adults," Shelby pressed.

"I mean... we're technically adults," Violeta countered.  "And Ivy and Sy said they'd go.  They're married.  So they're adults."

JenniAnn couldn't help but chuckle.

"I mean not that you need to be married to be an adult," Violeta hastened to add.  "But... they're very mature."

"They are," JenniAnn agreed. 

"It's just... so confusing sometimes."  Violeta frowned.  "Sometimes... I'm not sure where I fit."

"You fit with us, Violeta!" Shelby stressed, hugging her sister.

"I know... and I'm glad of that."  Violeta smiled and returned Shelby's hug.  "But I mean with my classmates.  I'm an angel... but I'm a lot like them in a lot of ways.  I want a lot of the same things.  I think.  I dunno...  Like I said, it's confusing sometimes."

JenniAnn gently stroked some hair behind the angel's ear.

"How so, honey?  Maybe I can help."

Violeta sighed and shrugged.

"I don't know..."

"Violeta...  It's okay.  Let me help you.  That's what I'm here for," JenniAnn insisted.

"I just... I don't want to embarrass you..." Violeta murmured.

JenniAnn smiled.

"That's kinda a kid's job.  And you are my kid..."  She turned to Shelby and cupped her chin.  "Both of you are.  And I would hope we could have honest conversations even if they're a little awk..."

"Why aren't angels allowed to have sex?" Violeta blurted out, her cheeks rosy.

JenniAnn blinked.

Shelby did the same.

JenniAnn drew in a steadying breath.  She had expected some basic birds and the bees questions... not this.  She prayed for guidance then took one of Violeta's hands in both of hers.

"I don't really know, Violeta.  And, somehow, I've never thought to ask Joshua.  All the angels I've met...  They've all been asexual.  I'm pretty sure all angels are.  So I guess I never saw it as them not being allowed to have sex so much as just not wanting to."

"That makes sense but... people do things they don't want to but know other people enjoy all the time.  You've gone to sports games with Andrew and you don't even like sports!"

JenniAnn smiled at the comparison.

"True...  But... that seems a little different.  I think, even if I wanted to have sex with Andrew, I wouldn't feel comfortable asking.  Sometimes it already seems pretty immense what he's given up to be with me... with us... like this.  So to ask him to do something so intimate that he genuinely doesn't want to do... it just doesn't feel right.  That feels like a bigger sacrifice than sitting on a bench eating popcorn and cotton candy and watching people chase a ball.  But that's just me.  There's gotta be more to it.  Maybe it has something to do with procreation.  If God allowed angels to have sex but not procreate, I can see where that would cause hard feelings.  Sure, sex is about more than procreation.  But imagine if angels were told they could have sex but not kids and yet had to watch over humans having kids.  I can see that causing lots of heartache.  But if angels could have kids...  Imagine how many kids one angel could have in 100 years.  In a thousand years!  The Earth couldn't handle it.  No mortal realm could.  Not to mention any issues that might arise from so many people being descended from the same person.  Just...  It could get very weird.  Immortality and procreation don't mix, I suppose."

"I guess that makes sense...  But what does asexual really mean?" Violeta asked.  "I mean I get that I don't feel attracted to people in a way that... that makes me want to have sex with them.  But I feel... something... sometimes."

"Asexuality means different things for different people," JenniAnn replied.  "For some, it means they don't have sex, don't want to have sex, and may actually be repulsed by the idea of sex.  Others may feel comfortable having sex but not really feel the need for it.  For me, it means I don't feel compelled to have sex and thus have never had sex.  But I'm not repulsed by it.  I think it's wonderful if people are in a happy, respectful sexual relationship."

"That's the same for me," Shelby added.  "I mean... I feel a little weird when there's a sex scene on a TV show or movie.  But I'm not repulsed.  I don't need to fast forward.  But there's also a difference between sexual attraction and romantic attraction.  Lots of asexuals feel romantic attraction... like Psyche."

"Yup!" JenniAnn confirmed.

"But lots don't.  Like me."

"What's the difference?" Violeta pressed.

"Well, I really like being kissed and cuddled by Andrew.  I love dancing with him... romantically.  I love that we get to live together, get to share a room.  I would be very sad to lose those things."  JenniAnn sighed, wishing Andrew was with her right then... and not just because she wanted him backing her up and helping with this conversation.

"And I love that Andrew and JenniAnn are so close.  I love that I got to grow up around that.  And I love hugging all of you, snuggling together to watch a movie.  That kinda stuff.  It's not that I don't like affection.  I do!  But... with my family and close friends.  Not as some romantic thing.  The idea of kissing someone on the lips..."  Shelby wrinkled her nose.  "I'm not uncomfortable when other people do it.  But I don't want to.  So I'm asexual and aromantic."

JenniAnn hugged the teenager.

"And that's perfectly normal."

"Sure.  And I love you both, just as you are!"  Violeta paused to hug both women.  "But... why did Joshua make seemingly all angels asexual but not many humans are asexual?”

"Not sure.  Like I said, I think the hypothetical population explosion might have something to do with it.  But I also think angels and humans were created for different reasons.  Angels are meant to focus on their assignments, on sharing messages from God and then returning to Heaven.  Humans form families and social circles and, ideally, care for the Earth.  And given we're mortal... new humans need to keep coming or else the entire species would die off," JenniAnn explained.  "And, of course, there's some crossover when you have situations like, well, Andrew's.  He has assignments but he also has us.  And God has His reasons for angel/human anam caras.  But He must also have His reasons for why they're so rare.  And I hope, some day, He shares those with me."

"I want to know, too!" Violeta agreed.  "But I still don't get...  I mean I understand that... that if you wanted to have sex, you might feel wrong asking Andrew, knowing he doesn't want to.  But... well... but what if an angel was open to it?  Like they didn't feel the need to have sex but... someone they care about wants to.  If we do have sex, even though we don’t feel the desire, will Joshua be mad?  Is it a sin for us to do it?”

JenniAnn's head was spinning.  She felt foolish for not thinking before that Violeta might have such questions.  She and Andrew had done a fair job prepping for Max's questions prior to his marriage.  But, somehow, neither of them had thought Violeta might need The Talk in so thorough a way.  And now here she was... alone... with Violeta peering intently at her and Shelby looking on with earnest curiosity. 

"I'm sorry.  Maybe I should ask Andrew or..."  Violeta shrugged.

"No.  No.  I mean it's good to talk to Andrew but it's okay," JenniAnn assured the young angel.  "I just needed a moment to think.  Honey, why would you have sex if you didn't feel the desire?  Sure, some human asexuals do... either because it's something they want to do for their partner or they want to have a baby or other reasons.  But it makes me uneasy thinking of an angel doing the same.  Listen, I don't want to ever put any burdens on you kids.  So don't fret too much about this but... I do sometimes worry about what it'll be like for Andrew when I've gone Home and he's still working assignments.  I'm not gonna be waiting in our bedroom for him to dance with and cuddle.  So to think he'd gotten used to sex as something comforting and then suddenly that's off the table... forever.  I know Andrew well enough to know, even if I gave my blessing, he wouldn't find someone else.  All of that... it would make me even more anxious.  Because, yeah, just because one doesn't desire sex... well, it doesn't mean one wouldn't come to enjoy the closeness of it.  It's not something to be entered into lightly... and maybe not at all.  Because I don't know what the rules are.  I don't think Joshua would be mad.  Maybe disappointed?  Concerned?  I'm not sure if it would be a sin... but it would seem like going against who you truly are, trying to change something of yourself for someone else.  And lots of times... that doesn't go well in the end."

"I get that.  I really do.  But Andrew's changed," Violeta pointed out.  "Not like that.  But he has!  I mean I used to read his records.  He was kind of a loner before Monica and Tess.  And even after starting to work with them... he wasn't that... I dunno...  He never acted with anyone else the way he acts with you."

JenniAnn nodded.

"Those dynamics were... interesting.  But I think Andrew would do better speaking to them."  JenniAnn frowned.  She sometimes still struggled with wanting to hold Monica and Tess accountable for what she saw as the strain they'd put Andrew under.  But now was not the time for that...  So she continued.  "But you're right.  Andrew does behave differently with me than with anyone else.  And same for me."

Violeta nodded and stared down at her hands as she proceeded in her inquisition.

"So if you can both choose to, for example, sleep together even though you didn't do that with anyone else...  What if I do want to have sex for someone I love?  I know you don't know what God thinks... but what do you think?  Is that wrong?”

JenniAnn glanced over at Shelby who was looking at her sister with ill-concealed panic.  It suddenly occurred to her that she may have missed something very, very big... 
Several thoughts swarmed through JenniAnn's brain: Why is she even considering this?  Is it because of how she was created?  Is it because she was created from aspects of me?!  But I'm asexual so why???  Just because I'm human???  Oh my God... has she had sex?  How did I miss this?  How did Andrew miss this?  Was it Miguel? 

JenniAnn reined in her emotions and peered gently at Violeta.

"Violeta, honey...  I'm not going to be mad and you don't have to answer but... have you..."

"No!"  Violeta's eyes met JenniAnn's and she vigorously shook her head.  "I... I've never even kissed anyone.  I mean... not romantically.  I promise."

Relief washed over both JenniAnn's and Shelby's faces.

"Good.  I'm glad.  Again, not because I woulda been mad," JenniAnn reassured.  "I just would have felt really bad about not having known so I could support you.  But anyway... back to the question.  It's not for me to say if it's wrong or not, Violeta.  But what I can say is that sex... not even just sex... physical intimacy is a big commitment.  Bigger even than I understood until, well, I was in the midst of it.  It's almost like...  I dunno...  Like my brain got re-wired somehow once Andrew and I moved in together.  It used to be absurd to think of sharing a bed with him.  And now... now it's hard to sleep without him.  Doable, of course.  But hard.  If tomorrow he came to me and said things were over... that he'd found someone else or just wanted out... that would be devastating.  But I don't worry about that because we've made a commitment to each other.  I know Andrew wouldn't do that to me.  And I certainly wouldn't do it to him.  Once you've had someone so close... it's hard to be apart from them.  I'd be concerned for you if you chose to do something that made you more vulnerable and then, well, that person didn't stay.  Because that happens, my girl.  It doesn't necessarily mean the other person is bad or cruel.  Sometimes people grow apart.  Sometimes people just aren't ready to settle down.  And that's okay.  But it doesn't mean it's not hurtful.  And I just don't want you to get hurt.  So... so if that's ever something you're considering for real, let's talk about it, okay?"

"Okay," Violeta vowed.

JenniAnn sent up a prayer of thanksgiving... and made a mental note to interrogate Joshua about all of this at her next earliest opportunity.

"So... umm... anything else?" she checked.

Violeta looked to Shelby.

The younger girl laughed.

"You don't need permission from me!"

"I know... but I also don't want to make you uncomfortable."

Shelby hugged her sister tightly.

"Aww.  Well, thanks.  I know I'm free to leave whenever I want.  But... I want to hear Psyche's thoughts."  Shelby smiled at her.  "And be here for moral support!"

"For which one of us?" JenniAnn teased.

Shelby laughed.

"Both, I guess!  So... Violeta... go on," Shelby invited.

"Well... okay.  Do you think... if an angel had sex, would it feel like it’s supposed to, or would it not feel good?" Violeta inquired.

JenniAnn bit her lip and thought.

"That's tough for me to say since I'm not an angel."

"I know... but I don't feel comfortable asking anyone else."

"I understand."  JenniAnn squeezed Violeta's hand.  "So... I'm just gonna answer as an asexual human cause I think it might be the same or at least close.  I don't know that it would feel good.  It doesn't always even feel good for humans the first time.  Or first few times.  I'm not saying it would necessarily hurt but...  I mean to be completely honest with you... and Andrew knows this... if we could have had kids naturally, I would have had sex with him if he'd also wanted to.  And I think that would have felt okay.  And, by the way, that is absolutely not to say that we're unhappy with any of you kids.  Absolutely not!  I suppose I'm just kinda curious about the experience of pregnancy... how it feels and all.  But I digress...  I think I would have been fine with that.  But there are certain sex acts that I just..."  JenniAnn's face flushed.  "I really don't think I would ever feel comfortable with.  I don't think I would ever enjoy them.  And I guess that's partly why your questions have made me a little anxious, honey.  I just don't ever want you to be in a position where you do things that make you uncomfortable just because you hope they'll keep someone you care about around."

"Yeah...  I guess that would be bad," Violeta admitted.  "But...  What if... what if someone pressures me into it?  Would it be wrong if I did it?"

Shelby let out a little gasp and looked expectantly at JenniAnn who was already adamantly shaking her head.

"No!  If someone ever pressures you... or... or worse... that's not sex, Violeta.  That's rape.  And... and I want to believe that could never happen.  I want to believe God would make you start glowing or something so they'd get freaked out and flee.  But... I don't know that.  What I do know is that no matter who you are... angel, human, whatever... if someone forces you into sex then it's rape, plain and simple.  And victims of rape are blameless.  People will say nonsense like 'Look how she was dressed' or 'He should have been able to fight back.'  But that's crap.  That's cruel.  And it's irresponsible.  So just... no.  Wrong, wrong, wrong," JenniAnn effused.  "Got it?"

Violeta nodded.

"Got it."

"Got it," Shelby echoed.

JenniAnn let out a ragged breath.


“So... lighter question.  I think.  What about Crowley and Aziraphale?  If they’re both asexual, would they be doing wrong if they just one day decided to try it out?” Violeta asked.

"Well... for one... I think that's better for Crowley and/or Aziraphale to address.  But I guess my question would be... why would they?  What they have is working for them," JenniAnn pointed out.  "And I don't want you to take this the wrong way but... I've been around angels a lot and sex just doesn't seem to really come up.  I think maybe it does for you, Violeta, because of how you were raised.  You were raised in a family with a lot of humans... pretty rare for an angel!  And sexuality is a natural part of human life.  So you're bound to be curious about it and even to think maybe it involves you.  That's completely reasonable to me.  But I just don't want you to change who you are in a bid to fit in because, actually, look at Aziraphale and Crowley.  They've lived among humans for millennia but they still stayed very much who they are, adopting only the human traits that truly appealed to them.  And I think that's exactly as it should be.  I also... I do think there has to be some solid reason that angels don't have sex because I feel like Joshua would have told Arthur and Monica and Joccy and Takoda that it was okay if it was.  But he seems not to have.  I can understand why he didn't speak to Andrew and me about it given I'm asexual and he would have realized that by bringing it up, I'd be like 'Well... then does that mean I should?'  And, who knows, maybe he has spoken to the others.  They've got no obligation to report that to me or anyone else, of course!  And maybe that's just the thing... maybe he wants you to talk to him about this.  That doesn't mean you can't ask me questions.  But... I do think that if you're genuinely curious... go to Truth Himself."

"I will," Violeta affirmed before grinning.  "But I like knowing what you think.  And I'm sorry if that's awkward but... it's interesting!"

JenniAnn laughed.

"Then feel free to go on," she encouraged.

Violeta grinned then launched into her next question.

"I know that humans have many sexualities, but why do angels have many sexualities?"

"Hmm...  Not sure what you mean.  Like I've said, all the angels I know are asexual.  But do you mean like how Andrew is with me... a woman and Crowley and Aziraphale... both male-presenting... are together and then Adam has Kylie and Clay?"

Violeta nodded.

"Right.  So like
are you and Andrew heterosexual, and Aziraphale and Crowley homosexual?  Or is it something else?  I never see you looking at other men, or Andrew at other women."

"Got it.  Okay, so a couple different things are happening.  Firstly, sexual orientation and romantic orientation are two separate things.  Often they go together... someone could be heterosexual and heteroromantic, for example.  Or you could have someone like me who is asexual but heteroromantic.  No, I don't look at other men like that because I'm very happy with Andrew.  But, before Andrew, there were other men that I was attracted to... like Eliot.  Not as much as I was attracted to Andrew.  But it was real," JenniAnn shared.  "I think, near as I can tell, it's different for angels.  Andrew isn't so much heteroromantic as he is, well, me-romantic."  She blushed.  "Crowley is Aziraphale-romantic and Aziraphale is Crowley-romantic.  Andrew doesn't feel things for other women, Aziraphale and Crowley don't feel things for men.  They just, well, have their person and that's it.  And then you have someone like Adam who isn't romantically attracted to Clay or Kylie but cares deeply for them both.  You don't have to have romance to build a life with someone."

"Glad to hear that," Shelby murmured.

JenniAnn hugged her and kissed her hair.

"Then I'm glad I said it, baby girl.  Now... where we going next with this inquisition?"

With a laugh, Violeta moved on.

"So why can’t humans change their shape like angels can?  I like being female, but Crowley doesn’t, and it’s easy for him to change.  It doesn’t seem fair humans can’t."

"That's a good question.  And, first, not all angels can change shape.  I asked Andrew if he ever had and... nope.  Monica's changed form a handful of times but only at God's direction.  She can't do it on her own just like you can't change into a little girl on your own.  I asked Marty and, well, he was very elusive... which makes me think he can change form.  And he's very, very old... even for angelic standards... just like Crowley.  So maybe it's a power God gave to all angels of a certain era but not others for reasons He knows but I certainly don't!  As for Crowley, when he's female-presenting that's sometimes just, well, cosmetic.  A change of clothes, hairstyle, some make-up.  Crowley has very interesting thoughts on gender that you should really talk to him about sometime.  Other times, he does actually change.  And, of course, there's the snake thing!  As for why humans can't...  To be honest, I could just see it being really abused.  Not, by any means, by members of the LGBTQ+ community!  But I mean like, say, some blonde guy robs a bank and then morphs into a red-haired woman to get away.  Stuff like that."

"Oooh...  Yeah, that would be bad.  But that's still really tough for people who do want to transition," Violeta mused.

"It is," JenniAnn agreed.  "But from what I've read and heard, there can be beauty in a gradual transition.  I wonder if maybe it wouldn't be as meaningful for them to reveal their true selves if they could do it at a snap of their fingers and every other random person was doing it just for temporary kicks?"

"That makes sense.  But... I do feel bad for trans people who can't afford to medically transition but want to.  Or just don't have the access they need."  Shelby frowned.  "That's not fair."

"You're right, kiddo.  It's not fair.  But I think that's a case where humans have failed... not God," JenniAnn posited.  "If He fixed everything for us, there would be no free will and without free will... there'd be no love.  Not really.  Not in any meaningful sense."

"But why does God put humans in the wrong bodies from what their mind tells them?  Wouldn’t it be easier to put them in their real bodies?" Violeta inquired.

JenniAnn heaved a sigh.

"Oof.  That may be the heaviest question yet, honey.  The answer is... I don't know.  I have read and listened to some trans Christian theology and I've learned that some transpeople really reject the 'born in the wrong body' notion and, instead, see transition as a process that God uses to strengthen their faith.  I mean I was really comfortable with the 'born in the wrong body' idea because, to me, it meant we could blame human-caused pollution for causing dysphoria and, thus, not feel the urge to blame God and deal with sticky theological issues.  Like I don't blame God when something like Chernobyl causes birth defects because humans did that.  If pollution can cause someone to be born with a limb difference then it made sense to me that it could also cause a male body to grow around a female brain.  But I can understand now that when something is tied to identity, automatically tying it to sin... even when you're saying it's not the sin of that individual... can be hurtful.  I think humans have a natural... and necessary... tendency to avoid pain.  So when I think of how painful transition can be, I want people to be able to avoid that or, barring that, I at least want to not have to blame God for that pain.  So, yes, I'd like for God to just let people transition easily.  But...  It's wrong for me to entirely dismiss the potential value of pain.  Plenty of women have described childbirth... painful as it is... as transformative and deeply spiritual.  And I've always accepted that even though I've not experienced it.  So how can I say that the pain of transition can't also be transformative and spiritual?  I can't.  And for those of us who are cis...  I think all we can do is be quiet and learn from our trans-siblings."

"Be quiet and learn..." Shelby echoed.  "I think I'd like that on a bumper sticker... if I had a car."

JenniAnn laughed. 

"Well, thank you."

Violeta continued to quietly muse.

"I have a question."  Shelby's face flushed.  "But it's way more personal.  It's just...  I've wondered..."

"Well, let's hear it," JenniAnn encouraged.

"With you and Andrew...  If you both have the body parts, do either of you get embarrassed or uncomfortable if one of you brushes or touches anything on accident?"

"Ah..."  JenniAnn also blushed but soldiered on.  "We do, firstly.  Have the parts, I mean.  And, sure, especially early on it could get a lil bit embarrassing.  Not as much any more.  I mean especially when you're sleeping together... it's not like you can control where your hand lands when you sleep.  So if it's awkward... we just apologize, the other one says 'No big deal,' and then we carry on.  We trust each other enough to know that neither is gonna do anything untoward.  And, ya know, sometimes when that happens one discovers that it's really not a big deal to be touched there.  Maybe it's even nice.  I can remember the first time Andrew woke up with his hand on my chest, he immediately apologized.  Thing was... it felt nice.  And I told him that.  It's just a matter of having good communication... and that's true for all relationships."

"Will I ever find my person?" Violeta blurted out.  "Someone to love like you love Andrew?"

With that, JenniAnn understood what nearly all of Violeta's questions had really been about.  She cupped the young angel's chin and peered gently into her eyes.

"Because you want it so much... I do think you'll find your person, Violeta.  But... it may or may not be like what Andrew and I have.  That won't make it better or worse.  Just different.  Maybe you'll find a guy and it'll be like Monica and Arthur.  Maybe you'll find a lady and it'll be like Crowley and Aziraphale.  Maybe you'll find someone and it'll be like how Adam feels for Clay and Kylie.  I just don't know."

"I just... I don't want to be alone," Violeta fretted.  "Max is married.  And Belle probably will be.  And Avi, too.  Ivy got married and she's still one of my very best friends and I love Sy but... things have changed.  And they'll just change more when they have babies.  And... and you'll go away one day... and Andrew probably will, too."  With tears in her eyes, she glanced at Shelby.

Moved, Shelby hugged her sister.

"I'll still be there, Violeta.  As long as I have the choice... I'll be there for you," she vowed.  "You're my sister and I'll love you always."

Sniffling, Violeta rested her head on Shelby's shoulder.

"I love you, too, sis.  Always."

"Aww..."  Misty-eyed, JenniAnn hugged them both.

As embarrassing as the past several minutes had been at times, she was grateful that it brought her to this special moment with two of her babies.


When Andrew returned home that afternoon, he was immediately greeted by Belle, Avi, and even little Evie who were quickly followed by Ichabod. 

"Well, hello, hello, hello!" the angel greeted as he picked up each of the kids and hugged them before kneeling down to embrace his dog.  "So glad to be home.  What did I miss?"

"We went for a walk!" Avi chirped.  "Saw a red birdie!"

"A cardinal," Belle clarified. 

"Carnal," Evie echoed.

Andrew suppressed a chuckle.

"Very cool!  They're pretty, aren't they?"

The three children nodded.

"What else?" Andrew encouraged.

Belle frowned and motioned for her father to bend down.  Once he complied, she whispered in his ear.

"Mama was crying."

Andrew's right eye brow quirked up.

"She was?"

Belle nodded.

"Hmm.  Okay.  Well, how about we get you three settled down with a snack and then I'll check on her?"


The four made their way to the kitchen where they found Mallory slicing cheese and apples.

"Hey, Mallory," Andrew greeted.  "Snacks for the kids?"

The young woman turned around, chewing on a bite of apple.

"And for me," she replied with a grin.  "Can I offer you some of your own food?"

Chuckling, Andrew shook his head.

"I'm good, thanks.  Are you gonna stick around here for a bit?"

"Planned to!  I'll keep an eye on these lil gremlins."

"I'm not a gremlin!" Belle protested.  "I'm an elf!"

Mallory bowed regally.

"My apologies!  I'll keep an eye on Miss Elf and the two gremlins."

Belle giggled as Andrew patted Evie's mother on the back.

"Appreciate it.  You don't happen to know where JenniAnn is, do you?"

"Hmm...  I last saw her in the library, I think."

"Great.  I'll head that way.  Enjoy your snacks!" Andrew called as he stepped into the hallway. 

Once out of the children's line of sight, the angel picked up his pace and headed up to the library.  He was relieved when he found JenniAnn on a settee, calmly reading a book.


JenniAnn looked up and rose to greet her anam cara with a hug.

"Hi there.  How was your assignment?"

"Really good.  A lot of peace and understanding.  And compassion.  It was beautiful."

"I'm so glad.  Especially since you're never leaving this castle again."

Andrew laughed.

"Wait... what?"

JenniAnn smiled and shook her head as she led Andrew to the settee.

"Well... Violeta chose today... while you were gone... to request a very expansive, fairly detailed birds and the bees talk.  Which I proceeded to give... alone... without you, bucko!" JenniAnn teased. 

Andrew shook his head then dragged a hand through his hair.  He also noticed that the book JenniAnn had been reading was a copy of the El-Chananite Church's catechism.

"Wow...  I'm sorry.  I mean...  I'd had a basic birds and bees talk with her years ago.  I thought, well, since we're angels... I thought that would cover it.  I'm sorry that landed on you, Laja," he apologized.

JenniAnn hugged him.

"I'm just teasing, love.  Although I would have liked to have had you there to provide some answers.  I was really, really winging it... no pun intended... with some of the angel stuff."

"Angel stuff?"

"Oh yeah...  I mean it wasn't your typical talk.  She asked about stuff ranging from 'Can angels have sex?' to 'But what if they did anyway?' to 'Why are people transgender?'  It was... expansive, like I said.  I mean, to be honest... we probably should have seen it coming.  It's not like she's being raised like most other angels.  Andrew?"  JenniAnn rested a hand on his forehead when she noticed he looked piqued.

"Has she... had sex?" he choked out.

"No!  No!  Sorry.  But that was totally me earlier.  There were a few seconds when I was like 'Wait... has something happened?'  But no.  Not at all.  Thank God."

"Yes..."  Andrew let out a sigh or relief.  "Is that why you were crying?"

"Crying?  Who told you I was crying?"

"Belle.  When I came in."

JenniAnn frowned.

"She must have peeked into our room... we'll have to talk to her about that.  I was.  Briefly.  Just being sentimental.  It just made me realize how grown-up Violeta and Shelby are.  Not a big deal."

"Shelby was part of this?  I mean I guess they have been joined at the hip lately..." Andrew mused.

"Yeah, exactly.  It was more Violeta's thing but Shelby piped up occasionally."

"So what did you say?"


Andrew listened with amusement, admiration, and concern as JenniAnn recapped her conversation with the girls. 

"To be honest, I don't think I really would have had much to add.  Now that I think about it, I don't have a definitive answer to why angels don't have sex.  I guess... well... it would seem like asking you why you don't, I dunno, play football."

JenniAnn wrinkled her nose.

"I just don't get the appeal..."

"Right.  But you made a good point.  Violeta's experience is so wildly different from mine... from every other angel I know.  She... I mean..."  Andrew bit his lip as he tried to formulate his thoughts.

JenniAnn settled onto his lap and looped her arms around his neck.

"She partly you and she's partly me.  And she looks up to us.  We're her role models... for good or ill.  So, of course, she's going to be curious about romance... about intimacy between two people," she reasoned.

Andrew nodded.

"And while she's very clear on the fact that we don't have sex, she's still ensconced in a culture that doesn't do a very good job of differentiating between romance and sex," JenniAnn continued.  "The former is basically seen as a pathway to the latter.  She knows we're an anomaly.  So I think her real question is... is she an anomaly, too?"

"And that's a question that we can't answer for her."  Andrew frowned.  "But I still...  I mean...  Even when I started to realize how I felt about you... I never thought to ask if, well, if we could have sex.  I just knew we couldn't."

"No.  But you, my love, aren't in female form... surrounded by ads and media trying to sell you things to make you more sexy.  And you were also several millennia old.  You knew yourself in a way that Violeta... at a very young and sheltered nearly twenty four years of age... doesn't.  I think, given you'd not felt arousal in thousands upon thousands of years... it was a pretty safe bet that you never would and given no one you knew felt it... that likely meant you simply weren't created to feel it.  I mean in a lot of ways, Violeta probably isn't so different from me at her age.  I knew I hadn't felt arousal.  But maybe I was just a late-bloomer.  Or maybe I could only feel it for one specific person in certain specific situations that just hadn't happened.  I mean to be completely honest with you... it wasn't until things kinda heated up between us and I still didn't feel anything sexual that I went from 90% believing I was asexual to 100%.  Doesn't mean I don't very, very much enjoy those times."

Andrew smiled as JenniAnn rested her forehead against his.

"I enjoy them, too.  Very much."

They exchanged a quick kiss before returning to their discussion.

"What you said makes a lot of sense, Laja.  She is so young.  And you're right.  My experience of the world...  It's different.  That's why I'm so grateful that Violeta has you to help her navigate being a young lady in the world.  We make a good team."  Andrew smiled proudly and brought one of JenniAnn's hands to his lips.

"We do..."

Andrew dragged a hand through his hair.

"But now... I better go check with Violeta.  See if she has questions for me.  But first... anything useful in there?"  He waved to the catechism.

"Yes and no.  Lots of beautiful stuff about anam caras.  But nothing about sex beyond what we already know.  Maybe we can just ask Joshua the next time he's around?  Or you could ask even before?" JenniAnn suggested.

Andrew kissed her hair.

"We'll see how urgent the issue becomes.  I'd like to have the conversation with you present."

JenniAnn smiled and nodded before rising from Andrew's lap.

"And now...  Here's hoping I handle myself as eloquently as you did."  Andrew's face flushed as he stood.  "This feels different than it did with Max.  More... personal."

JenniAnn hugged him.

"It does.  But you'll do fine.  At least you've not been completely blind-sided.  I just wanted to fold laundry!"

Andrew chuckled and returned her embrace.

"You're a good mama, Laja."

"And you're a good dad, my love.  Now... go..."

Andrew smiled once more then left the room.  When he didn't find the girls in Belle's room, he moved upstairs to a guest room where they sometimes hung out.  He could hear voices behind the door so knocked.

"Come in!" Violeta shouted.  "Can't come let you in.  Hands busy."

Curious, Andrew pushed open the door.  He chuckled when he spotted Violeta working on Shelby's hair, transforming it into... something. 

"Hey!  We're watching a hair tutorial on YouTube about the Gentleman Jack finale!" Violeta explained.  "Pretty cool, huh?"

"Umm... yeah."  Andrew crouched down.  "Doing okay under there, Shel?"

Shelby grinned.

"Yeah.  It feels funny but it doesn't hurt."

"Okay... good.  So, umm, JenniAnn just told me a little about the talk you had earlier.  So I wanted to see if either of you had any questions for me?" the angel of death asked.

Violeta paused in her work and bit her lip as she thought.

"I don't think so," Shelby replied.  She squeezed one of Andrew's hands.  "But I'll let you know if I do."

"Okay.  Good.  Violeta?"

Andrew's protege shrugged.

"I don't think so.  JenniAnn covered pretty much everything but, yeah, I'll let you know if something comes to mind."

Andrew felt a mixture of relief and disappointment.

"Oh.  Okay.  Well, good, yeah... let me know.  Anyway, I'll let you get back to the tutorial.  Come find us so we can see the finished product!"

Shelby giggled.

"Will do."

Andrew smiled once more then rose to leave.  At the door, he turned back once more and looked at the two girls, laughing and chatting.  His heart swelled with love... and a little melancholy.  They really were growing up.

With some trepidation, Andrew returned to the library.

"That was quick!  You must have gotten off easy!  Lucky!" JenniAnn teased.

"Yeah...  They, umm, they didn't have anything to ask me," Andrew explained.

"Oh..."  Sensing that Andrew was a bit hurt, JenniAnn hugged him.  "I'm sure it's just that it was easier to come to another lady about that sorta stuff.  They value your opinions, Andrew.  I value your opinions."

"Thanks, Laja."  Andrew sighed as he pulled her closer.  "I guess sometimes I... I just feel like the kids are closer to you since you're, well, you're around more."

"Oh, love...  No.  They all adore you!  Violeta and Shelby are just at that age where it's easier to talk to another woman about some things.  Really.  I regularly get asked when Daddy/Andrew is getting home."


"Yeah."  JenniAnn stretched up to kiss him then cupped his chin.  "Your work is important.  They know that.  And once you're home, you're truly home.  You don't just go crash in the TV room and play games or watch ESPN all day like some dads.  You're never checked out.  And I love that about you."

Andrew smiled.

"Thanks.  I could never check out." 

"I know, love."

A relieved Andrew chuckled as he recalled his brief visit with Shelby and Violeta.

"So... fair warning.  Violeta's doing something crazy with Shel's hair.  They were watching a Gentleman Jack hair tutorial... and there were feathers nearby."

JenniAnn laughed.

"Oh boy...  I'm excited to see it.  They really do love that show.  Gotta wonder if it inspired some of their questions."

"Maybe.  That would make sense.  They are really taken with it.  It did cross my mind..."


"Well, I mean... they're sisters, of course.  I'm not suggesting anything untoward is going on," Andrew stressed.  "But they've been really caught up in shows lately about close relationships between women.  Sometimes lovers, sometimes sisters, sometimes friends.  And they've been spending so much time together.  Do you think, maybe, they're anam caras?"

JenniAnn's eyes went wide.

"Like John and Joshua.  You said yourself... it's not always romantic," Andrew continued.  "Violeta seems to want that.  But I think you're onto something with her just kind of fixating on us because that's what she sees the most.  But that doesn't mean that's what God planned for her."

"Wow...  That could be!  And I'm not gonna push anything, of course but wow...  That would be a huge relief if so.  I get nervous for Violeta sometimes.  She so badly wants to belong with someone.  And I worry someone could take advantage of that... even unwittingly.  Shelby would never, ever hurt her.  And I love that so much... sisters as anam caras."

"Yeah..."  Andrew smiled. 

"And you think I'm closer to the kids...  That thought didn't even cross my mind today... or ever.  But now that you've said it...  Again, we say nothing about this, right?"


"But... I really think you're onto something, Andrew."  JenniAnn beamed at him.  "Aww..."

"Yeah..."  Andrew let out a happy sigh.  "We shall see, I guess."

"We shall..."


Circa 2035

Violeta appeared just inside of Serendipity's front door.  She hung up her coat and made her way to kitchen, eager for a cup of tea.  Just as she started the kettle boiling, she heard soft, instrumental music coming from upstairs. 

She'd thought Shelby was spending the night in the Tunnels, proofreading her novel... her first novel!  But maybe plans had changed.

Violeta followed the music and found Shelby in her room, the door opened to reveal her picking away at her computer.  The angel was just about to step away, not wanting to distract Shelby from her muse, when the younger woman noticed her.

"Hey!  You're back early."

A wave of sadness washed over Violeta but she forced a smile and nodded.

Noticing her sister's grief, Shelby rose from her chair and hugged Violeta.

"What's wrong?"

A sob escaped Violeta.

"E-everything," she choked out. 

"Oh, Violeta..."  Shelby led her to the edge of her bed where they both sat.  "Do you want to talk about it?"

"I... I dunno."

"Okay.  You don't have to.  Was Andrew with you?"

Violeta nodded.

"Is he still with your assignment?"

"No...  Joshua sent him to go spend time with JenniAnn."

"Oh..."  Shelby frowned.  Something must have gone wrong.  She began to gently stroke the angel's back. 

Violeta began to cry in earnest.

"It... it was... was... We..."

From downstairs, the kettle began to screech.

"My tea..." Violeta murmured.

"I'll get it," Shelby offered.  "You stay put.  What kinda of tea would you like?"

"Hibiscus, please."


Shelby gave Violeta another comforting squeeze before going to get the tea. 

When she returned, she found Violeta hugging one of her plushies.  Her heart went out to her.

"Here you go," she handed the angel her cup of tea.


Shelby reclaimed her spot beside Violeta and resumed stroking her back.

Violeta took a few sips of her tea before speaking.

"Our assignment was a girl named Neva.  Andrew was her teacher and I was the school guidance counselor.  She was dating this guy and..."  Violeta wiped at her eyes and shook her head.  "He was bad.  Really bad.  And we tried so hard to get her away but...  It just... he killed her and... it... it was really, really bad."

"I'm so sorry," Shelby cooed as Violeta began to sob.  "So sorry for Neva and those who loved her.  Sorry for you and for Andrew.  Sorry for... for God."

Violeta nodded.

"Do you think maybe you should go Home?  Just for a little while?" Shelby asked.

Violeta took another sip of her tea before she set it down and peered into her sister's eyes.

"I... I thought about it.  And I knew I could have.  But...  I just... I...  Joshua sent Andrew back to JenniAnn and... and I realized that... that I just wanted to be with... with you.  I was so... so relieved when you were here.  But if you weren't... I think I would have gone to the Tunnels because I just... I needed to... to see you.  Shel, I... I spent so long wanting some... some grand Andrew and JenniAnn-style romance but... but... when that... that happened with Neva... the person I most wanted to see after God was... you.  My sister," Violeta professed.

Shelby stared at the angel for a few silent moments.  Then a soft, loving smile lit up her face.

"Are you saying that I'm..."

"My anam cara," Violeta finished.  "I mean... if you want to be."

Shelby squeezed her sister's hand.

"Of course I want to be...  Soul friend, soul sister."

Violeta smiled through her tears and nodded.

"Yeah.  Exactly."

Shelby hugged Violeta tightly.

"Tell me about her?  About Neva.  About what made her so special," she gently encouraged.

And so Violeta did, honoring her assignment by sharing her memories.

Shelby listened and encouraged the angel until, finally, she fell asleep. 

Then, after a prayer for Neva and her two angels, Shelby grabbed her laptop, sat beside Violeta, and proofed volume one of The Anam Cara Chronicles; occasionally beaming at her very own anam cara.

The End

Thank you to Sierra for helping to come up with the questions!

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for inspiring this platform which I clearly use to deal with a lot of stuff.

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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)