Archive for December, 2009
My name is Griffin. I’m eight years old and I’m an angel. No one believes me until I show them the wing knobs on my back. Then they look at me differently. They treat me special. I still remember the day mom told me. I was watching the bees on the clovers. I really love bees. Mom called me over, her eyes were watering from the bright sun and she hugged me so tight. She said I would always be her angel. I, of course, reminded her I was a boy and she got that funny smile and rubbed my back.
“You feel these two bumps,” she said. “This is where your wings were. God had to remove them when He gave you to me so you wouldn’t fly off the earth.”
A little while later my mom did fly off the earth. I guess she was an angel, too. I miss her lots still. I miss her smell. She smelled like clovers and wind. My new home smells like old socks and baby diapers. But it’s warm and I have new friends. Well, the boys aren’t very nice. They like to pinch and make red spots on my arms. I’m not sure why they think this is funny, but I laugh with them. Mom said I had to try hard to act like other kids so they didn’t take me away from her.
I miss the bees, too. When I grow up I’m going to make bees out of glass. Glass the color of their honey and clear glass for their tiny wings. Miss Joan calls this daydreaming. She says its time for me to go into the real world. This is called school.
The school bus picks us all up at the mailbox. I step into the bus but get stuck right there next to the big sweaty man driver. He is staring at me. “Get moving,” he says. But I can’t. The noise is a wall, I can’t think to move my feet. I wish the kids would stop being so loud all together. My mouth is stuck, too. I begin to cry and the sweaty man tells the girl behind him to move over and he nods. “Sit there.” After that the boys call me Sniffin’ Griffin.
We each have our own desk at school. Mine is cold and hard. Miss Gregory is my teacher. She stares at us through purple framed glasses and makes little sighing noises. I don’t think she’s happy. I want to make her happy. I try really hard. Only, I have never played the game Seven Up before so I don’t know to keep my head on the desk and she says I was cheating and I am now out of the game. Then she tells the kids to stop laughing, that it’s not funny and I’m glad she doesn’t think it’s funny either.
At lunchtime Big Rob accidently spills cherry Jell-O in my hair. I’m allowed to go to the restroom and wash it out. It takes a long time to dry and so I don’t get to eat my own Jell-O. On the bus ride home, the girl keeps saying “gross” when my stomach makes noises. The boys start to hit me in the back of the head with their books. The driver yells. I feel frozen again. I think about my glass bees until it’s time to get off the bus.
I am good with numbers. I make a chart to show how many days until Christmas. My mom used to say Christmas is a time for miracles. I’m asking for God to give me my wings back so I can go find my mom.
Christmas morning I am waiting by the mailbox. I don’t know why the other kids are watching me in the window and laughing. They must think it’s funny they are going to miss the bus. My nose and fingers are numb. I make buzzing bee noises and this seems to warm me up. Then bells join in. Ding. Ding. I jump, surprised by how loud they are. Church bells, I think.
I step out to hear them better. I don’t see the car.
There is a loud screaming from the car and then no more church bells. No more noise. Just light. Light is burning my eyes, soaking me with heat like the hottest sun and then she is there. My mom, with that funny smile, is hugging me. She smells like honey and heaven and slips her hand into mine and I feel my own wings lift me from the ground. Happiness fills me like a balloon because my wish has come true.
This is the best Christmas ever.
Eric fumbled with the buttons on the arm rest of the stolen Nissan. A blast of humid night air hit him. It smelled like charred beef.
“Snow Bunny, can you hear me?” Adrenaline shot his voice up a few octaves.
“Loud and clear, Earth Worm. What the hell happened?” She jumped off the bed and pressed her forehead against the hotel window, searching the Miami skyline as if she could find him.
“You said there were no guards!” Glancing in the rear view mirror had become his latest tick as he navigated the short grid of turns toward the highway. “FYI, there were two freakin’ guards, Snow Bunny! Two!”
“Shit.” Long bit of silence. “Sorry. But, you got out with the samples, right?”
Eric slipped the cool-pack full of vials from his black canvas jacket, tossing them onto the seat beside him.
“Affirmative.” Sarcasm and fear. He cranked up the air. “I think someone’s following me.”
“Earth worm, listen to me.” Her voice was measured, painfully calm. “Eric…the hard part is over. Now you just have to get that evidence to the Sun’s reporter. He’s there waiting. Just keep driving, that’s all you have to do. You know how important this is. You’re the messenger; this has to get out to the public.”
He wiped at his nose, checked the rear view mirror and jerked the wheel hard right, swerving over two lanes and jumping onto I-75 at the last minute. The suspected black van didn’t make it.
“Yeah, the messenger of death.” And then louder, so she could hear him, “getting onto Alligator Alley now.”
“Okay. Good. Anyone behind you?”
“Negative. You know what they’ll do if they catch me, right?”
“They won’t. Just drive. One hour and it’ll be out of your hands. We’re doing the right thing. They are monsters. And Eric…”
“Don’t let those vials break.”
He cranked up the radio so he couldn’t hear the pounding in his chest or the blood rushing through his head. It was almost three in the morning so traffic was light, but still, every time lights appeared behind him, he held his breath until they passed.
The road was a long straight ribbon of blacktop cutting through the Everglades. Metal fencing bordering both sides of the highway flew by in intermitten flashes. He suddenly longed for a couple short months ago when all he had to worry about was passing his Chem. II final.
Ding ding. Eric moved his attention from the road to the dashboard. A tiny red light glared at him.
“What the…?” His heart did a flip flop and almost stopped. “C..c..come in. Snow Bunny? Angela!”
“What, what’s wrong? Are they behind you?”
“I’m almost out of gas.” No response. “Did you hear me?”
“You stole a car that was on empty?!”
“I didn’t exactly have time to check.”
“There are no gas stations on Alligator Alley.”
“Okay, go as far as you can and then…you’ll have to walk. I have to think.”
Eric slowed the car down to 55 mph. He had heard this was the most gas efficient speed. Things were becoming very surreal and he was getting numb from the terror, feeling nothing but the sensation of a cold sweat.
And then he heard it. The unmistakable thump thump thump of a chopper. He knew this was no coincidence. They were looking for him. The car began to putter. Slamming his hands on the steering wheel, he eased it off the road and brought it to rest close to the fence. He killed the lights.
“Angela?” Static. “Angela!” Were they blocking the radio signal? Now he really did feel paranoid. He ripped off the headset and hid it under the seat. Maybe he could save her, at least. Let them think he was acting alone.
As a spotlight from the helicopter came into view, sweeping back and forth like two wicked, alien eyes, his face became slick with tears. This was not going to end well for him.
Grabbing the cool-pack, he opened the door and began to run. When he was out of breath, he said a little prayer and scaled the fence. The top part, being angled down, was a bit difficult, but he soon found himself crash landing with a thud in the tall grasses beside the waterway.
The chopper was close now, but within a few minutes he heard something even more terrifying. Squealing tires, car doors…dogs. He collapsed against the fence. It was over. They would find him and make him disappear. After all this, he had failed.
Two eyes, glowing the color of moonlight appeared in the dark waters before silently submerging again.
He suddenly knew what he had to do. This had to make headlines one way or another. A few infected gators would do the trick. They couldn’t stop that in time to cover it up. He ripped open the cool pack with his teeth and one by one, unsealed the vials and drank them.
Fighting the blinding pain now coursing through him, Eric slid forward until his feet, then his legs and finally his arms were submerged in the warm, murky waters.
He felt the gator only as a violent jerk on his leg, then a wicked roll into the darkness.