All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Flying so much faster than everyone else. The rush makes your feel powerful. You feel the joy of going so fast that all you want to do is scream with joy. Every cell in your body is alive, your whole body tingles, and the only thing you can think of is just how amazing it is. Crash. It all came crashing down.
It was my high. I won’t touch anything alcoholic, I won’t go near crack, I am a cheerleader, my boyfriend is going to be valedictorian, my parents have never needed to scold me, I was a perfect teenager with a perfect life. But sometimes I didn’t’ want to be perfect. I don’t know when it started, when I realized I loved racing. I don’t know when I realized I loved being behind the wheel when I came to racing.
What I do know, is that it was a Wednesday night, after a game. I wasn’t driving, a friend was. He wasn’t drunk, but he was like me; always wanting to go faster. There were five people total in the car, the driver, Tyler, and I in the front. My friend Bethy and another cheerleader and her boyfriend, were in the back. The Tyler was already high from winning the game. He got up next to some gang car and they decided to race. I told him no, to let us out first. But Nick, the boyfriend, and Jessica, the cheerleader, were drunk and they egged him on.
I didn’t’ mind the potential race, but I knew my friend Bethy was terrified of cars. She had lost her mother in one, I couldn’t let her walk home. When the light turned green, the speedometer went straight to sixty, then ninety, then a hundred, then a hundred and twenty where the needle flickered. It was an old road; no cops and no homes. Soon, I wasn’t angry with Tyler, I was too busy getting my high. Both cars’ passengers were screaming at the top of their lungs, radio turned up too loud.
Neither our gang buddies or us even saw the truck. It slammed into their car and then, pushing their car, it slammed into us. We were going fast enough that we only got clipped on the tailgate, but it unbalanced us. We started to spin left, Tyler pulled the wheel right. We slammed into a tree. The only problem? The truck stopped us but the gang car rolled over and hit our car, blocking us all in and pushing us farther into the tree.
The sound of glass falling was like rain, soft but sharp. I was momentarily blind and deaf. I could only see white light and could only hear a dull ringing. Then I heard nothing, I saw nothing, and I knew nothing.
I remember the way the car skid, I feared not for myself but for Bethy. When we stopped, I feared not for Bethy, but myself. When we were hit by the other car, I felt not fear but a thrill. When I saw the glass rain down, it was in slow motion. I went back to my childhood, I dived off the board and I fell toward the water. I was flipping through the air, but something got in my way. I sank into the water, a sense of peace settling over me. That same peace settled over me now.
Everything was bright, but no white. I saw a soft yellow and pink and some white. The white was clouds, the yellow was the sun on the clouds, the pink was the sky and with a closer look, there was blue too. Where was I? I was lying on something soft…like a cloud. I was lying on a cloud. Where am I?
“Alice” My name? “Alice, wake up.” Am I Alice? The name was familiar…but, was it my name? “Yes, your name is Alice. Sit up. Come on, sit up.” The muscles in my stomach felt strange, but I used them to pull myself into a sitting position. I felt a soft something brush my neck, I swung my head around to see, but it brushed my neck as I swung my head around. A soft, melodic laugh, then softly, “That’s your hair, child.” Oh. I felt my face turn red at my own stupidity. The soft laugh came again and said, “No need to fret, Alice. Many people like you end up this way.”
I looked around trying to find the voice, “Like me?” The voice wasn’t as soft and loving anymore, “Dead.” Dead? Dead?! How? HOW?! The voice soothed, “Remember? The car accident? You smashed into a tree? Street racing?” Street racing? Car crash? Tyler and Bethy! Nick and Jessica! The game! The tree! The truck! “What happened to Tyler and Bethy?” The sob voice answered, “Bethy is okay, but Tyler is lingering between life and death. Nick and Jessica walked away with scrapes.” No, no this isn’t okay! “Bethy? She’s okay?”
“She’s has a broken leg and a concussion.”
Bethy, sweet small Bethy. She didn’t want to get in the car, she wanted to walk home. “Bethy is fine, she’s worried about you.” Me? Bethy, sweet Bethy, believes in Angels. “Are you an Angel?” A great humorous laugh, “Yes, of course, but so are you.” Me? An Angel? Why? I looked behind me, felt my back, it was smooth. No wings? I looked down, my cheerleader uniform, but I had black and pink horizontal stripped stockings, with cowboy boots. Huh? “You must be very confused.” I shook my head, my hair swishing back and forth, “No, I just don’t understand. Do all people come here?”
“No, just the good.” I wasn’t good.
“Hm, perhaps we’ll take a trip,” answered the unseen Angel to my thinking.
That laugh, “To Earth. Don’t worry no one will see you.”
“Can I see you?”
“Oh! Of course!” A quick glare from the sun and a winged woman was standing in front of me. She was wearing a green ankle length dress and her blonde hair was twisted on the sides and met in the back to form a bun. She had white wings. She must have noticed me staring because she said, “You’ll get them don’t worry.” “When?” She shrugged and said, “You’d better hold on.” I steadily, but a bit wobbly, got to my feet. I gripped her arm and she sprang into the air. We flew through the skies. It was amazing. Almost like flying in a car.
At some point we arrived in the city. She set us down in front of an ice cream shop. “I loved this place before… well, just before. “I came here sometimes.” We walked in and a little girl passed through her. The little girl turned back around and said, “Sorry!” Her mother called her away and she left. The Angel smiled, having no worries that a child had just walked through her, and explained, “Children can see us and dying people, sometimes insane people. We are mistaken for ghosts if we don’t have our wings yet. Pesky things, ghosts, they’re always getting in trouble.” I looked up at her, “Ghosts?” She nodded and said, “Yep, they are people who go to Haven, but don’t believe in it. So to them there is no Haven.”
A teenage boy called, “Angela!” My Angel turned around and said, “Hey! How’s it going?” The boy smiled and said, “Great! You need anything?” He motioned towards the ice cream machines. My Angel, Angela, said, “Hmm, Yes, I think I could do with a good fix. How about you, Alice?” I blinked then answered, “Uh, sure, yeah.” The boy grinned and said, “Cool, I’ll get you something.” He made his way towards the machines. I turned to the Angel and asked, “You your name is Angela?” She nodded and sheepishly said, “Guess I forgot to mention it. Sorry.” The boy returned, set the cardboard bowls on the table and walked away. Angela picked hers up and so did I.
The boy walked back and said, “Huh? I thought I sat them down right here. Oh well.” He walked away again. I looked questioning at Angela. She explained, “We can’t operate machines, so he does it for me and I get ice cream. To keep anyone from noticing, he sets them down and I pick them up. They disappear when you pick them up. Amazing, really.” She began to walk out, I followed. She ate her ice cream and said, “We should go see Bethy.” I shook my head and said, “Lets go see my parents.” Angela shook her head, “You can’t see them. You’re not allowed to go see them. You’d start fading if you stayed around them.” I just died and I can’t see my mom? Tell her it was all my fault? Maybe being an Angel wasn’t so great.
The hospital had never been my favorite place. Walking through the halls I started to feel queasy and when I looked at Angela, she looked a little green. She explained, “There is so much dead here, it makes us sick. That room.” We turned into a room and Bethy was right there.
I stood by her side and I said, “I am so sorry, I never meant for you to be hurt. I wish I could take it all back, everything.” Bethy opened her eyes and looked a little lost. As if trying to focus on something that wasn’t really there. “Alice? Is that really you?” I smiled through my tears and answered, “Yes. Yes, sweet girl. I am so sorry.” She laughed and said, “No, I am. I was going to walk home…even though there’s that stupid gang on the loose. I know that God saved me, because you begged that I come with you. I know I would have died last night if it wasn’t for you. You took my death, you died and you saved me. I am the one who should be sorry and I am.” I crouched by her head and tried to smooth away her tears but my hand went right through her, “No, I…I am no savior.” Bethy laughed and said, “I’ve known you my whole life Alice, you are a savior. When we were kids you never let bullying go unpunished, you helped up any hurt kid, you tried to save a dying dog. I should have died. Not you.”
There was a knock on the door, “Knock-knock! Who are you talking to?” Jessica walked in as Bethy closed her eyes and murmured, “Tired.” Jessica sat down and said, “I know. I’m always tired. Who were you talking to?” Either Bethy was ignoring Jessica or she really had fallen asleep. I sighed and said, “I’ll be back, Bee.” Jessica didn’t hear me.
“Why could Bethy hear me and Jessica couldn’t?” Angela replied, “Bethy hit her head pretty heard, she almost didn’t make it.” “So when someone has a near death experience they can see us? Angels and Ghosts?” She nodded. Bethy almost died. Maybe I had taken her place in death. When it came to Bethy, I didn’t’ care. Bethy was good, she didn’t deserve to die. I didn’t’ deserve to die, but Bethy couldn’t’. “Let’s go see Tyler.” “I thought he was lingering?” “He’s waking up.”
Tyler looked horrible, I felt so bad. I walked over to him and said, “Tyler.” His eyelids twitched. “Tyler.” He twitched again. “TYLER!” His eyes flew open. He looked around wildly before settling on me. He grinned and stammered, “A-A-Alice? I….She….They t-t-told me that you were d-d-dead!” I nodded, his grin faded. “B-B-But your in perfect shape!” I shook my head and touched his hand.
I don’t know what he felt, but my hand went through his. He said, “Y-Y-You’re a g-g-ghost!” I shook my head and corrected, “Angel. I went to see Bethy already.” He shook his head, “No, you can’t be dead. It’s all my fault! I shouldn’t have raced them! It’s all my fault!”
He started sobbing. I wanted to wipe his tears away too. I said, “You’ve been my neighbor since forever. You and Bethy are my best friends. If I had to go through it again, I would still die for you two. You will never be able to change that.”
He smiled, tears still flowing down his cheeks. Cheeks I had once slapped for peeping, cheeks I had once washed gravel out when he got pummeled, and I smiled back. He said, “Nice outfit.” I laughed and said, “The improvements are amazing, I know.” He laughed and we chatted for a bit, only a few words. When Angela said our time was up I said, “I’ll always be there when the time comes, I promise. Just promise you and Bethy never forget each or….or me.” He said, “Never.” I smiled and we said our goodbyes.
Angela asked, “Why don’t you like Jessica or Nick?” I answered calmly and immediately, “The only reason they were in the car was because they were passed out. We couldn’t just leave them there, so we were going to drop them off.”
The Angel nodded and asked, “And they were passed out because…?” I shrugged.
Angela didn’t say anything, just kind of glanced at me, like I was an interesting specimen. I said, “Well, they live in my neighborhood, so we just assumed we could drop them off. They woke up as soon as we started the car however…and they were drunk.” The Angel didn’t look at me, but said, “We’re going to see your other friend. The smart one?” Who…oh. I looked at a couple holding hands and sharing an ice cream, “No, I don’t think so. He…He might not want to see me.” Or couldn’t’.
I didn’t’ hear the cars roaring past, I didn’t’ hear shop bells ringing, I didn’t’ hear people talking. I looked up, I wasn’t downtown anymore. Angela said, “We need to face the ones we love.” She had a sad expression, like she never got to say goodbye.
She shook her head and said, “The last thing I remember from my death is his words as the blood continued to pour out of me. I was in a car crash and he was the paramedic that got to me first. He told me he would meet me on the other side. He hasn’t come over to this side just yet.”
I could tell that she wanted him and she loved him. She loved him with her whole being. She had such a strong emotion that I had never felt. I picked my head up and said, “Let’s go face my fear.”
Nathan was on his computer, doing something. Closer examination showed he was looking at colleges. Again. I asked, “Can he see me?” I waved my hand in front of his face, he didn’t blink. “Apparently not.” I scowled and said, “He doesn’t want to see me.”
Nathan suddenly slammed his hands on the keyboard and let out a few creative oaths. He murmured, “Curse you Alice. Why did you have to leave me here? You promised you would always tell me when you were going to leave.” I shook my head and answered, “I know, I’m sorry. I didn’t plan on it. I planned on living through college with you. I’m so sorry.” Nathan didn’t’ seem surprised. He didn’t’ look my way, but he said, “I know, I forgive you.” When I left, I wasn’t the only one crying.
We were back downtown. “That was interesting.” I nodded, I knew Nathan was shaping his life around mine. He just wanted to be with me, but I didn’t’ love him the same way he loved me. Two years of dating and I knew that. Nothing would have been the same if I had lived. Angela asked, “Any other friends?” I shook my head. We walked, I saw a shop I had once loved. I motioned to Angela, she nodded. Out of habit, I reached out my hand to open the door. It swung open and I continued into the store. Angela didn’t’ follow. I asked, “Coming?”
She was staring wide-eyed at the door. She said, “You opened the door. You used a machine.” I looked at her, then the door. “No, I didn’t’. It’s a door, not a machine.” She shook her head and insisted, “It is a machine. We can’t use modern things. Like doors, cars, bikes, or even click pens. You can use wings and pencils, but not doors. If you can open doors that means…” She stared at me in horror. What if…? What if I wasn’t dead?
“That means I’m not dead?” It was an eager question. She shook her head and answered, “No, you are dead. It means that…it means that your task is going to come. I thought we had longer.” I looked at her ,disappointed, and asked, “What task?” Her eyes flicked to her wings. I was getting my wings?! She said, “You’ll hear a voice in your head, it will tell you what you need to do.”
I nodded and waited. Minutes passed, “Give her what she wants.” Who? Wait! WHO?! Angela looked at me curiously, I repeated, “‘Give her what she wants.’” She looked just as mystified as I felt. She mused, “Perhaps Bethy, Alice. Maybe you need to give Bethy what she wants.” Something didn’t feel right about it, but perhaps the voice in my head meant Bethy. I shrugged and said, “Okay, lets go.”
Bethy was at home, her and Tyler. Bethy sat at the window seat in Tyler’s room. That was her space, where she wrote her music and where she created it. Tyler lounged on his bed, he usually read comics there. My laptop sat on the desk, dark. I walked in, neither noticed me. Bethy said, “No, we should focus on Alice, Ty. I regret…I regret not telling her.” Telling me what? “Bethy, she…I don’t think she would mind.” Mind what?! “Tyler, I don’t know. Alice was our best friend. I...I already miss her. It’s not fair!” She slammed her harmony book down. She was in despair and anger, why? “She wouldn’t have died! I should have!” “Why?! Why do you think you should die?!” “Because I wasn’t loyal, I went behind her back!” Huh? Bethy began to cry, Tyler got up and tied to console her, but she moved away from him. He looked…hurt.
Oh my gosh. Bethy said, “I only want her back, that way she can be angry at me.” “I already am mad! How could you keep this from me?!” Bethy looked up at my voice, “Alice?!” “I was your best friend! You were my best friend! How could you do that to me?!” Bethy looked terrified, Tyler said, “Alice, come on out!” I growled, “You can see me just fine.”
Angela whispered, “Too soon.” I turned to her and snapped, “What?!” Angela explained, “You’re connection with the living world is breaking, soon they wouldn’t be able to even hear you. Not without your wings!” “Bethy, listen! I don’t have much time! But listen to me, if you could have anything, anything at all, what would it be?” Bethy didn’t hesitate, “You.” A tear pooled onto my cheek, “Anything other than that.” She bit her lip and said, “Your approval.” I could give her that. “You don’t need my approval. I am, however, angry that you thought I would disapprove! Do you know how many nights I lied awake trying to find some way to make you two see? Bethy, I am so so happy! I’m happy that you can finally be happy!”
I could feel my tie to the earth breaking. I could feel it slipping through my fingers like water. “Tyler! Remember my promise! Promise me!” He turned to Bethy and swore, “Promise.” My connection broke. It felt like my heart breaking. Bethy and Tyler broke. The bed, desk, and window seat broke. Like glass. It all broke like glass and it all rained down on me.
I was thrown to my side, something went straight through my side. The pain was unbelievable. I heard myself scream, felt my life slipping through my fingers like mud. Slowly and painfully. I heard Tyler and Bethy scream at once, like a horrible melody.
I heard Jessica scream and out of the corner of my eye saw Nick grab her. A booming sound came from the engine, Tyler had his head against the steering wheel, blood seeping out of his head. I touched my side, I was surprised to find cold metal there. Something had punctured through the door and me.
A yell from the other car. I didn’t see anything and soon all I heard was the glass falling from the front windshield. Falling like sharp, bitter rain drops. They tinkled as they hit an obstacle. I felt them slice through me, felt the pain they caused, but I didn’t, couldn’t’, do anything.
Finally, I gave my life to whatever was there to catch it. I fell into the bliss of what, I thought, might be sleep or maybe death. Whatever it was, it felt so good that I closed my eyes, smiling and my mouth formed the words my brain didn’t understand. “Good.” I felt my heart thud painfully against my chest. Felt the searing blood pour out of me. “Bye.”
Waking up from that dream was unbelievable. I was so tired. Funny, in the dream I didn’t scream. Oh, my bed was so soft. It never used to be so soft. Ah! “Mom! Turn off the light!” The light didn’t flick off. “Alice, get up. Get up.” “Mom, it’s Saturday!” “Alice……Alice…..Wake up….” My eyelids flew open.
Clouds? My ceiling didn’t have pink and yellow clouds. What was…I wasn’t asleep. I was dead. “Alice, it didn’t work. Alice!” Work? Of course not. Bethy…..Tyler….They weren’t my task. My eyes slowly slid shut. My heart thudded against my chest, painfully.
I imagined Angela, Angela holding a man’s hand. Angela happy. Angela holding a box labeled, “Love.” Angela shining like the sun. “Alice. Open your eyes.” I focused harder, so hard I could feel a headache coming on. “Alice.” I opened my eyes. A man stood looking at Angela. He was faint. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He held out his hand and she mirrored him.
A strange tingling over took my back. It was itchy, then hot. Searing hot. I reached back and…..and brushed feathers. I leaped up, my wings flew out from behind me. Angela looked at me and said, “I was your task. You gave me my love back.” I smiled and said, “Now you have him.” He smiled sadly….then started to fade. She said, “He’s still alive. But I know where now. Now I can always be with him. I can be with him till he comes to me. Now all I have to do it wait.” I smiled and the man disappeared, his hand over his heart.
“Angela? Why were you my Mother Angel?” She looked at the spot her love had stood. Then to me she looked and said, “I was passing by; incidentally that’s where I was killed. I go by there every once and while. Now, you have your wings. You can do whatever you would like. Although, there are rules; three rules to be more precise. One, never do anything that would tell humans that there angels. Like don’t’ make a tree disappear. Second, any dying person you come by, you have to help them as I have helped you. And third, never regret dying.” She smiled and I grinned, “Go, go find him. He’ll be waiting.” She laughed and took off, giving me a wave of farewell.
18 Years Later
“Alice, I am so glad you got to come! I am so glad you got your wings. I am so-” I interrupted, “Yeah, yeah, you’re so glad I’m here. I got that 17 years ago.” I scowled at her, but couldn’t stay annoyed. I laughed and said, “Gosh, I can’t believe this.” She spun around and said, “I know! We always thought you would first, of course!”
There was a bell and I jumped up, “Come on. I can only walk you down the aisle, I can’t do anything else.” I was so happy, so excited. I had dressed specifically for this. A red dress that reached my knees, black stiletto boots that reached just below my knee, and a red bow with black lace in my hair. I looked pretty good with my eyes blacked out, well a smoky make up look with the colors black and grey. Of course, no one would see me but Tyler and Bethy. Oh well.
I pulled Bethy and just as the music started I said, “I am so glad it’s Tyler.” I pulled the lace veil across her smiling face. I pulled the doors open and she walked out. I could tell she was nervous, so I said, “We were 15, you had just gotten your first period and I had had mine already. You were so nervous about everything and everyone that year, so I gave you a little party. I bought red velvet cupcakes, with red icing, red party hats, red balloons, red plates, red napkins, and red gifts. I had all our close friends, including Tyler, and we had a Period Party.”
She smiled, the nerves ebbing away at the soft memory, as I knew they would. I continued, “You were so surprised and so embarrassed that you forgot about everything but yourself and having fun with me.” She reached the alter. I whispered, “I will always be here to give you another party.”
Tyler looked handsome in his black tux, growing up had done him well. He was so kind looking and so adorably sexy. I wondered how Bethy and him had never dated as teens, but then of course they had. After almost seventeen years of dating they were finally tying the knot and I was the maid of honor, although no one could see me.
They said their vows and I liked how hers mentioned the Period Party… “My first Red Party and you were there by my side the whole time.” I liked how his said.. “You decked that girl who decked me. You sent her crying and you never felt any guilt.” Then at the very end he touched her tummy and said, “We can’t do this alone and we will need all the help we can get. We will always have our Angel and we will always have each other.” I absolutely loved that part. I made all the flowers explode and the petals drifted over the crowd and the newlyweds. They ran and as they paused to take pictures I heard Tyler murmur, “We will never forget, Alice.”