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Angel in the Snow
The back door was thrown open in a flurry of movement. Foot falls thundered down the sidewalk and into the snow, leaving behind impressions in the newly fallen sheet of white. Wesley had just managed to remember to put his shirt back on; he had been lifting weights when he got the call. Unfortunately he forgot to put a jacket on. The cold was ignored though; there was something more important occupying his mind. Why did she leave? Was it something I did? He doubted he caused her actions, but his concern for her brought out the thought. Why Sarah? Where did you go? What happened? He had received a call from her parents earlier that evening. They had told Wesley and his family that she had left with a bag of supplies. Normally her leaving wouldn’t have alarmed her parents but the bag had thrown them off and they panicked.
Sarah and Wesley had always been close. Their mothers had been friends and were overjoyed when they discovered they were both pregnant in hopes that the two children would become the closet of friends, and they did. As toddlers, they were rarely seen apart except for times at home; always playing hide and seek and tag with each other until they collapsed exhausted. The two entered school together and by middle school they had their own study group of just the two of them. Of course there was that awkward stage when puberty hit, but overall their lives were perfect. In high school, Sarah had started a debate club; she had always loved to argue with Wesley. She also began to play basketball. Wesley had always felt pride watching her play, especially when she would score a basket. It was times like those where he secretly, and only to himself, considered her to be his. He had always had a crush on Sarah, of course never telling (especially when cooties were believed to be contagious), but the small liking seemed to grow a mind of its own, enlarging to a much greater, yet slightly reluctant, feeling.
Wesley finally reached the edge of town where the forest began. He looked around, wondering which direction she could have gone. How could she do this to us, to me? He thought as he slowly walked into the looming forest. The sparkling sheet of snow crunched under his worn sneakers, the falling snow sticking to his hair and clothes. The trees were tall and covered in snow; pines with lumps of powder balanced on their branches while the leafless seasonal trees dripped glittering icicles. He glanced around looking for a clue or mark left by Sarah. Wesley still didn’t understand how this could have happened. She always seemed happy, always wore a smile. Though her friends and family noticed the bandages on her arms, they just thought it was from playing basketball since it was her favorite sport. Just thinking of basketball brought her image to his mind; her short brown hair in a ponytail with a few stray hairs sticking to her face and neck with sweat, her blue eyes twinkling with adrenaline. He pushed the picture from his mind. None of these events were making sense. She just wasn’t the kind of girl to do this. His thoughts left him when he tripped.
He barely caught himself as he fell. He looked back at what had tripped him and gasped. It was Sarah’s backpack, torn and half hanging from a tree. She must have gotten it stuck on a strong branch and pulled away, ripping her bag. All the contents lay strewn on the ground; her CD player and CDs, her favorite book, and another item. Just looking at it pulled at his heart. It was a picture.
Not just any picture, but the one of them from last summer. He sat in a green, leafy tree, wearing a t-shirt and shorts. He had her pulled into his lap, her dark hair tickling his nose. She was smiling, her teeth perfect and straight. Wesley’s face was next to hers planting a small friendly (though Wesley preferred to think otherwise) kiss on her cheek. Sarah’s favorite part was the hummingbird caught in the background as it flittered happily around the couple. He felt his eyes become warm and blurry. The glass cover was cracked almost to the point of shattering. He felt his heartstrings twinge realizing she was the one who broke it. He picked up the frame and pulled the picture away from the glass. Wesley folded it in half and slipped it into his back pocket. He was about to search through the mess some more when he heard it. The one noise that proved his theory was correct, something he hoped would not be true.
“Sarah!” he screamed. He ran harder than he’d ever run before, even when he was competing in his track meets. His dark green eyes flashed in terror at what might have just taken place. Wesley tried to follow where he believed the sound came from. As he got closer, everything seemed to slow down.
It felt like time stopped at his worst moment, like it was mocking this tragedy. He could feel the icy snow sneaking into his shoes. He could hear the crunching of snow, the hooting of an owl hunting, but the loudest of all was his heart rampaging in his ears, his head, just…everywhere. He could feel the cold wind on his bare arms that lacked the warmth and protection of a jacket. He could taste something bitter in his mouth, gasping for breath as his lungs needed oxygen to keep his legs pumping. He couldn’t give up, not when he was so close.
Wesley slowed as he came to the clearing, unable to register anything but the sight before him. He fell to his knees in disbelief and grief staring at her; refusing to believe what was in front of him. Tears began to brim in his eyes. Ever so slowly he crawled towards her. Sarah’s dead eyes looked up at the tree tops, a look of hopelessness residing in them instead of the usual warm mischievous twinkle. Her lips were parted just slightly, as if sighing, while a thin trail of crimson blood leaked from the corner of her mouth and froze to her cheek. Sarah’s lips were purple, contrasting greatly from her deathly pale skin. Her dark curls were thrown around her heart shaped face. Her legs were under her as if she had fallen from heaven. The gun was still in her hand, lukewarm and slightly smoking, showing the outcome like a storybook with open pages. Blood splatters were on the tree behind her and scattered on the snow like a halo around her head, staining it red like a thin sheet of oriental silk.
Wesley took her cold body in his arms as he let all the tears fall, all the regret and guilt and so many other emotions reflected in the diamond like tears. So what if someone saw? It didn’t matter anymore, nothing did. Sarah was gone, never to speak again. Wesley would never hear her laugh or her heavenly singing. He looked through his black bangs into her blue eyes, the tint dull and lifeless; the same blue eyes that had once both mystified and dazzled him. He hugged Sarah’s body close to him, not caring about the blood leaking onto his shirt. Her hand without the gun fell, releasing a tinkling sound. He looked at the culprit and choked out a sob. It was the locket he had given her on her sixteenth birthday. It was gold and had an etching of an angel on the front. Inside was a picture of him on the left, and her on the right. Wesley picked it up and squeezed it in his fist, probably leaving a mark. He would never let it go.
“Why?” Wesley yelled to no one. Why did she do it? How could she do this to all the people who cared and encouraged her in everything she did, every little aspect in her life? It then dawned on him and he knew. No one had ever really shown her love. To her, a life without love wasn’t a life worth living, not a life at all. She couldn’t take it. There were three words that came to his mind; three words that should’ve been spoken ages ago. Three words he wished he had said sooner.
“I love you,” he said softly as he brought her cold dead lips to his own. A kiss of the dead, a kiss of lost meaning and emotion.
“I have always loved you, my angel. My angel in the snow,” he whispered into the wind, the words never to reach Sarah’s ears.