A girl can't ever get what she wants, can she? Being told she's an angel does not help.
|The somewhat faded photograph in a dark brown frame lay in my hands as I tried to hold onto the smallest memory I had left. I never brought up the only missing person at family meals. That one person that I've known for only a small amount of time, and yet I felt that I've known her forever. The nagging pain of somewhere in my chest that I just wanted gone fizzled back up. I never really told anyone how I felt. I just pushed it down so much to where I've become almost emotionless.
But I stared back at the photo. A happy family looked back at me. My three older brothers, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and... my mother. Why couldn't times go back to how they used to be? Living in the middle of nowhere of Tennessee. The warm, summer glow of the sun shining down on our farm as my brothers and I raced each other on horse-back to see who could make it to our imaginary finish-line. The weightless feeling of never growing up; to just stay there and have the time of our lives. But things can't be the same forever...
We can't stay children. We have to grow up and face the terms life has against us. The terms that life is chaotic and unruly and... unfair. Well, that's just what it's got to be for now.
There was a loud knock at my door as I was snapped out of my 'daily-melancholy-brooding-session' as my oldest brother, Christopher called it. "Who is it," I called as I hurried and carefully set the frame on its original spot on my small bookshelf so it didn't break.
"It's just Will," came a voice on the other side of the door. "Can I come in?"
"Sure," then he opened the door.
My youngest brother, William, was two years older than me. He was always silent and never talked that much. But when you needed him, he would somehow know when and why. No questions needed to be asked.
He sat on the side of my bed closest to the door. "So," he sighed, "Dad said he won't be back until around late December.
I scoffed. "Did Dad tell you that or did he text you?"
"Cas, I know that you think he might've been kidnapped-"
"Truth, I tell you," I mumbled.
"-But he is doing something for work. I don't know why he says it's 'classified'," he used finger-quotes, "but trust me; he is doing fine and he gives Chris regular updates."
"What did you really come here for?" I asked as I turned around.
He got to his feet and walked to the door, "Dinner's ready. Bradley is making a back-to-school cake, for some odd reason- maybe it's just an excuse to bake something, I don't know." Will walked out of the room, but I didn't follow until I heard the footsteps fade from down the hallway.
I walked out of my room and down the stairs to the kitchen. Will was sitting at the island- which was the only surface we had to eat on. Chris was dishing up some food that looked like noodles. Bradley was putting some finishing touches on a cake. They all turned to me when they noticed I was there.
"Finally," Chris started, "We thought you would never come down here."
"Hey!" Bradley shouted.
Chris looked at him funny. Then Bradley said, "I'm not the one that said that. It was all you, so don't bring me into this." There was a silence in the kitchen then both of them erupted into laughter.
"Okay, give me food and then I'll be gone," I growled.
Chris set a plate down in front of me as I sat down by Will. I poked at the noodles with my fork a bit until Chris spoke up, "It's caprese pasta. That means it's tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Try it, it won't kill you."
We sat and ate quietly together. A couple of minutes into dinner, my dog, Addie, showed up and layed on her bed next to the TV.
I got up when I finished eating and tossed my dishes into the sink. But when I went to walk up the stairs to my room Chris stood up, "Where do you think you're going?"
"Uhm... I was going to go to bed." I simply stated.
"Spend some time with your family, Cas."
"Well, what if I don't want to? What if I just did what I wanted to do for once without my three older brothers breathing down my back constantly?" I had one foot up the stairs.
"Stop, Cassandra. If mom was here she'd want you to be in society instead of locked up inside your room."
"She's not. You're not Mom. You will never be, so don't act like her." I said before running up the stairs and slamming my door shut.
I took a few deep breaths then got myself together. My eyes glanced over to my desk. Art. I grabbed my MP3 player and chose my AC/DC playlist to start then sat at my desk and pushed up my chair. My finger pressed the power button on my drawing tablet and got my pen then I got to work. A line here, a line there. It was just a rough sketch of what I was planning on turning it into. My eyes fell heavy as I started to shade after I colored in most of it. I turned the tablet off right before my head hit the desk and I was out like a light.
There was a loud shatter of something. My head bolted to where it came from. The room was totally dark except for the lamppost glaring through my windows from outside. I looked at the tall, skinny boy who stood there- more like stared. He had a broken lamp in his hands. That must've been what have woke me up. Or, it could have been my earbuds blaring Back in Black.
"Who are you and how did you get in my room?" I demanded as I stood up. My left hand carefully slid into my back pocket and gripped my medium-sized, black pocketknife, making sure he didn't notice.
"I, am Death." He simply stated. When he spoke he had a British accent and it kind of sent shivers down my spine. The not-good kind.
"Likely story," I spat. "I have a knife on me and I know how to use it. My phone is on my desk. And I will call the cops. So, I'm warning you now; tell me who you are and how did you get here?"
"The knife will do nothing to me, Cassandra," he assured me.
My breathing halted for a second, "How do you know my name?"
He sighed. "There is a lot of things I know about you."
Creepy. This guy just gave me the heebie-jeebies. I pulled the knife out of my pocket and pointed it at him. He immediately threw both up his hands of some sort of surrender.
"I am not here to kill you, Cassandra. Look," he sighed, "this is probably not the best time to talk you with it being-" he glanced at my alarm clock next to my bed, "-3:17 in the morning and you're not all with it. Say, I'll come back in a while and tell you the truth." And with that, he walked up to me and said one word simply; "Sleep."
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep-I rolled out of my bed, attempting to turn and balance my hand on my nightstand, but instead, I just fell on my floor with a loud thunk, my legs and arms entangled with my sheets. "Hmph," I tried to free my legs until my door slammed open.
My second oldest brother, Thomas, stood there. His long, greasy, black hair was tied into a ponytail in the back of his head. He wore a Star Wars t-shirt with a black, leather jacket over it and black ripped jeans.
"Oh, hi, Tommy." I smiled, dazed. He walked over to my alarm and turned it off then helped me up and sat me on my bed. He reached for my legs, "Nuh, uh. You ain't doing that." I swatted his hands away and untied my legs. "I am almost sixteen-years-old and I think I can manage to get sheets off of me, thank you very much."
I realized what was wrong- no- different. "Tommy, when did you get home?" I narrowed my eyes. "You said you guys were still in production. I didn't expect you home until- I don't know."
"You're not gonna' say 'Tom, I missed you' or 'Hey, good to see you back'?"
"Thomas, it's good to see you." I beamed as I got up and hugged him. He wrapped his arms around me and dug his nose into my hair then sniffed. He gagged.
"Hey, Cas, when was- I'm just wondering- the last time you showered?" He said as he backed up.
Oh, right. "Uhm..." I thought for a minute, "Thursday?" I guessed.
"Bro, it's Sunday. Go shower then come downstairs. We're leaving at ten to go school supply shopping. And Cas, please put your knife away. No one is gonna' come in here and kill you." He walked out of my room.
I glanced at my kife on the floor, unfolded. The dream. If that was a dream that wouldn't be on the floor; it would still be in my back pocket and I would've been still sitting at my desk. Plus, my lamp was somehow fixed. I walked over, picked up the knife, folded it back up, put it on my dresser, and then pushed my desk chair in. My drawing tablet was still sitting there like I was going to go back- which I was planning on, but I knew that that was not going to be the case.
I turned it on and looked at my last drawing. It was a dark forest with snow on the branches and ground, a full moon shining bright in the background. I could make out a small, white wolf at the base of a tree. All but one thing was colored in... the eyes. They were just empty- lifeless.
"CASSANDRA MADISON LEERICK!" Chris' voice yelled.
"What?" I yelled back.
"Your ass better be in the shower by now or else-" He threatened.
"Fine, Christopher! Look, I'm getting my clothes," I hastily pulled open drawers and pulled out a shirt, jeans, and socks then rushed into the bathroom and closed the door.
The bathroom was fogged up once I stepped out of the shower. I put on a plain white t-shirt, jeans (because who doesn't love jeans?), and white socks. I quickly ran to my room and grabbed my orange sweatshirt then headed downstairs.
"Finally, the mighty beast has awoken." Chris joked then took another sip of coffee.
"Har har," I said. "I was actually awake since my alarm went off." I went to the pan on the stove and got a plate then dished up some bacon and eggs. I sat down closest to the balcony door.
"Where's Bradley?" I cooed.
Chris looked up from his mug, "He had to go to the hospital early. Something about having too many patients and not enough people to cover each other's shifts. I think many people aren't there because school starts tomorrow."
I nodded. But I just remembered that I forgot orange juice so I got up and opened the fridge. There was a giant baby blue cake sitting on the second from the top shelf. My mouth fell agape.
"Oh," Chris started, "Bradley made that last night because he thought that he wasn't going to be here tonight. He said you guys can have it to share."
Will was silently eating a bowl of cereal, not even reacting to anything we said.
I perked up with a thought. "No. You cannot eat the cake for breakfast." Chris ordered.
"Wha- I didn't even say anything!" I retorted, even though it was true.
"You didn't need to say anything. You're my sister, I know what you're going to say before you say it, Cas. And I've known you for almost sixteen years, so I'm entitled to my opinion." He responded.
I hummed a little then sat back down and went back to eating. When the three of us were done eating we cleaned up and put our shoes on.
Chris stood at the door, "Okay, Cas," he pointed to me, "Will," then Will, "Tom," next was Tom, "and me." He pointed to himself and tossed the keys to the van in one hand. "Let's go."
Our mom's van was still pretty intact for being about 12 years old. I mean, there were some ragged edges here and there, and maybe just some stains- okay... a lot. There was one big stain from when I dropped a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the floor. Now, there's just a faded, red stain. Another spot is where a younger Will threw pickles against the back of the first row of seats. One of the weirdest spots was in the very backseat on the right. Something that we thought was ketchup at first was smothered against the back of the seat. Turns out it was Tommy's blood from... somewhere. To this day, he still doesn't know how it got there. And neither do we.
My spot was in the far back left. Tommy's was the far back right. Will's was the middle left. Chris' was the middle right, but now that's Addie's. Chris usually sits in the passenger seat, but when he's driving he's in the driver's seat.
When we got to Wal-Mart, Tommy went to the electronics, Chris went to the clothes; 'You do NOT need any more clothes' I said, and Will looked at the school stuff with me. Will kept the cart with him while he and I placed stuff in that we would, of course, need Chris's opinion on before we bought them.
I strayed a bit from Will as I looked at the pencils. There was a cool pack that had black, green and blue ones that weren't that expensive so I found the cart. As I made to place them inside I saw a glimpse of someone. 'It can't be'. I threw them in the cart then rubbed my eyes. He was still there, looking at a water bottle in the other aisle. I glanced at Will to make sure he was alright then walked fast to him.
He looked the same all except for the cherry-red streak on his hair.
"Okay," I barked. "I really don't know who you are. You and I are in a public place and if you try anything I won't-"
"Cassandra," he sighed. "I realized I may have done something to upset you. I am not a stalker if that's what you think."
I didn't even say anything. "You don't have to say anything. If you don't want to talk for a bit, I understand..."
I inhaled deeply. "Clearly, I think you're a bit- weird. But if you are not what I think you are and- just, screw that." I waved both of my hands. "I should get home at about eleven. If you managed to not trigger the alarms then, I bet you still can't now. So, stay in my room until then. Then, and only then can we chat about who and what you are." I walked away at my last word, not looking back.
When we got home at eleven we went our separate ways with our bags. Tommy went downstairs while Chris stayed in the kitchen and Will and I went upstairs. I slammed my door closed and locked it when I saw the guy standing by my bookshelf, looking at my picture frame in his hands.
"Put that down!" I growled.
He looked at me, his eyes blown wide. "Sorry," he apologized as he set it back down.
"How is this going to work, Cassandra? Whatever you want I will be fine with it."
"First of all," I pulled out my desk chair to face- whoever he is- and sat down. "Don't call me Cassie or Cassandra. Just Cas. And how it will work is I ask the questions and you will answer them truthfully. Oh, and I kind of can sense when people are telling the truth or they're lying."
"I know you can, Cas." He looked at me for approval then I nodded. "So start asking whatever you want and I promise I will answer truthfully."
"Who are you?" I started.
"I believe you already asked me that this morning."
"Death. Right. You go by any other names?"
"Your oldest brother didn't like to just call me Death, so he named me Jackson-"
"WAIT!" I yelled. "You're telling me that my brother knows you?"
"Yes. That is what I just told you." He said. "Now, Cas, for you to understand what I am going to tell you- you to need to not be interrupting me. In the end, only then can you be upset at me or whoever you need to blame on your past. I will take full blame for my former actions if need be."
I breathed in and out a couple of times. "Okay." I agreed. "How do you and my bother know each other?"
"When you were born your father told me specific directions to go to Michael and Peggy Leerick's house and tell them that you will be their new daughter. Peggy wasn't able to produce female offspring and you can clearly see that from your three older brethren. Your father looked specifically for a family who would love to have you as a daughter. William and Thomas never knew that you weren't their blood-related sister. Christopher was old enough to understand. I told him my story as he, in turn, told me his. Michael entrusted Christopher to take care of you once Peggy died. Since then, Christopher has done every little thing he could to protect you from the threats and dangers outside of your knowing."
My mouth was agape. "You can talk now." He advised.
"I- I'm not- they aren't- how can- who is my real family?"
"You do not have a family. You only have a father. He made you all the years ago since the beginning of time. I was made right after you. Because without you there would be no me." He
"B- but you're Death. With no Death, there would be no..." It hit me just then, "Life." I breathed.He nodded.
"Are we related?"
"No. Not in the slightest. Your father is God while mine is..." He looked down and started to fiddle with his fingers.
"Nope. Not possible." I threw my hands up in defeat.
"I'm sorry?" He looked up.
"God doesn't exist." I simply stated.
"What makes you say- oh... you're an atheist."
"How can you read my thoughts?"
"There are many things that I can do."
Right then his eyes lit up cherry-red as a small section of the left side of his hair grew the same color from the roots to the tips. From behind him grew two, large, red bat-like wings that were about twenty feet in diameter, I would have guessed. Then, from the top of his head grew two matching horns. All of which had the same color.
"W- what are you?" I stammered.
"I, am a demon. You, on the other hand, are an angel."