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Wings for Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.


   Angel's wings had fallen off. It started slowly, a couple of feathers breaking loose inthe wind, floating away in carefree spirals, then in clumps in the shower, mattedwet and clogging the drain, until one day he woke in a thick layer of whiteplumage, quills snagging on the stained sheets.

Now he sat in the SadCafé, shoulders slumped forward because of the missing weight from hisback, staring into a cup of hot cocoa. It looked like someone had smeared bluewar paint under his eyes, like the sky when it's bruised and about to burst withthunder and rain. Two boys in the booth next to him secretly held hands under thetable. A brunette crossed and uncrossed her legs while her lover ordered her hisfavorite and flirted with the waitress. Angel slouched in his chair until hiseyes were nearly level with the table and wished this was a world where sexwasn't a weapon. He cracked his knuckles, nitrogen bubbles popping under the skinbetween the joints.

When he saw her alone on the worn loveseat in thedarkest corner, bent over a green cloth journal with a broken binding, furiouslyscribbling and sketching, he wanted to go to her. He wanted to see what she waswriting, to know what was in her mug. He wanted to hear her name and whisper itback to her. But she came to him first.

She had seen the boy with thegreen eyes turned down at the corners, eyes like the Afghan girl on the NationalGeographic cover a few years back. She wondered if he was haunted and why hisshoulders slumped forward. So she invited herself to his table and sat down whenhe smiled from under his shaggy ash hair.

"How goes it,My-Secret-Agent-Lover-Man?"

His ears blushed red and he explained hewasn't a secret agent, wasn't anyone's lover, and wasn't even sure if he was asmuch man as boy. She noted his broad shoulders, big hands, whiskered chin, howhis voice came from deep inside his throat, and gave him a lopsided smile. If hewasn't a man yet, he was well on his way.

"What does a sad-eyed boywith slumped shoulders go by, then?"

"Angel," he said, andsaw the girl look surprised, then pleased.

"Are youSpanish?"

"I don't know what I am," he replied sadly, andwith more truth than she could ever realize. He drooped deeper into his seatuntil the table obstructed all views of his face. She bent under thetable.

"It's okay. Lots of people don't know what they are. Theimportant part is, you are looking." He was only slightly comforted - hedidn't know anyone else who had two red scabs where wings were supposed to be.

"Do you play?" she asked, noticing the basketball at his feetand thinking a change of subject could bring him out from under the table. Evenwith the shadows distorting the contours of his face, she could make out histimid smile and eager nod. "Well then, let's go!"

One of themost beautiful things about the city is you can get just about anywhere with asubway token and feet. They quickly found themselves at the sizzling asphaltcourt. It smelled like rubber, beer and sweat. They bounded around, clever dodgeand slick slam dunk. To outsiders, they could have been brother and sister, withtheir matching baggy-boy pants and high cheekbones, with their skater sneaks andfull lips. When she ran circles around him, she felt like a whole pack of wolvesin one little body, and, as he hung from the rim, he remembered flying.

When their backs and underarms were saturated and both were short ofbreath they retreated to Saint So-and-So's Church. The stained glass blocked thesun and promised relief from the heat. They lay on the cold grey stone under thepews. He tried to explain agape love to her, how it was so complete, sountainted, but she couldn't comprehend the concept.

"Angel," shesaid, "I've known plenty of princes who have turned into frogs, but I'venever known a frog to turn into a prince."

He wondered how many timesmen had hurt her. He wanted to prove that love didn't have to equal pain. Maybehe couldn't give her agape, but he could try. He could make her her own littleheaven on Earth. But he remembered his halo, rusted and bent under his bed, andfelt a numb, fuzzy pain behind his eyes. She kissed his forehead, a derangedblessing, an attempt to smooth the creases his eyebrows made when they pushedtogether with worry and want. A spit-and-lips baptism underneath thepews.

When someone began to practice the organ, she stood and swayedslowly, hands above her head, hips twisting to the tired hymns.

"Iwant to show you something," he said, taking her hand.

In his room,she sat on a volume of encyclopedias and listened to him play his guitar. Hesang, quietly at first and then louder and louder until the veins in his neckstood out. At the end of the song, she smiled and clapped, but he just lookedtired.

"I used to play the harp," he told his feet.

Shegiggled, "Did your dad make you?"

"Something likethat," he sighed.

"Well, you have a beautiful voice. Really,it's just amazing. You should do something with it, you know, get a record dealor something."

"You really think so?" he asked, perking up,eyes wide but insecurity saturating his tone.

"Yes! I really, reallydo," she said confidently.

Angel looked at the girl on hisencyclopedias. Her smile was warm and tolerant, but not ignorant. Her words gavehim an unusual sense of peace. He went to his closet and pulled out a brown paperbag full of white feathers. Dropping it at her feet he said, "Maybe you canbe my new wings."

"You can't love anyone until you learn tolove yourself,"' she said sincerely, almost sadly. Because she wanted tolove this Angel boy, with his hot cocoa, basketball, churches and guitars, buthow could she? Frogs never turn into princes, and princes almost always turn intofrogs.

At his door, he hugged her and whispered, "What's yourname?"

Pulling him away she said, "You have to learn to be yourown wings," and left.

Two years later there was a song on the radioabout a girl who could dance in churches and play basketball with the boys. Angeltraveled the world with that song, and others like it on his album, as he gainedpopularity. And while signing glossy photos during an appearance in a smallrecord store back in his favorite city, he saw her. Now more like a woman than agirl, she waited in line with everyone else. He had her pulled to the front,where she dropped a CD booklet in front of him, leaned forward and whisperedclose to his ear so her lips brushed against his skin, "Make it out toEve."

"Eve," he repeated, trying it out on his tongue. Hetold the manager he was taking a break and pulled her into a backroom.

"I told you," she teased, but he just stared at hisfeet.

"I don't have my wings back," he confessed, removing hisshirt and showing her the scars. She touched them gently, as though they mightstill hurt, and kissed his shoulders.

"You have your wings, they arehere now," she explained, touching his chest where his heart pumped, wherethe songs first lived, where she would rest her head that night before she wentto sleep.

And she made 1,000 dream-catchers out of his feathers that theyhung all over their house. And he shrunk his halo into a ring for her. And theyexplored agape love, bravely now, side by side. Eve and her Angel.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the October 2002 Teen Ink Fiction Contest.






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changerswriter said...
Dec. 11, 2010 at 12:45 am
Wow! This is amazing!!
 
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