I thought for sure I was dead. In the instant I started falling my heart quit beating; everything was rushing past me. I was just waiting to hit the ground and I was so afraid that I would feel it, that it would be painful, that my last moments alive would be filled with agony.
But I felt no pain, and I never hit the ground. Someone caught me. Arms wrapped tight around me and I was pressed against someone’s body. I shut my eyes tight and my heart finally started beating again, hammering against my chest. I gasped for air, pressing my hands into the person holding me.
We were on the roof again. It wasn’t until after I had calmed down that I opened my eyes and looked up to see who it was that saved me. It took me a minute, but I soon noticed the large white wings on his back, and my heart skipped another beat.
“Don’t be afraid,” the man said. “You’re alright, now. I saved you. Sorry if I surprised you earlier. I hadn’t fully manifested my physical body yet.”
I stared at him, not quite sure what to say. He was still holding me, and I felt a twinge of fear when I realized this. I shifted a little, wanting him to let me go but too frightened to say anything. He seemed to get the message and set me down on my feet. I wobbled slightly and nearly fell over, but he caught me by the shoulders and held me steady.
“Easy, now. Just take a moment.”
“Who… what are you?” I managed to say. I had to crane my neck up to look at him; he was taller than anyone I had ever met before, and I felt like a small child compared to him.
“My name is Cecil,” he said with a smile on his face. “I’m an angel of the Lord. I’ve been assigned to be your guardian.”
I blinked slowly then shook my head. “What? An angel?”
“That’s right.” He slowly knelt down so he was at eye level with me. The glasses he wore glinted a moment in the sunlight before I could see his eyes, which were a vibrant violet like I had never seen. “Your name is Hannah, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I said cautiously.
“Alright. Before we go any further, I have a question for you. Just why are you on this rooftop?”
I blinked at him and took a slight step back. “Excuse me?”
“You know it’s dangerous, right? You just found out firsthand how dangerous it can be.” He stood up and crossed his arms and I frowned at him.
“If you hadn’t scared me like you did, I wouldn’t have fallen off in the first place.”
“Well!” He paused, looking like he was trying to come up with a retort but he couldn’t think of one. “That’s neither here nor there. It’s just not normal for people to hang out on rooftops, as far as I’m aware.”
I narrowed my eyes and turned away from him. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter. I just didn’t want to go home, and this seemed like as good a place as any to hide.”
“Family troubles?” he asked. I didn’t respond, though silence is a response in and of itself. Cecil walked over to me and stood before me so I had to look at him. “Listen, that’s exactly why I’ve been sent here to be your guardian. I want to help you with what’s going on. But in order to do that, you’re going to have to help me help you. Understand?”
I frowned, turning my face away from him. “And just how am I supposed to do that?”
“By accepting my help and not pushing me away. It really isn’t all that hard.” He smiled again, a kind, genuine smile. I hadn’t seen a smile like that before… I’m not sure ever.
I let my guard down a little sighed. “Okay.”
He held out his hand to me and I slowly took it. His skin felt warm and soft, and it almost seemed to glow. His grip was strong and we shook hands. “Come on,” he said, “why don’t we get off this roof? It’s dangerous up here, not to mention cold. I can take you home if you want.”
“I don’t want to go home,” I said with a frown. “Especially not now. I’d be late, and my parents will probably get mad at me.”
“Well, maybe you should have thought of that before you climbed up here,” he said in response. I glowered at him. I had the feeling that getting along with him wasn’t going to be the easiest thing in the world.
“Just tell me one thing. What exactly are you going to be doing to ‘help’ me?” I asked.
“Well…” He paused, not seeming to know how to respond. I had a feeling that was going to be the case. “To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t going to reveal myself to you until I had some idea of how to help you, but you seemed like you might be… needing someone now.”
“I was doing just fine, thank you very much. And like I said, I wouldn’t have fallen if you hadn’t scared me. I was on my way to leave as it was.”
“Perhaps,” he said quietly. “But I sensed something and I had to be sure.”
I rolled my eyes and let out a sigh. “Fine. Whatever. Then take me home, since that’s obviously where you want me to go.”
He nodded his head, then asked, “Is it alright if I carry you?”
I grumbled a bit and turned away from him, muttering, “Yeah, I guess.”
He lifted me up into his arms and spread his white wings. Then he ran and jumped off the edge of the roof. I braced myself against him, wrapping my arms tight around him. That terrible falling sensation didn’t happen, though. We were actually flying. It took me a few moments to adjust, to really grasp what was happening. I opened my eyes and watched as the world below us went by.
Cecil landed on the roof of our house, just outside my window, and he opened it for me, despite it only being able to be opened from the inside. I blinked at him then crawled through the window and settled onto my bed. He came in after me and shut the window, then stretched his long arms above his head. I thought for sure he would end up hitting the ceiling.
“There, now your parents won’t know that you got home late. If they accuse you of being late, you can just tell them that you were here the whole time and that you just came in unnoticed.”
“Isn’t that lying?” I said, quirking an eyebrow. “I figured you would be against that kind of thing.”
“Well.” He waved his hand dismissively. “One little fib now and then isn’t such a big deal. It’s just those lies that are likely to actually hurt someone that I have a problem with.”
“I see.” I settled back against the pillows of my bed and gazed at him. “So, why exactly are you here anyway? What makes you think I need a guardian angel?”
His expression turned solemn and he sighed, moving across the room to my desk. He folded his wings against his back and they seemed to disappear entirely before he settled down. “I know about your father. About all the terrible things he’s done.”
“Oh, really?” I leaned forward, interested to know what he knew, or thought he knew. “What sort of terrible things has my father done, then?”
“Well…” He looked conflicted about saying anything, and before he even could, the door to my room opened and Mom stepped in. I froze and my heart pounded against my ribs.
“Hannah, when did you get home? I didn’t see you come in.”
“Just… at the normal time,” I said stiffly. “I didn’t see anyone when I got home anyway so I came right upstairs.”
“Hrm. Well, your father has a meeting tonight, so dinner will be late. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, of course not,” I said, wondering why she hadn’t noticed the tall man sitting in the corner of my room.
“Are you doing your homework?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’ll get started on it in a few minutes.”
“Okay. I’ll call you when we’re ready to eat.”
Mom left the room and closed the door behind her. I turned to Cecil with a glare and asked, “What was that?”
“What was what?” he said, blinking.
“Why didn’t she see you?”
“Ah, well, as a guardian angel I can make it so only certain people see me. You’re the only one who can see, hear, and physically interact with me.”
“So for all I know you could just be some sort of delusion and you’re not really real,” I said, standing up and pacing across my room.
“Now, that doesn’t make any sense,” he said, shaking his head. “If that were true, how did you get here? How were you saved when you fell? I assure you, I am quite real, Hannah.”
What he said did make sense, but I was still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that there was an angel in my room. “Okay, okay, fine. So no one can see you but me. Meaning you can stalk me all you want when I’m at school and having family dinner, and all that stuff, and I’ll be able to see you and no one else can, and I might end up looking crazy.”
“I mean, if it bothers you so much, I could just follow you discretely until you’re alone and we can actually talk,” he proposed. I glared at him in response then leaned against my wall and took a deep breath.
“This is just ridiculous, okay.”
“You merely think that because you’ve never had such an experience before, but it doesn’t make it so.” He smiled at me, but his words didn’t reassure me. “Now, back to what I was saying– oh, wait. I should tell you something. There’s another reason I’m here besides looking after you.”
I turned to him, narrowing my eyes. “And just what would that be?”
“There might be a demon here in your town. I need to find it so it can be destroyed.”