Featured Fiction: The Girl, the Dragon, the Child, and the Angel

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Featured Fiction: The Girl, the Dragon, the Child, and the Angel

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There was nothing awaiting the small girl of only sixteen as she rounded the corner of the darkened alley in the narrow streets of the city. The scum covered rats danced at her feet and then retreated back into the shadows of the rusty trash cans. She did not live in the dirt and muck of the alley, but her front door lay ahead under a single light bulb giving off a fleshy yellow aura in the surrounding puddles by the cracked stairs.

In her hands, she carried a large brown paper bag full of various market items that she purchased with what little change she had left. She was of an age that she could venture out into the life of the bustling city, but she felt timid against the hostile backdrop of towering skyscrapers and ambient noises. It was a much different landscape than her real home, a place in a far and foreign land many miles away. She thought about her true home, her true parents, and how they had been so quick to abandon her to a new life in the United States. It had been only a year ago, but it seemed all that more forgotten to her. She wanted to be back with her family, but the new family she lived with was impoverished and cruel. The father was unruly and a terrible drunk for most of his days, staying sober for only a few hours during the workday, but then immediately turning to drink once he got home. At times, the girl would hide away in her room for days on end, sneaking out only in the dead of night to use the bathroom and eat silently to avoid startling the dragon that lay in the next room. She did this again tonight.

Some nights she would cry out in her sleep, writhing with pain and sickness. She was not sick with disease, but instead sick with life. A child, conceived six months ago today, sat dormant in her young body. She had met a boy some time ago in class, and soon got to know everything about him, inside and out. At the time the announcement was made, joy swept over the young girl. Tears of pure happiness fell from her face. She had dreamt of raising a new life as her own, building a love of something so cherished. However, the boy had other plans. He fled from her life, never to be seen or heard from again. The knife of the betrayal never left her side, and the girl’s happiness wavered and shrunk into the shadows of anger and sadness. Love had been a different feeling in her country. Love was a thing of beauty and peace, something that lasted forever. She had thought the boy had loved her, as she did him. She came to the realization that love had a different meaning in her new home: Love was simply a vessel for devilish thoughts and nothing more.

The father, woefully drunk, stumbled through the halls of the cramped apartment, his gluttonous body falling against the walls, knocked the few gloomy family photos from their pins. The shattering of glass brought the girl’s breathing to a halt. She knew the dragon was coming to bear his flames and claws upon her. Her eyes remained locked upon the door as the thunder drew closer. A roar and a crack erupted into the room, followed by the repulsive scent of whiskey and cigarettes. Screams and cries for help were mixed with drunken slurs and insults, fueled by a loathing fire of lackluster love and affection. The girl managed to break away from the brutality and escaped into the night, fleeing with nothing but her child, the bellows of the dragon still audible from the empty streets. She ran and never looked back until she was sure she was lost to the city.

The moon’s gaze sat high up in the obsidian sky, peppered with white crystals of stars and the wisps of passing clouds. At the docks, there was little activity. The last of the late night fishermen had already departed into the sea for their duties, and the docks bore a similar feeling of a graveyard. Under one dull lamp, the girl lie curled up, crying. Her beautiful skin was tainted with a bruise. Seldom did a car pass by that she looked up, hoping to be rescued by anybody. But no vehicle stopped, or even slowed down. She knew the drivers saw her. The drivers knew they saw her. But their eyes and hearts lay elsewhere in the dead of night. Hours passed with the same shade of black hanging over the city. The clouds thickened, blotting out the jewels in the sky. One by one, raindrops began to fall. In the distance, just past the longest strip of harbor, a flash of purple lightning lit up the horizon, followed by the bass of thunder.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the sound of footsteps drew closer. The girl had stopped crying many hours ago, having run her eyes dry of tears. She dug her face up from her knees and saw a pair of boots standing before her. She thought she had been saved, someone had finally come to save her from despair and loneliness. She crawled up to meet the face of the harbormaster, the grim and muscled creases in his hardened face made no motion of a smile, not even the tiniest of happy grins. In his hands he bore his loaded shotgun, the metal glistening with rain, but sending a message no more clear than a diamond. He had not come to deliver salvation to the girl, just to cease her loitering. The girl knew what she had to do. She turned and scampered away from the mountainous man, once again on the run in the streets.

Her clothes were filthy and her luscious hair was tasseled and tangled against her shoulders. A corner came into view, and the girl darted into it. It was another dead end alleyway with a dilapidated dumpster at the end. Laundry lines formed a spider web above her head, with clothes out to dry now soaked to the seams. There was a small ledge hanging over from the nearby apartments. A sheet of metal caught in the brick offered the smallest protection from the rain. The girl hurriedly huddled beneath it. She was cold, starving, and terrified. She did not cry this time, but she wanted to. She did not scream this time, but she wanted to. She did not dream this time, but she wanted to. All she did was lie quietly beneath her new home and stare into the street.

She felt weak and tired, waiting for it all to end. She just wanted to be alone with her child. She did not even know if she carried a son or a daughter within her because the family could not afford the medical bills. All she knew was that she was going to love it with all her life, even if it meant that she was the only one in it. They shared the same heart, the same soul. The girl wanted to share the same death. She wanted to be cleansed of the life that had polluted her. She stripped herself of her filthy clothes. Her false father never allowed her such freedoms with her clothes, always forcing her to wear what his will demanded. She tossed them into the brown puddles and crawled into the rain, letting the crisp, cold water cleanse her bare body.

Her eyes barren of tears, she wrapped her frail fingers around a shard of glass. She saw no other option but to let herself bleed. She wanted to know if she still felt anything at all. She said a silent prayer to the sky, wishing that she could be at peace with herself. She pressed the glass to her pale skin, but stopped when the point drew a drop of blood. She dropped it, whimpering and sobbing empty sadness. A flash of lightning sheared the sky in half, illuminating the alleyway. The girl expected to be left alone in the darkness once again, but such was not the case now. The bright white light remained hovering above her eyes, shining brighter than the sun and releasing an aura of peace. Her eyes wandered to the core of the apparition, where a set of silken feathers emerged, followed by a woman of absolute beauty. She was an angel of pure starlight, sent to the heavens to seek out the young girl.

“Why do you cry, child?” the angel asked. The girl made no noise but a breath.

The angel, knowing only love and compassion, looked deep into the young girl’s heart and saw the fires of fear and pain that resided. But the angel also saw her child and the undying love that the girl had for it.

“Child, you are suffering. Let me help you,” the angel said, offering her hand. “There is a place where you can be safe from all of this suffering and pain. You can nurture your child, and see it grow and love you forever.”

The girl shuffled over towards the angel’s outstretched hand. Timidly, she grasped it loosely and suddenly felt alive for a fleeting moment. In the angel’s eyes, the girl saw fields of flowers, infinite sunshine, mist among the blossoms of trees. It was a serene place, where there was no hate, no filth, no sickness. There were other people there, too. So many people, all gleefully enjoying themselves, free of constraints and evils.

“Come, child, we are waiting for you,” the angel said.

The girl’s skin regained its sheen, her eyes lit up, and she was lifted away to a new place. Clouds brightened to the color of fresh snow, the sky was a sea of sapphires and turquoise. No dirt remained on her skin, and her hair loosened and flowed with the wind. Her smile returned, and she found the strength to place her smooth hands on her stomach to where her child lie. Knowing she was safe from harm, she never released the angel’s hand, letting herself be carried to the summit of the clouds. The veil of sorrow that once hung over her was lifted, and there was nothing but white light ahead. She felt her body explode and grow into something boundless. The girl had finally found a place to call her forever home. She looked to the angel as the last of her body became light and opened her lips for the first time.

“Thank you.”

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