Gadreel raised his sword of cerulean fire high above his head. He tightened his hands around the hilt as he prepared to strike the final blow. Time passed as he held still above his injured brother as the fighting around them roared to deafening heights.
“Strike down the Fallen,” roared Michael from somewhere nearby.
Gadreel looked up. All around him was death.
Simi, he thought as his gaze fell on Gabriel who just took Simi’s head with his own sword of fire.
“Erase them from the Heavens,” Gabriel cried out as he walked past the rolling head of their brethren with no regard.
Gadreel hands loosened around the hilt of his sword but when Gabriel met his gaze, he tightened his fingers again as he turned to look back down at Dantanian. The fallen angel was weak and wounded at Gadreel’s feet.
With one quick swing, Dantanian’s head would be separated from his body. Dantanian would be no more.
Why didn’t he escape to the desolate place with Lucifer and the others? Did he think his disobedience would be forgiven? Do he and the others not understand that our Father’s forgiveness is solely designed for his favored, the humans.
“Finish it, Gadreel,” Dantanian said as he coughed. Low light shined through the deep wounds in his chest and side.
Gadreel furrowed his brows as he flared his fingers out then regripped his sword. He’d bested his brother but searching inside himself, he could not find the desire to kill Dantanian. He knew the Fallen were wrong to question their Lord. They were not fit for the heavens. Yet, Gadreel didn’t think death was a suitable response.
Isn’t my questioning and hesitancy to carry out the orders given to me by my superiors just as unlawful? Is the penalty death?
Gadreel looked around. Headless bodies strewed the once pristine replica of the Garden of Eden landscape. It was once a place of peace and reflection. Now it will forever be marred by death and fratricide.
When his weary eyes met Gabriel’s, Gadreel saw the questions mounting in his commander’s eyes. He saw when Gabriel’s gaze hardened with resolve. He actually felt fear ripple through him when Gabriel’s lips thinned as he started toward them.
With a hint of a thought, the flame that encompassed Gadreel’s sword rescinded. A flick of his hand and the sword disappeared into the ether only to return when he needed it.
Moving as fast as he could, Gadreel whipped his robe out of the way, bent and lifted Dantanian over his shoulder, and made for the Pool of Province.
He risked his very existence as he ran with Dantanian in tow. Gadreel heard the calls to halt his progress. He dodged the expertly aimed daggers and arrows of his brethren who tried to stop him. To his surprise, some of the judged, the Fallen, stepped in front of some of the blows aimed at him and Dantanian.
As Gadreel jumped over the bodies of Fallen and Devoted, he knew that he would never again step foot in the Heavens. That once he jumped into the Pool of Province, a reflective gateway that allowed Angels to observe humans and crossover to the earth, without permission that the ability to cross back over or to any plain from this moment forth will be forever revoked.
“Noooo,” Dantanian cried out.
“It is the only way to save you,” Gadreel said as he ran up the stairs to the great pool. Something hit his back, causing him to stumble forward. Dantanian’s body fell forward, hitting the tepid pool first. Gadreel followed, sighing as the water that wasn’t wet covered him from head to toe.
Gadreel didn’t have to call out for his wings to expand. His large white feathered wings flared out instinctively to slow his descent from the heavens.
Scanning the sky, Gadreel searched for his brother but what he saw wasn’t an Angel soaring through the darkening skies. What he saw was a smoking body tumble rolling toward the earth. Gadreel positioned his wings back to dive but suddenly felt an intense debilitating pain with the movement.
Gadreel cried out as he pumped his smoking wings long enough to see that they were ablaze. There was only one thing to do. He dived toward Dantanian, tucking his wings back. When he slammed into his unconscious brother, Gadreel shook off the pain and extended his burning wings to slow them before slamming into the ocean.
Aniya Greer age 5
Her momma was crying. She tried to hide it but Aniya knew she was. Sometimes momma was sad because of daddy so, she cried. Like them times, momma didn’t want her to know.
Like them times, Aniya pretended not to know. She played and kept smiling instead. Her smiles always made momma feel better. At least that was what momma said.
“Can I play with you?”
Aniya stopped moving the car over the street map mat and looked up at the boy who stood over her. He had on clothes momma would frown at. Aniya knew because when her momma told her that they had to go to the hospital, she’d put on her favorite shorts and star top. Momma took her by the arm and pulled her back to her closet to put on warmer clothes.
“Summer clothes aren’t for winter weather,” momma said then sniffed as she wiped a tear from her face.
“Your momma let you wear shorts?” Aniya asked as she looked up at him.
“I don’t have a momma,” the boy said.
He sat down beside her. So close that if she wasn’t wearing the brown pants she hated, she would feel his leg on her skin.
“Momma says to be sorry for people who don’t have moms. I’m sorry to you.”
The boy smiled at her. Aniya looked at his smile, his round face, his big blue eyes and felt as if she was being hugged by the best warmest bear in the world. She liked bears.
Aniya held out one of the cars she held. There were only two.
The boy took the car then looked her directly in the eyes. “Thank you, Aniya.”
Frowning, she asked, “How do you know my name?”
The boy shrugged. “I don’t know. I just do.” He placed the car on the mat and started moving it around.
Mimicking him by raising and dropping her shoulders, Aniya switched the remaining car to her dominant right hand and began moving it around the mat. The two rolled the cars around, stopping at imaginary red lights, and rolling through fictional fast-food drive-thrus until Aniya heard her name.
“Aniya,” a voice called again.
Aniya looked over her shoulder at where her mom sat. She was standing now. A man in a long white coat, a woman wearing all white, and father Hannigan stood with her. But Father Hannigan was looking at Aniya.
“Aniya,” Father Hannigan said as he walked toward her and the boy. “Come on dear, your mother needs you to go with her.”
Aniya rolled to her knees then pushed to her feet. She left the car on the mat and bent to get it but decided she’d rather take something else with her instead of the car. “Can my friend come too?” she asked as she looked up at Father Hannigan.
“Aniya, I don’t…” Father Hannigan looked at the boy.
Aniya noticed the frown on father Hannigan’s face so she turned a bit so that she could see what he was looking at. When she turned, the boy was standing beside her but there was something else. He had her hand. Aniya hadn’t felt when he took it but she was happy he did.
They were friends.
Father Hannigan lowered himself in front of them. Aniya liked when he spoke to her eye to eye. He had pretty eyes. Like color of her dolls brown hair but lighter.
Aniya looked back at her new friend. She liked his eyes better. They were blue like the sky. She smiled and her friend smiled back.
“What’s your name son?” Father Hannigan asked.
“I’m not supposed to say,” her friend said.
“No?” Father Hannigan asked. “Well, I understand that. Can you tell me where your mother is?” Father Hannigan looked past them then back to the boy.
“His momma is dead,” Aniya offered. “But he knows we feel sorry for him.” She looked over her shoulder again. “Don’cha.”
Her friend nodded his head.
Just as Aniya turned back around to look at the Father, she was lifted into the air and wrapped in her momma’s arms. Momma was all out crying now and Aniya felt horrible. She hated this feeling. Today wasn’t like the others. She’d felt bad when her momma cried before…but it never felt this bad. Aniya felt like a light inside her was fading.
“Momma,” Aniya’s voice cracked. Aniya placed her hands on her momma’s cheeks. “Momma, don’t cry. It hurts my tummy when you cry.”
“We have to say goodbye to daddy, Aniya,” her momma said as she cried. “Can you be stronger than momma, baby.”
Aniya felt the warm tears that fell from her eyes but she made no noise. She was going to be strong. Momma always said she was stronger. They play a lot of games and Aniya knew she was stronger. Momma said so.
But her insides still hurt. Until…
Just like that, her insides were fine. They were better than fine. Aniya felt like she always felt right before she got to eat her favorite snack, cinnamon applesauce. As she thought of applesauce, she wondered if her friend like applesauce too.
Aniya looked down to ask when she saw that her friend was touching her leg. “Do you like applesauce?”
Aniya smiled. Then it occurred to her, where was daddy going? But she never got to ask because momma turned and walked away. When she did, the pain Aniya felt was back and it hurt worse now. Aniya screamed and kicked. She didn’t want to go. She didn’t want to say goodbye. She wanted to stay with her new friend and eat applesauce. But it had to have cinnamon because that was the best kind.
“I don’t want to go. Let me down,” she wailed and kick. Her momma almost lost hold of her but she didn’t care. She didn’t care about anything.
“Aniya,” he momma begged. “Please. This isn’t easy for me either. You are the stronger one. Be momma’s strong girl.”
“No. You win. I don’t want to be strong anymore.”
“Aniya Yuna Greer,” he mother screamed as she sat her on her feet.
Aniya made the crying noises now. She couldn’t hold them in. She sucked in the air the let out sob after sob. She sobbed until she felt that good feeling again.
She knew it was her friend doing now. He held her hand again. Aniya couldn’t even thank him because her lip was quivering so bad.
“Mrs. Greer,” Father Hannigan said, “I think this boy is a comfort to your Aniya. I think it best you let him tag along. I’ll go look for his father.”
“What?” her momma asked as she frowned down at them.
“I think the boy has a calming effect on Aniya. I will locate his father and let him know he is with you.”
“Can’t see how he would mind. He let the kid wander off and look how he’s dressed,” the nurse said as she walked up and stopped beside father Hannigan. “I’ll go get a warm blanket and some children’s pajamas. They’ll be better than his shorts and that short sleeve top.”
Nodding, but not looking too happy, Aniya’s mother took her hand and pulled her along.
Aniya gripped her friend’s hand tighter as they walked hand and hand. She counted the numbers beside the doors as she walked. 18…16…14…12…
“Don’t be scared.”
“I don’t want to be,” Aniya admitted. Her mother let go of her hand as she entered room 10 without her.
“Then don’t. I won’t let anything bad happen to you,” her friend said as he gently squeezed her hand.
Aniya heard her mother sobbing again but she didn’t want to look into the room.
“Aniya, come here,” her momma said, reaching a hand out to her. She cried as she spoke. “Daddy went to sleep and he isn’t going to wake up again. Leave your friend outside and come say goodbye.”
Aniya reluctantly let go of the boy’s hand and walked slowly into the room. When she got close enough, her mom reached for her hand. Aniya pulled back. The heavy weight of her momma’s words hit her hard.
Aniya eyes roamed past her momma’s hand to the metal bed rail to the white sheet that covered her daddy. She could see the side of his face. He looked like he was sleeping.
“Daddy,” Aniya whispered.
The pain was back and so much worst. Aniya started to moan and her body started to shake. She ran to her momma and buried her face in her momma’s legs. She didn’t see her friend enter the room but she did hear the doctor calling out. Aniya felt her momma move forward but when she turned to see what was happening, a bright light filled the room, making it hard to see.
When the light went away, Aniya had to blink a few times to focus. The machines in the room were going crazy, beeping and ringing. Her friend was beside her daddy’s bed. His hand was on Daddy’s arm.
“What the hell?” The doctor pulled her friend away from the bed and started looking over her daddy.
“Joe?” her momma cried out.
Forgotten and confused, Aniya backed away until she hit the wall. She didn’t even see that her friend was standing beside her. When she looked at him, he smiled.
“I don’t like it when you’re sad, Aniya. So, I made your dad better.”
Aniya wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed him tight. “Thank you.”
Copyright 2013. Shea Swain. All Rights Reserved.