• Kelsey Garber

The Guardian's Fall I

A tear escaped onto my cheek as she opened the door for him. His deceivingly square jaw and gentle features beguiled her and I had the misfortune of knowing that this would be her downfall. Over and over in my head this moment played as her end, and this charming beast’s face flashed before my eyes with the murderous fire consuming him. Hayley trusted her lover so completely and because of that, I would have to watch helplessly through her final seconds.

They curled up together on the couch and the television illuminated her humble apartment. Painful minutes ticked by as Jason’s hands became more frisky and the movie no longer held his attention. Hayley repeatedly brushed him off, mesmerized by the fictional story playing out before her and oblivious of the tragedy about to unfold in reality.

I held my breath as he snatched at her shirt with his short fused temper and she wrenched away with an outraged cry. My grief already overflowed and I still had to witness her distress as it escalated further. I feared I wouldn’t be able to bear it.

When she leapt off the couch away from him, his fist balled and my vision suddenly tinted red. I knew he was destined to hurt her, and yet his menacing stance triggered an unfamiliar heat within me. My duty was to watch over her, and yet I found myself descending at a dangerous speed toward Earth, unable to standby idly any longer.

My heels crashed through the roof of her complex and thundered against the floor. Hayley and her slime partner dove from my wrath and screams echoed around the room. As much as it pained me to frighten Hayley, a more pressing task boiled my blood. Jason’s throat squeezed between my fingers and my vision blurred with hatred. His eyes nearly burst from their sockets.

Only Hayley’s trill of a voice could have drawn me up from such a well of darkness. “Please, don’t hurt him.”

The trembling of her words was like no horror she had ever suffered in her lifetime. She achieved a new level of fear and my presence proved to be the cause. An ache bloomed across my chest and my grip slackened.

With a hard nod through the decimation toward the exit, I snarled at him, “Go.”

The coward clambered through the debris with no hesitation, pale-stricken and speechless. As soon as he disappeared, I headed toward the opening in the roof, my rebellion finished.

The gentleness of her touch was familiar to me though I never had the pleasure to feel it before now. Her fingertips alighted on the shoulder of my wing and I froze, reveling in the experience while also terrified to be so near my charge.

Careful to tuck my wings around myself and avoid any collisions with her or the shaky walls, I circled around to face her. She cocked her head at me yet, to my surprise and relief, all hints of apprehension smoothed away. Her gaze seared into mine as if she searched for something. The direction of her curiosity dumbfounded me, considering that wings sprouted from my back and she hardly glanced at them.

“Who are you?” she cooed.

“It is better if you do not know.”

“But,” she cut in, scrunching her nose as she always did when a realization struck her, “I think maybe I already know, somehow. I’ve never seen you before, but at the same time I swear I have.”

“You know too much,” I begged her. “I must go.”

She snatched my hand before I turned and scrutinized my complexion. “This shade of brown is very unique.”

“I am aware.”

“Russet with glints of a lighter caramel shade mixed in.”

Every word she had ever spoken resonated in my mind and I knew she had connected the dots. Her discovery was bittersweet, exposing my kind while also having her truly see me for the first time.

“The color of your eyes,” I supplied to confirm her hypothesis.

Her lips parted in amazement and she twisted a lock of hair between her nails. The study was subtle, but she compared the scarlet of her hair to the momentous span of my wings.

“The shade of red is also the same,” I whispered.

She blinked in bewilderment. “You’re me.”

“No, I am me. You are you. We are separate.”

“But the same.”

“In many respects.”

The idea of the wings finally overwhelmed her as I expected them to. “What are you?”

“I am a guardian.”

To be concluded in The Guardian's Fall II...

© 2020 by Kelsey Garber

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