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The Crimson Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The night the train came was cold and windy. As we stood waiting anxiously on the wooden platform, each of us had a different picture of her in our minds. In my vision, she was tall and thin; she had crystal blue eyes like my mother and ebony hair. My father stood tall and strong. You could tell from his stance that he was a firm man with a strong, assertive manner. He was, however, the most kind, loving father a girl could ever ask for.

The train was supposed to come at 5: 30, but it was seven o'clock when it finally pulled into the station. As the passengers began their slow descent. I pictured her strolling toward us, wearing a crimson cape.

It seemed like forever before my younger brother spotted her down the track. The three of us made our way through the massive crowd, not watching where we were going, our eyes locked on the bright red spot.

My first glimpse was of her leaning elegantly against a post. She carried only one suitcase along with her purse, and she was wearing black gloves. This seemed peculiar to me. Even when I'm just going to visit grandmother, I have at least a satchel along with my two suitcases and here she was coming to stay with us permanently and she only had one suitcase. The thing that shocked me the most, however, was that she was wearing black gloves. My mother always told me never to wear black gloves unless I was going to a funeral, or the opera, and she had ridden all the way from Nebraska in the first-class car wearing black gloves. I guess my father noticed her gloves too because later that evening, he told me things were done differently out West.

Anyway, we stood behind her for a few minutes before my father gathered the courage to ask her if she was the one we had sent for. She answered in a soft delicate voice that she was, and it was a great pleasure to be invited.

She was not all as I had pictured. Her hair was an unnatural platinum blonde color, like ladies in the picture shows; her eyes were blue, but not like my momma's; they were darker. She was thin, but she was only a few inches taller than me. I felt very disappointed.

On the way home, she sat in the front with my father and James and I in the back. We didn't say much, but I could tell she was not what he'd expected either.

When we arrived at our house, she waited for my father to open the door for her. James carried her suitcase and I made sure the door didn't close on her beautiful dress. She liked our house, which made me feel proud since I had helped my mother decorate it. My father seemed eager to impress her, showing her around and acquainting her with the details of every room. He showed her photographs he'd taken of James and me when we were younger - photography was his hobby - and ones of my mother.

My mother; she was the most beautiful, gentle, caring woman I ever knew. Losing her was the worst thing that could have happened to our family. She died two years before of a heart condition. The doctors didn't know what it was so they couldn't cure her.

So now my father felt that it was time to have a woman around the house to mother us. He had grieved and now it was time to move on. So here she was, whether we liked it or not.

When I awoke the next morning, James was curled up beside me. This was not out of the ordinary; ever since Momma died, James had had nightmares. I guess it made him feel better to be close to me when he felt bad. I didn't mind. I went downstairs and got out the ingredients to make the pancakes. Every Saturday I made pancakes. Just as the griddle was heating up, in walked Monica. She was wearing a red dress and bright red lip rouge. "Why do you always wear red?" I asked. "Because I like it," she replied. She set a box of doughnuts down on the table and left the room. I stood there for a minute looking at the doughnuts, then I threw them into the trash and poured the batter onto the griddle. Later that day my father asked me why I had eaten all the doughnuts and not left any for anyone else.

When my father first told me that Monica was coming, I was nothing less than ecstatic, but now that she was here I was definitely having my doubts. Maybe it was because she wasn't my ideal vision. I guess she was a good person. There was just something I couldn't comprehend, and it made me uneasy. I felt uncomfortable in her presence, and it seemed as though the feeling was somewhat mutual. But I decided, for the sake of my family, I would give her a chance. James seemed to enjoy her and she was pleasant to most. Still, I decided that I would keep a watchful eye on her.

The next few weeks seemed to drag and at certain points the tension between us was practically palpable. We did, however, have our good days. She even allowed me to accompany her to the market one day. Still there was something lingering in the air, like an ominous cloud foretelling something terrible to come, and soon.

And it did. Late one night I awoke to the sound of James coughing hysterically. When I went to check him, I found him lying, curled in a ball on the cold wood floor. His face, arms and legs were a vivid crimson. He was wheezing hard and could barely talk. "James, " I asked, "What's wrong?"

"Help me," was all he could say.

I ran into my father's room and told him to call the doctor. All the commotion had awakened Monica, and she too came to James' side, concerned and not knowing what was happening. The doctor arrived after what seemed like an eternity. His prognosis: scarlet fever. He said there was nothing to be done and that, since I had never had the fever, I had to be quarantined. Father said he would send me to stay with my grandparents until James was well.

At first I objected - James was my little brother, and I was like a mother to him; I wanted to help care for him. But my father said it was the best way I could help so I wouldn't get sick and, when he was well, I would be there. So I agreed, without a fight, to go and stay with my grandparents until James was well again.

The question was, however, not how long it would take, but if he could be healed at all.

I was sent to New York on the third of January. I was a bit excited, since this was the first time I was to ride the train alone. Monica told me not to be afraid and to be on my best behavior. She took me to the station - my father had to stay with James - and waited there with me until the train came.

I received a letter from my father once a week to keep me up-to-date with the happenings of the house. James' condition was stable, but it was not improving. I wished so badly to see James and my father, to sleep in my own bed, and to play with my own toys; but I was brave - for James.

Six weeks passed and James still hadn't made any progress. My father had become overwhelmed with fear that James would never be well again. Then one night it happened. A miracle? Some may say so. My father rose early in the morning, just as he always did, to find James sitting on the floor, happily playing with his trains. At first he believed he was dreaming, but when he looked again, he saw it was true. Somehow during the night, the fever had completely left his body. My father ran into the room and swung James into the air. It was true; he had been cured.

He put James down and ran into Monica's room to pass on the wonderful news, but the room was empty. The closet and bureau had been cleaned out and there, on the pillow of the freshly made bed was a crimson rose. It was as if she had vanished into thin air. Maybe she had. 1


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






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

stargrl said...
Apr. 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm
This is great! Is it modeled after a Greek myth? There was one with a similar story where the mother died to save her son.
 
Lil_Alice said...
Jan. 31, 2010 at 8:49 pm
wow. this is sooo good!
 
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