He was the definition of juxtaposition. This whole time, he has been both the LORD and The Adversary, the lamb and the serpent. He fought so hard to save me, a mislead child, and raise me to my salvation and a place with his Heavenly Host, all the while damning me to an eternity of fire and suffering. Give and take, give and take. He was an unmerciful God and a merciful demon, all at once, and with one clawed hand he took hold of my heart as another hand, soft and loving, caressed my face with gentle care. While one thumb traced my cheekbone with all the attention of a lover, those malicious claws ripped my forsaken heart from my very chest and squeezed with all the hate of a wronged brother. My blood dripped from between those unearthly fingers as his lips tasted mine.
My salvation.
Just as soon as he now owned what he thought his, he let me go and stole my pathetic, half-beating heart to add to an ever-growing collection. His hands would touch me, one hand burning and scratching and the other cooling and soft as water. His teeth bit into my flesh to taste my blood, and only once he had learned to memorize every valley and every mountain of my body and my mind did that angel leave me. Free falling through a cutting, icy wind he left me, and went along his merry way as I floundered to my demise. He had not even the good nature to sew to my back wings of tar and feathers.
My body hit the ground, but I felt no pain. I was a hollow shell, a hallowed hall, that no longer housed a holy spirit he could attain.
And so this is what I have become–a monster, an unholy being with his name carved into my flesh. One moment I am a calming breeze, and the next I am a raging storm. I love and I hate. I hurt and I don’t. I fall and I fly.
I walk by all the places he is said to be seen every day. I want to force him to see, force him to look at what he has turned me into–a shade, a phantom dark as night and sleek as smoke he cannot touch. An empty temple of a long-forgotten deity, standing piteously lonely and full of vengeful natures, full up of songs and hymns that speak his name in words unknown to him. And he does–that demon, he hurts, but not so much as I. Somewhere, in his care, my faint heart still beats at a distance from me, long since forgotten on a shelf in his mind. He has filled it with pins, ripped it into pieces with his hands, made it a play-thing he may have once found amusement in.
But the monster that came to live under his bed would like to have it back, to cram back into her ragged chest that she may breath again, and become the very thing he fears the most. For it is her turn to conquer him.


Angel–Part 3: Salvation

The butterflies in my stomach had been dead for a very long time. Whether I had drowned them in alcohol or shot them with pills, I don’t know. But my life had become an empty void, a routine sickness I battled day in and day out. All companionship those little butterflies had provided me died along with them, and I had never felt so alone. My depression set in and controlled every ounce of my being–parasitic, it fed off my energy and whispered destructive thoughts to me. It reminded me how silent my phone was, it reminded me the rent was due, it reminded me how much I hated my job, it told me that food and sleep were unimportant and that I was worth nothing, just like my ex lover had said.
Life had become a nightmare I had accepted that I would not awaken from.
My phone began to ring. I checked the clock–8:30. Perhaps a little late to be ringing some one, I thought. I answered anyway and was greeted with the upbeat and enthusiastic voice of my best friend.

“Hey, August 1st what are you doing?”

I paused. “Working.”

“Book some days off–we’re going to Toronto.”
I shook my head. What? I didn’t understand.

“Look, Ray, you’ve been completely depressed since like November. You need a vacation, and I have the perfect thing to pick you back up. Book the days off.”

And before I could reply, she had hung up. Stunned, I placed the phone down and slid into bed, resolving to deal with my new found situation in the morning.
My boss fought me on the vacation days, but in the end I won the time. Overall I’d only be gone half a week, and even she could see I was too run down to continue working without a more substantial break. I wasn’t sure what my friend had in mind, but I elected to trust her on the whim.
I couldn’t feel how tired I was when we settled into our airplane seats. There was no difference to me in feeling from one day to the next–the lack of sleep and the stress of airport security had little impact on me at this point. Beside me, my friend wriggled into her seat as I clasped my hands and closed my eyes. I dozed into a restless sleep, awakened by her prodding at 7000 feet above the ground. She gave me a mischievous smile, and finally revealed her secret to me–the purpose of our trip, she said, was to see an up-and-coming band live in their first global tour. I had never heard of them, and questioned why she would take me to see a band performing across the country when I had never heard of them. Her eyes twinkled.
“Because you need them.”
Passing me a pair of headphones, she claimed I had another five hours to grow accustomed to their music. So I did.
My time in Toronto lifted my spirits. Being free of worries and stresses greatly liberated my mind from the phantom of my ex lover and the knives his words had become. By the time the night of the concert came, I found to my surprise I was excited despite my lack of knowledge of the band. It was true that their music had connected with me on a certain level, and yes had even brought me to tears–but irregardless of my excitement I couldn’t help but feel slightly out of place standing in the line of hyperactive teenaged girls waiting for the stadium doors to open. When they did, my friend and I found ourselves pushed up against metal barriers right before the stage on the floor, elbowed by shoving fangirls and getting our faces cut by posters pleading for a marriage proposal. In truth I was slightly sickened by the actions of the younger crowd around me–so head over heels for a group of men older than them. I had to pause and remind myself that I was not much older than many of them myself, and as the music started to play the screams grew louder and I found myself smiling, reconciling with myself in the familiar feeling of a buzzing concert.
As I turned my eyes up to the stage, I stopped dead. My eyes surveyed the long spiky hair, the kind face, the strong hands grasping the guitar. I grabbed my friends hand and, panicked, whispered “I know him.”
And green eyes met blue, and I could feel the words he was about to sing stick in his throat.

Angel–Part 2: The Encounter

I was rushing. Power walking down the crowded downtown streets, my mind a whirlwind tornado of thoughts plummeting through the imagined red darkness of the brain. Constant voices recited my thoughts at a rapid rate, making it impossible for me to focus on any tangible thing.

A box.
Dried flowers.
Expos t-shirt, card, letters, poems.

I squeezed my eyes, hands shoved deep in my pockets.

“You aren’t beautiful, you’ve got fucked problems, I just felt bad for you.”

And even after all this time, I felt tears sting the back of my eyes.

“I gave you everything, you’re selfish and abusive and I deserve more.”

But all I did was my best. My level best. The accusations cut deeper every time I remember them. The truths I told him he threw back at me as accusations in a blinding rage.
I know I am better off alone. But the ghost of my ex lover haunts me every day. I see him in the teenagers kissing sweetly when they think no one is watching, I see him in the sunsets, in sushi restaurants, in gardens along the streets, in tiny apartments atop downtown businesses. As if I could, I tried to squeeze my eyes tighter together. I picked up speed and rounded a corner.
And I found myself staring up at the sky suddenly, a ringing in my ears and my head pounding. I stared past the concerned face that presented itself, his voice lost in the ones floating through my head. I didn’t look at him until his hands cupped my face. My eyes met his–greenish grey, in a warm and kind face with full lips and long spiky hair. For a moment I had to pause, and process the angel before me.
His voice is what sold me. His accent kissed my ears and snapped me from my trance. I only nodded in response to his question. He wrapped his arms around me and lifted me to my feet as if I weighed nothing. As he drew himself up to his full height, my eyes widened and he laughed, gesturing towards a café across the street. The recognition hit me in the stomach like a ton of bricks–the man from my dreams.
I waited to awake. And waited. Waited. But I didn’t.
As we began walking, the grating sound of a cell phone ring tone interrupted the smile forming on his lips. Pausing, he pulled the phone from his pocket and answered. Faintly I heard a voice on the other end, sounding none too happy. The man drew a hand down his face and rolled his eyes slightly–I recognized my welcome by his side had been overstayed, and with a slight wave and a smile I took me leave. His eyes lingered on me and he waved back after hesitating for a moment, and with a sad smile I could see even in his eyes I turned and walked down the sidewalk, the beginnings of winter winds biting through my thin university jacket as autumn leaves tumbled about my feet.
As I lay awake that night in my tiny apartment, I couldn’t help but wonder if he had watched me leave, or if he had turned away himself.

Angel–Part 1: The Dream

Waking up with butterflies in you stomach is either a good or a bad feeling.
Waking up with you heart stopped, brain frozen up, and those butterflies beating against your stomach in a failed yet desperate attempt to breech it is the bad kind of feeling.
Especially when it happens again.
And again.
And again.
In one night.

It was the same dream, over and over. Standing on the street, I watch the body plummet to the ground. And as it hits, there’s a moment. A lull in time where everything stops. And I run towards it, pushing my way through the growing crowd yelling my justification–“he’s my boyfriend, he’s my boyfriend”–until I reach him, cradle his head in my arms. Wipe the blood from his face and settle into a quiet desperation, rocking to and fro. I stroke his face and sing, something he has never heard me do, and I close his staring eyes and gaping lips. I kiss his forehead and rise, watching up above me for his shape standing at the edge of the rooftop. But he was here already, he jumped and hit the ground before I could have caught him.
And it was the proceedings following this that after which I would awake.

In one I would run, unable to be caught, around the building and up the stairs, and infinite number of stairs, until I reached the roof. My friends would scream up at me from the ground as I stood at the edge, and then I would jump. Face first, welcoming the ground with open arms. And I’d crash into it. Awake.
In another, everyone below would catch me and pitifully I would live. Awake.
In another, I would subject myself to an anxiety attack. I’d run, find somewhere secluded, and sit with my face or ears covered. And eventually a man would find me, and take pity on me. He’d lead me to a trailer nearby where he would let me sleep in his bed, so I could deal with the pain alone and safe. His friends would question it, but accept it openly and not at all unkindly. And I would become one of them. A façade became my face to the public, some strange and new girl celebrity with a sad and unknown past and a fake name. She’d sing about a boy who fell from a rooftop, but no one knew his name. Every day middle class girls from around the planet would send her hate messages for becoming friends with “their boys.” But they didn’t realize that those boys were the ones who helped her deal with the loss of the boy that fell from the rooftop. And eventually she fell into an awkward phase that exists between losing and finding some one. The man who had found her shared something special with her and they grew attached to one another. When she had nightmares of her lost love falling, he would wake and slide off the trailer couch and into the bed that used to belong to him, all cold feet and tousled hair and white boxers, and wrap his arm around her frail, skinny body with his nose pressed to her neck. In the morning she would wake before him, and make breakfast for all four of them in an attempt to make up for the burden she thought she had become. She cleaned and she cooked and she shopped as her old self on their behalf, so that they could avoid the adoring crowds and loving and obsessing teenaged girls. She allowed herself to join in on their music practices, and she would help the man dye and redye his hair for the fans. And eventually something grew, as it was bound to. In the days he spent watching her grow and recover he came to admire her, and he could no longer look away. One day she caught him, her lips inches from his. A brief moment saw them leaning to kiss, but their hearts failed to take over and the moment was lost.

With heart pounding and blood rushing and her boyfriend alive and that beautiful man with the smiles like stars that helped a broken girl fix herself singing a song about forgetting, and another about being at the mercy of another, and another about wanting to let go far far away from her, she awoke.
I wanted to wake up with amnesia and forget, because I didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t–or what I wanted to be true or not, for that matter.