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I tried, tragically as all do, in the last few moments of his life to find a reason for him to hold on. It was a desperate act. It was a hopeless act. But he and I both knew, it was the only thing that could save him.
The first time I had met him, it was a warm autumn day. The flaming of trees swirled down to the earth in a myriad of color. It welcomed me. It blinded him. The swings creaked as his weights forced against the hinges with each swing. Slow. Steady. Swaying.
"Who are you?" he had asked me, eying me cautiously in my white sundress, just a little too thin for the coming cold of winter. Strangely in contrast to the thick dark jacket opened to reveal his black dress shirt and jeans.
"Do you know me?" I asked back. A question for a question. He continued to stare at me that day, as if to figure out whether I were an enemy to his walls. A wry smile fell over his face that day.
"Are you an angel?"
The blood was seeping through his shirt, the gash across his chest too big to heal itself. His dusty eyes stared at me as I held onto him in despair, not caring for the dark crimson that tainted my white dress. His breathing was despondent. His eyes were clouding.
"Hold on," I told him.
The next few times I met him weren't stunning. They held no hint of a whirlwind tale. It was at a flower shop. Winter had arrived, snow piling up in innocent bliss on the roads. Early morning. Fresh snow. There were no dirty footprints.
"Isn't this a sight for sore eyes?" he questioned, stepping into the shop. It was true. In that pale pale day, the brightness of the flowers bloomed vibrant and strong.
"Color is always a good thing on days like these," I shrugged. His eyes twinkled as they met mine.
"I was talking about you." I laughed that day. I was completely unsure of what he meant. I was dressed in monotone, blending it perfectly with the snowy day. Yet he saw me.
Snowflakes drifted lazily into our outstretched palms. It was a game, one could say. A game which neither of us would win. Every snowflake would melt.
"You work at a flower shop?" I nodded. "It suits," he said, giving his approval.
"What are you doing here?" I had asked him. It wasn't a question as to location. What was he doing in life? He shrugged, his smile slipping off revealing a glimpse of darkness.
"Don't let my blood ruin that pretty dress," he choked out, a feeble smiling reaching his face. My eyes were tearing, my vision was blurred. I wiped them away to see his face more clearly. It was painful.
"Why do you always where a white dress?" We were inside, sitting by a warm fire with hot chocolate. The back of the flower shop. It acted as a second home to me. Outside, there was a snowstorm.
"Why do you always where dark colors?" I asked back.
"Well what's the point of wearing light colors?"
"For brightening up a day." He laughed.
"It's a hopeless cause," he said back to me. His eyes were molten, like the burning coals in the fire. "The world can't be saved." His eyes spoke a challenge. They spoke fear. They spoke a plea to be proven wrong.
"That's because not enough people are trying. Not enough people have hope. Not enough people are wearing white," I smiled. I twisted off a bright golden flower from the wreath upon my head. After threading it through the buttonhole of his jacket, I pulled back and watched him.
"Now, you are a message of hope, good sir. A light shining through the night." He looked down at the flower, a smile son tugging on his lips.
"I hope so."
The night was mercilessly dark. No one was coming. We were all alone. I clutched him closer to me, frantically searching through my memories. Searching. I needed an answer. For both of us.
It was spring. The last of the snow had faded away, a thick cover of white daisies taking its place. A tree loomed above our heads; the newly born leaves gave us shade from the sun's warmth. A chain of daisies, uncompleted lay on my lap. Our backs were to the tree trunk, his lap filled with collected daisies for my chain.
"I'm lost," he said his eyes closed and frowning.
"Where are you going?" I turned to look at him. At my question he opened one of his eyes and stared at me.
"Does it matter?"
"You have to know, otherwise how will you know you're lost?" He continued to stare at me. As if he were trying to figure out something I didn't understand. I held up the finished chain in the rays of sunlight that peeked through the green foliage.
"I'm done," I announced. I turned to him, sitting up on my knees, and draped the chain over his head where it fell to his neck. He stared dumbfounded at it, fingering it lightly, before looking back at me.
"I think I know where I'm going"
"Where do you want to go?" I asked him as he lay in my arms. To make him focus on life. To stop him from drifting away. His eyes make their way to mine.
"Where you are"
It was clear from the beginning he had no idea where he was going. All he knew was all he did. He knew nothing of what the future held, nor did he try to find out. He was broken. I knew that. He knew that. But it didn't stop me from trying to heal him.
"Lie back," I ordered him. "Close your eyes." He followed obediently. I peered at his face, making sure his eyes were peeking. They were shut tight. I placed a daisy in front of his nose.
"A daisy?" he questioned, his face bemused. I leaned over him, careful not to get any grass stains on my white dress. He twitched his nose as some of my hair tickled his face. I didn't bother to move it.
"You can tell it's a daisy by its smell, no? Not many people notice it. But you do. Your mind doesn't make the connection though, does it?" I ask him. He shook his head, his face still confused. He looked out of place in the bright green grass, dressed in black and grey.
"How do you know what it is?" He paused for a moment, thinking it through. Then he spoke, the words flowing out of his mouth without hesitation.
"My heart does." He opened his eyes suddenly, meeting my unexpecting ones. A lopsided grin took over his face.
His hair was damp, a darker black than the night sky as blood soaked through it. It seeped through my fingers and dripped onto the cold pavement. We were running out of time.
The sweltering heat of summer forced us inside in the safety of air conditioning. There was a much greater variety of flowers than there were in winter, and they bloomed in dazzling display. The shop was closed for the day. The vivid colors no longer blinded him, his eyes adjusting to the light of them. He helped me, wrapping the bouquets with ribbon as I watched. There was a straw seat where I lay, watching him in the laziness of the day. How he could stand to work, I had no idea.
My eyes drifted close by their own accord, my mind slipping into sleep. There was a tug on my wrist. When I opened my eyes, I saw a black ribbon tied around my wrist, linked all the way to something else in the other room. When he came out from the room, I could say I wasn't really surprised. Something just seemed natural the way the events rolled out. He lifted up his hand where the other end of the ribbon was tied up.
"This," he said, "is how I'm connected to you. We can't get out even if we wanted to."
It began to rain, the droplets falling on us, steadily gaining speed. I watched as it slowly washed away his blood down the drain. So much blood. We were surrounded by red. When had he lost so much blood?
"I don't believe in God," he said.
"What do you believe in?" We were back at the swings where I first saw him. Summer was dying away again. It was almost a year. We were dressed the same as we were that day, almost unconsciously. A thick black cord hung around his neck, the pendant behind the collar of his shirt, hiding from my eyes. He always wore it. The swings creaked with every swing. He looked up and met my eyes.
Even as he lay dying, I could see the thick black cord around his neck. The pendant, which I knew was there threatened to fall out of his shirt and into the open. The rain continued to pour on us. When would it stop?
I stepped out of the row of flowers. The shop was closing for the night. There were drops of water in my hair from when the sprinklers that sprayed water onto the flowers went off at the wrong time and I was just a little too close. He was there. His eyes were closed, his head facing the ceiling. He looked as if he were concentrating. And then, his eyes opened and he looked at me, a lazy smile on his face.
"What worked?" I asked, slightly conscious of my appearance for the first time around him.
"I prayed for an angel."
It's quite depressing that only then I realised. As he lay dying in my arms. My arms began to tremble, my tears falling onto his face with the rain. A drop for each smile. A drop for each prayer.
"Please don't die." He closed his eyes slowly.
"I'm praying," he murmured. I held him closer, protecting him from the rain as best as I could. Protecting him from the inevitable. And when he opened his eyes, a heart-melting smile came over his face.
They handed me his belongings, everything he had been carrying with him in a paper bag. A letter.
Remember when we first met? I was sitting alone, ready to give up on everything that day. I prayed to God that if he were there, to send me an angel. My own personal angel to wipe away my tears. When I opened my eyes, I saw you
I always wondered why you wore white. Always. I guess it suited you. Pure
and innocent. Like the snow. When I first walked into your flower shop, I guess it made sense that you would be there. To be honest, I hadn't expected to see you again. And yet you were. In the brightest and warmest place in the city, there you were.
Before, I didn't use to like flowers all too much. They were always to bright, too happy for me. But then, as I hung around you, they began to grow on me. I began to love them like you did. You gave me so many flowers. So many blessings. I always wanted to give you a big bouquet one day. A big one, with roses and daisies and lilies and all your favorite flowers. Filled with all the warmth and love you showed me. I wanted to return it to you ten fold. I wanted to fill your world with flowers.
Did you know, that I began to pray from the first day I met you? I think I believe in god now, because despite the world being dark and dreary, there you were, like a god given gift to bless the earth. I began to have faith. Every time I closed my eyes and prayed, I prayed for an angel. And every time I would open my eyes I would see you. Right in front of me.
But I guess, even with everything I was given this past year, I was selfish. Very selfish. Even now as I write this letter to you. It tells you everything I won't be able to say while I'm in front of you. I was selfish, I think, to have thought of this. It's selfish to have fallen in love with an angel; after all other people need them too. Yet here I am, proposing to you. Is it selfish for me to want to have you by my side forever?
The ribbon. You didn't understand what I said that day did you? You'll always be connected to me, to my heart. If you want, I'll always be connected to you, but only if you want. But no matter whether you choose to untie your end of the string, I'll always keep your end close to me.
You're my angel. I don't care if it's selfish of me to say it, but i think you should know. I want to stay by your side forever, and to fill your world with all the happiness and light you've shown me. Surely that can't be wrong.
Reading the letter was like a sunset. All my memories of the day past by me, and all I was left with were that. Memories. Memories and the painful feeling of having lost something I could never get back.
I emptied the bag on my couch and cried. It was all in a small leather pouch he kept in his breast pocket, right next to his heart. Inside was a shrivelled up daisy chain and a shrivelled olden lily, tied together with a black ribbon. And there was his necklace. The thick black cord that was always tied around his neck, hidden from view, the pendant now out for all to see. A silver angel praying, and a precious diamond ring.