Authors Note: This was an English assignment from when I was in 10th grade and doing online classes. Being an allegory assignment, I also received great support from my teacher who encouraged me to pursue publishing short stories/writing. Again, unedited since it was written, but another example of the growth I’ve gone through as a writer.
The projection screen against the wall was lit up with happy faces and beautiful scenery, accompanied by the sound of laughter and the rippling of a creek in the background. A beautiful woman with sandy blond hair and emerald green eyes was the focus of the camera, her ruby lips split in a joyous smile. She glanced above the camera, giving a loving look to whoever was holding it, then looked into the lens and blew a kiss. She then crouched down close to the rocky bank of the creek, the camera following her down and revealing a small girl playing with the smooth stones and squealing with delight as the icy water flowed over her tiny toes.
The toddler’s cherry blossom colored dress was splattered with droplets of water, her bare legs spotted with grains of sand and dirt, along with the occasional blade of grass. Her tiny mop of blond hair was damp as well from the water of the creek, the ends curling upward and into tiny ringlets. She turned her face to look up at the woman, a look of absolute joy and excitement emanating from her ramble of words. She squinted her blue-green eyes, laughing playfully and revealing the small amount of teeth she had.
“Say hi to daddy,” the woman said, wrapping her arm around the girl and pointing toward the camera. The toddler was focused on a rock she was holding, not hearing her mother’s words at first. “Lyly, look at daddy,” the woman said.
The girl turned her head, her eyes falling upon the unseen face behind the camera. “Look, daddy,” she said, holding up the rock.
“It’s beautiful, Lyly,” the man’s voice said from behind the camera.
“It is!” The girl exclaimed.
“Lyly, show daddy your dance,” the man said.
“Yay!” The girl shouted, clapping her pudgy hands together. She began clumsily swaying, singing an unrecognizable tune and spinning with the words. As she tried to jump, she lost her balance and plopped to the ground, creating a small splash of water that jumped over her. A look of shock was on her face, as she did not understand what just happened.
“Oh, sweetheart,” the woman said, hurrying over to the girl and picking her up. She examined the completely soaked dress, still cooing to the toddler and keeping her from crying.
“Ella, did we bring a change of clothes?” The man asked, walking over to the girls. “Yeah, they’re in the car. Could you grab them?” Ella asked.
“Sure,” the man said. The camera lowered and all that was visible on the screen was bushy grass that was being gently blown by a soft breeze.
“James, don’t forget you have the camera still on,” Ella said.
“Right!” The little girl’s father said. He raised the camera and the young woman and child were once again visible.
The toddler snapped out of her trancelike stare, looking wide-eyed at the man. “Daddy,
I’m wet!” She said loudly, a look of surprise flashing over her face. “You are!”
“James, could you grab a diaper when you grab the clothes too,” Ella asked, working on getting the dress off the little girl.
“Yeah, I’ll just grab the diaper bag,” James said. “Okay, say bye-bye to the camera, Lyly,” he said.
“Huh?” The little girl cocked her head, not understanding her father. Ella finished unbuttoning the little dress, slipping it off the girl. Her round belly stuck out over her soggy diaper, and she began playing with her bellybutton.
“Say bye-bye, Emalyn,” James repeated.
The little girl looked up, giving a vigorous wave to the camera. “Bye-bye, Emalyn!” She shouted.
Ella and James started laughing humorously. “Emalyn, just say goodbye,” Ella said through her laughter.
“Bye-bye!” The girl shouted, joining in on the laughter. The video ended, the screen becoming black and white fuzz.
The room became suddenly quiet, a sorrowful atmosphere filling it to the top. An emptiness seemed to be resonating from the walls, seeping in like water through a crack. Sitting with her legs crisscross on the floor, the very woman from the video was staring blankly at the empty screen, a black woolly blanket wrapped around her shoulders loosely. A single tear suddenly slid down her cheek, falling silently from her chin to the wood floor.
Masculine footsteps echoed through the hallway just outside that room, walking heavily toward it. “Ella, I can’t find the keys, do you-” the man, who was James from the video, stopped as he reached the door, his hands grasping the tie he wore in attempt to secure it around his neck. They dropped to his sides, forgetting that the tie he wore sat half undone still.
Ella quickly wiped her eyes, trying to erase the appearance of sadness. She pulled the blanket around herself tighter, straightening her posture.
“Ella,” James said sadly. He opened his mouth to say something else, but was unable to go on when Ella interjected.
“They’re in the bowl on the little table by the door,” she said. James didn’t say anything, rather he simply stared at Ella with an expression of sympathetic sorrow. Ella looked annoyed, standing up and letting the blanket drop. “You better go, or you’ll be late,” she said.
“I can be late,” he said. “You’re more important to me.”
“James, don’t,” Ella said, turning slightly away from him. “I’m fine,” she said, folding her arms around her stomach.
“Ella, you’re not fine, we’re not fine,” James said, entering the room and standing in front of his wife. “We really need to talk about this. It can’t go unsettled.”
“What is there to talk about?” The woman said quietly, a trembling in her voice.
James grabbed her chin, turning her face to look at him. She averted her eyes, looking down at the floor. “Ella, it’s important to talk,” James said.
“What do you want me to say, James? She’s dead! There really isn’t much else to say,” Ella said, her shouts echoing in the room. Hot tears began streaming down her face, her lips quivering uncontrollably.
“We can’t let this fester,” James said gently. “I really think we need to just sit down with someone, and talk. It’s been three years since the accident.”
“It’s not that easy, James! Unlike you, I still love her! I can’t become some cruel beast like you and stop loving her! It’s unfair. Unfair to me, and unfair to her!”
“I never stopped loving her! I still do, and always will, but there’s a time to move on,” James said, raising his voice slightly.
“No!” Ella screamed. She dropped to her knees, pushing her hands over her face and waling into them.
James sighed, crouching down and wrapping his arms around her. “When you’re ready, we’ll talk,” he said. He kissed the top of her head, standing back up. He walked away silently, leaving her alone. Keys jingled, the front door opened, and then shut.
Ella cried a while longer, her shoulders heaving up and down as she tried to stop the hiccuping cries. As her sobs slowed, she stood back up, fixing her hair and clearing her throat. She wrapped her shaky arms around her small wasted again, feeling a chill constantly running up and down her spine. She glanced around, perhaps as though to make sure no one was around, and left the room slowly, shuffling her bare feet along the floor.
She reached a winding staircase, her eyes tracing it up to the top. She continued her wandering up the cherrywood steps, her delicate hand lightly gliding across the intricate black banister. At the top, she dragged herself to the left, approaching one of the little white doors. Hesitantly, she placed her hand on the chain around her neck and pulled it up over her head, revealing a small gold key dangling from it. She slipped the key into the lock, carefully twisting it until a faint click sounded. She grasped the doorknob, slowly twisting it and pushing the door inward, letting it swing open the rest of the way.
Inside was an elaborately furnished child’s room, full of different toys, seating arrangements, rocking horses, and shelves. A large bed under one of the wide windows was covered in soft pink blankets and stuffed animals carefully arranged along the end. The walls were a soft pink as well, a strip of darker pink down the center of each with black swirls and flowers painted along it. The floor was wood like the rest of the house, though plush rugs were all over to add design and comfort to the room. On one of the rugs sat an open children’s book, exposing a colorful cartoon picture of fairies flying through the pink-tinted sky. Ella smiled sadly at the book, remembering she had been sitting there reading that very story before….
She yanked her focus from the book, glancing to the princess-like bed. She silently went over to it, slowly sitting on the edge of the mattress and folding her hands in her lap. She looked over to the end and noticed a fluffy white rabbit with its eyes shut tight, its front paws pushed together while kneeling on its back ones. She picked it up slowly, a new stream of tears flowing from her eyes. She hugged it to her chest, the toy beginning to recite the Lord’s prayer.
As the bunny recited every last word of the prayer, Ella struggled to not let out a violent cry, biting her lip to the point of drawing blood. She lowered herself down until her head landed upon the pillow, her legs curling behind her. However, as she put more weight upon the pillow, she noticed something hard and jagged underneath her head. She sat up slightly, setting the rabbit down and reaching her hand underneath the pillow.
What she drew out was a porcelain angel, tall and majestic with a flowing white robe and long blond hair. Powerful wings unfurled from its back, showing the true extent of beauty the being held. Cradled in its arms was a small girl, her eyes fixed upon the angel’s face. Her curly blond hair dangled over one of the angel’s arms, a pink dress draped over her body.
Ella’s other hand flew to her mouth, a new sob escaping from her mouth.
“Mommy, have you ever seen an angel?”
“Well, not exactly,” Ella said as she tucked the toddler into bed. “I have!”
“Oh, you have, have you?”
“Well, what did this angel look like?” Ella asked, deciding to go along with it.
“You,” Emalyn said, playing with the blanket between her fingers.
Ella began to choke up, tears threatening to flow. She clasped her hand over her mouth, smiling underneath it.
“Did I make you sad, mommy?” Emalyn said, almost about to cry herself.
“No! No, you made mommy very happy,” Ella said. She bent over and kissed Ella’s forehead, stroking the girl’s blond curls.
“Good, because I have something I want to show you,” Emalyn said. She sat up, reaching her hand under her pillow. She brought forth the angel holding the little girl, showing it proudly to her mother. “This is you as an angel, and that’s me,” Lyly said, pointing to the little girl wrapped safely in the arms of the angel.
Ella smiled again, kissing Emalyn once more. “Even when I’m not there to hold you, angels will always be,” she said.
Ella couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. A new river of them flowed from her eyes, the mascara she had applied that morning already washed completely away. She couldn’t take her attention away from the little porcelain figure, the sound of her daughter’s voice ringing in her ears. She caressed the tiny girl in the arms of the angel, humming a lullaby through her tears. She brought the statue to her face, pressing the cold, glazed clay figure to her lips.
“Even when I’m not there,” she said softly.
The front door slid closed downstairs, wedged shoes clapping against the hard floor. Ella shot up, realizing she had fallen asleep. She stood hurriedly, and forgetting that the little angel was in her arms, watched it slide to the floor.
“No!” She said, horrified by the sight of it falling to the ground. Expecting to hear a shatter, she closed her eyes and cried a little more, but no shatter came. She opened them one at a time, looking down to see the doll safely intact. She picked it up, brushed it off, and carried it close in her arms as she made her way downstairs.
Standing wearily in the hall was James, frustratedly yanking at his tie to get it off. as it came unknotted, he slipped it off and held it in one clenched fist. As he turned to go toward the kitchen, the sound of Ella stampeding down the stairs caused him to freeze. “Ella, is everything alright?” He asked worriedly.
“James!” Ella shouted, a tinge of relief in her voice. She reached the bottom of the stairs and thrust her arms around her husband.
“Ella, are you alright?” He asked in an even more worried tone. He lightly placed his arms around her, not sure what to make of the situation.
“Everything is alright, no, everything is perfect!” Ella said, her tears sliding onto James’ shoulder. She hugged him even tighter, closing her eyes as tight as she could.
James let the tie slide from his hand, holding Ella as close as he could and letting his emotions out as well. “What’s happened?” He asked.
“I’ve seen an angel,” Ella whispered. “She’s okay, James, she’s alright,” she said.
James began to sob irrepressibly, curling his fingers around Ella’s hair and kissing her cheek. He laughed in between sobs, occasionally pressing his lips against Ella’s cheek and forehead. “Why don’t we go for a ride?” He said, pulling himself away from Ella to look her in the eye.
Ella smiled, getting his meaning. “That sounds like a good idea,” she said. She grabbed a coat and slipped a pair of shoes on, joining James at the door. She slipped her fingers between his, giving him another loving smile. They walked out to the car, James getting in on the driver’s side while Ella went to the passenger’s.
It was a short ride, just a few lights and turns to pass before they arrived at their destination. The car drove slowly into a gated piece of land, driving down the winding road. What they saw all around them was a vast array of tombstones, all containing the names of lost ones belonging to who knows how many people. Only one, however, contained the name they were searching for. The car parked, and the couple got out, walking through the grassy area until they reached a grave decorated with bright flowers and ribbons.
Memories flashed across Ella’s mind, the first one being when her baby girl was born and the first time she was able to behold her face. Many more flashed by: the girl’s first words, her first step, the first tooth she lost, her first bike ride, the all-too-often scrape of the knee. It was all so beautiful and significant to Ella. Then, a memory came to mind that she began to push back, but then decided to face it, for the only way to defeat a foe is to face the foe.
“Mommy, do you think I’ll do good today?” Emalyn was staring out the backseat window, her fingers fidgeting nervously with the pink tutu she wore.
“You’ll be the best,” Ella said.
Lyly giggled, feeling a little more at ease. A song on the radio began playing quietly in the background, only a girl’s voice and a piano making it up. “Ooh, turn it up!” The girl said, leaning forward in her seat.
Ella laughed under her breath, twisting the volume knob so that the song filled the car with beauty. She leaned back in a relaxed position, listening to the words as the performer sang about her life as a little girl.
“But I knoooow, there’s a reason we grow up, even though I don’t feel like it now!” Emalyn sang along with the words, exaggerating the way she sounded and swaying in her seat. Ella laughed as her daughter kept up her act of goofing around, shaking her head a little.
Suddenly, as though appearing from nowhere, a large truck came slamming into the back of their car, sending them spinning across the lanes. It was chaos, though the chaos seemed to never end, until all at once, everything went black.
Ella pulled up her sleeve, looking at a long scar along her arm. A broken rib and that scar were all she walked away with from the accident, but her dear daughter didn’t have a chance. It all seemed so cruel and unfair to her for the longest time. She would constantly wish that the drunk driver of the truck had wound up dead, but she saw now that it was wrong to constantly wish for the past to change. What happened happened, and there was no chance of changing it, but there was the chance to embrace the pain, and let it go. She had plenty of good memories to think upon once in awhile, so what was the point of wishing for things she could never have?
She read the content of the tombstone, savoring the sound of each word. “Emalyn Raeanne Albertson. 2004-2009. The dearest daughter a couple could have.”
“The dearest,” James said softly.
Ella stepped forward, holding the angel tighter in her hands. She looked down one more at the faces of the angel and little girl. Crouching down to become level with the stone, she placed
the angel against it, closing her eyes and humming the tune of the song that played on the radio that fateful day.
James stood silently in the background, not sure what exactly was happening, but understanding the sincerity and delicacy of the moment. He listened to the voice of his wife, closing his eyes and smiling softly.
Ella finished the song, bending over and kissing the angel statue once more. “Even when I’m not there,” she said. “I know they’ve got you.” She looked at the face of the angel, its beautiful eyes staring lovingly at the little girl it held safely between its arms.
“We’ll always love you, Lyly,” James whispered as Ella rejoined him. “Forever,” he said. “Yes,” Ella said softly. “Forever… Emalyn.”