Two shaky hands pulled open the bottom shelf of a chipped painted drawer. Black and blue purpling bruises lined up the boney arms of a child as small fingers dug through the linen clothes un-neatly packed in the dresser.
[h/c][h/l] fell over bare shoulders, scared and banged up. The same nasty dark green and brown laced dress from the other day was slowly pulled over the head of a young girl, no older than eight years of age. Her [e/c] eyes dull and distant, scanned her room for her patched up messenger bag.
Pulling on the best shoes she has, [f/n] walked past her mother’s room as quietly as she could. She pushed over a chair to climb up on and reach for something to take with her to school. An apple, some bread, maybe she could make a sandwich.
The sound of a bottle crashing caused the small girl to jump and turn her head around. Then the thumping sound of someone’s body falling down the stairs caused her to leave the house as fast as she could. Fear ripped through her as he name was being screamed, cuss words and another sound of glass shattering followed.
As soon as [f/n] felt she was safe, her pace slowed down. She pulled the sleeves down as far as they could and tightened her hold on the strap of her bag. Children her age and older walked past her, talking with friends, laughing, and passing her by as if she weren’t there at all.
The school bell rang and all the children rushed to their classrooms and to their desks. [f/n] didn’t run as she climbed the steps, she slowly made her way to the classroom just in time before her teacher closed the door. She eyed [f/n] as she passed but kept her thoughts to herself.
[f/n] sat in her seat, eyes looking out the window, mind elsewhere. Her pencil in hand, aimlessly parking up her text book as the sound of her teacher’s voice was no more than a distant mumble.
The teacher passed by her desk, how she wanted to pull this young child aside and talk to her, reassure her that someone could be done but it was not her place to step into a families business. She had tried before, spoke to the principle but all that came of that was the label of crying wolf. Without a child’s corporation, no one could do anything. [f/n] had told the men that came to her house that nothing was wrong and that she had hurt herself playing and falling down as children do.
Blinking her thoughts away, [f/n] brought her gaze back from her world away from here and to the paper below her chin. Her hand clutched the pencil and she started drawing before she heard the recess bell ring.
Everyone piled out of the bricked building and went off to jump around the fenced in playground. [f/n] was the last to join the outside light. She walked down the steps and over to a small bench below a flowering tree.
Two hands came into her line of view and a small smile found its way across her lips as she looked up into familiar blue eyes. A young boy, her age, with light blonde hair combed back sat beside her. He smiled at her and gave a small wave before taking one of her hands in his.
[f/n] only had this one friend, this one person who made her forget the pain she felt aching her body or the hurt her memories kept replaying over and over. His name was Gabriel he told her and she responded with the question, ‘Like the angel?’
Gabriel had appeared as quickly as the wind to [f/n]. He was the only one to sit and talk to her and make her forget everything that happened to her. In a way, she felt like he was the light itself, warm and healing. She didn’t feel broken as she did with him around. His thick accent and kind smile was everything she needed to get by day after day.
After school was out, Gabriel and [f/n] walked through the park. He told her to pick flowers and he would show her something once she picked a good handful. The small girl nodded and did so, picking her favorite colors of flowers, taking them carefully into her hands before handing them over to her friend.
He turned from her and started working. She rocked back and forth on her heels, waiting to see what he was doing. Gabriel peeked over his shoulder and lifted one hand over his eyes, motioning her to close her eyes. With a giggle and nod, she did.
[f/n] felt something being placed on her head before hearing Gabriel’s soft voice tell her she could open them now. Her hands went up and pulled off a woven crown of flowers before looking at his smiling face. She kissed his cheek and took his hand, swinging it back and forth as the two walked back towards her house.
Later on that night, the two leaned in the window, talking and laughing. Gabriel told her the story of the stars once again. She loved hearing about the wondrous twinkling lights in the navy painted night sky. Just hearing him tell her of a world beyond any other, a place where there is no pain or suffering, a place she would go someday made her feel better. He always told her night after night, hang on a little longer and she would reply, ‘I will as long as you stay beside me.’
Tonight though, Gabriel looked at her once his story was done. He took in a deep breath and reached into the deep black pockets of his rode and pulled out a small pure white feather. When [f/n] asked what he was going to do, he let go of the feather and told her to watch it fly into the night wind. She did and smiled as it rose above their homes but then his voice drew her attention back.
“You need to be brave now [f/n]. Remember, I’m always with you.”
Before she could ask him what he meant, her mother slammed the door open yelling and grabbed ahold of [f/n]. She tried to ask what she did wrong but her moth hit her over and over with the beer bottle in her hand.
Gabriel closed his eyes tightly, his fingers entwined and squeezing each other as the sound of crying, of hitting, of glass breaking, the sound of an innocent child’s life being taken away by the very person who gave birth to them.
His form backed away from the window, his eyes slowly opening to catch the shadow of only one person across from his window. He made his way out of the house as sirens sounded, piercing the night. People came out, gathering around as the police and ambulance came because of a call from a neighbor that just couldn’t ignore it any longer.
But as the morning light hit the Earth for a new day, it was too late. Rain started to pour down from the sky and Gabriel turned away from the home. There was one more thing he had left to do, one last place to go.
Forms covered in black gathered, a man stood reading from a book beside a polished stone with a white angel carving of a girl placed beside it. Flowers lay beneath the stone, placed by people who waited too late to save a soul.
A small boy stood in the crowd, no tears he shed though, unlike the many here today. He bowed his head and turned, walking right through a person and when he reached the other side of the crowd he smiled.
A small girl with shimmering [e/c] eyes smiled at him, she wore a white dress with [f/c] flowers, her [h/c] bangs pinned back with a flowered crown placed on her head.
Gabriel ran up to her and took her hand, he lead [f/n] over a small hill where the light touched the Earth with its warming light. There, other children waited and once the two joined them, [f/n] laughed and followed. Going to the stars, going to a home, to a place she truly belonged.