I let out a breath and take my usual place beside the hospital bed. She is there, motionless. Of course. She hasn’t moved in months. She may never move again.
Still she is beautiful. My black angel, my savior. Her wings hang about, resting behind her gracefully. How it must pain her, I think, to be trapped down here when she could be up there, up above us all.
The tiny machine gives a beep. My heart leaps in my chest. She still doesn’t stir.
Somehow, this angel will be freed. I can’t bear to see her like this. Somehow I must save her before it’s too late. Before the darkness consumes her forever.
“So we grew together, like to a double cherry, seeming parted; but yet a union in partition, two lovely cherries on one stem,” I read aloud the words of Helena to the entirety of Mr. Narson’s class, not that any of them were listening anyway.
“Wonderful, Mr. Barrett,” the teacher cooed. I never even glanced up.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Arielle in the desk beside me, her black hair pushed carelessly behind her ear as she leaned over her book. A smile graced her lips.
I was greatly anticipating our trip to California that was coming up. Spending a weekend away from the city would be the perfect time to clear my mind, to move on. Arielle’s presence would certainly be a perk.
After class I parted ways with her, making my way down the hall to my A.P. art class with Miss Talleman. It was Friday, which meant it was silent drawing day. Yes, she really called it that.
I dropped into my spot at one of the four-people tables, pulling out my supplies. Immediately I began to work.
I‘d dreamt of the angel again, in her dark glory, her ever-long slumber. If only I could make sense of it all. If only I knew why she haunted my sub-conscious mind, why she refused to let me go.
My hand moved over the paper, sketching out the first few lines- a girl, sitting under the stars, make-up stained tears pouring down her face. Every line came naturally, without a moment of hesitation.
For now I pushed the dreams aside. For now I would focus on Arielle. In time, I hoped, things would begin to make sense.
At the end of the day, I bid farewell to Arielle and hailed a cab towards the manor. It wasn’t really that far, but it was getting so much colder out now.
I pulled the black pea coat Cordelia had given me tighter around my shoulders as climbed into the cab.
“Fifth and ____,” I said as I settled back into the seat. I thought the cabbie muttered something under his breath about ‘damn rich people’ but I couldn’t be sure.
I watched out my window as streets of New York passed by. Despite two and a half months here this city was still a mystery to me.
The mystery was part of the intrigue, though. There was so much history woven into these streets. Blood had been spilled in these streets.
Even my blood.
Like every time one of these stray thoughts crossed my cluttered mind, I glanced down at the asymmetrical patterns etched into my skin, winding up my wrists and beyond.
I wondered if Arielle had noticed them (how could you not?! cried the voice in my head), and if she thought any less of me for it. But, I mean, we all had a past, didn’t we? And we all did things we wished we could take back, didn’t we?
It was hard for me to imagine Arielle with regrets. To me, she was perfection. But there was something in her steely eyes that screamed pain, sorrow, misery. Beneath her desirable demeanor there were secrets buried. I had a feeling Arielle worked very hard to make sure no one ever found them.
The next two weeks moved at a comfortable pace. It was a refreshing change from the usual blur of life. For the first time in what felt like ages, I was able to pause and breathe and consider the things in my life I was grateful for.
School was a drag, as usual, with the exception of English class. Though I would never admit it, I really was beginning to enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was much, much more tolerable than Romeo and Juliet, in my opinion at least. And I definitely didn’t mind Griffin and my study sessions at the mansion either. I didn’t see much of my mother or Mark, which was typical, although I found myself away from our small apartment almost as much as they were.
I put the wedding out of my mind as much as possible, even if Griffin took it upon himself to remind me constantly. Mostly I just acted ecstatic when in reality I couldn’t have cared less. I did a pretty decent job of not thinking about it most of the time, though.
Which is probably why on the Thursday before Cordelia, Griffin and I were supposed to leave for California, I found myself locked in my room, Lamb of God blaring from my outdated C.D. player, throwing random clothes into a tiny suitcase. I was trying to bring as little as possible, choosing exactly two shirts- one for Saturday, one for Sunday- the first black skirt I happened to find, and all the other necessities.
And then I turned to the hanger that was suspended from the hook on the back of my door. I had protested like crazy when Cordelia had insisted on purchasing the dress, but to no prevail.
It was a gorgeous gown, though, and it did look good on me. It was a royal purple, floor-length halter that fit tightly until the waist, where it flared out. It was a little too flashy for my taste, but perhaps flashy was exactly what I needed for my dad to notice me.
That, or a neon sign…
As soon as I was done with clothes, I grabbed an even smaller toiletry bag and headed off to the bathroom.
I nearly had a heart-attack when I rounded the corner into the bathroom only to find my mom in there. When had she gotten home? I hadn’t heard her come in…
“You don’t have to go, Arielle,” she said nonchalantly, her deadly tone perfectly calm, which made it all the more lethal. She was leaning in towards the mirror to check her complexion for any blackheads. “No one’s making you.”
“Yeah, no one except my orphaned boyfriend,” I wanted to shout back. But then my mom would know about Griffin. And that was the last thing I needed to deal with at the moment.
So instead I just said, “Really, mom, I’m excited.”
She nodded mechanically, turning away from the mirror and leaving me alone in the bathroom with all my lies.