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Angels in Destiny
Danielle had a dream last night. In it, she was sitting under a tree on a hill watching the sun as it set.
While the sky faded from pink to red and the last sliver of light faded, she whispered to herself, “Goodbye, world. I am going to die today. I can sense it…"
However, the dream was only a slight memory when she woke in the morning.
Danielle Page drew the back of her hand slowly across her forehead, wiping the sweat beads away. She stared straight ahead at the road as she rode in a black pickup truck with her dad at the steering wheel. The air conditioning was broken and the windows were both rolled all the way down to keep the two passengers cool in the early summer heat. Danielle and her father, David, sat on the hot and sweaty leather seats in a thick silence, with only the faint sound of birds to fill their ears.
Danielle wore light blue jeans and a solid light blue t-shirt. Her long hair hung over her shoulders in a waterfall of light brown that hung a few inches above her crossed legs. There was a blue headband in her hair holding her hair out of her small round face. Her smooth and nearly flawless skin was slightly pale. Her light pink lips were dry from the humid heat and in need of Chap Stick.
It was Thursday afternoon and she was on her way to her weekly Girl Scout meeting. The church where the meetings took place was five minutes from their house. Today, the normally short ride seemed exceptionally long for Danielle; simply, because she thought she was going to die.
All week she had been having an ominous feeling in her body and soul of unavoidable death. It seemed as if death was lurking in the shadows ready to jump out and kill her at any moment and she did not understand it. She fully believed that her time was drawing to an end and it made her skin crawl. She could feel the deadliness of it all in every breath she took and through every one of her five senses. The days went by slower and nothing felt right to her, like she was living in an alternate universe.
As they drew nearer to the church, the thought of her death subsided and disappeared into the back of her head. The cold fingers of death planning to take her life would have to wait awhile.
The truck turned smoothly into the church’s large back parking lot. Danielle could see her troop leader’s old white minivan and the assistant leader’s dusty silver car parked near the backdoor. The rest of the lot was empty save a dumpster in the far corner.
David pulled up to the curb and stepped lightly onto the brake. As his daughter opened the door, he said, “Bye, Danielle. I’ll see you at eight.”
Danielle swung her new white tennis shoes out of the car and stepped onto the concrete sidewalk. “Bye,” she said to her dad and closed the door with a thud.
She turned from the parking lot and started walking up the wide sidewalk to the church’s back door. A moment before she arrived at the door, a blonde woman stepped out of the building. She wore a long white t-shirt and shorts. Danielle thought it was odd that the shirt was so long that it covered up most of her jean shorts.
The woman was Danielle’s current English teacher. Her name was Mrs. Matthews. She was one of Danielle’s favorite teachers she had ever had, and even though she wondered why she was there at the church, Danielle smiled brightly at her, as she was about to walk past. Mrs. Matthews also smiled, but it looked like a polite smile someone gave at a funeral or other sad occasion. It was small and forced looking. Her dark green eyes looked worried and flighty.
Then suddenly, in a flash, Mrs. Matthews’s feigned smile disappeared, she reached out, grabbed Danielle’s shoulders, and turned her to face her. Looking at her teacher hands, Danielle noted that she wore plastic gloves, the kind doctors wear; the kind killers wear so that they do not leave fingerprints. In a flood, the memories of her death feelings washed to the front of her mind. Am I going to die now? Danielle thought almost serenely. When you are expecting death, it does not shock you much when it arrives.
Then horror replaced the serenity and she tried to scream, except only air escaped her lips. Her throat felt shrunken and only a small, steady stream of hot air passed through it. Cold sweat from Mrs. Matthews’s hands soaked through Danielle’s t-shirt, and into her skin and her hands squeezed tightly around the bones in Danielle’s shoulders.
They stood facing each other like that for no more than a second, but when Mrs. Matthews moved again, it seemed as if a decade had passed.
Mrs. Matthews, slow and dreamlike, reached behind her back and pulled out a small, silver handgun. She then gently placed it on the side of Danielle’s head. The feeling of cold metal from the revolver seeped though her hair and made a shiver run down her spine.
Scared, Danielle’s heart started racing so fast, that she thought it will burst out of her chest and her breath quickened making her throat sore. Her lips parted a little bit and the air quickly rushing in and out of her mouth dried her lips and tongue. She looked at her teacher with her eyes wide in shock and surprise. She couldn’t blink and her eyes grew watery.
Even though she had lived this week thinking every day would be her last, Danielle suddenly became terrified.
She was unable to think of anything except one word. That one word repeated itself like a broken record in her mind.
Dead...dead...dead... It pulsed through her head with every heartbeat.
Time slowed to almost a complete halt as her teacher’s pointer finger started to pull the trigger that would end Danielle’s life. “Why?” Her lips barely moved as she asked the question, no sound had come out, and she wondered if her murderer had even noticed it.
Mrs. Matthews shook her head so slowly and so little, Danielle nearly did not see it. She stared at her with shock, fear, and confusion as a single tear rolled down her cheek and she mouthed what seemed to be, “I’m sorry”. Her tear shimmered in the light of the setting May sun and reflected a golden color.
Sorry for what she was doing, or for what she was about to do? Danielle could not comprehend. If she were truly sorry, she would not be murdering her or even have a gun placed on her head.
As she took her last breath, the trigger made it to the end, her dead-end. Her tears overflowed then and her final breath caught in her throat. The moment before the bullet hit her skull, her previous stream of thoughts stopped and her mind emptied save for one thought. Oh, dear God.
A loud bang sounded in her left ear, her head erupted in pain, a flash of bright light crossed her vision, and everything went black. Her life did not flash before her eyes and she did not fly towards any lights. Her heart stopped beating and she felt suddenly weightless.
Leaving her body behind, her spirit started to float skyward. She could sense the moment when her spirit fully left her body for she suddenly felt as if she was floating in empty nothingness. She did not feel contained at all, as if her skin had dissolved.
Blinking, her previous blindness vanished and left her looking at the roof of the church. Looking down a few yards, she saw a limp body lying in an almost unrecognizable pile on the ground. Even with its long brown hair hiding its face, she knew that the body had once belonged to her. Her murderer, Mrs. Matthews, was nowhere to be seen.
She sighed and looked up to find herself staring into the beautiful and perfect face of an angel.
A loud bang filled the room and everyone jumped involuntarily. It had sounded like a gunshot.
“What on Earth was that?” Rebecca Linn’s mother, Susan asked. She was the leader of the Girl Scout troop.
“I think it might have been a gun,” the assistant leader, Veronica, replied. “But it sounded so close. Why would someone shot a gun in the middle of town?”
Veronica was twenty, had waist length, light brown hair, and her green eyes looked worried as she spoke. She was short and had freckles across her nose. She was wearing a long green t-shirt, dark blue jeans and a black clip that held back her hair.
“We should go outside and find out what happened,” the redheaded girl sitting next to Rebecca said, sounding slightly excited. For her it was just another adventure waiting.
“No,” Susan said sternly to the girls, “you six stay here with Veronica. I’ll go see if I can find out what happened.” She turned, then, and left the room.
Immediately everyone started to talk. “It was a gun.” “What if someone was shot?” “We should follow Susan.” Then, “Everyone SHUT UP!”
The talking ceased and they all looked at the redhead, Sasha Miller, who had shouted.
“We should go find out for ourselves what happened,” she said in a confident and in-charge voice. She turned on her heel to leave. Everyone started to follow, but Veronica, the goody-two-shoes, who refused to break a single rule set down by Susan, stopped the girls by blocking their path to the door.
“Susan said you guys were to stay in here. It could be dangerous; I won’t let you leave.”
Sasha turned toward the other girls, smiled, and winked. When Susan was not around and Veronica was in charge of them, they escaped from what they were supposed to be doing all the time and that would not change today.
The six of them faced Veronica and charged, forcing her out of the room. She stepped right and they went left; which made them have to go the long way around the building to the font door instead of the closer back door. After going though the front door, the group ran down a hill and around the building towards the back door, where the sound of the gun had come from.
A multicolored lump was lying on the ground near the door about twenty yards away. They slowed down and started walking over to the strange object.
After walking five yards, someone behind Rebecca said breathlessly, “It looks like a body.”
Some of the footsteps stopped and even without looking, Rebecca knew that only Sasha, the bravest in the group, was still walking beside her.
Then suddenly she remembered her best friend, Danielle Page, smiling earlier at school telling her she would be at Girl Scouts, but she was not there.
“Danielle?” Rebecca whispered and sprinted forward. After a split second of a pause, Sasha started running behind her.
Stopping a yard away, Rebecca recognized the body of her best friend. Damp hair covered her face. Looking closer, she realized her brown hair was tinted red with blood and a splatter of blood covered the sidewalk.
With warm tears rolling down her cheeks, Rebecca threw her head back, faced dark the sky, and screamed. It was not a scream of fear, but of sadness. It was a wail of complete despair and loss.
She had barely noticed Sasha had gone inside when a hand landed on her shoulder. Turning, she saw Veronica her eyes glassy with tears. She steered Rebecca around Danielle’s empty body and took her inside the church.
Inside, her mom stood with Sasha and the other girls. All of them looked sad and confused. Susan gave her daughter a quick hug, and then left telling Veronica she was going to call 911 and Danielle’s parents.
When Susan returned from making the calls, they all stood anxiously waiting for the police to arrive. All the girls called their parents to pick them up.
David and Kimberly, Danielle’s parents, had taken the news of their daughter’s death as badly as any parent would. Danielle had been an only child, so her parents were alone now.
Sitting on the linoleum floor, twirling her short black hair around her fingers and tears streaming down her face, Rebecca wondered, What happened? Who killed Danielle? Why would someone kill her?
Five minutes later, they heard sirens on their way. However, it was already too late to save a life.
At some point a women appeared from down the hall. She looked familiar to Rebecca, but she could not place her; her mind was numb and not working properly. The woman, who was blonde and wore a t-shirt and shorts, and her mother spoke, but she did not take anything in.
A minute later, police entered the building. One of the officers talked to her mother while another led Veronica and the troop outside.
After they finished talking, Susan and Rebecca were ushered out of the building the officer. The parking lot, which thirty minutes ago had been nearly empty, was now full of cars. There were two police cars from the Benton Police Department, an ambulance with flashing lights, and a black car.
“Hello, I’m Detective Charlie Pearson,” a man in a black suit met Rebecca and her mother in front of their van. He had short gray hair and a matching moustache. His eyes were hazel and kind looking. He was holding a pocket-sized notebook. “Do you know who was murdered?”
Rebecca found the question redundant, since they were both crying and nobody else was around for Danielle to be meeting.
“Y-yes,” Susan answered calmly. “Danielle Page was her name. She was coming to our Girl Scout meeting. She and Rebecca were best friends.” She looked at Rebecca with a look that said thank God it was not my daughter. “What are you guys going to do about this?”
“We are going to check the surrounding area and the church for the murderer. It defiantly was not an accident. It could have been premeditated or possibly a drive by shooting. The autopsy will show what happened. But…” He stopped and looked between the two tear-stained faces. “Anyway, what are your names?” Susan told him and he wrote them down in his notebook. “Did either of you see what happened?” They both shook their heads. “Do you know anyone that would shoot Danielle or why someone would want to hurt her?”
“No,” Susan was starting to get irritated. “We don’t know anything. Can we please just go home?”
“Um, sure.” He sounded as if he got this type of response often. “But, I would like to speak with Rebecca alone for a moment, if that’s alright with you?”
“Uh, yeah, of course,” Susan replied. Then looking at Rebecca she said, “I’ll wait in the car.” She walked around the side of the van and looked at her daughter once more before getting in.
As the car door closed, Charlie began to speak, “So you and Danielle were close?”
“Yes,” Rebecca answered nervously. “She is-” She stopped the sentence, took a deep breath, and continued. “She was my best friend.”
“I’m sorry about your loss. I’m going to try to find out who killed her.”
More tears clouded her vision, blinking, she felt them roll down her already wet cheeks.
Charlie waited a few seconds for her to recompose herself then asked, “Do you know who might have killed her?”
“Um…my mom just said we didn’t,” she replied a bit angrily.
“Well, I thought you might have known something else. Do you know if she was mad at or fighting with anyone?”
“No, she wasn’t.” She glanced down at her sneakered feet. “Can I please leave now?”
“Yes,” he said nodding. “I may need to come visit you if I have more questions. What is your home phone number and address?” She gave him the information and got into the van.
Once home, Rebecca went into her room and cried herself to sleep. The loss of a best friend via death was like a shot in the heart and a punch in the stomach all at the same time. She felt so sick; she could throw up. In addition, she was more distraught and sad than she had ever been in her whole life.
Immediately after the gunshot, Angela Matthews turned and escaped into the church. She silently ran down the hall to the bathroom, where, once inside, she closed and locked the door.
Breathing hard and heart racing, she crumpled to the floor and wept. However, she only let herself cry for two minutes.
When the time she allowed passed, she stood and washed the blood and gun shot residue off her hands. When her hands and arms as clean as they could get, she opened the door under the sink and pulled out a clean dark blue t-shirt and a three quarters full water bottle. She then proceeded to strip her blood-splattered shirt and latex gloves, and put on the clean clothes.
Looking in the bathroom mirror, she was shocked at what she saw. Her long blonde hair was dry and straight in the back, but where it framed her face, it was slightly damp from falling into her stream of tears. Her eyes, normally a cheerful green, were dull and pitiful looking.
She took a paper towel and tried her best to dry her hair and face. Then she took another paper towel, wetted it, and washed her face. As she threw the towels into the trash, she heard sirens approaching the church.
She swore under her breath and took her gun, making sure only to handle it with her blood-covered shirt. After wrapping her gun in the dirty shirt, she put the toilet seat down and stood on it. Reaching above her head with her free hand, she pushed the ceiling board up. Carefully, she placed the bloody shirt and gun on top of the ceiling panel next to the one she had lifted.
She flushed the toilet and ran her hands under the water again. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
Slowly, she walked down the hallway until she came to a crowd of people at the backdoor. The crowd consisted of six teenagers and two adults. All of them were tear stricken and nervous looking. One girl was sitting on the floor, holding her knees up against her chest, and crying.
“What’s going on?” Angela asked innocently. “I was in the bathroom and heard sirens. Is everything alright?”
A few of the girls shook their heads solemnly and the older adult, a middle-aged woman with dark brown hair, said, “A girl was k-killed.” She licked her lips and rubbed her eyes.
“Oh, my gosh, how horrible!” Angela’s eyes began to water, so she glanced to the floor and blinked hard a few times. Then looking back up she spoke to the leader of the group, “I-I’m sorry to hear that, d-did you guys know her.”
“Yes, she was in our Girl Scout troop.”
“Oh, I…” However, two police officers coming into the building interrupted her reply.
“Susan Linn?” one of the officers said as he walked up to the woman that Angela had just been talking with.
Susan nodded. “Yes, that’s me. Can the girls leave? Their families are probably worried.”
“Yeah, they can leave.” He motioned to the other officer and she collected five of the girls and the second adult and led them out the double doors.
“Mrs. Linn,” the remaining officer began, “there is a detective waiting to talk to you by your car.” Susan and her apparent daughter left the building.
He turned to Angela and her stomach tightened and burst into butterflies. She tensed herself very slightly; this was it, either she sunk or swam.
“And who are you?” he asked, curiosity filling his young, blue eyes.
“Angela Matthews,” she answered honestly. “What is going on?”
“A girl was murdered.”
She raised her eyebrow and her eyes widened, with an impressed look on her face. “Murdered? They just said she was killed. Are you sure it wasn’t an accident or something?”
“Oh, yes, unless someone accidentally shot her in the head.” He looked a bit embarrassed for a moment and coughed into his fist. “Why are you here, Miss Matthews?”
“I was jogging, when I had to use the bathroom and seeing the cars outside the church, I figured the doors might be unlocked.”
“Ok, I’m sure that the detective would like to talk to you also. Would you mind?”
“No, it’s ok.” Grateful she had made it this far, she stepped out the doors to find an additional two police officers. Only a sliver of the red sun could be seen above the low clouds.
The crime scene was now taped off and a man was taking pictures of Danielle’s body. The girl was a bloody pile of limbs and a torso. Angela gagged a little; forcing herself not to throw up, she looked away into the grass. She stopped at the end of the sidewalk and waited for the detective to finish talking to Susan and her daughter.
Difficult as it was, Angela blocked her mind from the murder she had just committed. It was hardest thing she had ever done, second only to the actual killing.
As the Linns drove away in a minivan, she walked over to the man whom she believed to be the detective. “You are the detective, right?”
“Yes, I’m Detective Charlie Pearson.” The man shook her hand. He was heavy built with deep-set gray eyes and hair of the same color. “Are you a witness?”
“No, I didn’t witness anything,” she lied smoothly. “I was in the building and an officer told me to talk to you.”
“Ok, what is your name?” She told him and he wrote it down in a notebook. “Are you part of the Girl Scout troop or did you know the victim?”
“No, I’m not in the troop, I was using the restroom, but I do happen to know her. I am an English teacher at the high school. She is…” she fumbled purposely, “…was one of my students.”
“Hm,” he mumbled as he wrote the information down. “Before you entered the building, did you see any suspicious people outside?”
She thought of lying, but simply told the truth instead. “I didn’t see anyone.”
Charlie looked her up and down. “Were you jogging?”
“Yes.” Angela had prepared herself for an onslaught of questions.
“It’s a bit late to be out jogging,” he commented as if he sensed a lie.
“Yes, it is,” Angela said with an impish grin on her face. “I was ending my jog and heading to my car.”
“You know that there is a park just down the street with a jogging trail? Why didn’t you jog there?”
“I drove to the park to jog, but it was crowed, a family reunion or something.” That part of her story was, thankfully, true. “I left my car in the parking lot there and ran around the block instead.”
“Ok, I’m done with questions for now, but I may need to ask you some more later. Can I have your number?”
Angela gave him her phone number, walked out of the church’s parking lot to the park, and got into her waiting car.
Leaving her car parked in front of her house, Angela went inside.
Walking through the door, she could hear the TV on in the living room and a moment later Andrew, her husband, appeared from the hallway.
He had short, reddish-brown hair and dark green eyes. He stood taller than her only slightly. His face was oval shaped and he had a small chin.
“You were out late,” he commented flatly. “Jacob’s already asleep.”
She just nodded, grateful that he did not ask her where she had been. Passing him, she went into the bathroom to shower.
Angela slipped off her clothes, which have stains of dry sweat, and pinned back her hair to keep it dry. She turned the shower on and after waiting for it to warm, stepped in carefully. Standing there staring at the ceiling with the hot water flowing over her body, tears began to roll down her cheeks again.
Suddenly, she grabbed the scrub brush that she used to wash her feet with and ran it under the flow of water. Her tears mixing with the water, she started to force the brush across the skin on her left forearm. Under the force of her hand, the bristles dug into her flesh. Soon the tips of the plastic bristles were painted red with blood. She stopped and switched arms. Blind with rage and sadness, she swept the brush across the new arm.
Then, just as suddenly as she had started, she stopped and dropped the brush into the bathtub. It landed with a loud bang that helped to break her out of her trance. Angela held up her arms and stared tearfully at them.
“Damn it,” she whispered. She quickly turned the shower off and stepped out. Turning the sink on, she ran her damaged forearms under the cool water to wash away the blood. Then she grabbed a wad of toilet paper and pressed it to her left arm and then the right. She put her clothes back on. Then, she pressed more toilet paper on her arms one last time to completely stop the bleeding.
Hoping that her shower would make her feel better and wash her guilt away had been wishful thinking, because she still felt dirty and now bloody. She was covered from head to toe in filthy guilt. She went straight to bed after her unsuccessful, self-torturing wash.
Tomorrow was Friday, which meant school, and she, being a teacher, had to go as well. She thought people would become suspicious if she skipped tomorrow. But then again, why would an apparently innocent schoolteacher murder a girl for seemingly no reason?
Danielle smiled. She knew that having just been murdered she should not smile. Nevertheless, she could not help herself.
The person; no, the angel that hovered a yard away was truly the most gorgeous thing she had ever seen. His hair was a dark silvery-light brown color, and his eyes were light gray-brown. He also had large wings folded behind him with long soft-looking, pure white feathers. He appeared about her age, fourteen or fifteen. He was wearing a long white dress-like gown with long sleeves. The best thing about his appearance was the fact that he was smiling back at her. But, his smile was so bittersweet it stung her unbeating heart. Also, his cheeks shimmered as if he had been crying.
“Greetings,” her angel said, and his voice sounded as wonderful as he looked, but there was a touch of melancholy. It was slightly deep, but very light. It flowed fluidly together like a song. “My name is Sebastian and I am the angel that is to guide you to Heaven.” His voice also had a forced seriousness to it; it sounded almost too formal.
His words reminded her she was dead. She almost looked down at her empty body, but she stopped herself.
“Come,” Sebastian spoke again with his musical voice. He put his hand out for her and she set her left hand in his palm. His skin was just the right temperature, not hot yet not cold, it was also weightless, she could not even tell she was touching anything.
Sebastian spread out his wings and it looked as if each of his wings was four feet long. He pulled in his wings, and with a mighty whoosh, they took off. They headed upwards towards the clouds.
The sky was a delightful orange and the many clouds looked fluffy and pink in the setting sun. A few times, they passed through a cloud. They felt cool and moist against her skin, not soft as Danielle thought they would be.
Although Sebastian flew quickly, everything seemed to be going by slowly. The angel flew in a straight line and did not speak. A dream-like feeling consumed Danielle as her cheeks grew cold from the wind and she hoped that all of this was just a bad dream.
Before she knew it, there was a thick layer of light pink clouds above them. The girl and the angel flew together toward the mass of beauty. It was Heaven.
Danielle glanced down at Earth. It was not all that far away, airplanes could still fly here. “How do people not see it?” she thought aloud.
Sebastian looked down at her for a second, and then said knowingly, “Heaven is actually farther away than it seems.”
They started to go to a large hole in the clouds. On the other side was an endless landscape of pink soft clouds. They rolled like hills in every direction. The only visible thing was a large, golden gate. There was nothing behind them, just the gates.
Sebastian, still holding her hand, led her over to the gate. His bare feet did not touch the clouds; he just floated gracefully over them.
Three yards from the gate, the gates started to swing open. Danielle’s angel stopped in his hovering stride, and she, in turn, stopped, too. As they opened, a city started to appear behind them. Once the gate was finally open all the way, a short woman angel with short blonde hair hurried out, greeted them with a slight curtsy, and said, “Welcome home.” The whole time she smiled sweetly and looked Danielle directly in the eyes. The angel had light blue-gray eyes that seemed to stare into Danielle’s soul.
Speaking to Danielle, Sebastian said, “Come along, Danielle.” She was shocked he knew her name, for neither of them had mentioned it before.
Passing the angel, they entered Heaven. Looking around, there was so much for Danielle to see. There were thousands of angels flying all around doing their work without noticing anyone else. They were all sorts of ages and ethnic groups. No one so much as glanced at them as Sebastian and Danielle made their way through the crowds.
Sebastian had not let go of her since she had first grabbed his hand back down on Earth. He pulled her along as she took in her surroundings.
It looked as if they were in a large city. There were rows of buildings made of white and gold-tinted cloud. There were not any doors or windows, but emptiness where they should have been. They were not homes, more like businesses, but since there were not any signs, she could not even began to imagine what was inside them.
Her observations had only taken but a moment and she soon realized they had stopped moving. She also noticed that for the first time since dying, her hand was empty. Sebastian’s hand had vanished.
Panic enveloped her for a second, but looking to her left, she saw her angel once more. She sighed and a pleasant calm returned to her.
They had stopped outside a small building.
Sebastian turned to her and said, “Go inside. I’ll wait for you out here.”
A wave of sadness and fear rolled through her at the prospect of leaving him. After having just met him, she was shocked at her fondness for him. But then again, it felt as if she had known him longer.
Knowing she could not really refuse, she stepped forward into the cloud-house. It was darker inside, so it took her eyes a second to adjust, but once they did, she saw it was a nearly empty room. The only thing inside was another angel. At her feet sat a huge book.
She was old, with short, gray hair. Her wings were smaller than Sebastian’s were, but they both had perfect features.
“Hello,” the old angel said as Danielle walked towards her. “Are you Danielle Page?” She sounded kind and warm.
Still too out-of-it to speak, she nodded.
“Oh, good! Well not good that you died, but…so anyway, she am Maurine, the Angel of Murders. You were murdered correct?”
Again, Danielle nodded. She was starting to think that Maurine was somewhat peppy for her age.
“Do you know who killed you?”
Swallowing, she found her voice at last. “Mrs. Matthews.”
“Mmm…do you know her first name?”
She thought about it for a while, and then said “Angela.”
“Do you why she killed you?”
“No,” Danielle answered.
“Alright, because you don’t know, you have to find out.”
Danielle tilted her head to the side, confused.
Seeing her look, Maurine smiled and said, “You’ll go back down to the land of the living and follow Mrs. Matthews around until you learn the secret to your murder. Your guardian angel will take you down and help you if needed. Once you find out, you can become an angel in full.” She paused for a few seconds and then said, “Go on then.”
Slowly, she turned and went back to Sebastian.
He took her hand again and led her out of Heaven and back to Earth. She felt really sad to be leaving the bliss of Heaven. The trip back did not take as long it seemed.
It was night down on Earth. Danielle wondered how long she had been dead and if anyone had found her body yet.
Sebastian was not taking her back to the church; instead, they flew to a housing area on the other side of town.
“Where are we going?” she asked Sebastian.
“To Angela Matthews’ house,” he replied.
A minute later, they were floating over a white house. “Here we must part,” Sebastian said with what she thought was a hint of sadness. “Take this.” He took a golden chain off from around his head and handed it to her. On it was an uncut sapphire. “If you ever need me, take the sapphire and hold it close to your heart. Good-bye, Danielle.”
He let go of her hand and started flying away. Without him supporting her, she fell down through the roof, like a ghost, and into a bedroom.
On the bed lay her murderer, Angela Matthews. She tossed and turned with tears rolling down her cheeks, in an unseen nightmare.
Lying next to her was a man who Danielle could only assume was her husband. As she stood a yard away, watching, the light brown-haired man rolled over to face his wife. He propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at Angela with love and compassion in his eyes. But, Danielle noticed more: possible worry.
Danielle felt uncomfortable, like she should not be spying on such delicate things.
Unaware of the invisible presence of Danielle, the man reached across the bed with his free arm and brushed the hair out of Angela’s face. Then using the back of his hand, he gently wiped the tears off her cheeks. Last, he kissed her softly on the forehead. “I love you,” he whispered in her ear.
Danielle gracefully turned her head, and a few tears fell from her eyes to the floor, never to leave a mark on this world.
“Angela, honey, wake up.” Angela could hear her husband speaking in the distance and she could feel him gently shaking her shoulder. Her eyes flickered open. Andrew stood over her, looking concerned.
“Wh-what time is it?” she mumbled rolling on to her side to look at the clock. It read seven o’clock. She sat straight up; she should have been up half an hour ago. Looking at her husband accusingly, she said, “Why didn’t you wake me up sooner?”
Andrew shrugged. “Sorry, but you seemed to have had a hard time sleeping last night and I thought you might need more rest.” He walked towards the door with his head hung ever so slightly. “Sorry,” he repeated softly.
Angela got out of bed and opened her dresser, grabbing a lavender t-shirt and a pair of new jeans. After putting her clothes on, she went into the kitchen and poured herself a bowl of cereal. As soon as her milk was drained, she entered the bathroom, quickly ran a brush through her hair and brushed her teeth.
Driving to the high school where she worked, Angela thought of the day she had made her fateful decision to become a murderer.
It happened a Saturday a few weeks ago. She was home with her five-year-old son, Jacob. They had been in the living room playing when there was a knock on the door. After she opened it, she was shocked to see Carrie Shay, the teacher whose classroom was down the hall from her own.
“Hello, Carrie,” she had said. “What a surprise, come in.” That action had led her to the biggest mistake Angela would ever make.
As soon as the door closed behind Carrie, the gray-haired woman grabbed Angela and slammed her up against the nearest wall.
“What the-,” she started, but Carrie covered her mouth with her hand.
“Listen to me,” she said in a voice that sounded older than Angela’s did. “Don’t scream, just listen.” She then reached down and pulled out a gun. Angela’s eyes grew wide as she placed it on her chest. “Don’t scream,” she warned again. Taking her hand off her, she stepped back. However, the gun was still pointed at her.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Angela whispered harshly. She was out of her mind with fear. Sweat started to bead on her face and her underarms as if she had stepped into a heat wave.
“Shh, just stay calm and listen. Don’t do anything you’ll regret.” Carrie moved the gun an inch closer to her heart. Angela took in a deep breath. “I want you to do something for me.” She smiled impishly. “You see, there is a girl that we both know, Danielle Page. I want you to kill her for me. Okay?”
The gun in Carrie’s hand gave Angela the feeling that she did not have a choice. Her throat tightened and she looked down at the floor. Tears began to form in her green eyes.
“Mommy?” She heard Jacob call from down the hall and a few seconds later, he was at her side.
Angela’s heart sank, licked her lips, and thought, Oh, dear God, why? Her precious son just had to choose this moment to come see what was going on.
Carrie had smiled when Jacob appeared. “Well if you refuse…” Her gun moved until it pointed at Jacob. “…I’ll have to kill you and your family.” She looked at her with her wicked smile. “You can’t go to the police and tell them about me, they won’t believe you. What proof do you have? You have one month and I suggest you don’t get caught.” With that, she set the gun down on the table next to the door. “You can use this gun to kill her, but be warned I have more.” She pulled up the side of her shirt to reveal another gun in a holster and then she left.
Angela stood there frozen and unblinking with a river of tears falling down her cheeks for what seemed like hours until Jacob pulled on the hem of her shirt and said, “Mommy, what’s wrong?”
Escaping from the storm inside of her head, Angela shook her head slowly while still staring at the same spot on the wall, and replied, “Nothing.”
For a week after that incident, she had lived her life in a fog of fear. On occasion Angela would see Carrie at school. She usually avoided her, but the rare times they passed each other head on in the hall, their eyes would meet for a few seconds. An evil glint was always in Carrie’s eyes that sent a shiver down Angela’s spine.
If she killed Danielle, she would surely go to prison, but on the other hand, if she did not, Carrie Shay would kill her and her family. Finally, after having recurring nightmares about the whole thing, she decided to become a murderer. She had thought about going to the police; but Carrie was right; what proof did she have?
Stalking Danielle had become one of the top things on her list of priorities. She found out that Danielle and her household were the only people in town with the last name Page. She followed her bus to her house from school every day for a week. She never went anywhere during the school week, except for a church on Thursday. There were never many cars there. The week after that, she met her there and became the last person to see her alive.
Back in the present, Angela parked in the teachers’ parking lot and sat in silence for a moment in her car wiping her tears away with the sleeve of her shirt. Luckily, the shirt she had chosen to wear that day had long sleeves; her arms still bared the scarred from her shower the night before. She prayed that Carrie Shay was not at school that day. Could she trust that she would not reveal her secret to anyone?
The darkness behind Rebecca’s eyelids turned pink-orange when her mom turned on the lights in her room. She rolled onto her stomach and buried her head in her soft pillow. Her dreams would be much better than the real world.
“Rebecca, are you going to school today?” her mother asked. Her voice suggested that she was just asking to be polite and make sure.
But, contrary to what her mother thought, she answered yes, even though every fiber of her being was screaming no. She had decided late last night that it was her duty to tell everyone of Danielle’s murder. She had been her best friend after all and the one that had found her dead.
Half an hour after waking, Rebecca arrived at the high school where she was a freshman. She dropped her bag off in her locker, then, carrying her binder, she walked through the school telling everyone she knew of Danielle’s fate. Just a quiet whisper here and there, she did not pause to answer questions.
When she came to a large group of her friends, she stopped. They were some of her closest friends and they had all been Danielle’s friends, too. Thinking that they did not know of Danielle’s death, and that they would never see her again, made her sad. She looked up at the ceiling, blinked back tears and asked God, why? However, He did not answer. Unable to keep back the signs of her sadness, her eyes grew almost too watery to see. Taking a deep, shaky breath, she stepped forward.
“Hey, guys,” she greeted everyone in a small voice. They turned and looked at her. Their faces turned to worry when they saw her tears.
“What’s wrong, Rebecca?” Katie, a plump, blond girl standing across from her, asked.
“You haven’t heard yet?” Of course, they had not heard yet, Danielle and Rebecca were the only high schoolers in their troop, so none of the other girls could have told them. “Danielle…died last night.”
Gasps of shock and whispered cuss words filled Rebecca’s unresponsive mind. The members of the group looked at each other, and their eyes became watery reflections of Rebecca’s eyes. Then the questions came: How, where, and when? Rebecca lowered her head and sadly explained everything she knew, “She was m-murdered.” More people gasped. “By who, no one knows, not even the police. She died with a gunshot to the head. It happened right before she came into Girl Scouts around six thirty. I am the one that found her…her dead body near the church’s back door.” Her voice stuttered, and she stopped talking. The memory of Danielle’s empty body made tears roll down her cheeks and fall onto her t-shirt leaving a pattern of dark spots.
The warning bell rang then for the students to go to their classes, and they all went to their separate first hours.
As Rebecca sat down in her science class, she thought of something she had to do. She must find out who killed her best friend.
Her dark brown eyes turned even darker and she thought to herself, Danielle is dead, that is over, and I cannot save her. But, the person who killed her is still alive and out there somewhere. That person deserves to die and go to Hell! I will find out who did it and turn them into the police. I have to, for Danielle.
She made a vow to herself, then and there, not to live in the past and to think only of finding Danielle’s murderer. Danielle’s death was a shock, but she would not make it upset her any longer. Her heart grew hard and she blocked the onslaught of depressing thoughts. She saw the world through new eyes and prepared to be a different person.
No more tears, only actions from this moment on, she thought, as she opened her notebook to write down the day’s assignment.
Then, suddenly, the intercom came on throughout the entire school. The principal’s voice filled the school. “Excuse me.” The class grew even quieter. “I have some very sad news. Last night freshman Danielle Page…passed away.”
Rebecca laughed harshly on the inside. Passed away, she thought, for lack of a better word.
Mr. Larson, the principal continued, “Let us all have a minute of silence in her honor.” The intercom clicked off, but the classroom stayed silent and still. A few students glanced around and a couple of them stared blankly into their laps.
After a minute passed, the intercom came back on and Mr. Larson murmured, “Thank you.” The class erupted in noise as the students spoke about Danielle’s death. Rebecca kept quiet.
Every time Danielle walked through a person in the crowded school hallway, she gasped and shivered. She was forced to pass through someone every few seconds as she followed Angela to her classroom.
It was weird being dead. When Danielle was still alive, she always thought that when she died she would be sad and angry, but she was not. A peaceful feeling of nothing filled her ghost-like body. That was the only thing she felt, no depression or longing to live. If anything, she was glad. Glad to be disconnected from the real world with its wars, hate, sadness, and fear--the list went on for miles.
She was able to walk through everything and be invisible to the world when she was here on Earth. She looked at all the people around her. They know nothing, she thought, Nothing. There was nothing to know until you are dead.
The way humans live and act, the way the world works; all knowledge came to Danielle that morning as she watched Angela wake and live her life. That was, all knowledge except why she was killed.
Danielle had always been very observant. Now that she was dead and did not have to pay attention to her life, she noticed everything. She paid particular attention to her murderer. She saw every one of her mistakes. She enjoyed noticing the smallest things about her, such as posture, the way she walked, and the way she talked. It was the way she lived that fascinated Danielle. How could such a seemingly nice person become a murderer over night?
Danielle knew that if only she could read minds, she would know the reason of her death, but she had to wait for her to say it aloud. Unfortunately, she did not expect her to burst out saying she killed someone in front of her first hour class.
She stood in the back of Angela’s classroom as she gave her English lessons and behind her while, she worked on the computer. At first, she stood by her side, almost touching her, but that soon grew awkward and she backed away.
During the fifth hour of the school day, Danielle left Angela’s room, just to take a walk around, but once she got to the end of the hall she could not walk any farther. It felt like there was a rope tied around her waist that connected her to Angela.
After following Angela around all day, she realized that the life of a teacher was quite boring. Although the life of a murderer disguised as a teacher was interesting, if not pathetic.
It felt as if she was spying her, but then again, she was. It also felt like she knew her really well, she was the only one that knew she was a murderer after all. Even though she did not seem evil, she had to keep reminding herself that she had killed her and that she should hate her.
But, were those tears in her eyes?
Angela sat in her classroom, at her computer, sick to the stomach and annoyed. She listened to the ninth graders, wondering if they thought that she was deaf or that she couldn’t hear them whispering behind her back.
“She’s so sad looking,” one girl whispered.
“Is she crying?” another student snickered.
“Hey, did you hear about that girl, Danielle Page? She was murdered,” a girl said, actually sounding like she cared. “She was in our grade. Maybe she knew her.” A moment of silence followed the comment as the other students took it in. However, the quiet only lasted a small amount of time before they were whispering again, this time mentioning Danielle’s name every so often.
Yeah, I knew her, Angela thought bitterly, I was the one that killed her. Ninth graders, they are such idiots and right now, I hate them all.
With her back still turned to them, she called out, “Everyone should be working quietly by himself or herself.” She sighed, had she been crying? Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she realized she had been. She really had to learn to control that. Just because she is a murderer, does not mean she has anything to regret. Her eyes filled again so she tilted her head back and blinked hard.
Later that day at three o’clock, after packing up her papers, Angela drove home.
It had been an extremely long day and she had had a weird feeling all day as if someone was watching her. She kept looking around her, but never saw any eyes on her.
Also, she had been cold all day; so cold. She turned the heater up as high as she could in her classroom without annoying her students, but she was still freezing.
She had thirty minutes to herself until Jacob came home from kindergarten on the school bus. She decided to take a well-earned nap after a long day of regrets and sorrow.
Her first day of being dead, after a sleepless night of watching Angela sleep, Danielle found out that her memory had been erased. The only thing she could remember from her life was Angela and that she had murdered her. She could not remember anything or anyone else except the minute or two leading up to her death. She became very scared and worried.
When she and Angela arrived back at her house from school, Angela went into her bedroom and curled up on top of the covers on her bed. She closed her eyes and forced herself to breathe deeply. A few silent tears rolled down her face and darkened the pillow.
As soon as she fell asleep for her nap, Danielle grabbed the sapphire around her neck and held it close to her heart. Her eyes closed. She would have called to Sebastion earlier, but it had not come to her right away and she was too busy getting used to being dead.
In less than a minute Sebastian whispered in her ear, “Danielle.” His warm breath tickled her ear and her dead heart leaped.
“I can’t remember,” she said, opening her eyes and turning to face him. He stood right next to her, only an inch or so away. She took a large step to the side and turned her whole body to face him. “I can’t remember anything. What’s wrong with me?”
Sebastian lightly put his hand on her shoulder and her skin tingled with emotion. She wanted to pull away from his fingers, but at the same time, she wanted to step nearer to him. She did neither though and licked her lips instead. “That happens when you’re dead.” He slowly, almost reluctantly, removed his hand. “I can’t remember anything from my life either, unless I think extremely hard. The one thing I remember easily is that I died in a car crash.”
Looking at him, she whispered, “I was murdered by Angela Matthews.” It was nice to know something.
“Yes,” he nodded. “Have you found out why yet?”
Sighing, she replied, “No. Unfortunately I haven’t.” A thought occurred to her then. “How long does it take for someone to learn why they were murdered?”
Sebastian’s eyes unfocused for a second and he shook his head sadly, “It could take days, months, or years. Some people never find out why they were killed and have to wait until their murderer dies to go to Heaven.”
Danielle gasped silently and looked at Angela lying on her bed asleep. She was young, probably in her early thirties. Looking back at Sebastian, she said, “So I might have to wait nearly seventy years before I can go to Heaven?”
He nodded his face, unreadable.
Looking at the floor, a few silent tears escaped her eyes. She saw her own tennis shoed feet and also she saw Sebastian’s feet, bare and smooth skinned, about two feet away from her own.
Again, Sebastian put his hand on her shoulder. She looked up and he stepped forward and hugged her. Placing her head near his shoulder, for he was taller than she was, she cried freely. She left her arms hanging loosely at her side. He gently caressed her back for a minute. Breathing in his scent, she realized he smelled like fresh rain. When she was with Sebastian, it made her so happy, unlike when she was alone and barely felt any emotions at all. He really seemed to understand and care for her.
She felt something more than just sympathy and friendship radiating from him, though. She did not want to think about it, but she felt he thought of her as something more than acquaintances. And maybe, she thought, I feel something more as well.
Too soon, he let go. “Call me again if you need me, but until then, I must go.”
“Wait,” she said quickly, grabbing his wrist. Her cheeks grew hot and she let her hand drop back to her side. “I have another question.” He looked at her intently with his big, beautiful, gray eyes. “Why don’t you just stay down here on Earth with me?”
He blinked and gave her a small smile. “I can’t, you have to figure this out for yourself. You will not be able to rest in peace until you do. Also, you can haunt Angela if you want, like a real ghost. If you want to haunt her with your voice, all you have to do is want her to hear you bad enough and she will. Do the same to move things.”
She thought about it a moment and decided against it, Angela did not deserve that. Even though she killed her that did not mean she should scare her and make her feel worse about killing her. “No, I think I’ll let her be, at least for now. One more question before you go. How old are you?” She had been wondering this for a while. Is he her age? Did he just die?
“Do you want years alive or years since birth?”
“Um, both I guess,” she answered confusedly.
“Well, I was fifteen when I died. However, if you include the years I have been dead, I am twenty-nine. I’ve been dead for fourteen years.”
“Oh,” She was shocked; he had been dead as long as she had been alive.
“Now, I really must go.”
Nodding sadly, she watched her angel leave. Again, she was alone with her murderer.
Rebecca’s mom was a day nurse at the local hospital, she did not get home until five thirty when she worked, and she was not off work that often. This Friday, though, just happened to be her mom’s day off, so as soon as Rebecca got home from school at three o’clock she asked her mom the question that had been burning in her mind all day. “Did the police find out who killed Danielle yet?”
Her mother shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, honey. You’ll have to ask her parents, I guess.”
This was not the answer she wanted. Slipping her cell phone out of her front pants pocket, she went to her room to call Mrs. Page.
While she sat on her bed, she ran her fingers over the numbers on the phone. She debated on whether to call Danielle’s parents or not. Finally, she dialed a number she knew by heart.
“Hello?” A voice on the other line said sullenly.
“Hello, Mrs. Page?”
“Yes?” Danielle’s mom sounded so distraught.
“Um, this is Rebecca. I am just wondering…well…have you found out who killed Danielle yet?” She hated being so blunt, but she thought it was best to just get it out.
Mrs. Page did not reply for so long that Rebecca thought she had hung up. Then a whispered, “No.” and Rebecca heard the click that signaled that she had hung up.
After dropping her phone on the bed next to her, she stood and stared out her window. She gazed down at the grass and the trees and watched the wind blow through the leaves. How could the world still be in one piece, when her life had changed so drastically?
She sighed and exited her room. She went to where she had left her backpack next to the door and got her book from it. She was reading To Kill a Mockingbird for school and had to read the next five chapters by Monday. Life went on no matter what and she could not let her grades drop.
She walked into the small family room and sat down on the couch. Her seven-year-old brother, Nick, sat on the other side of the couch and watched TV.
He glanced at his sister, grabbed the remote, and turned the TV off. He stood up and left the room, leaving Rebecca to read alone and in silence. She thought it was odd for Nick to do something so nice, but she did not want to think he was doing it because of Danielle’s death.
She opened her book and began to read. About an hour later, she heard the phone ring, but she did not move. Her mom walked into the room and said, “Rebecca, phone for you. It’s Mr. Page.”
Rebecca placed her bookmark on the page she was on, closed the book, and set it on the couch’s armrest.
“Hello,” she spoke into the phone.
“Hello, Rebecca.” It was indeed Danielle’s father. “I was just calling to invite you to…Danielle’s funeral.” He paused and coughed. “We were going to only invite family, but I thought you would like to come, since you two were best friends.”
“I would love to come, Mr. Page. When is it?”
“It’s tomorrow at eleven. It’s at the same church that you guys have your Girl Scout meetings.” She had not realized that the funeral would be held so soon. She found it weird that they had already completed the autopsy. However, she guessed they already knew what killed her. They only needed to take the bullet out.
Finishing her conversation with Mr. Page, she said, “I’ll be there.”
“Okay, I’ll see you there.” He stopped for a moment, but Rebecca waited. “A thanks, Rebecca.”
“For what?” she asked.
“For being such a great friend to Danielle. I know that you two were close. She really loved you, you know?”
“Yeah,” she whispered, “I know.”
Saturday morning Angela woke up in a daze. She had had the oddest dream.
In the nightmare, she was walking down the hallway at the high school. She was freezing cold and a thick fog covered the tiled floor.
When she arrived at her classroom, the door was locked. Wondering where her key was, she opened her purse, but the only thing in there was a shining, silver gun. After looking for the key in all her pockets and bags for a while, she heard a sad voice behind her speak her name so softly she barely heard it.
When she turned she saw Danielle standing there crying. She whispered, “Why?” Slowly at first, and then quickly, blood started to flow down the sides of her face. Thick streams of the dark red liquid rolled down her cheeks and chin in huge waves. Soon a pool of blood circled Danielle feet and coved her clothes. “Why?” Danielle screamed, her face distorted in rage. Angela fell back and entered the waking world.
Leaving her bedroom on unsteady feet, she walked into the kitchen where Andrew sat at the table eating toast and reading the morning newspaper.
“Good morning,” he said looking up. His smile turned to a frown of concern. “What’s wrong, you look like you saw a ghost?”
“Hm, oh, I just had a bad dream. That’s all.”
“Want to tell me about it?”
“No,” she said a bit too quickly. “I mean, it was nothing.”
“Alright,” he said still looking worried. “I’m going to work now.” He stood and walked towards the front door, giving her a slightly hesitant kiss on the cheek on the way out. Angela just stood still and gazed straight ahead with unfocused eyes. “Bye,” he called from the entrance hall.
Andrew was the manager of the local grocery store and he worked almost everyday from nine to five.
When she heard the front door close behind him, she went to wake up Jacob.
After a breakfast of eggs and bacon, and playing with her son all morning, it was twelve thirty and she had just put Jacob in front of the TV so she could get some chores done.
While she was doing the dishes, someone knocked on the door. She quickly dried her hands on a dishcloth and answered the door.
Unfortunately, it was Carrie Shay…again. Part of her wanted to slam the door in her face, but she knew she should not. If she had a gun on her, refusing could be a deadly mistake.
“Come in,” she said sullenly. As Carrie walked over her threshold, she wondered if she had made another huge mistake.
Carrie did not say a word as Angela led her to her kitchen. “So…how have you been?” she asked awkwardly, trying to make polite conversation and break the tense silence. Carrie just raised one of her eyebrows and gave her an are-you-crazy look.
As soon as they sat down at the table, Carrie began to speak. “So Angela, I didn’t know you had it in you to murder someone.” She said wickedly as she set her elbow on the table and place her chin on her hand. “Yet, it is a good thing you did, and I thank you for taking care of that unpleasant task for me. Now, I would like my gun back.” She took her hand out from under her chin and put it out in front of herself, palm up.
Angela bit her lip. “Um, well, Carrie, I don’t have it…”
“WHAT?” Carrie slammed her outstretched hand down on the table and shouted in her face. “What do you mean you don’t have it?”
“When I k-killed Danielle, I left the gun in the church’s bathroom.” Angela licked her lips and pulled a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Carrie stared back at her, looking like she was about to explode. “But I didn’t just leave it in the room; I hide it in the ceiling.”
“In…the…ceiling?” Carrie asked through clenched teeth, confused.
“You know, one of those ceilings where the boards can be pushed up? I put it on one of the panels in the ceiling.”
“Oh, okay.” Carrie seemed to understand now. “Go get it.”
“Huh? I can’t go get it! I am sure the church is locked. Besides, it would look suspicious if I went back to the site of a murder and came out carrying a gun.”
“While either you get it, or you die.” She reached to her side and pulled out a dark black gun.
Suddenly feeling bold, Angela said, “You wouldn’t kill me. You would not kill anyone; you do not have it in you. If you were capable of it, you would have killed Danielle yourself.”
“Oh, really, Angela, you think that?” Carrie reached out, grabbed a handful of Angela’s blonde hair, pulled her head closer, and put the gun on her head.
“Alright, don’t do anything rash,” Angela said trying to calm her foe. Fear gripped her heart. “I’ll get it…on Sunday.” An idea suddenly hit her. “I’ll go to the church service tomorrow, sneak down stairs and get the gun.”
Carrie yanked her hair once more for good measure, and then let go. “Fine,” Carrie nodded as if the idea would work. “Get me some paper.”
Angela grabbed a piece of scrap paper and a pen from the counter and handed it to her. Carrie ran the pen over the paper, and then gave it back to her.
“That’s my address. Bring me the gun by noon or I’ll make another visit.” Carrie then stood to leave, but Angela grabbed hold of her wrist.
“Wait,” she said, while trying to keep hold of Carrie as she jerked her arm. “Tell me: Why did you want Danielle dead?”
Danielle became instantly alert. This woman, who ever she was, (curse her memory loss), was the one who had forced Angela to kill her. Silently, she listened to the rest of their conversation.
“No, I won’t tell you,” the woman replied defiantly.
“I have the right to know. You forced me to kill her or share her fate.”
Ah, so Angela was threatened, Danielle thought. She knew she could not be completely evil.
“You have no right and I won’t tell.” With that, she pointed her gun at her again and told Angela calmly, “I’m leaving now and don’t you forget my gun.”
The two of them stood and walked out of the house. Danielle followed behind, trying to figure out of who this mysterious woman was. It was obviously someone from her life, but she could not remember anyone named Carrie.
The woman thanked her for her time with a smirk and got into her own car. As she drove out of the driveway, Danielle remembered with a jolt that she was Ms. Shay, her ninth grade math teacher. A flash of a memory crossed her vision. In the memory, she was sitting in a classroom at the high school glaring at Ms. Shay, who stood at the front of the room.
As she followed Angela back inside, Danielle called Sebastian down. By the time Angela had continued washing her dishes again, he was by her side.
“Yes?” he said perfectly.
“I know why she killed me!” she burst out excitedly. “She was threatened and forced to by Ms. Shay.”
“That’s great!” Sebastian said happily and gave her a big smile. For the first time since she met him, he actually looked truly happy. “Now you can come back to Heaven and be an angel, with me...” he trailed off and his smile slowly faded. He took a deep, steady breath. “You can be an angel,” he repeated at a slower speed than before. He acted as if the moment before had not happened.
Danielle was slightly puzzled. What just happened? she thought. Why did he act so weird just then?
“But…” she looked down at the white tiled floor, ignoring her strange puzzlement. “I want…need, really, to find out why Ms. Shay wanted me dead.” She looked back up into his face. “Please can I stay and find out? Just for my own good; I need to know.” Sebastian looked taken aback, and his already colorless face seemed to become even paler.
“Oh…well,” he hesitated so long she thought he would refuse. “I guess that would be okay.” His previous happiness had seeped away to be replaced with what could only be described as sadness.
Why is he suddenly sad? She thought in awe.
“Great! So now I get to follow Ms. Shay around?” She was ecstatic to be able to find out why Ms. Shay had forced Angela to kill her.
“No, you can’t.”
“What?” Danielle asked, crestfallen. “Then how will I–”
“You can only follow your murderer around,” he interrupted her steadily. He sounded angry now. He was furthering Danielle’s confusion about him; she wondered why his mood had changed so much in the short amount of time that he had been there. “I’m already breaking the rules by letting you stay longer.”
“Oh…okay.” She licked her dry lips. “What rules?”
“The unwritten rules of the dead,” he said as a quick answer and moved on before Danielle could farther question him. “If Angela finds out Ms. Shay’s reason so will you. Contact me when you find out. And Danielle?” His voice had changed to a gentler and kinder tone when he said her name.
“Yes, Sebastian?” His name was feather light on her tongue.
“This could take awhile. Are you sure you want to wait so long to become an angel?” The way that he said it, made Danielle think that he meant something else.
“It won’t take that long; Angela wants to know, too. She seems pretty determined, I think.” Then a very important thought occurred to her. “Will Angela go to Hell, you know, for killing me?”
Sebastian paused, looking surprised by her random question, to think about it, then said, “It depends, I think, do you forgive her for killing you?”
“Of course I do! It wasn’t her fault; she had to, to stay alive!”
“Then maybe she won’t go to Hell, I wouldn’t worry about.” He eyes became a bit darker as if he wanted her to go to Hell.
He started to lean towards her and at first, she thought he was going to kiss her or something, but then he spread his wings and disappeared upward. Her already empty heart suddenly felt much emptier. When he was around, she felt more alive. However, she figured it was just because he talked to her and could see her, unlike everybody else.
Thinking of her dead heart made her think of how much she had changed since she died. She held her hands out in front of her and examined them. They were pure white and her once blue veins were unnoticeable and seemed to be drained of blood. Then she placed her hand on chest above her heart: nothing. She looked in the mirror above Angela’s sink to see what her face looked like, but she had no reflection.
When Rebecca woke up Saturday morning, she felt a jolt like lightning in her stomach. It was the day of the funeral. The service was at eleven, and it was nine when Rebecca woke up.
She ate a small breakfast. Ever since Danielle’s murder, she was unable to eat very much. After eating, she sat on the couch in the family room next to Nick and watched a couple of half hour shows.
At ten o’clock, she rose from the couch and went into her bedroom. Opening her closet, she pushed her everyday clothes to the side and grabbed a long solid black dress. She had worn the same dress to her grandmother’s funeral the year before. Then, she picked up some flats from the bottom of her clean closet. They were dark gray with a small black bow on the toes.
Rebecca looked at herself in the full-body mirror on the back of her door. The dress she was wearing was floor length and had inch wide straps. She touched her collarbone with the tip of her fingers then grabbed a necklace from a hook on her wall. She slipped the necklace around her neck, clasped it, and then situated it correctly.
On the silver chain of the necklace was half a heart. The gold colored heart had the word ‘best’ written on it in loopy black letters. Danielle had the other half that said ‘friends’. Rebecca had bought the necklaces a couple years before at a garage sale.
Rebecca went back to the mirror and stood a foot away from it with her arms dangling at her side. She ran her eyes down her reflection, from the tip of her head to her shoes. Then she looked directly ahead into her stone cold, empty, brown eyes. Her vision began to blur. She lowered her eyes slightly and looked at the half-heart that lay limp around her neck. One tear rolled slowly out of each eye and down her cheeks. When the two tears met at her chin, they fell and landed on the word ‘best’.
She sniffed and opened her door. Composing herself, she walked down the hallway and called for her mom as she opened the front door and headed to the car. Her mom was going to drive her to the funeral and pick her up when it was over.
Rebecca put one of her hands on each door handle and pulled them wide open. With her head held high, she began to walk down the aisle of the church where
Danielle’s funeral was being held. It was the same church that they had their Girl Scout meetings, the same where Danielle was killed.
Danielle’s mother, Kimberly, stood half way down the red-carpeted aisle in the sanctuary. She wore a long dark purple dress and tears clouded her eyes.
Rebecca approached her and stopped in front of her. “Hello, Mrs. Page.” She did not know what else to say.
“Oh, Rebecca!” She pulled her into a tight hug. “I’m so…so glad you came.” She wiped her wet eyes with a white handkerchief. “I have something to give you.” She turned and started walking towards the brown coffin. Rebecca followed wondering what it was she had to give her.
Kimberly turned into the first row of benches and picked up her purse. She unzipped it and pulled out a tissue. She stood still and stared at if for a moment before handing it to Rebecca.
Carefully, she unwrapped the tissue. Inside of it was the other half of her necklace. She looked back up to thank Mrs. Page only to see that she had already walked away to speak to some people that had just arrived.
She put the necklace on and stroked the complete heart with her hand.
Looking around, she saw that there
were not very many people there. She was the only friend that had been invited, so the room was full of Danielle’s relatives.
She walked around and talked to the few relatives she knew. Everyone was so sad. However, what would you expect at a funeral?
Rebecca remembered her grandma’s funeral, everyone seemed somewhat happy, talking about her grandma’s good, long life. Danielle, on the other hand, did not have a long life. Her life had just begun.
Rebecca asked a couple of people if they knew who might have killed Danielle. Of course, none of them knew anything and wanted to discuss happy memories instead. Nobody wanted to think about the fact that Danielle was murdered.
At a quarter after, David, Danielle’s dad, stood and told everyone to sit down. Rebecca sat in the first seat on the left and Danielle’s parents sat on the right side of the aisle.
The minister came up to the front and stood at his podium. He said a few lines, but nothing meaningful. He had never meet Danielle.
Then everyone stood and formed a line. Rebecca was third after Kimberly and David. They each walked by Danielle’s closed coffin, touched it, and said a couple of private words.
There was not a viewing, thank goodness. With a bloody hole in her head, Rebecca did not think there would have been a viewing.
When she walked by, Rebecca placed her palm on the coffin above were Danielle’s head would have been. She bent her head and whispered to her dead friend. “Good-bye, Danielle. I love you and will miss you forever.”
After the funeral ended, Rebecca went home and began to write out some notes in a blue notebook. They were notes on who might have killed Danielle. So far, she had obvious things: they had a gun, possibly knew Danielle, and might not work Thursday nights. Sighing, she went to the kitchen to make herself some lunch. Basically, anyone could have killed her.
With sandwich in hand, she checked the mail that sat on the kitchen counter. The last thing in the pile of letters was a letter from her school. She opened it up and found inside a message reminding her parents that the school was having open parent-teacher conferences, where they did not need an appointment. The parents just showed up and met with the teachers they wanted to in private. They were on Monday and there was no school that day either. On the bottom of the page, it said the middle school was having them, too, for those parents that had students at both schools.
“Oh, yeah,” Rebecca said aloud to herself. “I forgot.” With all the crazy stuff going on in her life the last couple of days, it made sense that she would forget something as major as having no school.
This is great, she thought. She could walk to the schools, they were down the street from her house, and between meetings, and she could interview Danielle's teachers about her. She had a few of the same teachers she had had and she remembered most of the ones that just Danielle had that year. Maybe, she continued to herself, one of them knows something.
The alarm clock began to buzz close to Angela’s head. She quickly turned it off and silently got out of bed. She got a flower-covered skirt and a dressy white blouse, church-going clothes, out of her dresser, and then left the room to change in the bathroom so Andrew would not wake up. She dreaded the thought of being faced with his questions.
At seven o’clock on the dot, she arrived at the church: the scene of the crime.
She grabbed her empty beige purse and walked into the front door of the church, her high-heeled shoes echoing across the tiled floor. Stopping at the sanctuary’s door, she could hear the reverend welcoming the people in the room. There was no one in the hallway everyone was already seated inside the room awaiting the sermon.
Angela stared at the closed, pure white, double doors. Her eyes glazed and she saw Danielle’s face. Biting her lip, she turned away from the stairs, which would have taken her to her destination, and instead walked into the sanctuary.
With her head low, she sat in an empty spot at the back of the room. What the minister was saying went in one ear and out the other. Instead of listening to him, she looked at the floor with her hands entwined and prayed. Church was the best place to pray after all.
Please dear God, forgive me of my sin. I know that what I did was horribly wrong. But, did I even have a choice, my whole world or Danielle? I am so sorry. Danielle did not deserve to die. I…I just do not know. Please help and forgive me Lord. Amen.
As she finished praying, everyone began to rise to sing hymns. She also rose, but instead of singing, she left the room as silently as she had come in.
Angela took off down the stairs at the fastest pace her high-heeled shoes would allow, and then ran into the bathroom she had run into a few nights ago.
Slipping her dark brown shoes off, she carefully climbed onto the lowered toilet seat and retrieved her shirt and Carrie’s gun. She stuffed the evidence into her purse, put her shoes back onto her feet, and exited the bathroom.
Her bag felt extra heavy and the strap seemed to burn into her flesh as she walked up the stairs and out the front door of the church. She felt sure that someone would see her and ask what she was doing, but no one interrupted her as she got into her red car and drove out of the parking lot for the first and last time.
Angela had memorized Carrie’s address and drove straight there. The numbers had been etched into her brain. She was unable to forget Carrie’s slanted handwriting on the white paper.
“Oh, good, you’re here,” Carrie said when she opened her door to find Angela standing on her front porch for a change. “Come in.”
Angela entered the medium sized suburban house and glanced around. The walls were white as snow and bare. The tiled floor shined and reflected rough twins of the two women. “Sit down; I’ll be back in a moment.” Carrie pointed into the room to Angela’s right and then hurried went upstairs.
Angela turned into the room and found a small living room. Sitting on a small, inexpensive looking, gold couch, she noticed that the walls in this room where the same as the entrance hall. They were white and undecorated. The floor was covered in eggshell white carpet. In between the couch she was sitting on and two plush chairs was a honey brown coffee table.
Carrie was a widow and had only lived in town for five years. She rarely spoke of her past. Maybe she escaped from an insane asylum,
Angela thought with a grin as her eyes swept the room again.
Angela sat alone in the clean room for a minute longer, and then Carrie came in carrying a black case. She sat in a chair and put the case on the table between them.
Carrie put some reading glasses on, opened the case and said, “Gun, please.” She held out her hand.
Unzipping her purse, she pulled out the gun wrapped in her shirt. After she untwined her blood-spattered t-shirt, she stuffed it back into her bag. “Here.” She thrust the gun into Carrie’s waiting hand.
Carrie glared at her from over the top of the case. Then she picked up something from in the case and Angela heard her spray something. She looked around the side of the case and saw Carrie rubbing a dirty rag over the handle of the revolver.
“Um, what are you doing?”
“Washing my gun. I don’t want any fingerprints or dirt. Or blood.” She paused for a moment and looked Angela right in the eyes. “Are you alright with that?”
“Um, sure, but I wore gloves. I am not stupid.” She reconsidered, then added, “But, um, thanks for trying, I guess.”
“Well, it’s good to know you aren’t a complete idiot. But, do not thank me. I’m not doing it for you; I just like my things to be clean and spotless.”
Slightly crestfallen, Angela sat in silence and gazed around the room for a few seconds.
Then, as if suddenly remembering she was still there, Carrie looked over the top of her glasses at Angela and said, “You can leave now.” It was not a suggestion.
She got up without a word and left Carrie’s house. She never looked back.
Danielle glanced back one more time as Angela drove them away. Carrie’s house looked just like all the other houses on the street, yet there seemed to be a sinister shadow that surrounded it. Danielle could not remember her life and thusly could not remember Mrs. Shay. Had she ever done anything to make her hate her? Apparently, but she did not remember what and most likely she never would
Angela drove to her house slowly and when they arrived, it was a quarter to eight. Her killer turned the car off, but did not move. She suddenly shuddered and gasped as if in a great deal of pain. She then set her arms on top of the steering wheel and put her forehead on top of them. Her body was racked with sobs and shivers.
Danielle looked away and got out of the car, passing simply though the cold metal. She hurried up the sidewalk in front of the Matthews house and entered through the door. About five yards into the small house was a four person, square table and at the table sat Andrew, Angela’s husband.
Thinking Angela would be awhile; she went up to Andrew and stood by his side. The invisible line that connected her to Angela strained a bit, but did not force her to move nearer to her.
Andrew was writing what looked like a letter on lined notebook paper. It was addressed to Angela. Curious, Danielle peered over his shoulder and read it.
What has happened to you? You seem so different, so odd. You barely ever speak to me anymore. You stay out more and come home late. I woke up this morning and you were gone. Why are you acting this way? Please just tell me…”
He stopped writing at that point and a big tear splashed from his eyes and fell onto the bottom of the page. He wiped at his eyes, and then he quickly scribbled out the rest of the note: “…are you having an affair? – Andrew.”
Danielle gasped and just then, a car door closed. Both she and Andrew looked at the front door for a second. Andrew folded the note a couple of times and stuffed it into the breast pocket of his shirt. He used his sleeve to dry his few tears, slowly stood up, and pushed the chair under the table. Expectantly, he faced the door.
Angela opened the door and came inside. Danielle caught a glimpse of her eyes before she looked down at the floor; they were pink and empty from crying.
“Good morning, Angela.”
“Good morning,” she replied thickly. It had been a bad morning for her. A bad week, really.
“Where were you so early in the morning,” Andrew said as she turned into the hallway.
“I was…” She paused and Danielle thought she might actually tell the truth. However, instead, “I was just out,” she said without looking at him.
“Oh.” He sounded indifferent, but Danielle could see worry and fear in his chocolate brown eyes. She knew where he thought she had been.
Angela disappeared behind the bathroom door and he closed his eyes for a few heartbeats and touched his pocket where the note hid. Drawing a deep breath, he opened hi eyes and left the house. A moment later Danielle heard a car start.
For once, she wished she could leave Angela and follow her husband instead.
Parent-teacher conferences were so boring and since Angela had become a murderer just five days earlier, she could barely concentrate. She could not relax at all; what if the police found out she did it? Then again, she figured that if they found anything that led them to her she would have been arrested by now.
“So, she needs more help?” The woman, whose child was in her class, spoke to her as if she was a five-year-old. She should know, too, she has a five-year-old, and she speaks to him the same way.
The woman had shimmering blue eyes and long, shiny, obviously dyed blond hair that rolled like waves around her shoulders. She wore high heels and nice dress clothes. To make her look even more out of the ordinary, she had on extra make-up than what was natural.
“Yes,” Angela replied sheepishly. She felt out of place around the woman, since she was just wearing jeans and a t-shirt. There was barely any make-up on her face and her tennis shoes were old and tattered. Her hair pulled back in an unimpressive ponytail, looked nothing like the other woman’s angelic, yet unrealistic, hair.
“That can’t be,” the woman’s eyebrows rose. “Brooke is such a smart girl. You must not be doing your job right.”
Oh great, Angela thought, not another parent who thinks their student is the center of the universe and that I cannot teach because their child cannot learn.
“No,” she started slowly. “Brooke just needs to pay more attention in class and turn in her homework.”
“No,” she interrupted her. “There’s nothing else she can do but pay attention and study for finals. There is nothing else to say. Good-bye.”
“But Mrs. Matthews…” she trailed off, looking taken aback.
“You’re taking up a lot of my time. Good-bye, Mrs. Hawkins.” Mrs. Hawkins snorted softly, turned on her heel, and left.
Next, a student walked in. She had shoulder length, slightly waved, black hair and light brown eyes. She had a pen and a pad of paper that had a couple of things written on it.
If she expects me to tell her stuff about a sibling or a friend or something, she has another thing coming, Angela thought. Being a teacher, she could not discuss a student’s grades with anyone but their parents and the students themselves.
“Hello,” the girl said, sitting down in front of Angela’s desk in the chair Mrs. Hawkins had left untouched.
“Hello,” Angela said, wondering who she was.
“I am wondering if you know… Or I guess it should be if you knew, Danielle Page?”
Suspicious now, she replied, “Yes, I was her teacher this year until…well you know. Why do you want to know?”
“Well, I’m Rebecca Linn and I was her best friend. I’m going around asking her teachers if they know anything about her death.”
Angela’s mind emptied for a moment. Oh, damn. “I don’t know much about it,” she said a bit too quickly. “She was murdered, right? That’s all I know.”
“Yes, she was killed,” Rebecca spoke in a simple way, not showing emotion. She seemed unaffected by the murder of her apparent best friend. Her eyes were lost and absent looking. “You where there though, weren’t you? At the church, when she died? I saw you, but I didn’t recognize you at the time.” Angela’s mind began to buzz as she realized Rebecca was the girl sitting on the floor crying at the church. She searched for an excuse, but could not think of one under the pressure. Rebecca continued, “And I’m hoping you know who might have killed her. Do you know anyone who might have hated her?”
“Um, I was there, but I don’t know what happened. I did not see anything. You know, today are parent-teacher conferences and you are not a parent or a teacher, so please go home. Besides, shouldn’t the police be handling this?” The only thing she wanted at this moment was for this girl to leave. She could not take the guilt Rebecca had laid on her heart.
“The murderer didn’t leave any clues. It could have been anyone. It is a hard, unsolvable case. Plus, she was my best friend,” she replied so sadly Angela felt terrible. Rebecca let a bit of sadness enter her gaze. Five days had been too much to block her pain. “I just want to know what type of horrible person would do this.”
Looking down at her desk, Angela thought, me.
“Please,” Rebecca started again, “tell me any information you have. For God’s sake, tell me anything!” Tears slowly filled her now depressed and desperate eyes.
That is it! Angela could not take it anymore. Checking to make sure Rebecca had fully closed the door when she had entered; she stood up, and slammed her hands on the table with her palms down. “Ok, fine…I killed her! I killed Danielle Page. Alright, happy?!” She had yelled but at the same time, she had kept her voice low enough so that no one outside of the room could hear.
Tears sprang to her eyes and, feeling dizzy, she sat down and put her face in her hands.
Although Rebecca looked like someone had slapped her across the face, she, luckily for Angela, stayed sitting and did not react too badly, at least not outwardly.
No! What did Angela just do? Danielle thought in despair. Her eyes swept from Angela to Rebecca and back again.
Her gaze rested on Rebecca. Her jaw had dropped and she stared at Angela with shock and fear. She looked completely dumbfounded.
Danielle was extremely glad that she had mentioned who she was, otherwise she would not have remembered. All the good times they had had together in the last year came back into her mind; flashes of smiles, laughter, and whispered conversations.
Then Rebecca slowly stood and left the room. Calm and slow, she moved as if in a dream…or a nightmare.
Stepping forward, Danielle grabbed the sapphire around her neck. A few seconds later Sebastian stood in front of her.
“You want to go after her.” It was not a question. It was a statement, a fact.
“Yes,” Danielle answered. Adrenaline pulsed through her body, she wanted to chase after her former friend and stop her from condemning Angela to prison.
“Go and hurry.” He stepped to the side and let her pass. “I’ll watch Angela for you.”
Not waiting to find out how he knew what she wanted, she ran past him and entered the semi-crowded hallway. She started running towards the front doors of the building, the obvious place for
Rebecca to go. She ran though many people and walls, taking the most direct route and not taking any notice to the feeling that swept through her body every time she passed through the warm body of a person. Soon, she spotted her about to walk out of the building.
“Rebecca!” Danielle screamed at the top of her lungs. She willed Rebecca to hear her and stop. Oddly and surprisingly enough she did halt. Danielle gasped and rushed forward toward her living best friend.
“Danielle?” Rebecca whispered to herself. Turning, she looked into the crowd of people behind her. Of course, she did not see her; but still, she could have sworn she had heard Danielle yell her name.
Suddenly, she felt cold. Rubbing her hands on her bare arms, she looked deeper into the crowds. Then she saw it: a flash of brown hair and then a face. Her eyes grew wide. “Danielle!” she shouted excitedly. A few passersby glanced her way, but she ignored them.
After she took a step in her direction, Danielle put her pointer finger to her lips and approached her. She walked with an abnormal air; authority and importance surrounded her stride. Rebecca could tell that her once close and dear friend had changed. Death can do that to you.
“You…you can see me?” Danielle looked just as shocked as she felt. Rebecca nodded slowly. “Come with me,” Danielle whispered. She walked out of the school’s front doors and Rebecca followed in shocked and loyal silence.
Once outside and alone, Rebecca burst out, “Danielle, how the hell are you here, you’re dead?!” She shocked herself by cussing, because she never did, but what was one little cuss word when you are looking into the eyes of your deceased friend. Your dead friend that was acting very much alive.
“I guess you can call me a ghost.” She sounded quiet, sad, and so…so dead. “Please, you mustn’t tell anyone about Angela.” Rebecca looked at her puzzled. “Mrs. Matthews,” she explained. “It was not her fault; someone forced her to kill me. Promise me you won’t tell a single person.”
“I won’t. Oh, Danielle!” She reached out to give her a hug, but Danielle stepped back.
“Rebecca, I’m sorry, but I don’t have time. I don’t even know if you can touch me,” she said with tears forming in her eyes. “I have to go.” She turned then and the moment before she disappeared she whispered, “Don’t be sad, live your life. Mine’s over.”
Looking sadly at the spot where she vanished, Rebecca whispered more to herself than anyone, “Goodbye, Danielle, my best friend.”
It began to rain as Rebecca walked home. The steady downpour disguised her free flowing tears. This was the first time she had fully cried more than a few tears since Thursday night. Opposed to her cold soaked hair and clothes, her tears were warm and inviting.
She let it all out, whispering every swear word she knew under her breath; forget about not cussing. She had spent a lot of time trying to find out who had killed her best friend, but when she finally discovered the truth, or at least part of the story, Danielle told her not to tell anyone. Her time was wasted since no one was going to prison, but she still felt like a weight had been lifted.
Rebecca would go along with Danielle’s request, even if it went against all logic. But, if Angela truly had killed her, why would Danielle not want her to go to prison? None of it made sense to Rebecca, but, frankly, she did not care as long as her best friend was happy. She would also follow Danielle’s desire of her to continue to live her own life and not be sad.
Rebecca had been gone for a little over a minute as Angela stood and wiped her tears away. This was it, if Rebecca told someone that she had killed Danielle, she was sure to go to prison. A good lawyer could probably get her out of it, maybe even a bad one, but she could not afford one. Even if she could, she might not be able to bring herself to lie any longer. She had to find out why Carrie had wanted Danielle dead before it was too late. She reached up, onto her head and pulled out her hair tie, letting her thin hair fall loosely around her shoulders. The hair tie fell from her hand and landed gently on the wooden desk. Leaving her room, she went down the hall to Ms. Shay’s classroom. Confrontation: she was not sure she was ready for it, but she had to do it. It was now or never. She was in a meeting, but she did not care. Swinging the door open, she marched in with her head held high. “Excuse me, Angela, but I’m in a meeting,” Carrie said in her fake sweet voice. “Please come back later.” “No,” she said as firmly as she could with tears swimming in her eyes. “She can come back later.” She indicated Mrs. Hawkins who looked angrily back at her. Angela was probably on her list of foes for that day. “I need to talk to you.” Carrie looked at Mrs. Hawkins and gave her an apologetic look. “I think I need to talk with her.” Anger flashed in her eyes as Mrs. Hawkins stood up and left, closing the door on her way out. Carrie stood up and walked around her desk. As soon as the door closed, Angela strutted up to Ms. Shay, swung back her arm, and punched her on the left side of the face. Carrie stumbled back a foot, then glared at her. “B***h! How dare you!” she yelled. “Ha,” she forced out a fake laugh. “How dare I?” She pointed to herself, and then pointing at Carrie she said, “How dare you!” She walked up to her and pushed her into the concrete wall behind her. “Why did you hate Danielle?”
Leaving Rebecca behind forever, Danielle reentered Angela’s classroom just to find Angela missing.
Turning around, she saw Sebastian come in. “Danielle, hurry, you have to see this! It’s what we’ve been waiting for!”
She followed him out of the room and down the hall. They soon came to a closed door. Without even pausing, they walked through the solid wood door. Danielle had gotten used to walking though things after only a couple of days of being dead.
Once on the other side her eyes widened in surprise as she watched Angela push Ms. Shay into a wall.
“Why did you hate Danielle?” Angela yelled in her face. Ms. Shay hesitated and received another shove.
“Stop, please.” Ms. Shay sounded uncharacteristically old and fragile. “I’ll tell you!”
Angela stopped, surprised, and took a step back.
Ms. Shay began in her mean, superior voice. “I hated her because…she was such a brat! She hated me first, you know. She did not even have a good reason. Plus she was always disrespecting me and telling lies about me.”
When she ended her rant, Angela looked at her with confusion. “And…?” she said, wondering if Ms. Shay had anything else to say.
“And…that’s it. She was a little brat!”
“So you kill her?!” Angela became angry again. “You’re insane, damn it! I cannot believe this; you made me kill a girl because she told lies about you and disrespected you? That is just so…insane!” With that, she turned and stormed out.
Danielle turned to follow her, out of habit, but Sebastian grabbed her arm. “You’re finished. You found out why you were murdered. We can go home now.”
Smiling, he spread his wings and flew with her out of the school and to Heaven.
As Angela drove home, she thought in silence. Why the hell would someone have a girl murdered just because she was a little bratty? Oh, what a waste of her life; she knew she should have gone to the police. Now what would happen to her?
Stopping the stream of thoughts, she pulled into her driveway. Then she walked over to her neighbor’s house, who was baby-sitting Jacob for her.
Alice Pierce opened her door a bit surprised. “You’re home already? I thought you said you wouldn’t be back till four thirty.”
“Oh, well, I finished faster than I thought. Where’s Jacob?”
“He’s coloring at the kitchen table. Come in. I’ll go get him, just a second.” She went deeper into the house and returned a moment later with Angela’s son. He smiled and gave her a hug. At least one of them was happy.
Once home, she turned on the TV for Jacob to watch and sat on the couch thinking of random things of no importance. Her second biggest mistake in her life: telling Rebecca of her first biggest mistake. At one point, she started to grade some papers for her class. The rest of the day, every car that drove by made her jump, thinking the police would be knocking on her door. Rebecca was bound to tell someone or so she thought.
Two hours later, with no police on her doorstep, she started cooking dinner. When she heard Andrew pull into the driveway, she made a spur-of-the-moment decision to tell him about Danielle.
The front door opened, closed, and a moment later Andrew came into the kitchen. “Mm, that smells good,” he said looking into the pot of soup that sat on top of the stove in front of Angela.
“Andrew, I have to tell you something very important.” Angela said shyly and anxiously.
“Sounds serious, what was it?” Some unknown emotion passed through his eyes but Angela did not have the chance to place it before it disappeared.
“Well,” she began, stepping away from the stove, “you know that girl that was murdered the other day?”
“Yeah, the whole town knows about it.”
“You see, I knew her and-”
“Oh, Angela, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know,” he interrupted, sympathetically. He then stepped forward and started hugging her.
As they stood there in the small kitchen, enveloped in each other arms, Angela started to cry. She did not cry because she was sad about Danielle, but of telling Andrew her secret. What would happen if he were the one that told the police, instead of Rebecca? What if he divorced her or hated her? Sighing, she made her decision.
Wiggling out of his hold, she spoke the truth, “No, there’s more: I was the one that killed her. I’m a murderer.” More tears came.
He looked at her shocked. Shaking his head slowly, he left the kitchen and then the house.
Her knees weak, Angela sat down in a chair at the kitchen table, crossed her arms, and lay her head down. Then she cried. Her head pounded with images of shocked faces. Danielle’s, Rebecca’s, and Andrew’s worried and fearful eyes stared back at her.
Only a few minutes, although it seemed like hours, later, she felt someone stroking her hair. Hoping Andrew had come back, she looked up, but only Jacob stood next to her.
“What’s wrong, Mommy? Where did Daddy go?” he said in his adorable and painfully innocent voice.
“He…he left. Jacob, I’m sorry, I did a really bad thing.” How do you tell your five-year-old you killed someone?
“He didn’t leave. His car’s still here.”
“Huh?” She looked at him puzzled.
“His car is in the driveway.” He pointed his little, chubby finger at the kitchen window.
She looked at the window with the last rays of sunlight streaming inside. When she stood up and looked outside, two cars were sitting in the driveway. Idiot, she thought about herself. She should have noticed he did not drive away. She did not hear a car start. Quickly, she went to the front door and outside. Andrew sat on the porch staring across the landscape of rooftops at the setting sun.
“Andrew?” He slowly stood up and turned to face her. “I thought you left? You aren’t l-leaving me?”
“Why would I ever leave you?” He said it like the very thought was impossible.
“I’m…a murderer. I killed a girl,” she repeated what she had said earlier, her voice cracking on the word “killed”.
“So what?” As he spoke, he took a loose strand of her hair and tucked it behind her ear. Then he said something that made her heart beat faster and the tears fill her eyes again. “I still love you, Angela. I would never leave you. Truth be told, I was starting to think you were going to divorce me. You have been so distant lately. I…I don’t know…”
Shocked that Andrew had thought such a thing, Angela said slowly, “Of course not. Andrew, I love you. I…I was just planning a murder.” She gave him a lopsided smile, and her eyes began to swim with tears. “I’m so sorry for blocking you out lately.”
Stepping up to her, he embraced her in the second hug that night. They stood in silence for a moment, and then they separated and stared at each other. Tears were rolling down Angela’s cheeks like symbols of love. Andrew bent down and kissed her.
Moments later, they sat down onto the concrete porch, their bodies fitting together perfectly and making their dim silhouettes one.
In the darkness Andrew spoke, “Why did you do it?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“Yes. I won’t judge you.”
So, Angela told the story of how she became a murderer for the first and last time.
Angela Matthews was a murderer, but she had a wonderful family that she loved with all her heart. Jacob, her son, would never know that his mother was a killer and her husband, Andrew, would never care.
Once in Heaven again, Sebastian led Danielle out of the city area to a huge field of pink-gold clouds on the outskirts of the city.
“Are you ready to be an angel?”
Her cheeks rose into a smile and she nodded her head eagerly. “Oh, yes.”
He reached towards the sapphire that hung on the necklace he had given her on the day that she died. For a fleeting moment, she thought he planned to take it away from her, but instead he just grabbed it. He rubbed the gem for a moment with his thumb and then let it drop back around her neck. Looking at it, she realized it had changed; it now resembled angel wings.
Glowing gold light suddenly surrounded her whole body. When the light faded away, her old t-shirt and jeans were gone. They had been replaced with an angel’s gown. The fabric was unbelievably soft and it smelled sweet like a field of flowers. Her once covered feet became bare.
Then her head began to feel odd and a feeling of pinpricks covered her scalp. She ran her hand over her hair then looked at a strand of her hair. Instead of light brown, it had changed to a dark golden color. Her eyes stung slightly, and rubbing them to relive the pain, she guessed they had changed color as well. Her wings came last; her shoulder blades started to ache. The skin tore and hurt so much she nearly started crying. But, looking at Sebastian made her feel better. He always made her feel better.
After the fiery pain subsided, she turned her head and saw her wings for the first time. They are not quiet as long as Sebastian’s wings but they were just as beautiful and soft looking.
A random thought came into her head then. “Earlier, when we were in the school, you already knew what had happened and that I wanted to go after Rebecca. How did you know?”
“Well, Danielle, I was your guardian angel and when you were still alive I was always with you. After you died, I was still always with you. Both times, though, I was invisible.” His voice lowered slightly and he added, “I’ll always be with you.”
When she looked back at Sebastian, she saw her reflection in his eyes and she fully realized something. If she still had blood flowing in her veins she would have blushed.
“Sebastian, I love you!” She said it so quickly she thought, or even hoped, that he had not understood what she had said. Embarrassed, she looked down at her bare feet.
“Danielle?” He placed his finger under her chin and lifted her head so she could look him in the eyes.
“Yes?” she replied slowly and unsure.
“I love you, too.” With that, he leaned down and kissed her on the lips. They spread their wings, and still kissing, flew upwards a few yards above the clouds.
Danielle’s lips felt warm up against Sebastian’s smooth skin. She reached up and entwined her fingers together around his neck. He held her by the small of her back. She had never been so happy in life or death. She flashed back to her life; she had never kissed a living boy. However, she was glad of that. This moment, so pure and perfect, would not be the same if she had kissed any other person.
A few seconds passed and they stopped in their flight to stare at each other. His eyes reflected her happiness. He wore a huge, happy smile. One unlike his others, this one looked truly happy. The invisible wall he had built up between them fell down the moment they had revealed their true feelings. The butterflies in Danielle’s stomach turned into a swarm. “When did you first start loving me?” They had known each other for five days, yet she had never felt this way before about anyone.
“Danielle, I’ve loved you forever.” His voice sounded so loving and kind it made her want to cry out with joy. That was the moment when he finally released her and she let go of him as well.
“Forever?” She tilted her head to her side and her lips upturned into a small smile. She had not known him for long and she wanted to know what he meant.
“It’s a long story, really.”
She laughed and spread her arms out wide. “We have all of eternity.”
“Good point.” He paused to bring back old memories. As she knew, it was hard to remember things from life. “It started fourteen years ago; before you were born. I was with my mom, driving home from a friend’s house. When we were at a stop light, a drunk driver ran into us. I died instantly. The same moment I died, your heart started beating.” Her eyes grew wide, but he continued without waiting for her to say something. “You see when someone dies their soul leaves their body and goes into someone else’s: an unborn baby. After I became an angel, I went down to earth and became your guardian angel since you had my soul.”
“So, I have your soul?”
“No, not anymore; you’re dead. Someone else has our soul now.” She liked that, our soul.
However, she was still confused. “Why do you love me though?”
“That it a hard question to answer. I just feel a connection to you and I guess it’s just destiny. We were destined to love each other from the beginning of time.”
“Destiny? But what about all that ‘choose your own destiny’ stuff people always say?”
“That was part of our destiny,” Sebastian said, starting to sound a little perplexed, as if he had never really thought about it before. “Ok, think of it like this: God wrote down our story and we’re just living it.”
“Oh, I get it now. So, we all have our own destiny. We can’t change what we are meant to do in life.”
“Yes,” he said as he brushed some of her hair behind her shoulders. “And some destinies overlap.” He placed his hand up against her cheek. “We’re all just angels in destiny.” He bent his neck and kissed her forehead.
“Angels in destiny,” she whispered it to herself. She was destined to die and Angela was destined to kill her. Sebastian was right; they were all just angels in destiny.
While washing her hands in the bathroom Tuesday morning, Angela heard Andrew yell her name. Frustrated she dried her hands and opened the door. “What do you want? I’m going to be late.”
“You need to come read this!” he called back to her excitedly.
She left the bathroom and came into the small dining room. Andrew handed her the newspaper from that morning.
“You may want to sit down for this,” he said smiling brightly.
She sat and laid the paper down on the table. Her husband pointed at the biggest headline on the front page, “Teacher admits to be a murderer”.
Her heart jumped. It was amazing, truly amazing. Angela began to read the wonderful article.
“Last night, around five p.m., ninth grade teacher Carrie Shay walked into the Belton police station admitting that she had murdered Danielle Page. Page died by gunshot on Thursday, May 10. Shay claimed to have done it out of pure hatred and even had the gun that took the girl’s life. Arrested on the spot, she will go to prison and won’t receive a trial after pleading guilty.”
The article went on, but Angela did not need to read it. She had no clue why Carrie had done it, but she did not care. After a breath of pure relief, she whispered, “Thank God.” She looked up at Andrew and saw a smile on his face that matched hers.
She felt so free. The weight of her secret lifted. She did not need to keep her eyes and ears open for the danger of police. Everyone in the world now thought that Carrie Shay had killed Danielle instead of her.
The high school principal, Mr. Larson walked into Rebecca’s science class Tuesday morning.
His face looked worried and his voice sounded strained as he talked in a hushed voice to Mrs. Miles, the science teacher. What Mr. Larson said to her made her jaw drop and glance around the room.
“Rebecca,” Mrs. Miles said as the principal walked out the door, “Mr. Larson needs to see you in the hall.”
Curious, Rebecca stood and left the room with the eyes of her classmates boring into her back.
The principal was waiting next to a row of blue lockers and a man stood next to him. Seeing his face, she realized who it was. The man was Detective Pearson from Thursday night.
“You know Detective Pearson, Rebecca?” Principal Larson asked as she closed the classroom door behind her.
She nodded slowly and her heart began to race.
“He has some good news for you.”
“Possible good news,” Detective Pearson corrected, and then turned to face Rebecca. “We might have found Danielle’s murderer.”
She gasped without even thinking and thought, Did Mrs. Matthews turn herself in? “Who is it?” she said in a small voice.
Rebecca knew this name; she was Danielle’s math teacher and her own. “Really?” she said doubtfully.
“Do you know her?” the detective asked.
“Yes, she is my math teacher. She was Danielle’s, too.”
“Do you think she would have killed Danielle?”
She knew that she had not done it, but she had promised Danielle she would not tell anyone about Mrs. Matthews. However, lying could put an innocent person in prison. “I don’t know. Why do you think it was her?”
“Last night she came to the police department and told us that she had killed her. She said that she hated Danielle. Do you know if that’s true?”
“Maybe. I don’t know.” Her heartbeat sped up even more. “Danielle hated her, I know that.”
The principal and detective shared a glance. “Did Danielle do anything to make Ms. Shay hate her?”
“Um, yeah, I guess.” Rebecca did not know what to say. “She always glared at her and talked bad about her to anyone who would listen. She said she couldn’t teach worth a darn and didn’t deserve to be a teacher.” Her eyes watered up. “She was never a good teacher, but Danielle really hated her, more than anyone else.”
“Ok, that’s enough,” Detective Pearson said gently and patted Rebecca’s shoulder. “You can go back to class now.”
Then the principal piped in, “Or you can go talk to the counselor if you want.”
“No, I’m fine.” She wiped her eyes and turned to enter her classroom again.
“You’ve been very brave, Rebecca,” Detective Pearson told her as she opened the door and disappeared back into her class.
Danielle walked silently as she followed a woman down the crowded New York City street. Sebastian walked along with her.
The woman had long curly red hair and blue eyes. She wore a suit and looked as if she was on her way to work. She appeared to be in her mid-thirties.
“So,” Danielle was saying, “what exactly do I do?”
“You follow her around, keep an eye on her, and help to lead her down the right path in life. You can whisper in her ear and tell her the things she needs to know. Another thing you can do is send her messages in her dreams.” He set his arm around her shoulders. “Does that answer your question?”
“Yeah,” Danielle replied absentmindedly. “This is going to take some getting used to,” she said suddenly. “Being down here, invisible, watching life go on.
“Yeah, it will,” Sebastian said. “But you’ll like it in the end. Paige will need you.”
Danielle smiled. “Paige? Is that going to be her name?” She glanced at him. “Why is her name Paige?”
“Your last name is Page. She’ll probably end up being named Paige.” Sebastian also smiled. “You know, my last name is Daniels.”
She gasped and they turned the corner still following the redheaded woman. “It is? So…our last names become their first names. Weird.”
“Well, some names are altered, or totally different, but that’s basically the method.”
Silence surrounded them again and they continued to walk after the woman.
The woman went into an office building. As the three of them were lifted into the air in an elevator, Danielle spoke again, “You promise you won’t leave me, right?”
Sebastian laughed. “No, Danielle. How many times do I have to tell you?”
She faced Sebastian. “But, you said it’s against the rules—you staying with me. What if you have to go back?”
“We already broke the rules once. I will not go back to Heaven without you. I love you.” He kissed her on the lips and they both smiled almost forgetting to step out of the elevator with the woman. “Besides, it wouldn’t be Heaven without you.” The two of them joined hands and resumed following the redhead down a crowed office hallway.
“I love you, too,” Danielle whispered and leaned her head on his shoulder.
The woman sat down at a desk in a cubical and Danielle’s eyes landed on her stomach. She could not wait for Paige to be born so she could watch out for her and care for her just like Sebastian had done for her.