The blood dripped off his knife as it pointed towards the snowy ground, the red liquid bouncing off of the earth, leaving small patches of a crimson pattern. His latest victim lay several feet away, already beginning to freeze in the cold. He wiped the blade on her shirt.
"Pity," he said aloud, tracing his now-clean knife along the victim's neck, digging deeper into the large gash, pushing more blood out of her mouth. "You're so pretty, child." The girl's amber-hazel eyes widened in fear at his sneer, her lips now a vibrant shade of blue from frostbite, blood loss, and the suffocation of her collapsed throat. "Y-you're in-sane," she choked out, her once bubbly voice now reduced to a raspy, nearly inaudible jumble of noise. The killer smiled, sitting in the snow next to her. "I know." The girl couldn't help but feel oddly comforted as he slipped his hand into her own with a gentle squeeze. "But I'm not above causing unnecessary pain. Emotionally, I mean," he added, seeing the girl's flawless eyebrows knit in confusion. "I'm not going to leave you here to die slowly alone."
Staying true to his promise, the man stayed with the small child, her head in his lap, his hands playing with her long, golden bronze hair until she looked up, her teary eyes meeting his own gray ones. "What is it, child?" Not a derogatory term, a genuine question, voice laced in curiosity and concern. The small girl, who's Caribbean tan skin had now turned nearly as pale as the snow itself, spoke with a voice that nearly broke the man's heart. "The s-snow is so p-pretty covered in blo-od." Her breath hitched, a fresh wave of glimmering blood oozing out of her neck. The man smiled, brushing her curls out of the claret nectar pooling on the ground beneath her. "I told you, love. I have long since told you that you would someday see the beauty of two colors colliding in the most extravagant way I could think. I promised you only the best, no?" The girl, through the pain that now throbbed dully as the negative temperature left her nearly frozen, her bare, blue-tinged flesh lying deep in the snow, smiled. Not a super bright smile that reached from ear to ear, but a small, genuinely happy smile. "You did, d-didn't you?" Tears fell down her face towards her ears, the trail freezing almost instantly. "I'm very sorry, love." He wiped her tears away before they froze in the crevices of her ears.
"Hey." He looked up in surprise at her comforting voice. Her dainty hands reached up to his face, wiping away tears that ran down his face. “It’s okay.” The man knew then, at that moment full of tears, blood, and snow, that he would never understand those two simple words, uttered so many times in day to day life that they begin to lose their meaning. That in itself begs the question: What do those words mean?
Perhaps some questions never find an answer.
The girl’s eyes tear away from mine, looking to the sky as the snow begins to fall. The life previously leaving her now burst forth with a power that I realized would take more than pain and death to conquer over. Her arm raises, heavy and weak, dainty fingers reaching towards a large, beautiful flake. By some miracle of nature, the powder catches on the tip of her long nails. She brings it down, close to her face to look at it.
“Perhaps I am like this snowflake.” I’m not sure what she means until she explains.
“No two flakes are the same, though all are beautiful in its own, limitless way. It is small, could easily be brushed aside, gone unnoticed. But people always look at it. They get close enough to disrupt its fall, trying to catch it, only for it to slip out of their grasp, falling the rest of the way or melting in their hands. It can touch you, surely. It clings to hair, branches, eyelashes. But the moment you try to touch it, it fades.”
“It also means,” I say as her voice fades, her eyelids fluttering. “That I will never see another like this one.” I brush my thumb over her pale cheek as she closes her eyes, breath becoming shallow. “I will never see another girl as beautiful or caring as you.” She looks up to me, all happiness and life gone from those gorgeous eyes, replaced only by only hollow curiosity.
“I will miss you, child.”
Her lips part, eyes shut. Her mouth is moving, but I cannot hear her. I read her lips as best I can.
‘I love you, father. Goodbye.’
The dam bursts.
Tears burst from my eyes at a rate I had never experienced. She took her last shuddering breath, muttered her last words, in my arms. What a cruel fate. Surely the world could've been worse to her. I am saving her from a world she never should have to face. My own feelings were a minor sacrifice to ease her inevitable suffrage.
I carefully stood up, making sure her head was in a comfortable position. I fold her hands over her stomach, placing a fully blossomed blood red rose in her fingers. She really could be asleep, I thought as I wiped away the dried blood from her neck, face, and hands, pushing fresh powder in place of the stained snow beneath her. Tucking my knife into it’s holder at my waist, I stand back to admire my beautiful daughter. The stresses of the world are already fading away from her, the small lines and wrinkles of stress now nothing but a smooth porcelain face. The now steady fall of snow catches in her features, sprinkling her hair and eyelashes, dotting her skin and clothes.
Now, I thought. Is the time for goodbyes. I dare not speak above a whisper, however, as though the abrupt noise could wake her from a light slumber. “Angelica…” I sigh, unsure of where to begin. “You were always there for me. It should have been the other way around: the father helping the daughter. I guess I tried to make it up to you with promises. You’re mother, bless her heart, would have loved to watch you grow up.
“I suppose I would have, as well. I was selfish, though. The world had already hurt you from what few things I thought I could protect you from.” I hear a dog barking, reminding me of all the times my sweet little girl would drag me to the pet shop window to look at the puppies and beg me to let her have one. I frown, remembering how I never let her have one, instead buying her a cat that ran away after just two weeks. She cried for days afterwards. “I let you grow up, get heartbroken, and feel pain.” I see her hugging the cat’s collar to her chest on the porch, tears tracing her young, beautiful face. “I should have let you be happy.” I see her throw the collar at a dog in anger as she sees the creature carrying her limp cat’s body in it’s jaws. The name tag popped off, the word ‘Bella’ soaring through the air, landing at my feet. I remember picking it up and tucking it in my pocket before lifting Angelica to my chest. “I should have given you the life you deserved.” She cried into my shirt, begging me to have a funeral for Bella. I told her we would, and that I would do whatever I could to get her back. She told me not to hurt the dog, only to put it down. My bullet went straight through its head; it dropped dead in less than a minute. I remember her crying as I brought home the cat and its collar. I’d spent all night building a small coffin for it and carving a large rock with its name. “You always had the biggest heart, the most forgiving smile. You were so kind.” We buried Bella in Precious Cemeteries Pet Cemetery less than a week later, Angelica insisting that we stop by the mountain side to pick flowers.
“Angel…” I let out a choked sob, falling to my knees, tossing my knife several feet to the side. “I’m so sorry, Angel. I just wanted to save you from this world. Please forgive me.” I feel as if my soul has left my body, all feelings suddenly washed away. It’s a strange feeling, because I remember being sad, as if it were a distant memory that brings a dull pain to think about. “I loved you.”
I look up to see a literal angel standing in front of me. She adorns a dress with a full length layered white skirt made of what can only be described as a tulle cloud. The top is lacy, accented with diamond beads, a thin layer of gold mesh layered under white. A small golden belt covered with diamonds and white flowers sits just below her ribs. I see a delicate cape falling out from under the belt, laying in a single sheet of white, gold lace accenting the sides, diamonds peppered across the whole thing. The dress had a single sleeve that lay toga-style over her left shoulder, the top of the shoulder having a small set of gold lace flowers, diamonds glittering in their centers, the excess fabric falling to her side. I see glittery diamond flats hiding under the long dress, the girls feet angled out slightly as she leaned forward ever so slightly as if she could fly away. And her wings. They took my breath away. They lay casually outstretched, somewhere between fully extended and pressed against her back, almost as if she were afraid to ruin the flawless gown or take up too much space. It didn’t matter though, her presence alone was enough to make anyone stare in admiration, wanting nothing more than to take in her beautiful sight. I look from her dainty hands, perfect skin, and long, flowing, golden-bronze hair that somehow matches her dress exactly to her face. It was only then that I realize the angel in front of me is my angel.
“Father.” Her voice is so forgiving yet entrapping, I feel as though I am forced to listen to nothing but her, to look at nothing but her, to feel nothing but her presence. “Father, wipe your tears, for there is no need to cry.” I obey her words as they push their way into my heart, leaving a dull ache, yearning nothing more than to hug her again. “Angelica, I have done you a horrible wrong. I have done something so unforgivable, even the Lord Himself does not forgive me. Why is it that you do?” Her red lips trace a sweet smile, her perfect dimples appearing on her full cheeks. “I forgive you, Father,” she said. “Because I love you. And I know you love me. You only did what you thought best, despite the sacrifice and risks involved. It is for that reason that I see you would stop at nothing to help and save those whom you love.” My eyes begin to water again, standing to my full height, ignoring the fact that I can no longer feel my knees.
“Oh, Angel.” She holds her arms out to me, her small golden halo glowing brighter. I immediately fall into her arms, careful not to hurt her wings, holding her as tightly as I dare. “I love you, my sweet child.” I feel her beginning to leave my arms, rising towards the Heavens. “I love you, too, Father. I shall see you in a better life.” She spread her wings, pressed a small kiss to my forehead, a flew towards the Heavens. “Goodbye, Father,” I hear her say as the last wisps of her billowing dress and feathery wings disappear behind a cloud. I stare into the same spot in the sky long after the cloud and my beautiful daughter are gone before standing again, wiping the last of my tears and whispering my final goodbye.
They say that you die twice, once when you stop breathing and once when someone says your name for the last time. I think of my little Angelica everyday, mumbling prayers to her and my Heavenly Father every morning, noon, and night. I will see to keeping her alive until the end of my days. I will die praying to the Lord my God, asking, begging even, to see Angel again. I will sit at my darling’s grave every day and tell her stories of my life and her younger years. I will tell her about her mother. I will make her afterlife the best I can possibly make it.
And someday, I will see her again.
Author Notes: Hope you enjoyed! :)