What happens when hidden Tahlia tries to comfort sobbing Ayden one evening at the park?
Ayden sat in the same swing as he did every day after school as I stood by a lone tree across from him. It was just him and I in this lonely park. At least, it was to me. To Ayden, he was alone sobbing his heart out into his hands waiting for the hours to pass by. Times like this make me feel like the closest he has to a friend. If only we truly were though.
In this whole world, I'm the only one who knows about his heart wrenching life. Right now, his most likely soon-to-be divorced parents are probably arguing over insignificant things not realizing they should be spending time with their regrettably cancerous son while they can. Although his cancer is not evident yet, everyone will all know soon enough. I wish I could just take his pain away, take him to a better place. Ayden could be happy there and live a long, healthy life. If only my powers worked that way.
I watched in grief as Ayden cried his heart out as his chest pained him ever so terribly. My chest hurt along with his; the two wickedly entangled. He loves his parents much, but can't stand their bickering. For the past three years, he has been ignored; treated as a stranger unlike their own son; neglected; forgotten. I can't help but remember the similar life I had five years ago. Ayden can't end up like me. I won't allow it.
In sympathy, I bend down and place a hand on Ayden's knee. Like the other countless times, I rub it tenderly back and forth with my thumb. Even though Ayden is unable to hear me, I can't help but try to comfort him.
"I'm so sorry you have a life such as this, Ayden. I know it's hard getting by day by day, but I also know you can get through this. You can survive and live a happy life when you grow older. Eighteen is right around the corner. You can make something of this. You'll find a beautiful woman who you'll fall in love with and have children with. Someone you can settle down with who makes you a better person. Ayden, you have strength in your bones. Besides, if you don't think you can get through the day, I'm always here for you even with the simple fact of being invisible to you." I stand up and kiss his forehead like I usually do feeling the motherly instinct coursing through my bones. Thinking of nothing else I could possibly do for him, I begin walking back to my usual tree.
"Thank you," I hear someone softly whisper. Shocked, I turn around and stare at Ayden knowing we're the only two in the park. He's looking down at his hands which lay in his lap. "I don't know who you are or how you know my name, but thank you for that. I really needed to hear someone say something, anything, to me. I doubt you know why I was doing that, crying, but no matter; you still comforted me and made the tears stop falling."
"Your welcome," I reply in utter shock, but glad he finally noticed me. My kind isn't supposed to be seen, but I've always hated being ignored which is mostly why I ended up like I am.
"May I ask your name?"
"Tahlia. My name's Tahlia." Ayden nodded understandingly.
"Tahlia, how do you know my name? I've never seen you before at school or anywhere else. How do you know me?" Ayden asked finally gazing up at me with his precious caramel eyes. Five years ago, I would have fallen for him because of those wonderful eyes. I always have admired a boy's eyes the most with their hair closely after that. Just my luck, I find a boy five years later with the full package: brown eyes, brown hair, the capability of making me laugh, and a wonderful personality.
"That's a long story."
"I can listen. I don't need to be home for a couple hours," Ayden replies half-smiling. I sigh. I guess there's no chance like now to tell him.
"Ayden, I know about your home life. I know why you don't want to go home. You don't need to be home, but you don't want to go home either. I know everything, Ayden," I say avoiding staring into his caramel liquid pools called eyes.
"How?" he questions.
"I have been following you for the past five years. I promise I am not a stalker; although, it may seem that way. I have been assigned to you, Ayden. My job is to look after you." I can tell Ayden is confused at this. "You were never able to see me before, but oddly enough, you can today. I don't know how or why, but I'm happy I can finally be seen by someone. I imagine I was assigned to you because your life was very similar to my own."
"What do you mean "was"? Are- Are you dead? Are- Are you a ghost?" Ayden stammers.
"Ayden," I say walking towards him slowly. Ayden cringes, so I decide to stop. Instead, I kneel in the dirt. "Yes and no. I am dead, but I'm not a ghost. I can do things a ghost can, but so much more also."
"Can you hurt me?"
"I can." Terror seeps into Ayden's eyes. "But I won't." Weirdly, the terror is replaced with something I wouldn't have suspected: anger.
"Why not? You could stop all this. You could save me from this wretched life I have. You could help me," Ayden yells.
"I could kill you, but what would that do? You would be like me then. I can't do that to you. I know you can make it in this world, Ayden. You just need a little patience. That's all. If you ever feel like you can't make it, just tell me; I'll remind you how strong you are." Ayden nods understandingly.
"How did you die?" I look at Ayden shocked at his question. While wondering what I should say, I stare at the tree I've become so accustomed to. When I have the words pictured in my mind, I look back at the waiting Ayden.
"I couldn't keep it up any more, Ayden. In my eyes, my life seemed worthless. I said all those things to you because I know what you're going through right now. My parents argued all the time since before I can remember; I was always neglected; I was constantly ignored; I was irreconcilably forgotten. Every night, I was abused both emotionally and physically by my mother. I hid it all from everyone I knew, Ayden, just like you've been doing. And just like you've gone through things I haven't, I've gone through things you haven't. Since I'm telling you everything, I guess I should probably tell you everything." I take a long, deep breathe. "I always thought the things my mother said and did to me were bad, but they were never half as bad as what my father did to me." An invisible tear I thought couldn't be seen rolled down my cheek in remembrance of everything I've been holding back so tightly. Ayden kneels down next to me and wipes it away gently with his thumb. As I try to hold everything in, I stare back at the tree I might as well call home. "Since I was six, my father had a nightly ritual he had to fulfill: TV, booze, then what he liked to call my special treat. His special treat is more like it. Every night, around eleven, my father would come into my room while my mom was at work. I would pretend to be asleep hoping to avoid it, but then he would roughly shake me awake screaming my name. After awhile of him shaking me, he'd whisper in my ear "I know you're awake, Tahlia. You've been awake this whole time, so you must know what is coming." Then, I'd hear him unbuckle his pants before pulling the covers off me."
"Tahlia..." Ayden begins.
"Although my parents were always fighting, what he did to me was never a topic of discussion. I'm still not sure if she even knew all those years. I'm not sure why she never brought it up. Maybe because he would always beat on her, you know? Or maybe she thought it would make things worse? Or maybe she just didn't care about me." I wipe away another falling tear. "When I was twelve, I couldn't take it anymore. One day late at night, I snuck out of the house with my father's pistol tightly hidden inside my jacket and a bottle of alcohol I stole from his stash. I walked to a beautiful, quiet, peaceful forest where I found a small lake hidden somewhere in the middle. As I watched the stars dance and the water twirl, I drank the bottle already feeling its magic after a few minutes. I was in harmony as I relaxed in two of my favorite places: a lake and a forest." A third tear rolls down my cheek silently which I wipe away. "While watching the sun rise, I shot myself in the head twice. I wasn't strong enough, Ayden, but you are. You can get through these struggles. I know you can. You have to... for me." Ayden wraps his arms around me tightly.
"Tahlia, I'm sorry about your life. Everyday I've thought my life was terrible when someone else had it worse than me. Your story has inspired me to keep my head up. I know I can get through this now because of you. But when doubts arise, will you help me through them?" Ayden asks sincerely.
"Of course, Ayden; that's what I'm here for. I'm your guardian angel sent from heaven to take some of the pain and darkness away." I feel myself beginning to disappear since Ayden's pain is relieved for the moment.
"Tahlia! Don't leave me!" Ayden screams grabbing my wrist.
"I'm always here, Ayden. Whenever you need me, I'll be there. While you sleep, when you awake, every second you breathe, I'll be watching you. Even if I wanted to, I could never dream of leaving you. Our hearts are intertwined. My entire existence is woven with yours." Sensing I only have a few seconds left, I quickly kiss Ayden on the cheek. "When you feel sad again, just remember I'm here for you; I'll appear."
"Tahlia..." Ayden whispers as I completely disappear. I watch him reach his hand out feeling for me only to feel the air floating around him. He touches his cheek while repeating my name. After a few moments, Ayden stands up gazing around the park. "Tahlia, if you're here with me, please show me. Make a sign," Ayden pleads.
"Ayden..." I mumble frowning. Fallen angels are not allowed to associate with humans; they are not allowed to know we even exist. Yet, I'm drawn to show him I'm still here for him. As a small sign of existence, I grab Ayden's hand willingly. Ayden shudders while smiling.
"Hi, Tahlia," he whispers gazing at the hand I'm holding. I smile realizing I can help Ayden get through this period in his life. I can make a difference just by being here for him. All he needs is someone to talk to who understands what it's like. I can and will control the darkness in his life.