Not all angels are heavenly
|Kinsala sat on the very corner of a rooftop where the quiet shadowed alleyway met the brightly lit and crowded Main Street. She swung her legs and banged the heels of her boots against the brick wall in counter-time to Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. The woman with the short, round stature and wearing a bright red jumper and green elf’s hat, which combined to create a very effective fat cherry costume, fumbled with her music book and lost her timing with the rest of the choir. This caused the man directly behind her to lose his own place and sing out “Now all the reindeer” instead of “Then one foggy” and, having the deepest most powerful voice in the ensemble, he threw off the six other members who had thus far managed to block out the annoying tapping. Only Four people in the crowd noticed.
After fumbling around awkwardly they took up God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen in quick, powerful, staccato notes that caused some of the shoppers to jolt out of their hazes. Kinsala was satisfied and decided to hold off singing “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” for when they found their way to We Wish You a Merry Christmas on page fifteen. Kin preferred the more traditional Christmas songs because their sounds always held a more ominous edge that reached through to people’s very souls and captured the real dread that most people seemed to feel with the approach of personal financial slumps, compulsory family gatherings, and unavoidable festive fashion statements.
A middle aged man in a heavy charcoal coat stepped onto the sidewalk from the last toy-store in the city. He glanced back at the display window, now with tinsel falling and displays knocked over after being ransacked by flustered employees. He shook his head and muttered something under his breath:
“Two of everything,” reprimanding himself for his failures. There was one left, only one. Any other last-ditch father would have been delighted to find the last Stephanie Tanner set in the shelves, in the city. But he was better off going home empty handed than with only one.
He joined the crowd hesitantly, thinking of the lashing he would get from his wife when he got home and the scowl of his daughters’ faces in the morning when they checked their presents and found item three missing from their list. The blow would perhaps have been easier two years ago when Santa still existed but he knew that for the next three days they would know exactly who to aim their narrowed eyes and snide remarks at. Not that his daughters needed an excuse these days beyond testing the boundaries of being twelve.
Things were going to get easier – he told himself. The girls were already to split off, to find their own personality. He tried to tell himself that it would be better. But really it was just giving them individual ways of torturing him.
The tantrums and the petty slander, and even whenever she screamed in her perfected American accent “I don’t speak your fucking language” whenever he spoke to his daughter in Polish did not bother the man so much. These, he was lead to believe, were all perfectly normal behaviors in an adolescent girl.
His other little girl, she stared. She never had a lot to say. Didn’t raise her voice - either in protest or delight. She never put a foot out of place. Unlike her sister, she didn’t get in trouble at school, and never received a scolding from her mama. But he knew that it was her lips to her sister’s ear.
A flash of crimson feathers caught the corner of his eye but when he looked toward where Kin was sitting he saw nothing, and promptly walked into a street post. As he shuffled off with hands cupping the warm blood now seeping from his throbbing nose he vaguely heard a high pitched cackle. Looking around self-consciously but through his tear blurred vision he only saw other hurried shoppers minding their own way to forgotten presents. He hurried away without even an “are you alright” from a single other pedestrian around him.
But it was getting late and, although the shops would be open until midnight the crowds were beginning to thin. Kinsala decided that it was time to leave. She would make her way over to The Universe. All the soul-dead nomad ravers without mothers making eggnog were undoubtedly starting to pour in, ready for a night of strobe lights, candy and memory lapses. She stood up and smoothed out her fur skirt, and planned to step off the ledge but stopped when she was drawn to a strange bobbing head in the crowd.
I greasy mop of dirty blonde tangles shuffled through the throng. She moved through a large gap in the crowd as people instinctively moved aside to avoid brushing their designer jumpers against her rags. Her layers of threadbare, mismatched clothing swathed around the figure and, through the dirt of her face, the grime of her hair and the bulk of her clothes she could have been an obese child or skeletal old woman for all anyone could tell. She broke away from the crowd into the alley below where Kin perched, and tucked herself in behind an industrial bin. She made sure that it was hidden from the street from all angles and leaned in towards the wall. Kin leaped down the five stories to get a closer look at the creature.
The girl heard the faint thumping sound of Kin’s landing a stole a panning glance around the alley with wild blue eyes. There were plenty of places to hide down here, it was littered with boxes and bins and various discarded materials. A mattress sat leaning against a wall, stained with booze and urine and blood. Although the street was only a few meters away, the alley seemed closed off into itself, none of the festive lights shone through and the music and bustle seemed almost a town off. She seemed alone in the alley and could not figure out what the thumping sound was a few seconds ago.
Kinsala moved in closer to admire the slightly blue and purple tinges of the girl’s gaunt face. Her eyes sunk into red hollows, her lips were cracked and dry. She was worn and aged but still couldn’t be more than seventeen. She was young and gaunt. She huddled into herself, against the cold and reached a frail hand into one of the many jackets and an inside pocket.
Feeling the need to create some more tension, Kinsala began whistling the theme song from Twisted Nerve. The girl removed her hand from her pocket and again checked the alleyway. She waited a few moments and, satisfied enough that she was alone, removed the contents of her pocket and laid them in front of her, a needle, a spoon, a lighter, a small bag of powder.
Kinsala’s eyes lit up with fiery violet sparks – a receptor. She spread her wings and drew in the strength from around her. The shadows in the alley grew darker and longer and the girl noticed them flicker and warp along with the suddenly chill moving air. She looked up to behold the winged beast towering over her.
Kinsala cleared her throat. “Ahem”
The girl stumbled to her feet and turned to flee but crashed into a set of smaller bins. She fell to the floor on her side and called out in pain. Her outer layers fell away from her stomach to reveal her pregnant form.
The alleyway grew lighter again the sound of The Carol of the Bells permeated the air and almost drowned out the sounds of the girl screaming from the street. Kinsala enjoyed that Christmas carol because there seemed to be something so disturbing in the sound of it, an element of the macabre. She imagined that feeling a chill running down the spine would be a lot like listening to this song.