We were all Summoned to the convocation in a fashion which brooked no argument. Not that anybody expected to argue, I imagined; we had long ago become accustomed to obeying the rather infrequent and always mildly-expressed instructions of the Angels. But nobody that I spoke to could recall anything like this meeting; the strangeness was already perceptibly making some of my friends nervous.
Before long, we convened in the largest clearing in the Garden, in the gathering gloom of the sunset - at a time we would normally be seeking places to sleep or private spots to indulge in the night-time pleasuring of friends and lovers. All the Angels gathered as well, gliding in from the soaring heights that guarded the approaches to our sanctuary. This was another circumstance which was most unusual; although the Angels would come and go as their whims dictated, we would rarely see more than one or two in the Garden.
The entire glade was illuminated by mystical lights, glowing softly like the fireflies which sometimes appeared on moonless nights but brighter and steadier - not as bright as day but as the full moon on cloudless nights. The Angels stood together on a grassy knoll in the edge of the clearing, backed by the shady woodlands which were our home. They too looked a little unsettled, as far as one could tell with Angels, while some were perhaps even expectantly excited.
Eventually, one stepped forward to address us. It was the one called Michael who we had long understood as the leader of all the Angels. He had glorious white wings, a mass of dark curly hair on his head and a strong male body with skin the very shade of the ripe nuts which grew on bushes in many parts of the Garden. He was surrounded by a glow, a hazy nimbus visible against the dark background.
"There is a change," Michael said solemnly, "An important change in our circumstances: for you all, and for us as well."
He raised his arms and turned left and right, a gesture undoubtedly intended to include everybody present.
"As I have brought you all together in this place, at this time," Michael went on, "We too have been summoned from Above, by our own Lord and Master. We must return to the stars above" - he indicated the firmament above us, the shining stars now clearly visible in the sky - "We need to revert to another state of being."
There was a general commotion at this statement. I could understand why: I could not remember a time when we did now know the Angels. They looked after us, taught us speech and knowledge, and were always available to answer questions and offer advice. How would we manage without them?
Michael held up his hand. The susurrations in the glade faded into fitful silence, broken only by the calls of night creatures in the woods.
"We have created you, brought you up from the common animals," he said earnestly, "We have given you bodies and voices and minds unlike any of the beasts of the land. And now you will need to learn to live without us. We will teach you what you need to know, how to live together and prosper."
Michael turned, beckoned to another of his company. Another approached. It was Raphael. She stood on Michael's right hand and looked around, seeming to catch the eye of everybody present.
"My children," Raphael began, "You must all listen closely to my message."
She was one of those Angels who came most frequently to the Garden, to hold court and teach any who would listen. She often referred to the men and the women in this way. I was not quite sure exactly what she meant - although I was very shortly to find out.
Raphael spoke at great length, explaining about our bodies and the true differences between boys and girls; how both sexes were made by the Creator to couple together in just the way I had been enjoying with Adam earlier; that new life, new people would come into existence by this intercourse. This was the true meaning of children, I came to understand.
There were questions, so many questions. Those in the garden had become used to asking uninhibitedly of the Angels, especially Raphael. She answered everything put to her, clearly and directly. Slowly, the realisation crept over everybody: our world was about to change forever. And there were other implications, too: if there were to be more boys and girls, this sheltered place where we all lived would become too crowded; then, sooner or later, some of us would have to leave the Garden.
Eventually the stream of questions trickled to a close. Raphael looked around, then bowed to Michael, who nodded in acknowledgement, and stepped back to her fellows.
"Be assured we will still be watching you, from afar," Michael said, "But you must trust to your own judgements, and to the teachings you have received today and on other days. Now, farewell to you all!"
He turned to face his fellows who, as one being, spread their arms and wings wide. Now, all of them were surrounded by a nimbus of light, which brightened and moved in a way that hurt the eyes to watch. The grassy knoll was filled with swirling, fading Angels.
"It is time," the Archangel Michael said as he faded from view, his voice as always calm and soft but somehow carrying to the furthest reaches of the glade, "It is time for you all to go forth and multiply."
If you have enjoyed this story, why not explore the other stories in the Fantasy and Science Fiction collection?