(I apologize in advance for the lack of capitalization.)
a true story. you wanted to know secrets, so here is another.
the little girl curled up in her bed and cried. she wondered when someone or something would come to save her. at ten years of age, she had already nearly given up, yet something wouldn’t let her entirely sink into the depression that threatened to engulf her every moment of every day.
one night, when she was had just entered junior high, she dreamt of an angel. it was an odd dream. everything was white. she was sitting in a very comfortable white chair, so cozy, warm and safe that she didn’t want to ever leave. she fell asleep. when she woke, she felt refreshed, and was surprised to find that she was covered with a white satin comforter. she sat up and looked around curiously, but there was nothing to see, really. it was difficult to tell where the room ended and where it began because everything in the room was white: the walls, the ceiling (if there was one, but it was hard to tell), the floors, the chair in which she sat, even her nightgown. oddly enough, she wasn’t afraid at all. she felt strangely calm and at peace – almost like when she was a little girl in sunday school and they would sing, “jesus loves me this i know…” suddenly there was a break in the wall across from her chair, and someone entered the room through what appeared to be a door. it was a young man. his hair was shoulder length, wavy, and brown with streaks of gold that caught the white light surrounding them. he, too, wore white. she looked at him and was surprised that she could not clearly see his face. it seemed to keep changing, almost like he was walking towards her through water, if that makes any sense. even though his features were not clear to her, his beauty, his grace, and even something of his soul registered in her senses and she felt more calm than she could ever remember feeling. somehow he was talking to her but she couldn’t actually hear his voice out loud. she knew, though, that he was telling her that all would be well, that he would soon be with her to protect her. she, who never truly believed anyone, believed this strange angel, and was comforted. “sleep now, little one”, she heard him say as he smoothed her hair from her eyes. warmth and security filled her at his touch. “sleep. you are loved.”
in the morning when she awoke she felt, finally, hopeful. maybe he will come today, she thought. he didn’t. nor did he come the next day. she looked for him everywhere, but never saw him again; not even in her dreams. ultimately she began to doubt. why wouldn’t she? everything else in her life seemed to be a lie or a trick, why not him, too? she kept looking, though, despite her doubts, but the flicker of hope she had felt in the angel’s presence began to fade away – can you imagine how hard it was to look constantly for an angel you hadn’t even ever really seen? sometimes she wondered if she had passed him by and never known it. sometimes at school she would think she saw him around a corner, or just outside her field of vision, but she was never sure.
months later, on the bus ride home from school, as often happened, dani miles and her friends – her “pack” as rose thought of them – barked at her all the way home. she was the last one to get off the bus except for dani, the bus driver’s daughter. almost every day they would bark at her like mad and call her a dog. every day mrs. miles did nothing about it. every day, rose cried when she walked home from the bus. and every day rose’s mother would ask her why she let those stupid assholes upset her. “who the fuck cares what they say?” she would ask rose. “just ignore them! quit being so easy to hurt! you’re not a dog, right? so who cares what they say?? get it? you are NOT a dog, so quit letting them do this to you!”
rose tried to do as her mother suggested, tried to ignore it, tried not to cry. but she wasn’t very successful.
one day dani and her friends barked at her all the way TO school. this had never happened before, and rose couldn’t figure out what to do about it. she got off the bus, depressed, ready to cry, and raced into the building, rushing to her locker, trying to outrun the sound of their barks. as she turned the corner closest to her locker, something made her pull up short. she stopped and looked around, watching the students milling about; some talking excitedly in groups, some looking sullen and alone. a little way down the hall stood two boys. one a bit taller than the other. they were talking to each other and seemed oblivious to her. rose studied them carefully while pretending to look in her purse for something. the shorter boy had very dark, almost black hair. his bangs were long and he had on a blue long sleeved tshirt with thin, horizontal rainbow stripes in a band across the chest, and blue jeans. he had nice eyes. the taller boy had wavy brown hair and was wearing jeans and a baby blue tshirt from some surf shop. his eyes were amazing. even from a distance rose could see a heat and intensity in them as he talked with the shorter boy. he laughed at something that was said to him and she felt something inside of her flutter at the beauty that filled his face when he smiled. suddenly he tilted his head to the side and put those eyes on her. something jolted through her. the hair, something about him…was HE the angel from her dream? no, couldn’t be. that angel didn’t exist, she knew that now. if he did, then why hadn’t he come as he promised? why did he not stop those kids on the bus from treating her so horribly?? rose looked quickly away, towards the other boy, who was much “safer” to gaze upon.
a moment later, she turned around and walked away. as she did so, she was sure she heard in her head, “all will be well soon, my rose. i promise.” she shook her head hoping no one else noticed how much she was losing it! now she was hearing voices and thinking junior high school boys were angels. “i must be trippin’!” she said out loud.
“you are!”, a boy from her spanish class laughed as he passed her.
that afternoon on the bus, dani and her friends were in rare form. as the bus travelled along the country roads towards rose’s house, she thought about the voice she had heard ealier in the day, at the angel’s voice she had finally heard again. she knew it had been he who spoke to her. she just knew it. and if it was her angel, then maybe he would come to her soon. she smiled and looked out the window, lost in thought. she was surprised when she glanced up and realized that the bus was more than half empty. even more surprised when she realized that she had been totally unaware of dani’s dog sounds for some time. that gave her a bit of comfort. she sat up straight. she turned to look at them disdainfully, and then looked away. for the rest of the ride she said to herself, over and over (in an effort to convince herself, she was sure): “i am not a dog. i don’t care what they say or bark or do because i’m not a dog and they are just queer.”
oddly enough, it started to work. she didn’t care, somehow, that they barked at her or even if they thought she was ugly. how did that happen, she wondered? I REALLY DON’T CARE. THEY CANNOT HURT ME! she felt like laughing – and so she did. out loud. it startled the boy sitting across from her, the one who always threw pitying looks in her direction when dani’s dogs attacked her. it startled dani and her friends. they quit barking.
“ha ha ha”, she thought. “my angel and my mom helped me know what to do. ha ha ha. everything will be fine now. i just don’t care because they are just so fucking queer! ha ha ha.” she was happier than she had been on the bus in several months.
when mrs. miles pulled up to let her off the bus, rose gathered her books, and walked with a light step to the front of the bus. as she went down the first step she paused and looked to the back seat where dani still sat. “have a great evening, dani!”, she said with a smile. “see you tomorrow!” the look of shock on her face, and the matching one on mrs. miles’ face, made her laugh out loud with joy. “you too, mrs. miles!! see you in the morning!”
still laughing, rose got off the bus.
she skipped gaily towards the house. she couldn’t wait to tell her mother how she had finally “defeated” her dani demon. she opened her arms wide and spun around, letting the weight of her back pack pull her along. she skipped and spun all the way up to the front door, giggling, happy, feeling free at last, free at last, thank God, Almighty, i am free at last! i am not a dog, no matter what they say! ha ha ha!!
she threw her bookbag into a chair in the living room and yelled out for her mom. no answer. she hurried into the kitchen and found her mom sitting at the table smoking a cigarette and drinking a coke. “mom, mom, guess what??” rose asked excitedly.
the eyes that met hers should have been a warning, but she missed it in her joy at finally overcoming her self-loathing.
“what?” her mother asked.
“i didn’t cry today! dani and those guys barked at me on the way TO school and barked at me on the way HOME from school, and they howled, and they called me a dog, but I DID NOT CRY! and i did what you told me: i decided who cares what they say because i am not a dog!” she spun around, so filled with joy at this triumph that she could see nothing else. “i am not a dog!”
she looked expectantly at her mother, expecting her to be pleased that she had finally managed to work her way through this. her mother just stared at her for a minute, no expression on her face. she took a drag of her cigarette and looked rose dead in the eyes as she exhaled. “who said you aren’t a dog?”
rose nearly fell to the floor under the crushing weight of those words. she just looked at her mother in stunned disbelief. “what, mom? huh?”
“i said, who said you aren’t a dog?” her mother sneered. then she barked. “woof!”
rose was literally reeling. she could make no sense out of anything. somehow everything within her had collapsed and she could feel herself folding inwards, could feel all her fears and self-doubt and self-hatred come rushing back; only this time their strength was multiplied ten-fold. she looked at her mother, tears streaming from her eyes. she knew, then, that she would never believe anyone ever again. “i hate you”, she whispered to her mother.
“good, because i hate you, too”, her mother spat back at her.
rose whirled around and ran from the room, ran to her bedroom. she slammed the door and threw herself on the bed and sobbed. she cried and cried and cried until there were no tears left within her. depression and hopelessness found their way back into her heart and she could almost believe she heard them laughing gleefully as they filled in all the empty spaces within her. emotionally drained, she eventually slept.
“i promise all will be well, rose. i am closer to you now. soon. all of this will pass. i promise. do not despair.” she heard the angel’s voice in her dreams. she wanted to believe him, tried to feel the same sense of peace she had felt before, but she couldn’t. she dare not.
in the morning, before she left for school, her mom came into the kitchen. “sorry about yesterday, rose”, she said. “i don’t know what possessed me to say those things. and of course i don’t hate you. i love you and you’re right, you’re not a dog and it is great that you finally understand that.” she hugged rose, told her to have a good day, and went back to bed.
rose said nothing, just thought, “nice words. but they’re a day late and a dollar short, momma, and i don’t believe you, really, anymore. you really do think i’m a dog, just like dani and her friends. i guess i am.”
she worried about how she would handle the barking from now on as she hesitantly got onto the bus. but for some reason, dani and her friends never barked at rose again. ever. she was grateful for that, grateful to whatever benevolent spirit had decided to at least spare her further public humiliation. bus rides were uneventful for the remainder of the year, and rose eventually managed to put the episode away in one of the little “boxes” in her brain into which she stuffed all the things too painful to deal with.
she never dreamed of the angel anymore, although she still found herself looking for him occasionally, sometimes thinking she saw him just outside her peripheral vision. ultimately, though, she decided he was a figment of her warped imagination or that he was someone else’s, some other rose’s, angel and had just made a mistake when he visited her.
at least, that’s what she thought until the beginning of the next school year. the next year, the angel walked into her science class. as soon as she saw him, she knew him. realized he was the boy she had seen in the hall on that awful, awful barking-filled day. the taller boy with the incredibly intense eyes. my God, they were even more intense up close. when he spoke to her it nearly brought her to her knees because it was THE voice. the angel’s voice. she was terrified to believe. terrified to look too deeply into those eyes. terrified to look away. terrified to hope. terrified he would hurt her as many others had, most crushingly, her mother. she knew that if this boy, this angel, told her she was a dog, too, she would literally die. she thought she should run away, not talk to him, protect herself. but she couldn’t. he was her angel and he had promised all would be well. so, she opened her heart again, put out her hand, and tried to trust one more time.
thank you, christopher, my angel, for saving me so very many times, and for the return of hope and faith. i had nearly depleted my meager stores of both.
*** this is an older story that i decided to post because my sister just found a statue that looks exactly like my dream angel guarding a little girl asleep in her bed. pictures of it are below. the resemblance is uncanny — except my angel had two straps across his chest instead of just one.