Edge of the World.

 

Author: Ares

Rating: PG

Hugs to my friend Jo for looking this over.

Summary: When the love of one’s life dies…

 

**


Teeth chattering, nerve endings tight and bile rising in the pit of his belly, he stood teetering at the edge of the world. His hands were shaking too much for him to raise them and wipe away the sweat that stung his eyes. He squeezed his lids shut hoping to blot out his racing thoughts and the images they invoked. The images persisted, hovering on the brink of his sanity, never letting up: not a moment’s peace had he since it had happened. The love of his life was gone. He no longer lived, he simply existed. Existing wasn’t life, it was a living death. Opening his eyes he looked out into the abyss. It stared back, beckoning with cruel promise, offering oblivion, inviting him to take the final step. His breath left him in a final sigh. Nerves settled, and a warm soothing calm spread through him. Strange - his spirit soaring - he could hear the angels singing, and with that magic ringing in his ears, he stepped off into the abyss…and fell.


The hand of God – an Angel’s - reached out and caught his jacket, flinging him, flesh and bone bruising, on to the hard surface of the rooftop. Stunned, he lay wondering why the concrete below wasn’t splashed with his brains, wondering if it was and this was the afterlife and he didn’t know it yet? Limbs trembling, heart racing fit to burst, he stared at the figure limned against the evening sky expecting to see brilliance of light, a halo and wings. Instead, a dark head and darker apparel, and the only light was skin which glowed with a moon’s luminance. Pools of midnight were its eyes, and they looked not at him but away into the abyss.

The profile promised an unearthly beauty, and forcing his tongue from the roof of his mouth, he stammered, “Are you the Angel of Death? Am I lying dead, below?”

The smallest twitch of lips, and the eyes slid sideways to glance his way.
The voice wasn’t the death rattle he expected. It was deep, mellow and amused.

“Death? I may be. Angel, I am. Just not yours, or His.”

Legs he managed to straighten, but could not find the strength to gain his feet. He sprawled, his back against the low wall for support. His bladder threatened to spill now his fright came flooding in, the calm flung from him in the almost-fall. His head spun. He couldn’t decipher the meaning of the angel’s words.

“Why didn’t you let me?” was what he said. He sounded like a petulant child.

The eyes looked elsewhere now. Out towards his death. He held his breath, afraid of the answer

“I’ve fallen further.”

He didn’t know why but he giggled, insane from the moment he stepped onto the roof.

“Angels have wings. You can’t fall.”

“Depends on the fall.”

The body turned to him, and he caught full sight of the supernatural being. It had a young man’s face; beautiful as angels are purported to be, dangerous, as they were not.

His laughter died and a sob, released from the confines of his throat, took its place. Another followed, and another, falling over the first in a bid for freedom. He curled inwards and cried into his arms, huddled, while the angel watched.

Minutes, maybe hours later, he clawed his way out of his grief. Shock had set in. His body trembling hot and cold, sweat pooling in crevices, soaking skin and cloth. The angel stood silent, his regard outward, not in. He was grateful for that small mercy and, heaving in a shuddering breath, grew quiet. He studied the angel, not really believing his eyes. Not a twitch, or any sign of breath did it make. He couldn’t be sure, the heavy coat denying closer scrutiny. Coat. Since when did angels wear coats, and long black ones at that? A breeze picked up and toyed with the angel’s dark locks. The hair was short with a bit of length on top, enough for the breath of wind to disturb.

“Libby kept her hair short,” he said, surprising himself. “She liked to colour it, depending on her mood.”

The angel didn’t move. He didn’t know if it was listening.

“Sometimes that got her in trouble with her bosses. I remember once, she had this purple streak…” He drew in a deep breath. It was the first time he could bear to talk about her. If he was dead, then what harm could it do? “Her smile was the best thing about her, it lit up her face. She had a small dimple on the left side when she… and she loved animals…oh, God! Her cat…Who is going to look after him now? What sort of man forgets the love of his life’s cat?”

He didn’t get an answer.

“It was a stupid accident…”He swallowed the lump that threatened to strangle his words. “A… man ran a red light. He was drunk…oh God! Libby. I want to be with her.” Tears spilled and ran down his already wet cheeks.

“Her hair was spun gold, coloured in the end. Mid-length, she knew I liked it long. It wasn’t the fashion but she met me half-way. It was the way with us, half-ways.” The angel’s voice was soft, barely a whisper, and he strained his ears to hear.

The words prompted him to say, “Libby and I were to be married…today. She’s been…gone…four weeks.”

“We could never. You can’t marry the dead.”

Tendrils of dread started him trembling again, and he shook with the force of it.

“We had three years together,” he told the angel, latching onto wonderful painful memories.

“We had her lifetime, and it wasn’t enough,” the angel returned.

“A lifetime is all I have. I want none of it.”

“It’s a gift. Use it, value it.”

“It’s mine to do as I will,” he rejoined, angry now.

The angel was silent.

Gathering his energy and making a huge effort, he staggered to his feet. He shambled the few steps to the edge of the world. The angel stood there, unconcerned at the drop.

It said, “I won’t stop you.”

Ancient eyes stared into his soul. He stared back and instead of peace, he saw anguish, regrets and other indefinable things. Things a man shouldn’t be knowing. He shied away, unable to bear more.

“I thought in heaven your spirit rests in peace.”

“What makes you think I belong there, or you?”

He looked down and swayed with vertigo. The abyss no longer appealed. Its claws held no promise other than betrayal and endless suffering. He wouldn’t be with his love. It was a mortal sin, and sinners do not get a key into heaven. He should have remembered that.

He looked up and startled at the distance between them.

“Are you the Angel of Death? Is there a Hell?”

“Yes.”

And the angel disappeared. He wondered how it could fly when it didn’t have wings.

He drew back from the edge. He wouldn’t be accepting death’s offer. He loved Libby too much. He would see her again, however long it took.

The End.
May 2007

 


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