Fallen Angel

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She lit a cigarette, leaned against her bedpost, and polished her halo and mended her wings as Wonderwall by Oasis played in the background. Have you ever heard of a fallen angel? She hadn't until recently. The idea was just so tempting, here and then gone again. She never believed it to be possible, but as soon as she had gained angel status she had slipped down the ladder of saints and landed in the fallen angel slot as the girl who had previously occupied the spot moved up. She was in heaven, but it hadn't been anything that she had ever imagined. It was scary, a dark abysmal place until you watched all your sins on the screen. She had walked down that path long ago, but she dreamed about it every night. Yes, there was sleeping in heaven, and she didn't like it. She had to see all her sins every night on big screens, and hear the screams and cries of others watching their sins and begging for forgiveness. Everyone made it into heaven, even the worst sinners. There were little sections in heaven, filled with the people who fit the profile of wherever they were. There were sins in heaven, too. That's how she wound up a fallen angel. The ultimate position was right-hand man, but it was already taken. You have to wait for someone to slide backwards before you could go up a position. The hardest part was keeping it, but she had managed to stay an angel until she had made a mistake and fallen. She was disappointed, desperate, and regretting everything, because the fallen angel position was detested. She was everyone's scapegoat, made into the group whipping boy. The halo was still tarnished, and she felt doomed to polish it until it was shining again and she could repent her sins. As she was sowing her wings back together, she fell into a fitful sleep.

She was walking down a dark, barren path filled with beer bottles and cigarette butts, as though it had once been happiness but had been paved over for easy access. It had been, in fact, she realized. Little pieces of gold looked like they littered the road, but when she bent down to pick them up and her brown hair fell across her face, she realized that they were pieces of the original road. Wear and tear had peeled the pavement up, and the gold was everyone's little bit of hope. The gold wouldn't be showing if everyone was still as evil as they believed, because the gold would be a dark, glistening black. She was grateful for the gold, but she wished that she hadn't had to walk down this path again. She looked to her left, her blue eyes glinting with reflections of the gold on the ground, but she didn't see her own screens yet. Instead, as she walked, she realized that she was watching her best friend's worst sin. She quickly averted her eyes, praying she would see him soon, and kept walking until she saw her screen being lit up. She sighed and sat down on the pebbly and dirty grass, hoping her sin would be over soon. You had to watch one a night until all your sins were gone. It could be fifteen seconds long, or fifteen hours. There was no time in heaven, only length. If you watched your sin and walked down the path, you woke up and went back to whatever you had been doing when you fell asleep. The length was the way you measured time. If you watched your sin and walked past three movie screens, it hadn't been bad. But if you were doomed to walk past one thousand screens, listening to the babies and adults alike screaming in agony, you had just watched one of your terrible sins.

She woke up with a start. She looked down and felt like screaming in frustration. She had walked past four movie screens, and she realized that she still had at least twenty more sins to go. Everyone in heaven had an excellent memory, and she had immediately made a list of all her sins when she made it to heaven. She checked off yet another sin and went back to wearily polishing her dull halo. She dozed off quickly, praying she wouldn't have to watch another sin.

She sat up quickly, realizing she was lying in a bed she didn't recognize. She looked around, startled, because she was sweating. She had never sweated in heaven, and she had seen at least two hundred of her sins. That meant she had been here-two hundred days? She looked around, confused, and saw that she was in a burning room. She screamed and leapt out of bed, trying to make it out the window but the window latch was locked. She was so tired of this. She had relived this moment again and again, but she never figured out how to get the window unlocked. She stared out the window, looking at the streets that hadn't been paved over, hoping one day she'd be able to get out there and be in the best part of heaven. Defeated, she lay back in bed and went to sleep, knowing the worst would be over soon. She'd figure out the lock. As she woke up from her memory, she laid back and let the sweat run down her and onto her halo. It soon glistened, and she stared at it in shock. Her wings were mending themselves, and as she watched them, sparks ran down the feathers and the fixture that connected in her back grew back. She touched it, trembling, and they fluttered upwards. They floated down and latched onto her back, and her halo shone as though it wanted to be on her head. Almost crying, she laid it on top of her head like a crown of thorns. It weaved its way into her hair and she sat back.

She sat up quickly, recognizing the bed this time and almost laughing in the joy of the sweat. She knew she could open the window this time. She touched her wings once for reassurance and pushed up the window, enjoying the rush of air. She paused for a moment as the flames died down and she had access to the door. She could go out to heaven, where she had always imagined being, or she could go home. She sat down, and as she did, the window slid shut and the flames grew higher and higher. She didn't make her decision for herself, but heard something in her head tell her to wake up, to open the door. She flung open the window and without a second glance, she ran towards the door, threw it open, and tore down the hall.

There was one last screen at the very end. She tentatively pushed the button and sat back in the one seat, and it displayed a large picture. It was of a hill, and a house, and her best friend. It had all the people who mattered to her. It looked like her friend had made his decision before her-it was just like nothing had changed. She ran up to the screen to look closer and as she did, she tumbled into it, feeling very much like Alice in Wonderland. She jumped up as she hit the ground without a bruise and ran to grab the only boy she had ever loved, and as she grabbed onto him they both disappeared, and she was laying in a hospital bed, in a double room. She looked over and that boy was lying there, grinning at her, as her heart machine beeped back into life and she did, too. She looked around for her halo and wings, and found them lying at the end of her bed. As she reached down to put them on, they faded at her touch, and as they disappeared, the first word she'd had spoken to her in a year was said.

"Hi, Ms. Alice. I'm your Cheshire Cat, and don't worry. I saw them too," he whispered. Those words sent her laughing, and she fell back onto the bed with tears in her eyes. She was going to miss her halo and wings, but she would have missed him more if she had made the wrong choice.





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