I woke up the next day feeling awful. My head throbbed with an exhausted headache, my hands hurt from where I had clung to the roof the night before, and my back ached God knows why. The alarm didn’t help; its high pitched screeching felt like needles in my brain, until I finally managed to shut it up by knocking it onto the floor, where it hastily spilled out two rechargeable batteries. Annoyed, I slit open my left eye and groaned.
I imagined this was what it felt like to have a hangover.
I was tempted to stay in bed and pretend to be ill, but knew that my sister wouldn’t buy it, and even if she did, she’s a sadist as well as the bane of my existence; she’d just drag me there screaming if I gave her the excuse.
So instead of letting the haze of exhaustion pull me under, I flung my bedding away and got dressed for school. School… just another form of Hell.
I emerged from the house twenty minutes later looking slightly less ruffled but still a little rough. To be honest, I didn’t give a damn about my appearance right then; Caleb was nowhere in sight. I moved further back onto the road to give myself a better view of the roof. Nothing. Not a pure white feather in sight. I didn’t fool myself for a second by thinking ‘yay, I’m going to live’, just shrugged and assumed he’d catch up to me at some point. If he didn’t show up after school then… either today was the day or I really had escaped from my crappy fate. Though I seriously doubted that.
I found Beth waiting for me at the school gates like usual, her blonde hair glossy and uniform immaculate. She was looking particularly perky today, but when I asked her what had her in such a good mood, she played innocent. I guessed it was something to do with the guy she had recently started dating, considering I couldn’t think of anything else, and just went along with it. Beth got like this a lot. One moment she was cool and reserved; the next she couldn’t stop smiling out her joy.
Throughout the early stages of the day, I tried to not let her good mood rub off on me; but failed. What can I say? Beth’s happiness really is infectious. And despite my growing worry that Caleb wasn’t in sight, I found myself smiling when the bell rang for the end of the school day.
I met Beth at the school gates like usual, but when I saw her, I realised instantly that something was wrong. She looked the same; her expression was bright and cheerful, but the air around her had somehow turned… darker. The smile on her face faltered as she saw me pause, but I shook my head and the moment was gone.
Her usual golden aura of cheer returned as she beamed. “I have something to tell you,” she announced, as if I hadn’t already guessed, before grabbing my hand and pulling me through the rusty gates. The road beyond was filled with beeping cars and rushing students, but she paid no heed and pulled me forwards. Something white caught my eye behind me and I span, only to find the sea of grey jumpers undisturbed. The hand around my wrist pulled.
“What is it?” I asked as she gave the passing cars an impatient glare when we were forced to wait on the path before crossing. I’d never seen her so animated about a guy before, and it had me surprised, to say the least.
“I don’t want to say it here…” she said, glancing around at the crowd. I sighed, but decided not to push her. If Beth didn’t want to do something, then she didn’t. End of. But that didn’t make me any less curios. What could Damen do that would get her so happy? He hadn’t proposed to her, had he? I shoved the ridiculous thought away with a smirk. Yeah, right. Maybe my Beth-reading skills were out of wack; maybe it wasn’t about Damen after all. But in that case, what it really was lay beyond even my guessing skills.
The hand, still warm about my wrist, pulled before I had the chance to collect myself. It didn’t seem right; we hadn’t waited long enough, and the shape getting rapidly closer in my peripheral vision… it didn’t see us; the parked cars hiding our approach, and it was going way too fast down a well-crossed road right next to a high school… it had no hope of braking in time.
I probably could have dived out of the way in time, had I not been preoccupied in pushing Beth, still blissfully ignorant of her surroundings, out of the way when the bright yellow convertible came speeding right into us.
The car bonnet smashed into my legs, and sent my head sharply against something else just as hard; the windshield. Something cracked, and the world flashed black.
Unfortunately, I didn’t fully lose consciousness for more than a couple of seconds, and I emerged from the dark to find myself sprawled on the cold concrete, paralysed and in unbearable pain. My vision cleared to find Beth crouched not a metre away, apparently unharmed, her face a mask of guilt and resolve. I tried to speak, to make sure she was okay, but my throat wouldn’t work, and I just stared. It was Beth’s face, but those solemn eyes… as gold as the metal. He had tricked me. It wasn’t Beth; it was Caleb. And no one but me could see him. To everyone else, it would look like I’d run alone into the path of the car. He was a good actor, I’d give him that.
I gazed at the Angel as his illusion dissipated, to leave him crouched there like a mourning God, his beauty painful as something red started to well on the cold, concrete ground around me to soak my shirt. He looked… upset. I blinked through my daze, uncomprehending, as I registered his perfect, pale face, twisted into a pained grimace. People started to crowd around me, shouting and screaming, but I ignored them all, my focus only on my Angel’s eyes. Their gold depths were filled with echoed torture, guilt, but most of all; apology.
Closing my eyes, I sighed my last breath, thinking for the last time that if only he were an emotionless bastard, then maybe I could hate him.
And then my world blazed into light.