singing angels This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

As Emily walked up the grand stair case, she thought about all the times her Mom had yelled at her and Bailey for sliding down the smooth oak banister, just the thought brought tears to her eyes. The only reason she choose to walk up those stairs, stained with memories still to painful to bear, was to get away from the whispers that were supposed to stay down stairs but were already climbing the stairs trying to catch up with her. The only place that she was certain those stupid, sympathetic whispers wouldn’t find her was in the upstairs bathroom. It was the place that her and Bailey would meet in the middle of the night when her parents were fighting, when Emily bombed a geometry test, when Bailey’s friends were being mean female dogs. It was the safest place Emily had ever known. She finally made it to the big oak stained door, after what seemed like years, she stepped inside and without thinking, automatically locked the door behind her. Emily pressed her head up to the door , closed her eyes, and tried to remember what Bailey’s voice sounded like. When she couldn’t, Emily started to panic, and suddenly all of the feelings she had kept inside came up and out and she barely made it to the toilet. As she slid down, Emily pressed her self against the cool china and willed herself to melt into the brilliant white that surrounded her. Thinking that if there wasn’t anything left inside her, then she surely wouldn’t leave a stain. That thought made her shake from her core out, it started as a shake that came up from inside you with titan strength and refused to let go. But it slowly turned into the shake that leaves you so cold you feel as though you won’t ever be warm again. Now, she forced herself to prove her body wrong, she would be warm again. So she turned on the shower full blast, has hot as it could go. Hoping that it would be enough to melt this mass of that had taken up residence where her heart used to be. She started to strip mindlessly, pausing briefly to think about the whispers down stairs, and decided that they’d get over it. When she stepped into the steaming shower her body instantly told her it was to hot, but her soul told her it was perfect. So Emily kept going, and with every excruciatingly hot water drop the mass of ice started to melt, but it was until the mass was completely gone did she let the truth fully sink in, “I no longer have a sister, Bailey’s dead.” Then she let herself breakdown and cry. She cried for the first time since they told her about the crash. She cried all the tears that she never let anyone else see, and all the tears that she kept at the base of her throat but never let truly come out. She cried until she was sure there wasn’t anything left inside her. Then she thought about what it would be like now that she was an only child. Would they go on more vacations? Would she get more clothes? Then, after that fleeting moment, Emily hated herself. She needed to make herself believe that there was something beneath her skin. That she wasn’t just a shell of someone who had left when she let her sister get in that car. So she grabbed her razor and drew the first rung of a ladder on her skin. Amazed at the feeling of relief that flooded her when the blood welled up and spilled over. Eager to prove more to herself, she thought of how she couldn’t remember the exact shade of blue of Bailey’s eyes, and drew another rung. Then she thought about how she couldn’t remember what her hair felt like and drew another. Now she was just making things up, she couldn’t place the freckles on Bailey’s nose, she didn’t know the tone of her laugh, she couldn’t remember weather Bailey had dimples or not. But Emily finished her ladder, and now the water pooled at the bottom of the shower was tinted pink with a powerful secret that later Emily would hold close with the knowing power that she could control something in her life. But for now, she was just staring at the ladder that she had carved into her forearm and realized that this was the ladder that would help Bailey get to heaven. Filled with a new hope and a feeling of purpose, Emily got up, turned off the shower, and stepped out only to face a fogged up mirror. Then, without realizing what she was doing at first, she drew Bailey and five other faceless people as angels, each doing something together that she couldn’t quite place. It took her a minute or two, but she finally got it. They were singing to the world, in a language that only angels are allowed to know, they were singing a hymn about all the sadness and hatred in the world. A hymn that Emily knew all to well. So without bothering to towel off, she started to get dressed again, still to wet to distinguish tear from water, water to faded blood. She started to braved the stair case and those stupid whispers. Only now she could hear a rhythm and chorus behind all the fake sympathy. Almost like singing angels.





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