Once an Angel, Now a Saint

February 24, 2008
By Kendra Cohen, Cocoa Beach, FL

The strange man cleared his throat, adjusted his tie, and began his speech.

“There was once a woman- whose kindness, sincerity and passion for living exceeded any ordinary woman's internal limits. Before, she was known as Andrea Leigh Fritz. Now we refer her as an angel. I recall her with a fondness that she returned fiercely and without doubt. Unlike the sympathetic speech of a faultier person, may I quote her and say she ‘regarded her living as an unnecessary presence.’ So to ornament her cruelly short life I shall not. Instead, I shall disagree with her statement and speak of her through the eyes of the simpleton I once knew.

“Amid a haze of smoke, a young man, perhaps eighteen, observed his life. That man's name was Landon. In his pocket lay a lighter and a cigarette. In his backpack was a loaded gun.

“After pondering for a while, he came to the conclusion he was very well off. ‘No one messes with me. I have money and I know how to get it. I got my cigarettes, my baseball cap, and a good left hook. That's all I need.’

“With these thoughts in his head, he headed down 9th and Mark Avenue to find a lady with pearls so he could find enough to purchase a good beer. Then he’d find the nearest stoop and make due during the cool September night.

“The fine stone of Yale felt cool and secure under his fingertips. Feeling no emotion, he whistled a show tune he had heard coming from the television store. As he turned a sharp corner, something compact and on-the-move collided with him. Papers scattered across the grimy sidewalk and blew into the breeze.

“‘Oh, goodness!’ she exclaimed. Kneeling, the young woman he had collided with desperately attempted to pin the bubble-gum pink fliers to the ground. Curious, he knelt as well, and handed a few papers to her. ‘Why, thank you very much!’ she said, mighty surprised. ‘Most people would never stop if they bumped into someone, especially in this part of town. Never once in this city has someone taken the time to show a little common courtesy to a-’ Her mouth froze in mid-sentence. Patiently, he met her gaze.

“‘You're PERFECT!" she screeched. To say the least, he jumped a little bit.

“‘I am?’ he wondered aloud. Internally, he asked himself if she was simply mocking him.

“‘Yes, here, take this!’ Trembling, she thrust several papers into his hands. ‘I am a recruiter for the Yale University Underprivileged Learning program, and I think you would just-’

“‘Now, ma'am, I don't think that learning is my thing,’ he said slowly, as if a Yale student might not understand his language.

“‘What? Why?’ Her baby blues glimmered with innocence. Somehow, he could not find a reason. All thoughts were wiped from his mind.

“‘Well, what the heck,’ he shrugged.

“‘Oh, that is marvelous!’ She looked absolutely thrilled, and a strange warmth grew in his chest. He knew he never wanted this feeling to leave.

“A year and a half afterwards, he found himself in a small, permanent apartment just five blocks away from Yale. Stepping out of the miniscule bathroom, he glanced about. Simple, with a painting here and a bookshelf there. ‘We're going to be late for the gala if you don't speed things up!’

“Click, click, click, her shoes tapped on the hardwood floor. She turned the corner, and a small heart palpitation startled him. Soft blue tulle enveloped her gentle curves and glass pearls ornamented bright red hair. ‘You are nervous, and you have a good reason to be,’ she murmured, passing her warm hand over his cheek sweetly. ‘You are obtaining that award, if there is any justice. You must. We need the money for Ms. Matheson. You know, she needs it more than us. I mean, five thousand can hardly-’

“‘Hush.’ Gently, he pressed a finger to her lips, and replaced his finger with his lips. ‘You are magnificent.’

A giggle escaped her. ‘My life is an unnecessary presence for most,’ she teased carelessly.

“‘Nonsense!’ he brushed off.

‘I am no more humble than my virtues require,’ she quoted from her favorite composer, Oscar Levant. ‘However, the lives of others are precious. Now come, we'll be late."

“‘Ah, how fickle is women!’ he laughed, and pulled her out the door.”

The man at the podium took a shaky breath, then continued.

“From this point on details are insignificant. Two weeks ago, I received my diploma in Humanities. And seven days ago the life of a dear mutual friend of ours was cut cruelly short by some joy riders. I cannot stress the amazing life she would have led if she were still breathing. She was a friend, a companion, and the love of my life.

“I shall send her a newspaper and a rose every Sunday, as was tradition, and as it will be. When I can no longer do so, my sister Kate will inherit the responsibility.

“Her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, shall remain with her.

“However as lovely as she was, she contained one flaw. You see, a window she had, but a mirror she did not. And that is why, here on her coffin, I now place a mirror.

“And finally, I shall write her a note. Thank you all for coming, and I bid you good night,” he concluded, bowing his head reverently.

Before making his way back to his seat, he stepped out to make a call. Next, he carefully made his way to the coffin, and tucked the note into her cold hand.

Darling Andrea,

I promise that we will see each other tomorrow.

Love, Landon.

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