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art by Stephen James Kiniry

Amy's First

Henry Szabranski lives in Buckinghamshire, UK, with his wife and two young sons. He doesn't believe in angels.

The angel floated just below the rafters of Amy's bedroom. It glowed like a Christmas ornament: rainbow colours shimmering across its translucent, slow-sculling wings. Its soft radiance filled the darkened room.
Amy lay still, hardly breathing. An angel had finally appeared, just like her friend had said it would. She glanced across at the door. It was firmly shut, no telltale sliver of light beneath it; Mother and her new boyfriend had gone to bed, their rhythmic creaking stopped. Amy was pretty sure she was the only one awake in the house.
Her, and the angel.
She threw off her covers and bounced up onto the bed, her heart hammering. Soft toys and sparkle ponies scattered onto the floor, emptied chocolate boxes and candy wrappers, and discarded presents from her friend tumbled into the dip her feet created in the mattress.
The angel drifted lower. "Listen to me, Amy." Its lilting, asexual voice sounded like harp music, like a joyous choir. But quiet, very quiet: like it was sharing a special secret with her. "There is something important I need to tell you. You're an extraordinary little girl, and the fate of worlds rests in your hands."
The angel floated towards her. She had expected it to look like her Barbie doll, only with wings, and legs and arms. Instead, it appeared smeared, faded, as though put through the wash too many times. Amy could see her wallpaper right through it, clowns and teddy bears performing cartwheels across a pale yellow sky.
The angel drifted closer, glowing candyfloss mist. Amy thought it looked scared.
She remembered what her friend had told her. "You're a very special little girl," he said. "You deserve only the best." She had been surprised and a little frightened to find him nestled amongst her toys, but he had brought her gifts, and made Mother's boyfriend leave her alone, and so she had listened carefully when he told her all about the angels, and the war, and how she might be visited one night and asked to help.
She knew exactly what to do now.
Amy put one hand against the wall, suffocating a clown in the process, and balanced on her tiptoes. She breathed in through her mouth as strongly as she could, sucking the angel in until only one iridescent wing dangled from her lips. For a moment she felt a wriggling sensation in her mouth, as if a small, slippery fish flapped within it--then she gulped in the wing and swallowed the angel whole.
Golden warmth spread through her lips, across her tongue, down her throat; the sweetest taste, a tingling syrup. Better than chocolate or milkshake or soda or ice-cream. Better than anything she had ever tasted. She could not help but give a giggle of delight.
The little red man who had whispered in her ear had been right. The angel was delicious.
As the thrilling warmth began to fade--all too quickly--Amy glanced back up at the ceiling. There were no other angels. Disappointed, she settled back down on her bed.
Then she remembered what her little friend had said. There were many angels. Too many.
Amy wondered where she could find more.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Author Comments

This story was inspired by a photograph showing a young girl, back to the camera, spraying water from her mouth. The water droplets had caught the light and formed a part rainbow. To me, the spray and the arc looked just like a scintillating wing emerging from the girl's mouth. To what ethereal creature did it belong? Why would it be there? And... did it taste any good? "Amy's First" is my attempt to answer these questions. To see the photograph for yourself, please visit henryszabranski.wordpress.com.

- Henry Szabranski
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