By the time I met Faith, her straight hair had grown out curlier and turned a deeper shade of red thanks to Mara’s angelic presence, while her brown eyes had turned to hazel.  I had thought she had seemed familiar.  I knew now that my magic summer had been spent with Mara, and felt a giddy thrill when I realized that she was my first kiss, my only true love.

            I watched how she spent all summer entirely enamoured of me as well, lying in her bed daydreaming of our time together, walking around with a smile on her face and a distant look in her eyes.  Whenever we were together, that smile brightened to give her a joyous glow, and she brought her passion for me to every encounter.  No wonder I was so happy that summer, she poured out her love on me at every opportunity.

            And I saw what pain it caused her when she realized that my heart was trapped in doubt and darkness; that I had to learn to love myself before I could ever love her back.  Our time together grew short, and she understood why she had been given a six month deadline:  she had to separate from me most painfully to give me the wake-up call that I needed to find myself instead of staying lost.  God’s plan and her actions effectively put me on a path that would save my soul.

            Mara wept greatly over the decision but knew that it was the right one, the only course of action.  And then the summer ended, and she and Faith parted ways.  Mara would fly in to check on the girl every once in awhile, and was happy to discover that her former vessel had felt called to return to church with her family, though Faith had entirely forgotten their mystical conversation from the winter before.

            Life continued as before, with Mara watching over me through my early university career.  And then came the airplane ride that changed our lives forever.

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