A dying angel and a dying girl

A+dying+angel+and+a+dying+girl

Javier Cruz

Sari was dying. 

Angels weren’t supposed to die this young. Not until they’d fulfilled their purpose. Which wasn’t supposed to happen until they’d completed many missions, touched many lives. And anyway, Sari hadn’t fulfilled her purpose. 

But nonetheless, she was fading. Fading and she’d never had a chance to glow. 

They told her she needed to rest. Spend her remaining days in the sprawling gardens, basking in the life around her. 

But she couldn’t just rest. 

She was so young. She’d gone nowhere. Touched no one. Done nothing at all in fact. Never even had the chance to grasp at her purpose. 

So she begged. Begged and pleaded and nearly surrendered her dignity. 

“We simply can’t send you on a mission,” they said. “You’re too close to dying. You could die on the job, and that’s a risk we can’t take.” 

But she needed a chance to find her purpose. She needed to accomplish something, anything, before she faded completely, becoming a mere thread in the tapestry of time. 

When they relented, they assigned her to a broken young girl who was also dying. 

Annalise wasn’t dying in the way most die. Most people die because their bodies are dying. Annalise was dying because her soul was dying. 

***

When Sari slipped through the window the very first night, she found Annalise on her bed, head on her knees, arms circled around like a protective force field, shaking with uncontrolled sobs and tremors. 

Like a fairy, light and fluttery, Sari settled beside Annalise, and as gently as possible, draped a white-clothed arm around the girl’s frail form. Annalise flinched momentarily at the touch, but she didn’t stop trembling, and the heaving cries didn’t cease. 

“What’s wrong my darling?” Sari hummed, her voice like soft bird chirps amidst the darkness of the room. 

The sobbing stilled for a moment, allowing a harrowed whisper to escape into the silence. 

“I can’t make them go away.” 

The way the girl uttered the words sent chills down Sari’s spine. But she fought to remain still, a steady presence for her new charge. 

“Can’t make what go away?” 

“The people—” A choked inhale, a desperate attempt at continuing to survive. “The— the voices—,” but she devolved into body-wracking sobs once more. 

So that first night, Sari simply held Annalise. And she made a promise—a promise she wasn’t sure she could keep.

“I won’t leave. I’ll stay for you. Until you don’t need me anymore.” 

***

They sat in the dim lamplight, two fading souls, cross-legged on a patchwork quilt, playing a game of cards. Annalise dropped a card, and they both watched it drift to the bed, a small simplicity that approaching death could rarely afford. 

“Tell me again. Why did you come to me?” 

Sari had answered this question many times since that first night, but she calmly answered it once again. 

“It wasn’t up to me. They just send us angels to the people who need them the most. And you needed an angel, so they sent me to you.”

Annalise set her cards down gently, contemplating. “What was it like back there, heaven or wherever?”

“It was beautiful. But it was lonely. Other angels were always being sent on missions. And I wasn’t because I was too young. And I didn’t feel like I had any purpose at all.”

Annalise nodded. “How long until you go back?”

That was the question, wasn’t it? Sari didn’t have an answer to that one. She never had. And she wasn’t entirely sure she’d be going back at all. 

“I’ll be here as long as you need me. But not forever. Someday, you won’t need me anymore. And that’s when I’ll go.” And she could only hope that was true. That she wouldn’t fade away before Annalise was ready. 

And so there they were. A dying girl and a dying angel. Playing games. Becoming friends.

And some nights would be like that first one. Annalise could see people and hear voices, and she would sob into the angel’s arms, unsure if she’d ever be okay again. But less and less were the nights like that. More and more, Annalise could fall asleep without the demons coming to visit. More and more, they were just an angel and a girl, dying together. 

More and more, they were just an angel and a girl, dying together. ”

Except, maybe Annalise was beginning to die just a little less.

***

But Sari was still dying. Every day, the fading was worse, her glow was less, and everything hurt a bit more. Her time was nearing with every minute that she kept fighting a battle that was too much for her. A battle she was losing.

But Annalise was getting better. She was more ready than she’d been, and yet possibly not ready enough.

But Sari was reaching a point where it no longer mattered—a point where even if Annalise wasn’t ready, she couldn’t stay any longer.

That last night, Sari could barely hold herself up as they sat on the bed playing a game of War. Every movement was a pain as they played the game in silence, both of them scared to acknowledge what they both knew.

“You’re dying.” Annalise finally broke the stillness with the realization that she had been holding onto for days now.

Sari looked up, with great effort, and the answer was in her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Annalise whispered. “You stayed here for me, didn’t you? You shouldn’t have. But you did.” Gently, she placed all of her cards onto the familiar pastel bedspread. “I’m giving you permission to go now. On your own time. I’m okay now. You made me okay. Now you need to be okay. Maybe you can’t be healed in the way you healed me, I think I can see that, but whatever comes next is better. So go. Please. You’ve done so much already.” She inhaled carefully. “I love you.”

A single tear trailed down Sari’s nearly translucent face. With as much strength as she could muster, she reached out and clasped Annalise’s hands.

“Thank you. I love you too.”

It was all the goodbye they needed. And as Sari faded, she began to glow. Glow in the way all the other angels did when their purpose was fulfilled. She glowed and she glowed, fading as she did so, until she was a mere spot of light dancing around Annalise’s bedroom.

And then she left through the window she’d come in by weeks before.

So now they were no longer a dying angel and a dying girl. They were an angel whose purpose had been fulfilled and a girl who had been healed. And they weren’t together, but they were never apart.