Josie met him in a used bookstore, the smell of gently read words and coffee all around them. He was holding a copy of Watership Down, the rabbit she assumed to be Hazel looking at her from the cover. He was paging through it.
“It’s my favorite,” she told him. “It wouldn’t be a mistake.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked, dubious. “Rabbits…I dunno.”
“C’mon,” she said. “It’s two dollars. A steal if you love it, and a tiny loss if you don’t.”
“True,” he said. He tucked it under his arm. She smiled at small victories and browsed past him.
They met again at the coffee counter and he held up a bag that she supposed was Hazel’s temporary home. “You owe me two dollars if the rabbits are stupid,” he said, smiling. His teeth were perfectly straight.
“Oh sure,” she said. She ordered a mocha. He waited for his drink. She fumbled with her bag of new-to-her books and her wallet, and when she finally got situated, her drink was ready. The girl behind the counter watched her take it with a look that made her ask, “What?”
Angels and Mortals
I didn’t fall from grace. I was pushed. Like a comet flashing across the heavens, I streaked toward Earth. The impact left a crater half-a-mile wide. It also ripped my wings off and twisted my limbs. But angels are made of stronger stuff than that. Over the course of many weeks, I healed. All but my wings. The Fallen weren’t allowed to resemble what we had been before. Our souls quickly shriveled at being so far away from Him.
Even my brother, Lucifer, son of the morning, had been reduced to a mere glimmer of his former beauty. As he raged against Michael and Heaven’s Host, I stayed in the shadows. This war was not mine to fight. I didn’t particularly care who won. All I wanted was to stand in His presence again with his name on my lips.
Then the Almighty brought mankind into the world. He spit them into existence in a garden of gold, azure, vermillion, amaranthine, and viridian. It matched a part of Heaven that we Fallen believed we’d never see again. The only problem was that only Lucifer, cloaked as a serpent, ever stepped foot inside.
I wandered the perimeter, touching the blooming plants that spilled over the walls. The air filled with honeysuckle, lavender, jasmine, and saffron. My chest constricted tight at all I had lost. continue reading…
One Longing For the Night
In our house, her name was a dirty word. If a Campbell muttered that someone was like Amelia, you’d better take note. If you were told you were acting up, like Amelia, you stopped. Mum’s mouth set in a hard, disapproving line if we spoke of her, which was rarely. Dad collapsed in on himself like shadows in the darkness. Amelia to him meant pain. They never told us that, I should hasten to add. Jodie used to give me a big sister punch to the arm if I slipped and mentioned her, so I stopped because Jodie was mean. When I became a teenager and finally understood the world, I saw why I shouldn’t mention her.
I locked my memories of her into a box in my mind. I would wait until I was comfortable in bed and the house was silent and dark, and the only light in my room was from the far-flung stars who always bore witness as I examined my memory for fragments of the late Amelia Campbell.
She’d been my favourite aunt when I was a child. She would visit in a flurry of presents and hugs and kisses; her unearthly beauty mesmerised us. I was fascinated with her red hair which gave her a fiery look. She had the greenest eyes I’d ever seen, not hazel or flecked with other colours, but pure green. It hurt to look at her sometimes, she was so delicate and beautiful and aflame. She didn’t talk down to us, ever. She didn’t change the subject when we entered the room, which annoyed mum to no end. She listened to my stories about my dolls and Jodie’s horrid pony collection in earnest. She’d nod sagely as I served Teddy Ruxpin high tea, and solicitiously ask him if he wouldn’t fancy a sandwich. When I introduced her to my imaginary friend Stanley, she didn’t frown the way the other adults did. She asked him if he liked chocolate ice-cream, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. She seemed just as enchanted with the world as I was. continue reading…