The Angel’s Broken Wings
by, Melissa R. Mendelson
It was Friday morning. My grandmother had to go out. She told me to stay inside and lock the door. She would only be gone for a little while. She was still adjusting to raising a child. She thought those days were over with, but she never expected to lose a child either. And I watched the car pull out of the driveway, knowing that she was crying silently to herself.
It was a warm February day. I sat on the couch, flipping through the channels. I still wasn’t comfortable going through the house or my room, which belonged to her. I settled on a cartoon that I used to love, and that’s when I heard it. Someone was crying, and I knew that it wasn’t my grandmother. The driveway was still empty, but it was coming from outside. And it sounded like a woman was crying.
I hurried toward the front door, but then I stopped. My grandmother had warned me to stay inside and lock the door. I should listen to her. I did not want to anger her, but I could still hear that crying. And it made me want to cry. It broke my heart, and there wasn’t much of my heart left.
The crying was coming from behind the house. I pushed open the black and white gate, and it creaked in protest, finally giving way. The ground was muddied with little patches of ice, and I nearly slipped as I walked further toward the sound. I should be wearing boots, but I was wearing sneakers instead. And I stepped into a huge puddle, soaking my pink and brown socks.
I peered around the house. A woman wearing a long, white gown was sitting on the ground. Her golden-brown hair fell around her shoulders. Her curls shined in the sun. Her skin was as white as the snow, and her face rested in her hands. And she sobbed, gasping in-between, and as I crept closer, I noticed large, red spots on the back of her shoulders. Did someone hurt her? I reached out toward her, touching red on her arm, and I realized that it was blood. And then I met her gaze, and my heart paused.
The woman grabbed me up into her arms, holding me close. She started to cry again, and I cried with her. We both cried for a very long time, and then we fell quiet. She gently let go of me, and then she began to search the ground as if she lost something. She didn’t tell me what it was, but I knew that it was important. And I searched with her, running around the yard looking for it. That’s when I found the large, white wings on the other side of the fence.
I raised my hand into the air. I pointed, and she followed my gaze. She hurried over to the broken wings, and as she did, she barely touched the ground. As she moved, she faded in and out of my sight. Then, she was holding her wings, and for a moment there, I thought that she would try to re-attach them. She knew that she couldn’t, and she held them in her arms as if they were her child. And she looked at me. She stared at me for a very long time, and her gaze shifted between sadness, hate and forgiveness. I had seen that same look on the faces of the survivors, but not my grandmother. She would never forgive or forget.
Nodding silently, the woman plucked a large, white feather from her wings. She knelt down and held it out toward me. She gestured with her hand that it was okay to come and take it, and I did. And when I got closer, she surprised me with a kiss on the top of the head. My mother used to kiss me like that, and I closed my eyes, almost feeling her around me. But when I opened my eyes, I was alone in the yard, and my grandmother had returned home. I hid the feather under my shirt, and I ran back out front toward where my grandmother was waiting for me. I expected her to scold me, punish me, but when she looked at me, she paused. And then tears ran down her face, but she smiled. And she held me tightly in her arms.