Unexpected Angel by BookKitty
Winner, December 2015 KidPub Writing Contest
After all the holiday presents are opened, there remains one small box. No one remembered wrapping it, or having seen it before, but it has your name on it. Not sure if it is a joke, you slowly unwrap the gift and open the box. Inside is...
Hold on, let's backtrack a bit.
Your name is Kane. You are nineteen years old, having graduated from high school last year. You no longer live with your family, but they want you to come visit them for the Christmas season. Grandma's house is only a 45 minute drive towards the mountains from your small apartment, so you decide to make the trip. You wonder what to pack. Since you only moved out a few months ago, you're still adjusting to life all on your own. A phone vibrates in your jeans pocket. It's Mom, calling you.
"Hey Mom, I was just thinking of calling you. What's up?"
"I was wondering if you had decided on whether you were going to come or not. Aunt Mariah's coming and bringing her kids, and I know you haven't seen them for a while--"
"I'll come, Mom."
You can hear the smile in her voice.
"Thanks, Kane. That means a lot. Make sure to pack an extra winter jacket, it's supposed to be below freezing almost every night up here. I gotta go, love ya!"
She hangs up. You slide your phone back into your jeans. Standing up from the table, you clear your breakfast dishes. Your roommate's' dishes are still in the sink from last night, but you decide to leave them there. She can do them later. Grabbing a suitcase from on top of the shelf in the coat closet, you take a quick glance in the mirror. Your brown, short, spiky hair is still gelled, not a hair out of place. Perfect. You grin at your reflection.
The suitcase still contains a few gum wrappers from the last time you used it. You push them out of the way and pack your neatly folded clothes inside. You check each item off your mental checklist. Two pairs of pants? Check. A couple long sleeve shirts? Also check. Winter jackets? Check. You put your toiletries bag on top and close the suitcase, which locks with a satisfying click. You check your watch. You got this watch on your 17th birthday from Grandfather, who got it for his 17th, and it is your most prized possession. Emeralds circle the face, and it has a gold clasp which sparkles in the light.
The silver car is parked in the shared driveway, the frost on the doors and windows glimmering in the sunlight. You shiver as you walk towards it. You reach into your back pocket for your keychain and fumble with frozen fingers to find the right key. Slamming it into the ignition, you start your car and take a minute to rub your hands together to warm them up. Billowing clouds of steam come out of your mouth and nose when you breathe. You carefully back out of the driveway.
The highway is seems mostly clear of ice and snow, though there are occasionally patches of black ice that are hardly visible until you're upon them. The radio murmurs in fuzzy static. A sign comes up on the highway, reading "Damerel: 16 miles". As you swivel your head to look at it, a blue minivan comes sliding on the ice from the lane next to you, slamming into your side. You slam on the brakes, the tires screeching. A sudden flash blinds you temporarily and you feel a sharp pain from the seatbelt digging into your neck. Everything starts getting blurry, and darkness closes off your vision like window blinds.
"Hey. Hey, are you awake? Hello?" Gentle hands prod your side. Your eyes feel sticky as you open them. Your heartbeat, deep and rhythmic, echoes in your brain. You manage to nod weakly. As you become more aware of your surroundings, you realize you are lying on the concrete, pebbles burrowed into your back. There seems to be no cars on the highway anymore. There isn't anyone shouting, no ambulance, nothing. There is only your silver car and the minivan, completely totaled. Glass is everywhere. You wonder where the other driver is.
A woman is kneeling next to you. There seems to be a aura around her, like a pulsating, white light. You turn your head to look at her. Her long hair billows around her in an auburn cloud. She is wearing a sky blue dress that conforms to her body but has flowing sleeves. The woman looks....ethereal. She smiles at you.
"Who are you?" You ask, bewildered.
"That's for you to decide. But some may call me...an angel."
You attempt to scoff and turn away at the concept, but your neck responds with an aching pain. You wince. Suddenly, you remember where you need to be. Panic sets over you.
"I need to be at Grandma's! They're probably waiting for me!" you exclaim, struggling to sit up. When you do, you get a sudden rush of blood to your brain and your head throbs. You look around. It is tranquil and silent.
"I can help you with that. But I need a favor." the woman says quietly. You are skeptical, but respond anyway.
"How can you help me?"
"I can transport you there in a matter of seconds. Angel perks." she says, completely serious. You can hardly believe this, but since there seems to be no other option, you decide to believe her. Or at least...pretend you do.
"What do you need from me?" you respond, standing up, brushing off your jeans. You unconsciously bring your hand up to run it through your hair. There are microscopic pieces of glass in it, that feel gritty against your fingers. You shake your hair out.
"Tell me a story." She walks towards you until she is standing right in front of you, and looks deeply into your eyes. Hers are a deep chocolate brown, a few shades darker than her skin. You laugh at her, but wince again. You feel as if you got punched in the gut, and your abdomen aches.
"Are you serious? That's all?"
"Yes. I know it seems crazy, but you need to trust me. It's kind of your only option." A smirk creeps across her face.
"What the heck, it's worth a shot. Tell me your name first, and I'll start the story."
"Amanda." Childhood memories start flooding back of another little girl by the same name that you used to know long ago, but you push them away.
"That's not a very angel-sounding name."
She shrugs. "I get that a lot."
An awkward silence ensues.
"Oh, right." you say, remembering you need to tell your story, and sit down. You motion for her to do so as well.
"Once upon a time, there was a boy by the name of Kane who lived in a little white house with his sister, brother, and parents. He was the youngest child, so he was easily forgotten and learned to be quite independent from a young age. Kane's parents were often gone on business trips, and his brother and sister were much older than him and only talked to him to boss him around so there was nobody to play with. One day, he met a little girl named Amanda."
The woman, looking down at her bare feet, smiled at this part.
"She had curly orange hair, and was always covered in scratches and bruises from playing in the alleyways. Kane was very intrigued by this girl, as she seemed to be an orphan and never had to follow any rules. Being a naive 8 year old child, he thought this sounded like a great life. He formed a friendship with Amanda and they would have great adventures in the alleys, playing with the stray cats and making stone forts. One day, Kane went to meet Amanda. But she was not there. And she did not appear the next day, or the next. Eventually, Kane stopped going to the alley. He grew up, and only occasionally though of her when someone mentioned the name Amanda. Kane never told anyone else this story, until now."
You don't know how that story came out of you. Your original plan was just to tell a very short story, like The Tortoise and The Hare or Goldilocks. You sit, dumbfounded, on the concrete. It is still completely silent on the highway. Finally, Amanda stands up, seeming satisfied. Her hand is outstretched to you, and you grab it to help yourself up. She looks at you wistfully.
"That was a lovely story, Kane. I didn't expect that of you."
"Thanks, I....didn't either."
"Ready to go?" she asks, putting her hands on your shoulders. You nod. Blue smoke starts swirling around the both of you, and the highway and Amanda slowly fade from view. The last thing you see is the woman's brown eyes, beginning to fill with joyful tears.
You are now in your car in the driveway of your Grandma's house. Your neck no longer hurts, and your car seems to be perfectly intact. The heater purrs and the radio is now singing a faint Christmas song. You step out of your car and look around. You can't believe you are here. It must have been a dream. You only got 3 hours of sleep last night, after all, so you probably feel asleep at the wheel when you parked in the driveway. You nod at yourself. That must be it.
Snow squeaks underneath your boots as you walk up the steps. A rush of warm air welcomes you as you step in the house. The tips of your ears pulse with heat from the temperature change. Mom comes shuffling towards you, earrings swinging.
"Kane! Just in time! Come help carve the ham, there wasn't enough muscle before to do it." She chuckles and steps forward to give you a hug. You grin. You're so glad you made it.
After all the holiday presents are opened, there remains one small box. No one remembered wrapping it, or having seen it before, but it has your name on it. Not sure if it is a joke, you slowly unwrap the gift and open the box. Inside is a watch. There are emeralds around the face of the clock, and as you pick it up, the gold clasp shines in the light. You wonder how this looks exactly like your grandfather's watch, and glance at your wrist. It's gone. This has to be it. There is a note still in the box. You unfold it to read;
"Did you forget something?
your childhood friend, Amanda.
P.S: I’m so happy I found you again..."