By Michelle Langevin
She fell from the sky, spiraling like a wounded dove. She seemingly came from nowhere as I lay on my back, watching the clouds. A speck at first, I expected her to be a bird. After all, what else could fall from the sky? What else had feathered wings?
But I noticed that it was too large to be a bird, and that it continued to fall, without the slightist hint of flapping wings. What was this, a giant bird, falling from the clouds? If 'twas a bird, why did it not fly away? there was naught a reason, as it was out of reach of any hunters gun, was it not?
The waters lapped at the shore as I stood, watching her fall. It seemed to take forever before she landed in the bright aqua ocean, with a gentle splash that seemed oddly too gentle for anything falling from that height.
I stood, gazing at it for a second, trembling with uncertain fear. What, oh what could it be? I clutched my skirts and took a step forward. Then, deciding at last, I ran forward and knelt down to see what this winged creature was.
It was an angel.
She lay twisted, half in water, half on shining white sand, yet inexplicably graceful. She wore a simple white gown, much the same as mine, but made of a fabric I could not identify. It was like... something woven of clouds.
Her hair lay in golden-white waves upon the sand, like liquid sunlight, wavering in the breeze. Pale white skin was tinted light rose on her heart shaped face, where fluttering lashes lay in long curves, like the leaves of palms.
Wings... glorious, white, feathered wings lay in the water stretched out and shining. But then I noticed... One wing was broken. The tip was at an odd angle, the feathers splayed like fingers spread wide. She lay with one arm outstretched under her head, as though she was in a deep sleep.
I noticed something... she had a light aqua half-moon on her brow, that shined like gold.
That was when she stirred. Just the fluttering of a graceful hand, and the twitching of a foot. But it was enough, and I watched as her eyes opened. She looked at me, in an icy blue gaze.
"Hello," she said in a melodious and yet sleepy voice, "Where am I? Who are you?"
"Julia," I answered, still caught in her eyes "Julia Laurence."
"Laurence," said the angel, making even that simple name sound wonderful "Is that not french?"
"Yes..." I said, feeling peaceful in her presence. "My father came from France."
"Not your husband?"
"Nay, for I am not married."
She sat up and eyed my closely, appraising me. "May I ask why not? most women of your age have wed by now."
"I wish not for marriage. It would tie me down." I answered curtly. "I am a writer for a small newspaper in New York. I have no time to cook meals and raise children."
"Then why are you not in New York writing?" she asked. If any other had asked so many questions, it would have angered me. But the angel made me feel comfortable, and it felt as though she was simply getting to know me.
"I am taking a vacation," I answered "So that I can be... inspired perhaps."
"What is it that you write of?" she asked, making patterns in the sand with one finger.
"I write about the troubles of being a women. I write about how men think that they are better than us, and that women should not be scholars. I figured it was past that time as more and more women are becoming independant, and attenting universities and such. But many still believe that women are good for nothing but bearing children and cooking. I aim to prove them wrong." I said this all in a rush.
"Do you believe this all?" she asked "That women are equal in mind to men?"
"Yes!" I exclaimed "Some of the smartest people I know are women, and many men I know are more daft than a tree stump. My best friend attended my university, and we wen't through the teasing and insults together. She helps me with my articles sometimes."
I watched her for a second before asking my question to her.
"What is your name?" I asked "Are you truly an angel?"
"Yes," she said "I am an angel. A guardian angel. My name is Arianne. I bear no last name."
"Who's guardian?" I asked breathlessly.
"Nay," she said "Not yet. I was supposed to be assigned, but the cloud beneath me gave way. No problem usually. But my wing hit something on the way down and I could not fly."
I was brought back to her wing. I stood and held out my hand to her. She took it and I raised her up, feeling a tingling in my hand of magic. I put her arm around my neck and led her up to the small hut like house.
Taking some bandage, some straight sticks and a little cream, I rubbed the broken wing and put the bone in the right place, causing Arianne much pain. But she beared it, and I splinted it. She flexed her wing a bit and grimaced. But then she smiled and took my hands in hers.
"Thank you," she said to me, her face the picture of radiance. "Thank you very, very much. You will never know how much you have done with this simple act."
She touched my brow with her finger, and I felt the shape of a half moon on it - I don't know how I could feel it, but I did. Then it faded and dissapeared.
"Now," she said, smiling her radiant smile again, "I am a guardian. I am your guardian angel for all of eternity. When you pass on, I will guide you through the realm of heaven till it's very end. We are sisters."
I don't know how to explain the feeling I felt when I heard that. It was so joyous, and so... happy that I felt as though I myself was an angel. It filled me with unexplainable joy. Our faces were glowing as I held her hand.
Then we sat on a hammock and began to converse again.
"Do you not wish for a husband or a lover at any time?" she inquired "Have you never been in love?"
"Nay," I said, shaking my head, and then I stopped and nodded slowly. "Perhaps you are right... I dream that one day I will meet a man who will... will understand me. A man who agrees that men and women are equal, and who will allow me to continue my work as a writer. But," - I sighed- "That is probably impossible, and I doubt that if any man out there like that would marry one like myself."
"And why is that?" she asked softly, gently.
"I am quite headstrong and independant," I admitted "And also as stubborn as a mule at times. My parents think me impossible, but inquire many times why I do not quit writing and wed a nice respectable young man." I snorted "I tell them to leave me alone, and that it is my life and my decisions."
Arianne took my hands again and smiled at me.
"Do not worry, Julia," she said to me. "Many unexpected things can happen, and perchance this man you dream of exists, even if you do not believe it. Believe it Julia Laurence, believe."
We rocked for a second on the hammock, suspended between palms. We watched the tropical blue waters clamly lapping at the shore like the wings of a dove.
Speaking of wings, Arianne's wing was healing allready, it seemed.
"Angel's heal faster," said Arianne "Than mortal humans. That does not mean we are never injured, of course, but our bodies are healthier than normal."
So that was why I was not very shocked when Arianne told me at the end of the week that she was leaving. She unwrapped the bandage from around her wingtip, to reveal it completely healed.
She cupped my face in her gentle fingers and told me gently. "I must leave now, Julia. I must go back to heaven, and proclaim our sisterhood to the others. I must continue my life, and you must continue yours."
"Don't go," I pleaded weakly, knowing full well it would do no good. Tears streamed down our faces as we held hands. I was scared. I did not wan't her to leave me, and make me continue my life. I wanted her to stay forever with me, on this island, talking about... everything! I did not want to wait until my death to meet her in heaven.
"I must go," she aswered. She began to gently flap her wings, and she raised upwards. Our hands parted and I watched her above me. She plucked a single, large, white feather, and in a flash of light, it appeared in my hand as a pen!
"This pen will never break, or leave you uninspired," said Arianne "The words will flow from your heart, to your fingers, and into this pen and leave breathtaking phrases on the paper beneath it."
"Is that not cheating?" I said, "To have the pen write for me?"
"No, Julia," said Arianne, laughing "The words will be yours. The pen will simply help you to get them out."
Then she flew out towards the sea, and upwards. And as she left she called out to me.
"Farewell, Julia Laurence! Remember, believe in yourself, and in everything around you, and good things will happen. Goodbye, dear sister! Till we meet again."
I called after her, more tears streaming down my face.
"Till we meet again, angel Arianne... till we meet again."
Arianne's predictions proved true, and I found a love by the name of Edward Lambourne. He was tall, with chiseled features, dark hair, and bright, twinkling eyes. Full of good humour and tenderness, plus an intelligence rivaling my own, we fell deeply in love.
He agreed with my womens rights, and supported me through all my years as a writer. He never questioned the white feather pen that never dirtied or broke. He accepted it as much as he accepted me. We wed two years later, and had two children, a boy and a girl.
The boy was named by Edward, who decided to call him Jonathon. I named the girl. I called her Ariane, with simply one N and not two. But despite the differences in spelling, she was named after my guardian angel.
The children grew, and my hands grew stiff and pained with arthritis. No longer able to write, I emmersed myself in books until Edward's death. I moved in with Ariane, who took care of me for three years.
Now I lay old and withered in a white hospital bed, dying. But I smile, and wait patiently for my guardian angel. I wait for a long time, but finally she is here. White gown and all, still as young as before, she greets me, invisible to the doctors.
"Greetings, Julia Lambourne," she says "Are you ready, my sister?"
"I am ready, angel Arianne," I answer, smiling. She takes my hand, and we fly up, and up, and through the hospital roof, and she leads me to a land where I will be young again, like her. A land where there is no arthritis, and where I will meet my dear Edward again.
I smile with pure joy and say to her.
"Thank you Arianne, my fallen angel."