Angel of Mine

It was dark.

Not the kind of dark where faint rays of moonlight streamed through, illuminating the room, but the kind in which you could fall endlessly and never reach the bottom.

A solid darkness.

Kiara awoke with a start, her legs entangled in the sheets. Her palms were damp and sweaty and her pulse was racing. She sat up in bed and frantically searched the room, desperately reassuring herself that she was indeed alone.

She reached out to switch on her bedside lamp.

Nothing.

Great. That's just what I need. As if it ain't dark enough. It was a futile attempt to calm herself when, ironically, all it did was make her more vigilant.

It was then that she noticed it. A sort of eerie silence suffocated the room, almost tentative in its presence. The quiet before the storm.

Oh, for goodness sake! Kiara reprimanded herself. This is ridiculous. She shook her head, as if to shake the thoughts away and ward off the ominous pressure of the silence.

She was in the state of drifting off to sleep when she felt a sudden urge to open her eyes. She briefly glimpsed through the gap in her curtains when all of a sudden, a bright light caught her attention.

It was a star, shining so bright it made the surrounding stars appear feeble and insignificant; elite from the rest. Kiara admired the view, gradually returning to her relaxed and content state. A serene smile graced her features.

Hmm…what a beautiful star, she thought, appreciatively. But wait, that can't be right. As she gazed upon the star, Kiara was certain it had grown bigger in size and burned more brightly. Within a few seconds, her suspicions were confirmed and the star-if you could still call it a star-loomed closer than ever.

Light and warmth emanated from it, gradually penetrating the room. Kiara's vision cleared instantly. Her mind was frozen, eyes disbelieving. She hadn't remembered sitting up in bed.

The profound light now shone just outside her window. She had to shield her eyes from the intensity that now surged into the room, rendering her helpless. From her peripheral vision, she could tell that the light had begun to dim somewhat, so she risked a sideways glance.

The light now remained at the foot of her bed, slowly transforming into something Kiara had no desire or curiosity to contemplate. It began to take on a human form, legs and arms filling out, as if pouring water into a glass. The light had become bearable.

Kiara watched, transfixed. Standing before her-although she wasn't entirely sure the feet were touching the ground-was the most beautiful and exquisite woman she had ever seen. Chestnut brown waves cascaded past her shoulders, the shimmering highlights reflected by the light. Her almond-shaped eyes were the colour of mahogany, contrasting sharply with the smooth, golden tone of her skin. The delicate bone structure emphasised her full, sensual lips, like two petals of a rose encased in rays of sunlight. And as if to complete the picture, her voluptuous figure was tall and elegant and undoubtedly the envy of many women.

It only then occurred to Kiara that she recognised the woman. That hair…those eyes…but it couldn't be…

Could it?

"Oh my God," she whispered, disbelief evident in her voice.

"Hello Kiara."

Her mom's voice was just as mesmerising and natural as she remembered it, before she died. It had happened 12 years ago…

Kiara was ecstatic. She was so excited she felt like jumping perpetuously until her legs gave way. She had waited so long for this, for her 5th birthday, ever since her mother had promised to take her camping. Just thinking about it made her hyperactive mood return full force. Her seatbelt was far too restraining for jumping though, so she had to resort to swinging her legs.

"Excited?" her mom asked.

"You bet," Kiara replied, the inevitable grin appearing. "How come daddy's not with us?"

"He's stuck in traffic so he said he'll meet us there." She averted her gaze from the road and looked through the rear view mirror at Kiara, her eyes full of depth and promise.

"Happy Birthday, sweetheart."

One look. That's all it took.

The motorbike swerved out of nowhere, tyres screaming in protest. They had a second's warning but by then it was too late. It came in from the left. The force of the impact was earth-shattering, causing Kiara to jerk so violently she felt darkness creeping at the edges of her consciousness. She screamed with all her strength, an ear-piercing shriek that made her chest burn and her throat physically ache.

It was all over in a matter of seconds. Broken glass, frantic shouting and the distinct sound of petrol leaking faintly registered in Kiara's mind. She hadn't remembered closing her eyes and half-heartedly opened them. Throughout the pandemonium her mind could only focus on one thing-Mom.

She tried to move but her muscles ached with fatigue, as if stretched to their limit.

"Mom, I'm scared," she whimpered.

No answer.

"Mom?" Still no reply.

Kiara unfastened her seatbelt. Looking down, she noticed the red dots splattered across her pale blue dress like paint, vibrant and merciless, triggering alarm bells everywhere. At that moment she glanced at her mother. They say the eyes are the window to the soul. If that was the case, she was looking through an empty window. There were no red dots. Instead there were streams of pure red liquid flowing down the front of her shirt, forming a pool of blood at her feet. And it was also at that precise moment that the realisation hit Kiara like a bullet to the heart.

The blood on her dress was not hers.