The Final Angel

I hide behind my hair to stay away from the view. I can hear my mother’s frail breathing as she gulps down the air, only for her to find that she needs even more. I dare not look, as I’m afraid that a single glance will be the last. I’m afraid to even listen, but my head is forcing me to cling onto something, even if it pains me.

“S… Sarah?” I hear her forever tiring voice call out my name. I’m frozen in my seat, so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever stand again. She calls for me another time. I shudder, but refuse to look up. I know what is it come, but I don’t think I have the strength to say goodbye.

“Sarah, sweetheart, please…” My father’s comforting voice appeared just beside me, along with a reassuring hand. I can hear the hurt in his voice; can almost hear the tears forming. I shook my head defiantly.

“Come on, now, remember what we talked about?” He stroked the back of my head. I could feel myself falling towards him, desperate for the safety of his embrace… but nothing would be enough to make all of this fade away.

This morning, my father knelt down beside me, his hands on my shoulders, smiling so delicately it told me something was wrong. He told me about “The Final Angel”, as he had always done since I could remember, and how she was there to take care of us all once we had reached the end of this life.

I remember asking all sorts of questions all those years ago: “Why do we have to go?” “Is she an evil Angel?” “Is she coming for me?!” My father would always laugh and hug me, saying “No, sweetheart, she’s not evil; she’s just there to show us the way. She’s like a light in the dark, a lone flower in the dessert. She’s there to make sure we are safe”.

Safe… I think to myself over, and over, and over. How can she make sure we’re safe if she’s taking us away from those we love, allowing them to be alone forever.

“Sarah…” The pained voice of my mother came once more. Come on now, Sarah…  be brave… you’ll regret it if you don’t go over…

I force my hands away from my knees, and part my black hair, pushing both sides behind my ears.

Thank you.” I heard my father whisper in my ear as he gently kissed my cheek. I stood up, my legs trembling. I was surprised that my feet held my body up as I stepped forward. The steps were shaky, but they were brave.

“There’s my sweet girl.” My mother turned her head to the left to see me as she smiled weakly. She was so beautiful, even now. I tried to speak, but my voice croaked. “Shh, shh, don’t worry, I’m always here.” She was just able to lift her arms up to signal a hug. For a moment, I hesitated, finding myself stuck once more, but a word came to me yet again. Brave.

As quickly as my feet would move, I leapt forward into the arms of my mother, burying my head between her shoulder and neck. The tears finally emerged, and my, were they more defiant than I.

I could hear my mother shushing me, trying to calm me as he hugged me as tightly as she could, which wasn’t very tight at all. She was weak. She needed help… She needs taken care of…

My mother broke from the hug rather suddenly, as though she were sick of my presence.

“Don’t go…” I managed to say as I rubbed my already red eyes.

“I’m afraid I must.” She smiled at me, this time strongly as though nothing had even been wrong. My father held me from behind, wiping away the tears I had missed. “I’m proud of you.” He sniffed as his tears began to fall.

“Sarah,” My mother giggled, which took me by surprise. “Would you believe it if I told you she was here?” My mother grinned, pointing to nothing.

“Who’s here?” I asked, looking into the empty space.

“The Final Angel!” She beamed. “She’s come to take care of me.”

It was then that everything made sense. My mother wasn’t sad, she was happy. She knew that this wasn’t the end, so, perhaps she’ll be ok. After all, she’s not alone.

 

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Glass Houses

This short story was written for Wicked Young Writer Awards 2016, was I was placed in the top 20 of the country.

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“This one is Hillary. She lives on her own, but she doesn’t mind because she loves dancing in the snow.” Jordan explained to his mother for the fourth time this week. He tugged and tugged at her hand attentively to make sure she was paying attention.

“She’s an ice skater, mammy, did you know? Look at her skates!” He pointed out the sharp-looking blade at either end of the tall, silver woman’s feet. Her face was even less than a blank expression, but she was happy in her Glass House. She told Jordan she was!

“Oh, really?” His mother ruffled his short golden hair, smiling at him as she pretended she hadn’t been told this several times before.

“And this one is Adam and Chelsea. They’re best friends, but not boyfriend and girlfriend.” Jordan had to cover his mouth to hide his giggling. Adam and Chelsea were dressed in the same colour clothing: they both wore a thick red coat with black buttons running down the middle, black trousers and light brown boots with black laces. The only difference was that Adam’s hair was short, and Chelsea’s was long and tied up. Adam wore a blue striped woolly hat, while Chelsea wore a pink striped woolly hat, both had a fluffy ball attached to the top.

Jordan leant in to take a closer look at them, letting go of his mother’s hand so he could gaze into the dome. He didn’t like to shake the Snow Globes for fear of scaring the people who lived inside. He may have been only six, but he had a large heart. He loved to collect Snow Globes and share his own home with the residents he called “small people”. As his mother brought a new one home for him, he would carefully place it next to the latest Globe, and instinctively know both their name and story.

The latest addition to the family was Marvin and his Border Collie dog, Gavin. They sat together on a park bench and smiled as they watched snow drifted by freely.

“You guys must be cold!” He said to the pair.

But of all the Glass Houses that Jordan had, one of them was his favourite, and he moved on to inspect it closely, this time without dragging his mother over to visit; this globe had a shiny glass dome and a light blue base decorated in tiny specks of glitter of various colours, and in the centre, through the thick of the white, was a boy who stood alone with his hands deep in his pockets, his head down and hood up. His navy blue coat was exactly like the one Jordan wore almost every day, and he was around the same age. Jordan knew he was, because he just knew.

Jordan’s mother often found her son talking to the boy that Jordan didn’t name. He would often talk about his day at school, what was making him happy, what was making him sad, and most upsetting to his caring mother: how he wished he had friends – and he did this almost every night. However that night was different; she found Jordan kneeling on the carpet in the living room in his red pyjamas, sobbing his eyes out whilst hugging his favourite Snow Globe.

“What’s wrong, Jordan?!” His mother instinctively ran over and clutched Jordan close to her, wanting nothing more than to make it all better. But she couldn’t this time.

“I just wish they would wave back at me.” He wept as he slowly waved his tiny hand at the small boy inside of the glass house, who kept his hands in his pockets. Jordan thought the boy’s hands were even deeper in his pockets than before.

“Come on,” His mother began, wiping the tears away from Jordan’s soft cheeks. “Let’s go to bed. You can stay in my room.” She smiled down at him, and he smiled back. And for a moment, he felt better.

Jordan then carefully placed the small boy back in his place amongst the others, and left the room hand in hand with his mother, closing the door behind them to head off to sleep.

But just as Jordan had turned his back on the Snow Globes, the small boy lifted his head, took his right hand out of his pocket, and waved goodnight to Jordan just before the door clicked closed, just like all the residents of the Glass Houses had done every night since the first day they were brought home.