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You no doubt have heard that pickup line that goes something like, “Hey, did it hurt? When you fell from the sky?”
Etc, etc. You know the drill. All those “angel” pickup lines.
It did hurt. A lot.
“Honey! Wake up! Get dressed! NOW!”
My father’s voice, laced with indescribable anguish, suddenly shook me out of my deep sleep. It was raining outside. Throughout the years, I had been brought up to imagine the worst of circumstances, and now, my heart plummeted with fear.
“Daddy? What’s wrong? Daddy?”
I hastily threw on a jacket and stumbled out of my room, still half asleep.
The image that greeted me will be forever burnt into my memory.
My father, tears running down his face, rivers of pain, rivers of despair.
In his arms?
My mother. Barely conscious, coughing up blood, sweat pouring down her face. Rivers of pain.
“Mommy?” I whispered.
My father rushed out the door, yelling at me to get the keys to the car. I followed, blinded by the painful image, blinded by my panic.
In the car, all that could be heard was the primitive, choked sobs of my father, pleading with my mother. To stay. To try. To be strong. To smile. To live.
All I could do was hold on to my mother’s cold, shaking hand. Praying. Pleading silently.
Houses and buildings whipped by our car. Raindrops raced each other on the window, racing to some destination I would never know of. Then, the hospital loomed above us, comforting yet frightening.
My father was out and running with my mother in his arms before I could get out of the car. I made it out of the car, watching, frozen, unmoving. I saw the gurney roll out of the emergency room doors.
Then, suddenly, everything hit me all at once.
The bold, heart-wrenching color of the blood in stark contrast with the pristine sheets on the gurney.
My mother’s pale face, as white as poisoned snow.
My father’s never ending tears, falling, mixing with the rain that fell around him.
His eyes. The tears fell, like raindrops from a black, blank window of glass.
The doctor, who was shaking his head even as the gurney was rolled in.
And the rain. The never ending relentless rain. The pinpricks of pure cold being driven into me every second I stood here.
Somehow I found myself in my father’s arms. And I cried. He cried. We sank down in front of that emergency room door and unleashed our souls. They flowed out with our tears, flowed in with the rain, to some destination we would never know of.
Five years later, I am a seemingly normal high school student leading a normal life. Every day I go to school. Every day I do my homework, hang out with my friends. I ride the roller coaster that every teenager seems to ride. I laugh, I cry, I dream, and I am.
Who is the real me?
Every day I come home to a messy house, unkempt, reeking of alcohol. Dishes in the sink, trash overflowing. My father, on the couch, drunk, passed out. The tears still wet on his face. The ink still glistening on his fingers from his drawings, his tattoos that he makes a “living” with. He opened a tattoo studio in a little building by our house. That’s all he ever does now. Draws, tattoos, cries.
My mother died five years ago. Part of my father did too.
As for me? I’ve kept the part of me that’s died bottled up. Masked. No one knows.
Then came that fateful day.
It was the start of a new semester in school. New classes, new binders, new pencils, new classmates. New students mingled among us, but I never bothered to get to know them. I had my close group of friends.
Halfway through class, a tap on my shoulder jostled me from my reverie.
“What?” I whispered to my friend.
She handed me a folded note, written in blue, and grinned, gesturing at a new boy that sat in the back of class. I stole a glance at him. He was staring at me, a crooked grin on the side of his face. But that wasn’t the first thing I noticed. The first thing I noticed were his eyes. Sky blue. Sapphire blue. Clear, clear blue.
I took the note, expecting it to be full of my friend’s enthusiastic chatter about how cute he was or how his hair was amazing or how she was wondering which girl could catch his eye first. Instead, as I looked down at the note in my hand, I was shocked to see that it was in a boy’s handwriting, addressed to
Angel of My Dreams
1111 Road to Paradise
Hands shaking, I unfolded the note and read the one simple line inside.
“Did it hurt? When you fell from Heaven?”
An uncontrollable ripple of emotions ripped through me, and my tears started falling. My back throbbed. My hand clenched, crumpling the note, and I shook so hard my pencil clattered on my desk. I heard my friend’s inaudible gasp of surprise as I dropped the note on the floor, rushing out of the classroom. As the door closed, I turned back to take one more look, ignoring the teacher’s surprised cry of indignation. And the only thing I could see was his blue, blue eyes. Wide with shock, hurt, and confusion. Then, the door slammed shut, and I was running. Running away from the school, away from my classmates, away from my life, away from my unlucky fate.
It started raining, and the wind picked up until the raindrops were driving into my face. I ran. I raced the raindrops, raced them toward a destination I did not know of.
My feet eventually tired, and finally I could not ignore their screams of pain anymore. I looked around, for comfort, for loss, for something. Anything. But all I had was the rain, still relentlessly pounding into every inch of my body. My mind was still blank, but eventually I regained my senses. I blinked the tears and the rain away, not knowing the difference, and found myself staring at an angel. It loomed above me, indifferent to the rain. I gazed into its eyes. But they were strangely blank.
“Did it hurt?” I whispered shakily.
I looked up again, and through the rain the angel seemed to smile, but its eyes were still blank.
“Did it hurt, Mommy?” I whispered, almost inaudible.
Overcome, I dropped down to my knees in front of it, unleashing another torrent of emotion. I could taste the salty rain in the corners of my mouth. My hands clenched and unclenched in front of me, and my back still sent shivers of pain down my spine. My voice shook as I fought to control it over the sobs that racked my body.
Beneath my knees, hard and cold, so unlike the angel I knew, was a plaque that wavered in my tear and rain filled eyes.
“Angel of My Dreams”
That was all it said.
My father had gone through a lot to get a hold of this life size angel statue to put over her grave. And here it stood, forever a silent vigil and guardian, of my father’s angel, of my saving grace.
“Mommy, where are you? Where have you been?” I sobbed.
Suddenly, I felt a pair of warm, strong hands on my shoulders. I froze.
“Oh, those are shoulder blades? I could have sworn they were wings.” A voice washed over me.
I spun around, suddenly overcome by a cloud of fury, fury at the world for being unfair, fury at my father for being so weak, fury at my own lack of control over my own world, fury at everyone for not understanding, fury at the boy in class who sent me that note, not knowing how much pain it could cause me, fury at whoever had followed me to this sacred site of my sanity.
But it was the same boy. His hair was wet, fallen over his eyes, and his lips were curved into that crooked smile. I shoved him away, blinded by fury, blinded by rain, blinded by tears, blinded by pain.
“Leave me alone! I hate you! I hate everyone! No one understands, no one cares, no one ever wants to talk about it! Because they’re scared! Damn it, they’re stupid and scared!” I screamed.
Once again his hands latched onto my shoulders, pulling me closer. He swept his hair away from his eyes and stared into mine.
“I meant it.” He stared intensely into my eyes, searching for my soul that I lost five years ago.
And with that one look, I gazed into Heaven, and the masks fell away. My soul, brought back by the rain, finally came back. And he found it.
I fell into his arms, his strong, warm arms, and I could’ve sworn they were wings. I enveloped myself in those wings, into the warm, secure embrace of a familiar hug that I had not known for too long.
“Yes. It hurt. It really really hurt.” My voice was soft, but he heard me.
He wiped the tears from my eyes with the gentle touch of a cloud and simply said, “Tell me.”
And I told him.
“It was raining that day…”
“He used to call her Angel, his savior…”
One after another, the masks fell. The lies exposed. The flicker of my soul rekindled, reignited.
He sat silent, watching me.
“What came after?” he asked simply.
“He…he…told me to find her…” I whispered, once again small, once again weak.
He hugged me closer, a question in his eyes.
“He… Daddy told me to go to Heaven and bring her back…bring his Angel back…” I managed to cry.
My burning back flared, and I stood, facing the angel, back facing him, and lifted my shirt.
The rain caressed my back, cold piercing kisses tracing the dark ink lines, black as death.
The tattoo, stark against my light skin. Angel wings.
I heard him sigh. Then, he was behind me, and I gladly sank back into his arms.
He hugged me close, as if he’d never let me go again.
“Don’t worry. I’m here. I’ll be your savior angel. I’ve finally found my angel, and she broke her wing when she fell from Heaven. That’s okay though, I’ll heal it, I’ll make it better, and she’ll fly again…” he whispered in my ear.
And in that moment, as I looked into his eyes, into those windows to Heaven…
I was flying.