"This is it," Angel nodded towards the house. It had been an hour trip on the subway, and a bit of a walk, but here it was. She stared up at the third window on the top story – her bedroom. Angel's pulse stopped.
"Do you still want me to ring the bell?" Roger asked.
"No," Angel shook her head, "I-I need to be the one to do this."
Collins grabbed on to her hand, stopping her. He pulled her against him and kissed her forehead. Angel beamed weakly up at him.
"Thank you, honey."
She walked up the porch steps, and rang the doorbell. It was either now or never. She waited for what seemed to be like a century before the door finally opened.
The woman had aged a lot. Her brown hair had been cut short, and she had put on a little bit of weight. To Angel, she was beautiful.
"Mama?" Angel asked, recognizing the kind eyes, the beautiful smile, the small crucifix that hung from her neck…
"Oh, Angel!" Mrs. Shunard grabbed her and held her in her arms, "I-I can't believe it. It's been four years. My God, you're…you're beautiful."
"Mama, you don't know how much that means to me. May we come in please?"
"Of course," she laughed, "How foolish of me! Come, come!"
The door opened widened, revealing the entry way. Angel noticed that her pictures had been removed from the walls, but there were fresh ones of Isa. She looked gorgeous!
"Sit, sit," Mrs. Shunard pointed to the familiar furniture in the living room. Angel sat down on the couch, her eyes wandered towards the corner of the living room. The wall had been patched up, the blood cleaned off, and repainted. It seemed like just yesterday her head was being smashed through the sheetrock.
"I am so sorry if I hurt you, Mama," Angel said, "It's just…I had to get away. You and Isa needed a normal life and…I'm not normal. You needed me gone so that Papi would be happy again and you could live. With me here, that wouldn't be possible."
Mrs. Shunard patted at her eyes with a tissue, "Oh Angel, I am so sorry! I should have done more…I loved you baby, you know that right? It's just…I wasn't used to this – to your behavior. It was strange to me. I was too blind to see that you were my son and no matter what you wore."
"Mama, how is Isa?" Angel asked, "Please, is she well?"
"She was angry at you for leaving. The poor thing was just a child, but I suppose you were too. She cried for weeks, didn't eat, couldn't sleep. If she did sleep, she'd have these dreams and wake up in cold sweats asking for you."
Angel was crying now, tears mixing in muddy messes with her makeup. Collins held her hand and Mark looked away. Roger sat there silently, his head in his hands. Neither knew what to do. Their Angel – their rock – was breaking.
"She's alive?" Angel asked, hope peppering her voice.
"Yes. She's sixteen now, the same age you were when you left, baby. She's at school right now but should be back soon. To be honest, I don't know if she will be happy to see you. She is angry at you for leaving her. She loved you, baby."
"I know," Angel wiped away a tear, "I love her too."
"You're alright?" Mrs. Shunard finally asked.
"Yes," Angel nodded, not wanting to upset her mother further, "I am great, actually. I brought my friends with me. This is Mark, he is a filmographer. Roger is a musician. And this is Collins. Collins is my…"
"Lover," Mrs. Shunard smiled, "treat my son well, understand me?"
"Yes ma'am," Collins returned the smile, "I wouldn't dream of hurting her."
"What about my father?" Angel finally asked, "Is he well?"
"He is fine," Mrs. Shunard nodded.
"Still work for the construction company?"
"Yes. He got a promotion recently. He is now in charge of observing a team."
"Good," Angel smiled, "is he happy?"
"As happy as your father could be, I can imagine," Mrs. Shunard answered, "Angel, what you're father did to you was wrong, but understand how he felt. Now baby, I'm not condoning what he did to you, but he just didn't know what else to do."
"I still have the scars," Angel said, without batting an eye, "And every now and then, my ribs still throb from where he broke three of them that one night."
"Baby," Mrs. Shunard sighed, not really knowing what to say.
Thankfully, the front door swung open, and a young girl with long, straight black hair and big almond eyes entered. She looked like Angel, with all the makeup. Right down to the blue polish upon her fingers. That detail made Angel's heart leap.
"Isa, sugar, we have company."
"Who are they?" Isa asked, her eyes scanning the crowd and landing on Angel, "A-angel?"
"Isa," Angel smiled simply at her sister.
"Excuse me," Mrs. Shunard's eyes widened.
"Isa! Do not speak to your brother in such a tone!"
"I don't have a brother," Isa spat, "he died four years ago."
She stormed up the stairs and Angel sat, her mouth agape. Her mother shook her head, apologizing for her daughter's behavior.
"Let me speak with her," Angel asked, "Please? I need to talk to her."
"I don't know…"
"Mama, please?" Angel's voice was so desperate, so broken that Mrs. Shunard couldn't possibly say no. She nodded her response and Angel hopped from the couch and went up the stairs to find her sister.
Isa's bedroom door was shut and Angel could hear the sounds of things being thrown. She sighed, and knocked on the door.
"Isa, it's me, sugar."
"Leave me alone!"
"I need to talk to you."
"You didn't NEED to talk to me that night you left us. A note, Angel? Seriously?"
The door opened and Isa stood there, her eyes red with tears, her cheeks stained with them.
"I hate you!" She screamed, "I hate you so much! I wish you really WERE dead!"
Isa reached up to hit her, but Angel caught her wrists in her hands, "Yeah well I love you!" She shouted over Isa's screams.
"I love you, Isa Shunard! There hasn't been a day that went by that I didn't think about you! I prayed every night that you were alive and that he wasn't hurting you and that you were happy."
"I wasn't," Isa yanked out of Angel's grasp. She turned away and said, unable to meet Angel's eyes or even look at her, "How could I be happy without you."
"You could have a normal life," Angel walked over towards her, "And normal parents. You could have a happy little family. You wouldn't have to grow up with a freak like me."
"Don't say that," Isa said, her voice cracking, "Please don't say that."
"It's what daddy thought."
"Daddy is an ass," Isa sat down on the bed, "Ange, do you think you're a freak?"
"I did. Not anymore."
"I'm glad. You're not a freak and you've never been."
"You were a baby, Isa. You were a baby and yet you had to bandage me up, you had to clean up my wounds. No little girl should have to do that for her big brother."
"Yeah well you were just a baby too," Isa looked up at Angel with sad eyes, "Daddy didn't deserve a son like you."
Angel sat down next to Isa and put her arms around her, "Baby, why does life had to be so fucked up sometimes?"
Isa smiled, "You always had a mouth on you."
"Don't go picking up my bad habits now, hear me?" Angel looked seriously at her sister before kissing her forehead, "Oh Isa, I love you so much."
"I love you too, Angel. Promise me something."
"Don't leave me again this time."
TO BE CONTINUED...