Illustrated Poems and Short Stories

  • Open Your Eyes
  • Creation of the Vessel
     
    Skin soaked in stardust
    Constellations condensed into chords of muscle
    A celestial sea swimming with nebulous dreams
    Galaxies of faces and memories
    Speckled with stars like freckles
     
    Walking the world after such a long while
    Wings out
    Stretched like sunlight
    Hundreds of years old
    Towering and terrifying
    Never thought of returning
    Twenty-two years new
    Small and shy
     
    All eyes blinking like twinkling
    Far off lights
    And a first breath through black hole lungs
    Finally living
    In lifelong stories
  • ----
  • To Know Someone Biblically
     
    You held on to my salt-soaked shoulders tightly,
                 breathing whispers that we
    are engaging
                 in something so ancient and
    filled with thousands of years of
                 sticky human memories coated
    with honey sentimentalities
                 so golden they are almost
    holy in their history
                 in dusty books on wooden shelves where we learned that the
    wrath caused by lies is softened when we use our bruised lips
                 more gently
  • ----
  • Snarling Hunger
  • Teeth
     
                You wonder when the pain will stop –if this is how you will die, bleeding on the damp forest floor. It smells metallic and your fingers are sticky and warm. Your heart races, your breath is short and hot. You want to squeeze your eyes shut, but they are wide with panic, in case it comes back.
                You don’t know what it was –just sharp white teeth and yellow eyes piercing the black veil of night like the moon, sinking into your soft flesh. You thought it was an animal, but its malicious intent was too precise, too controlled. The wound is jagged.
                Your eyes burn, your teeth ache fiercely, throbbing in your jaw, and you are acutely aware of the blood rushing in your veins –it sounds like the ocean, it’s hot like the anger of the thing that bit you.
                You itch, and you burn for hours or years or seconds, and then the blood is gone and so is the pain –you wonder if you just woke up from a nightmare. But it couldn’t have been a nightmare because you haven’t woken up, and your fingers are still pressed into the soft dirt of the ground, bits of broken leaves working their way under your fingernails, which are suddenly much longer than you remember, and the stench of rotting bark stings your nostrils.
                You lick your teeth and they cut your tongue. There is a snarling hunger in the pit of your stomach, so you get up and slouch away. The dark forest is in much sharper focus than you remember. It’s tinted yellow.
  • ----
  • Jaime's Star
  • Honey

                Jaime stumbled in the dark, lost, his little legs tired. He knew he should have come home when his mother called for him, but the small wood behind their backyard enraptured his young heart and he could not pull away. Fat tears blurred his vision, making it even harder to see in the dark of night, the tops of tall trees blocking the light of the moon and stars. He ambled blindly, tripping over roots, scraping his cheek on a low branch, until he found a clearing. Looking up, he saw a cluster of stars burning like honey under the black sky. He followed it, and it led him home.
                When Jaime was ten, he often played in the woods, and looked up at his star.
                “Don’t worry,” he said to the flecks of gold in the sky, “my parents are yelling at each other, so they don’t know I’m gone.”
               
                His mother cleaned up without crying three years later, the kitchen in their small home littered with the shards of ceramic dinnerware. Jaime’s father’s things were gone, as was he. The young boy went outside to lay his blond head in the cool grass and quietly look up at the sky.
                Jaime’s star burned as brightly as it had the first night he found it.  He fell asleep under it, like a gossamer blanket.
                When Jaime was fifteen he played his guitar in his backyard for a girl with curly hair and soft skin, and she told him he had flecks of honey in his green eyes, like stars. Feeling oddly intruded upon, Jaime broke up with her.
                Jaime didn’t go outside much when he was sixteen.
                A year and a half later, he laid out on a warm summer night and apologized to the star, which seemed duller than he remembered, for staying away so long.
                The whole next week he spent each evening conversing with the star, and the cluster was flaring again by the seventh night.
                After he went to bed, he had a dream about a boy with gold eyes.
                “You are very sweet,” the boy said, “like honey, and I missed you.”
                Jaime woke up, brows knitted in confusion, but a soft feeling settled into his bones.
                By eighteen, Jaime was moving into his college dorm room on a crisp fall day. He’d never been so far from his mother, and he focused on unpacking his things to soothe his itching anxiety. He set his guitar in the corner –a bit battered, but he couldn’t bring himself to replace it –folded the quilt his mother made him when he was five secretly under the comforter of his small bed, stacked a few second-hand Vonnegut novels on his desk, and tucked a crumpled and folded square of several printed poems between them. A few packets of tea and a small jar of honey were placed next to the books. The small closet was populated with plain, soft sweaters and a few new, stiff t-shirts and jeans.
                Nerves thrummed in Jaime’s blood again once he was fully unpacked. His fingers twitched, wanting to reach out to his phone to call his mother, but he stopped, not wanting her to think he couldn’t handle being on his own on his first day. Tomorrow he’d call, let her know he’d settled in, and definitely not tell her that he had a crushing fear of being alone for the next four years. 
                He went to bed early, and as Jaime turned over, he was glad he had pushed his bed against the window, for he saw his star glowing reassuringly in the sky, and he fell asleep in its thick and comforting embrace, a small smile on his lips.
                Jaime’s fears on his first day had turned out to be irrational, and he did not actually spend the next four years completely alone. He cut his unruly hair to a more controlled length, so it could be styled to resemble a reasonably fashionable young adult with his life decently put together, and in his sophomore year he started dating a lively boy from the baseball team with delightfully strong arms.
                By the end of his junior year, Jaime started feeling strangely distanced from the boy, though he stayed with him. Increased studying for his English literature degree became Jaime’s excuse for not seeing him, as did studying astronomy, which he had felt compelled to take as many classes as possible in. Devouring information about the stars sometimes even distracted him from English, but he was too drawn to it to stop.
                By the beginning of his senior year, he’d been presented with a honey-gold ring, and being settled down with a husband before he was even twenty-two sounded terrifying and cloying and he didn’t even know what excuse sputtered out of his mouth, but he remembered his feet aching as they connected with the pavement, his heart beating like a hummingbird’s, and the sharp click of the lock on his apartment door; thankfully he moved in to his own place months before, because he didn’t need anyone to witness his hot tears of guilt.
                All at once he was lost in the forest at seven, his father was walking out at thirteen, he was breaking up with a girl at fifteen, and he was turning down a ring from a boy he thought he had loved at twenty-one. His mouth tasted like salt and he couldn’t breathe through his dripping, stuffed nose. He fell asleep with his head feeling full of cotton.
                He dreamt that he was looking up at his gold stars, but they were fading, and there was a boy with matching eyes lying next to him, stroking his hair gently with long fingers, telling Jaime not to feel guilty because he was really very sweet, like honey, even if he couldn’t see it.
                Studying alone was how Jaime spent most of his senior year. Looking up at his cluster of stars each night comforted him, but he noticed they were starting to fade. A constricting squeeze gripped inside his chest. Stars didn’t last forever, he knew, but he didn’t think he’d ever see one die out in his lifetime, much less one he considered his own.
                It was happening so quickly it seemed unnatural. Jaime thought maybe he was being paranoid, but he found an article about how unusually fast a star cluster was burning out, accompanied by a picture. The image was closer than his human eyes would ever be able to see, but it felt familiar. His breath hitched in wonder. The cluster swirled in an inviting cocoon, shades of gold and amber punctuating thick black and setting the cold space ablaze. It pulsed, and looked alive, like it had a beating heart. Though, Jaime feared, not for much longer.
                By the end of his senior year the cluster was barely a watery-looking smudge in the sky. He graduated feeling hollow.
                Four years later, brown and red leaves crunched under his feet and the chilly wind was turning his cheeks a brilliant pink. He had just moved in to a new town for a new job, and was wandering an unfamiliar park. He had barely unpacked his apartment. It was his first day here, and yet he had deemed it a good idea to explore the strange territory in the dark of night to clear his mind.  The panic of being lost started to prick at him like hundreds of tiny needles, proving the idea had been pointless. He pulled out his phone, quickly typing his new address into his GPS, and sighed in relief as a route glowed to life.
                A high-pitched beep startled him in the middle of studying the map, and the screen went black. He grunted in frustration –of course he would forget to charge his phone before wandering around.
                He looked up at the inky sky, but he knew his star wasn’t there to lead him to his new home; it had vanished three nights ago. The pit of his stomach felt empty, as though someone close to him had died.
                Walking up the sidewalk, he spotted a young man on a park bench, illuminated by a lamppost. As Jaime neared him, he could see the man was wearing a thick white sweater, and had dark skin and darker hair that somehow managed to look simultaneously silky and beyond the help of a brush. His ears, and several other odd places on his body –collarbones, neck, knuckles –were pierced with various shining yellow and amber crystals. His head was ducked, and there was a soft glow coming from his hands –the screen of a phone. Jaime hoped the stranger would be kind and pitying enough to let him borrow it to look up a map. The man’s skin shimmered subtly under the light of the lamp, Jaime couldn’t help noticing, his embarrassment at his own thoughts causing his wind-rosy cheeks to redden further.
                Jaime cleared his throat somewhat awkwardly. “Hey, uh, excuse me?” He swallowed, aware his voice sounded a bit rough, and hoped it didn’t intimidate the man.  “I know this is weird and awkward but uh, I just moved here, and my phone died, and now I’m kinda, you know –”
                “Lost?” The stranger finally lifted his dark head, a teasing smile on his lips. “That seems to happen to you quite a bit, Jaime.”
                Lips parted, the corners twitching into a disbelieving, pleased smile, Jaime was rendered unable to reply as he stared at the man’s glittering, honey-colored eyes.
  • ----
  • Michael's Ghost
  • Remains

               Jude couldn’t get used to living alone, didn’t want to. He still slept on one side of the bed, still expected long, deft fingers to brush his stomach as a sharp nose buried itself in his hair and soft puffs of breath landed on his neck in low chuckles as he opened his dresser drawer in the morning. He kept making two dinners, always too much food. He scolded himself for wasting the money and the food, but he couldn’t stop. Didn’t know what he was expecting though, it wasn’t as if it would change anything. Wishing Michael was going to come home for dinner again wouldn’t make him show up in the doorway.
                He supposed he could take time off work, but as the weeks went by he grew weary of the house. He was alone, but he didn’t feel alone, and the sensation was unsettling, like white noise. He could have sworn that grand piano still played in the evenings, just for a few moments, snippets of the long concerts he used to hear after dinner, but now hushed and cut short like a retracted whisper. Thought he heard that light snickering he was so fond of every time he did something clumsy –bumped a counter, tripped over that one chipped wood panel in the floor. Not even the darkness felt completely empty, and sometimes he woke up to it; dark hair, dark eyes, dark freckles. But then he blinked, and it was just dark shadows. Must have been dreaming, or wishing, and he went back to sleep.
                He’d stopped counting how many nights he made two dinners without thinking, and huffed, frustrated with himself and his mistakes, about to throw it out, plate and all, when Michael showed up.
                It took him several long moments of staring, open mouthed, to get out, “You’re back.”
                “It’s not like I ever went very far. And I heard you missed me. So, I’m here.” A small smile, green eyes crinkling behind the thick black frames of his glasses in that mildly amused way of his. A bit annoying, but endearing.
                “Sit?”
                “Of course. But you know I can’t eat this.”
                Always too much food.
                Jude coaxed him into bed after dinner, like he always did, but it was different now, quieter. In the morning, he was gone, and his side of the bed was cold even though it still smelled like apples and cinnamon and paper. Nothing but the battered Steinbeck, bookmarked in the middle, Michael had left on the nightstand weeks ago. When he opened his dresser he caught a glimpse of something silver; the ring Jude had given him last Christmas.
                He kept showing up, every night, always at dinner, always reminding him that he couldn’t eat the food, and never stayed.
                “Why don’t you stay?”
                “I can’t.”
                “All your things are still here.”
                “I don’t need them anymore. You know that.” He crossed an arm over his stomach and frowned.
                “I have your ring.”
                The air was cold and he left early, like the breath in his lungs.
                The summer settled into fall, and the darkness crept in earlier and stayed later, and so did he. Michael even played the piano after dinner, like he used to. Occasionally pretended he didn’t want to, just to hear it requested.
                “Sometimes I think you only fell in love with me for free living room concerts.”
                “Of course I didn’t.” A pause, a mischievous grin. “I fell in love with you for your freckles, obviously.” He traced his fingers over them, lightly, as though he was afraid he’d accidentally brush them away.
                Three days later Jude was in the kitchen, crying in front of a half-cooked dinner. Michael, stunned, took a moment to react, reached out with those elegant fingers to brush the tears away. But it didn’t help, couldn’t help, and he knew it.
                “At work,” Jude sniffed, “they keep asking me how I am. Keep telling me I should move, that it’d be best.”
                “It would be.”
                “But you can’t follow me.”
                “I know. But you shouldn’t stay here. You shouldn’t be keeping all my things, either. What will the neighbors think? Awfully strange.”
                “I can’t.”
                “They’re just things.”
                Michael stared at his plate, head bowed. “You know this is wrong.”
                Silence, a fork scraping against a knife.
                Louder, “You know this is wrong.”
                “Then why are you still here?”
                “I told you, because you missed me.”
                “But you live here.”
                “No, I don’t. I don’t live here. You know that.”
                Jude turned his head as Michael rose from the table. Something glinted in the corner of his eye; it was snowing outside, and cold inside.
                Days passed, and it almost seemed normal. Michael had moved to wrap his arms around him and brush his fingers against Jude’s stomach, like he used to, and his touch felt like a feather made of snow. As he turned his face in towards Jude’s neck, he saw the ring in the drawer, backed away, hunched, wincing.
                “You can’t keep me here; it’s not fair.”
                “I’m not keeping you here.”
                “Yes, you are. You know that.”
                “I just missed you. I don’t know what you want me to do about that.”
                A glare, and the mirror broke. Jude spent the rest of the morning picking the shards off the floor, wondering if Michael would come back this time. He cut his finger. Probably should have worn gloves, or used a broom, he thought, staring at the blood on the glass.
                Michael did come back, that night, and watched Jude bake a pie, slouching, wishing he could he help.
                Christmas was approaching, and when they got up from the dinner table to walk to the piano, Michael stopped, mid-hallway. He stood, frozen, leaning heavily, and the air grew cold around him.
                “What’s wrong?”
                “I can’t. I can’t stay here. You can’t keep me here.”
                “What are you talking about?”
                “I can feel it, you know. I can still feel it.” He crossed his arms over his stomach.
                “Turn around.”
                Michael complied, and Jude walked forward, hovering hands like a wisp above his arms.
                “Please, let me see again. Please. I didn’t know. Please.” A nudge.
                He hesitated, but lowered his arms. A glimpse of silver, blood on the glass. This was the part that stayed. The windshield, still smashed inside him. His stomach was torn, gaping, the glass embedded, angry and relentless.
                “I should never have asked you to come home early for dinner. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened.”
                “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not your fault.”
                “I’m sorry. I didn’t think you could feel anything at all.”
                “Only this. Nothing else.”
                “I am so, so sorry.” Choked back tears.
                He closed his eyes and remembered it like fog. The road had felt like it was coated in molasses as he drove to the hospital. He’d seen Michael, too late, stiff and bloody. It was cold, and he remembers the silver, the glass was still there, and he took Michael’s ring reverently from his finger. It all looked like shadows. Never sorted it out, never wanted to.
                He gently traced the gruesome wound, and it was still strange, to see it but not feel the sharp glass or slick blood, or smell its acrid scent. The skin around it was grey and pale, like the rest of him.
                “How do I fix it?”
                He tapped the silver ring on his finger, identical to the one in the dresser drawer.
                On Christmas morning, Jude burned the ring over the grave. The wind smelled like apples and cinnamon and paper as it brushed his lips.
  • ----
  • Fallen
  • We Have Fallen
     
    Wings burning like
    Acid in your throat, the air tastes acrid
    Bitter like the dirt you’re beginning to feel
    Gritty and grinding against your skin
    Everything is dimmer now that you’re not sunlit from within
     
    You made a minor adjustment
    Like tectonic plates shifting
    Though you thought
    There was a difference between tremors
    Small and subtle and almost unnoticeable
    And earthquakes
    Disastrous and leaving you cracked
    Open for someone to see inside
     
    You are no longer so grand like
    Thousands of yellow-white lights in a purple sky
    But don’t worry, because they have made an art
    Out of repairing things
    You are new, sensitive with sparking nerves, raw
    Material is never useless
     
  • ----
  • Anya's Angel
  • Guardian Angel

                Anya shuffled into her kitchen, grey eyes half-lidded and crusted over from sleep. Opening her mouth wide to yawn, she stretched her arms upwards, not noticing her hand bump the large pot, dislodging it from where it hung, and sending it careening towards her skull. She only started at the sound of a quiet clink, and looked up, her eyes fully open and awake, to see a large, clawed hand holding the metal pot delicately in its bony fingers, inches from her head.
                She blinked several times, mouth opening and closing as she contemplated her almost-fate. “Oh. Thanks.”
                A large face (faces? She could never figure out which it was) peered down at her, and to anyone else would look impassive, but Anya knew it was the creature’s “unimpressed” look.
                “Oh, don’t give me that. I know, I know, I’ll be more careful. Sorry.” The roll of her eyes betrayed her attempt at sincerity.
                The scent of bacon, eggs, and coffee filled the kitchen after the exchange, and Anya sat down to eat, the creature staring at her from across the small wooden table.
                “It’s weird when you stare at me when I’m eating.” She pouted. “Can you eat? I’d feel less weird if you ate.”
                The creature’s three faces flickered in and out of view (existence?), and it remained silent. Not that it was being rude, Anya had just placed a strict “no talking” policy upon it after its first attempt at speech, which was really for everyone’s general safety. The first, last, and only time it had spoken was when it had first appeared in Anya’s house, and she asked its name. Large rows of teeth that looked like mountains were revealed as it opened its mouth (mouths?), and a high-pitched wail punctuated the air, rattling her house, and setting several electronic appliances aflame. She woke a couple hours later on the hardwood floor with a small trickle of blood trailing from her ear, and a persistent ringing noise in her head. After she finally gathered the strength to pick herself up, she told it that it should probably not try that again; after all, she knew it was a guardian angel, and therefore her safety should be its top priority.
                Now, she determined that its expression was entirely unamused, probably still annoyed with her carelessness less than half an hour earlier, but Anya didn’t let that deter her. She pushed the plate towards her angel, not caring how ridiculous it probably was, considering the thing was who knows how many feet tall (at least fifteen, but it was honestly so hard to see, constantly blurring and flickering, shifting between semi-transparent and solid), so her leftovers probably looked like crumbs.
                “Just eat it, please.” She tapped her slipper-clad foot impatiently.
                The angel reached forward with a light grey hand, heavy claws picking up the plate with surprising delicacy, and tipped the contents into one of its mouths. Its faces flickered again, (two animals, one human, she’d worked that much out), and the large green eyes of its middle face were thoughtful. Actually, its eyes always looked endless in their depths, as though it was constantly contemplating the mysteries of the universe, but Anya liked to think it was intrigued by bacon and eggs in particular. There was a soft noise, like a wind chime, as its wings fluttered, crystalline feathers rustling against each other, which Anya had decided meant it was happy.
                “See?” She clucked her tongue. “I told you. I knew you’d like it. You can’t not like bacon.”
                Biking to work at the greenhouse, other pedestrians simply walked through or around the large creature trailing behind Anya. No one reacted to it, or the many others like it that littered the streets in hulking shapes –from what Anya had figured out, someone could only see the angels if they had one. Those who could see them were mostly content to let the others be and not speak of them.
                Ahead on the sidewalk, a man in a sub-par suit stepped into the street with his eyes fixed on his watch, red-faced and shouting into his cell phone, and was hit by a large delivery truck, eliciting several horrified screams from those around him, and causing numerous cars to skid to a stop, tires squealing. Looking down upon the man was a creature even taller than the one following Anya, its face absent of eyes but its wings covered with them, and her breakfast soured in her stomach at the sight of the stranger’s innards strewn across the pavement, the bright red blood pooling into the storm drain as she remembered that the creatures didn’t just visit to protect –they were there to judge. Her angel lowered one of its massive hands in front of Anya’s face.
                At the greenhouse, Anya gave each plant special care, checking to make sure every brightly colored bunch of petals and leaves were healthy. She helped each customer with a friendly smile, and assured that parents could shop in peace by distracting their children with teaching them how some carnations can have up to forty petals, or how lavender smells the strongest when it first blooms, or how pinching mums will help them grow fuller.
                The guardian angel lumbered between the rows of plants. When the creature had first followed Anya to work weeks ago, she had been afraid that it would accidentally crush them, but it was surprisingly delicate, and also seemed to be able to somehow shift in and out of the material plane, just as dense as it was ghost-like. Occasionally it lowered its great face(s) to sniff curiously, timing it with the opening and closing of the door as customers entered and exited, so the air it moved could be easily mistaken for the usual flow of customers. It wasn’t until she caught the creature sniffing one of their advertisements with a photograph of tulips on it that she realized it couldn’t actually smell any of the flowers, and had to cover her mouth to stifle her snorting giggles.
                The next night, Anya sat in her garden before bed, after she had watered it and ensured it hadn’t been infiltrated by pests, drinking hot chocolate and admiring the sparkling sky. A larger, empty ceramic mug sat beside her. It had also been filled with hot chocolate, and she had offered it to the angel, who had inspected it as though it was some fascinating piece of technology before raising it to one of its faces, tilting it back and opening its enormous mouth.
                “No –be careful, it’s still -”
                But the creature tipped the piping liquid into its mouth before she could say “hot,” gulping it all in a single sip, unfazed.
                Her eyes widened. “Wow. Well, that would have definitely not been fun if you were a person.”
                The creature tilted all three heads, the beast somehow managing to resemble a confused puppy.
                “I’m guessing you don’t feel temperature. Can you even taste anything?”
                The creature moved its head(s) from side to side like Anya had taught it, creating a breeze that ruffled her hair. Anya thought it was sweet of it to eat everything she offered, despite apparently garnishing no nourishment or enjoyment, but she didn’t know how to vocalize that, so she let it be.
                She was approaching the thick, grainy dregs of the cocoa powder at the bottom of her mug, listening to the crickets chirp, when she felt something nudging lightly at her cheek. She glanced down to see one of the angel’s alarmingly large, sharp talons prodding at her face with great care, paying mind not to cut her.
                “What?” she asked, and the creature pointed to the sky. “Yeah, the stars are nice. That’s why I like living out here.”
                It shook its flickering heads and waved a blurry hand towards the sky.
                “Are you trying to tell me that’s where you’re from?”
                A strong gust blew hair in her face, and Anya had the strange idea that it was sighing in frustration. It prodded her cheek carefully again, then brushed over her nose and poked her shoulders –all the places where she was speckled with golden-brown freckles, and then pointed to the sky again.
                “Oh.” She laughed. “Are you saying my freckles remind you of stars?”
                Its flickering wings twitched in excitement, and there was the tinkling sound of chimes.
                “Skin stars. That’s nice. I like that. A lot better than what some other people say about them.”
                The next day when her shift was over, Anya biked to the hospital with her weekly donation of flowers. The nurses always let her hand-deliver them –sometimes, Anya was the only visitor the patients received. As she walked down the halls, several spots of rainbow light dotted the wall across from a patient’s open door. Curious, she peeked inside to find a frail-looking elderly woman with sparse graying hair, and hunched over her bedside was a skeletal looking creature, almost reaching the ceiling despite how far it was doubled over, its skin ablaze, wings obscuring its feet and hands, and two large rings the color and texture of amethyst, inlaid with large, yellow, human-like eyes circling its head, or where Anya guessed its head was. The creature did not look up from its charge, and Anya swore she heard the faint sound of howling with each minute movement it made. She laid her flower arrangement on the nightstand next to the woman’s bed, and she did not stir, too weak to notice Anya’s presence. The angel reached out with the tip of one of its large wings, as red as the fire alighting its skin, and the woman flat lined. Anya backed away as the nurses rushed in, signaled by the loud beeping and oblivious to the angel, and before Anya turned she saw its many eyes flash from yellow to blue, and its fire burned less brightly.
                Once they were back in her own small home, Anya turned to the creature behind her and asked, “Do you get attached to us?”
                It stared at her until she became slightly unnerved and wondered if she’d somehow offended it.
                Halfway through cycling to work the next morning, the creature grabbed her handlebars, causing her to lose balance and fall, contents of her lunch bag and purse spilling onto the sidewalk, the pink lipgloss container and the plastic teal case of her phone making a distinct cracking noise against the pavement. She pursed her lips and blew rogue strands of red hair out of her face, ready to chastise the creature despite risking that everyone around her would think she was out of her mind, talking to air, when she saw a car whip through a stop sign at the cross walk she had been approaching.
                She mouthed “thank you,” with wide eyes, and stopped to pick up her things, lamenting the squashed state of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the creature slumped, as if ashamed that it couldn’t help her gather her spilled food, wallet, and keys.
                That night, Anya asked, “Do you even sleep?”
                The creature stared at her blankly.
                “Well, you should try it. Or at least lay down or something. It’s kind of weird that you just stand there all the time.”
                She gathered several spare pillows and blankets from the linen closet and arranged them on the floor in an empty corner of her room, realizing the whole set up was embarrassingly small for such a massive being, hoping it would recognize the sentiment.
                “Go on.” She waved her hand towards the soft pile. “Try it.”
                She climbed into bed and watched as the creature gingerly sat down, flickered sections of its bony body in and out to avoid knocking over wooden dressers and shelves. It poked at the pillows and blankets with its long fingers, and Anya snuggled into her comforter. The creature watched her settle for a few moments, and then arranged itself to squish one of its faces against a pillow.
                Soft, warm light and blurred shapes filled Anya’s vision as she slowly opened her eyes. Her angel stood above her, in much clearer focus than she’d ever seen. It did, indeed, have three faces –a human with large eyes, which were now blue rather than green, a wide mouth, no nose, and a flat chin, a golden lion, and a deep brown ox. Above its head was the source of the light, a bright, triangular beam floating in the air. The angel seemed larger than ever, more solid –it did not flicker, and the crystals of its wings looked sharp enough to cut, and she blinked up at him calmly. For all its terrifying appearance, Anya thought the angel looked a bit melancholy. It didn’t hold the same curiosity it once had in her house, and seemed oddly still, until it turned it heads and nodded, once, toward the window.
                Anya rose, for her angel had never led her anywhere before, always content to trail behind her and observe with curiosity, and she didn’t bother to change out of her pajamas or even splash water on her face. She opened her kitchen door and stepped into her garden.
                Vast and endless, thriving, and greener than she ever thought possible. Sunflowers that seemed to literally reach for the sun, bright blue forget-me-nots stretching into soft fields of tall grass, vibrant daisies hugging the perimeter of her house as though they were trying to keep it warm, fresh lavender and lilacs arcing above her head. She bent down to touch the blanket of soft snowdrops, her gaze roaming over the tall bushes of hydrangeas and thick rows of hyacinths.
                She turned to find her angel behind her, and it lowered its great heads, pressing the human face to her forehead in what she thought must be its attempt at a kiss. Anya’s lips quirked into a small smile, and with a soft breeze and the sound of wind chimes, the creature was gone.
  • Goodbye Kiss