By the time I had made it from the scene of the accident to our house, my angel molecules were burning so much it felt like I was falling from Heaven to the fiery dimensions of Hell. But seeing as it wasn't really that far, I managed to make it just in time. Silly me had forgot all I could do was use my angel tags to beam myself home, but with all the excitement, I had reverted back into a human mindset.
Because I was an angel trainee, I hadn't actually gotten my full powers yet. However, the first thing I had mastered at the Academy was walking through walls, which I just managed to do successfully.
There's those moments where you revisit places, or certain times, that you had in your past. It seemed in a moment of cosmic time, I had managed to tap into every memory I had in my house, nearly bowling me over.
It turned out Sky hadn't actually broken the news to Mum, she had just said something very bad had happened, which got Mum fretting it was to do with drugs or boys.
My Mum was in the lounge room, pacing back and forth with a worried look on her face. "Why isn't Mel here yet," she murmured to herself, looking at her watch. "The longer she stays away, the more I'm starting to fret."
"Oh Mum," I gasped, tears welling up in my eyes as I ran to her like a little kid. I broke down crying as I tried to hug her, my dematerialised angelic body not being able to touch her.
Des walked in from the kitchen. He had this dinky little apron he liked to wear when he was chef for the day. His bald head was looking particularly shiny that day, and I could see a little bit of flour smudged on his nose. This image made me at least giggle through my tears. "Honey, it's just the girls. They probably ran into a little trouble with the coppers, you know how they do that."
"But why didn't Mel call?" By this stage, she had stopped pacing and was watching the cuckoo clock in an agitated fashion. She was biting her lip nervously and continued to fidget.
"I don't know." Des shrugged, obviously trying to cheer her up as he came over to hug her. "We'll find out."
"Mummy?" Jade asked as she came into the room. "I made a drawing, look!"
My sweet little sister held up her messing art of how she envisioned a pony, although the green colouring wasn't quite realistic.
Shaking my head, I smiled and tried to pat her head. "You always were an abstract artist, Fluffyhead," I affectionately commented, a little tug inside my heart at the sight of her.
Mum was close to ignoring her, but Jade was persistent. She tugged on her skirt to get her attention.
"Oh that's lovely, sweetie," Mum commented vaguely, plastering a happy smile on her face.
The doorbell rang, and my angelic radar flared up. This is it I thought miserably, following my Mum as she hurried to the door, expecting it to be me. The one visit she never wanted to get.
There were two police officers, one a woman and the other a man. They seemed to totally fit the good cop / bad cop TV routine, the stern guy and comforting female. How stereotypical I thought, a little sarcastically. I felt ashamed the moment what I said had entered my brain; this was no time to be making snide comments.
"Oh my god," Mum gasped as she raised her hand to her lips. Her eyes were full of shock and fear, and her skin was already going a few shades paler. "What happened?"
"Jade, go to your room. Now." There was something very un-Des-like in his voice, that firm and commanding tone that if he used it, you KNOW he meant business.
Jade was as obedient as a five year old could be. She nodded softly, and walked towards the stairs, not taking her eyes off the police. But she didn't go all the way to her bedroom. She stopped halfway, watching the scene below her unfold, the drawing clutched tightly in her hands.
I abandoned my Mum to go be close to Jade. What a silly girl, I thought in a pained way. She's gonna hear everything.
The policewoman took her hat off, dropping her eyes momentarily in a sombre way. "May we please come in? I think we best sit down."
"No. Whatever it is, I want to hear it now." By now my Mum was already crying. She knew what was coming; whenever someone tells you to sit down, it isn't good news, right?
"We are very sorry to inform you," the male cop began and cleared his throat, "but your daughter, Melanie, was collected by a vehicle and passed away."
A million things seem to happen at once. My Mum paused, as if she didn't quite understand what she heard. When the news finally caught up to her, she started wailing and shrieking, screaming out about her 'baby'. Des walked quickly over to her and caught her in his arms as she sank towards the ground, the police officers looking upset in their own way. I assumed delivering news of death every day means you got some type of immunity.
"Why, why my girl?" Mum cried, her hands covering her face. She could no longer support herself, Des was the only one keeping her from curling up on the ground.
The police officers began looking extremely uncomfortable, so they quickly tried to usher her towards a chair, which she had to be dragged into, thanks to the sudden loss of energy.
Right next to me, I was now having to console my little sister, who had just heard every word that was spoken. Jade's little drawing dropped from her hands, falling slowly like a leaf, through the banisters and onto the floor. In all the commotion, my Mum and Des didn't hear her thunder quickly up the steps and practically herself into our bedroom.
"Jade!" I yelled on impulse, as if she could really hear me. I raced after her as quickly as I could.
She had closed the door on me, but seeing as I was an angel, that didn't really matter. I shimmered through the walls and into our bedroom.
It was exactly as I remembered it from the last night I spent here, although that's pretty much a given. Comparing it to about eighteen months later when I had my first mission home, I realised how much they had actually changed since their daughters death.
Jade had thrown herself on the lower bunk, her bed. She was practically crying her eyes out into her fairy applique pillow.
My heart broke at seeing my family so destroyed by the news. Little did they know their dead Beeby child was standing in the same room as an angel.
"Hey Fluffyhead," I murmured, my voice coming out incredibly choked by emotion. I sat beside her on her bed, kicking my legs up underneath me so I was a lot more comfortable on the single mattress. I moved my hair out of my face so I could see her properly. "I'm sorry you had to hear that, sweetie. Lord knows how you must be feeling right now, knowing your sister is dead and all. Although don't fret, I've actually been here in the future! I know what that sounds like, how can life be so bad now when it improves about a year later? I don't know, ask the Agency."
I paused to giggle at how blonde I was starting to sound. I got a tissue out from my bag and blew my nose. "I know what life must feel like now. Your big sister is gone, right? No, she isn't." I leaned down closer to her. If I had been materialised, she would've been able to feel my breath upon her cheek. "I'm here, Jade. I didn't disappear, and I know you know I'm here because, well, I know what happens in the future. I'm an angel and I'm here to protect you from all the nasties."
On impulse, I decided to stroke her hair very tenderly. For the first time, my hand could actually touch her. I didn't go straight through her thanks to my dematerialisation. It was as if I was really sitting there, human once again. To top the mystical experience off, underneath my hand, Jade shivered exactly where I touched her.
I was so amazed and intrigued by this that I didn't even notice the sound of feet coming up the steps, until they were nearly upon us. The police officers had left by now, which freed them to talk to their now only child.
"Sweetie?" a tearful sounding Mum knocked on the door.
I blinked at the sound of her voice, and got up from the bed as she opened the door. My Mum's face was pale and stained with tears, her puffy eyes shielded slightly by her fringe, now wet on the ends from her crying.
Des had followed up behind her. Usually he was always so joyful, smiling and joking about, reminding me of this big, hairy bear you always love to cuddle as a kid. None my friends ever knew, but his cuddles were the best hugs from a male I had ever gotten. And yet here, in his stepdaughters bedroom, he was just as much of an emotional wreck.
The two tried to pull themselves together, for Jade's sake. I admired that quality in them, even though they were very much failing.
Jade didn't even look up from the pillow at the sound of her mothers voice. She just laid there, sobbing, even though it sounded like she was laughing.
"Oh honey," Mum said as she rushed to the bed, stroking Jade's hair exactly the way I had done. This caused Jade to cry harder. "I'm sorry you had to hear the news. I'm so, so sorry."
"But why?" Jade asked as she managed to pry herself away from the comfort of the pillow. She was all snotty and wet, but nobody in the room really took notice. "She was the bestest sister I ever had. I told her that yesterday."
"I don't know, sweetie. Things just happen, that's one of the problems we face. Remember when Grandpa passed away, and we said goodbye to him that day before he died? He knew he was going to leave, so we had time. Others just don't have that chance." Even through the pain of grief, my Mum still managed to sound calm and wise, she was a huge help for my sisters grief.
Jade's face crumpled up once again. It was absolutely heart-wrenching to see such a child go through this amount of misery. "I miss her. I didn't say goodbye like we did with Gramps!"
"None of us did." Des's voice made all of us look towards him. In a few minutes he had seemingly grown older. His eyes were tired and aching, and his stance showed he had a lot of emotional weight to carry. "Jane, I'm just going to go downstairs to call a few people."
"Okay," Mum agreed, turning her attention back to Jade. "Sweetie, we're going to have to go to the hospital, okay? There are a few things us grown ups have to do. We're going to call Mrs. Sanders to see if she can look after you while we're gone."
"Don't leave me!" The expression and volume Jade manage to pump into one sentence was surprising. She was absolutely fearful, her face showed it. She didn't want her parents to go off and leave her forever too.
She wrapped her arms around Mum's neck, and she complied, hugging her close. "Jade, this is not a simple visit like recently when Gran fell over. We have to sort out some things with the police."
"NO!" Jade screamed, crying even harder. "NO, NO, NO!"
"All right!" Mum was too stressed to consider arguing her point, it was best just to cave in. "Will you be okay just sitting out in the waiting room with Mrs. Sanders, while we go to the other side of the hospital? Same building, so we won't be apart for long."
"Okay," Jade agreed in a small voice, brushing her eyes with her hands.
Now don't just think I was sitting back and watching all of this as if it was my private theatre. I was pumping angel vibes like mad, helping to try and mend the broken pieces of my family.
But nothing could put the shards of glass back together. It had smashed, into a million pieces, each sliver a single, silver tear drop.
We managed to get to the hospital in record timing, considering recent events had made Jade a complete butterfingers. This stressed Mum out and caused her to snap, and jade to cry even more, but by the time we loaded ourselves into our humble Volvo station wagon, they had made up.
The good thing is, I don't need a seatbelt, I thought in my head, a feeble attempt at humour on the journey. The stone cold silence was enough to make ME feel bad for dying!
It was completely awkward. I felt like piping up, "Can we please put on the radio? This silence is driving me nuts, plus there's this awesome new song out and they MIGHT play it!", but of course nobody would be able to hear me.
While Mum and Des were directed by the hospital receptionist towards the morgue wing, I stayed with Jade and Mrs. Sanders (Mum's friend through Jade's preschool) in the waiting room.
I had no idea what was unfolding at the time, but later, I tapped into Mum's brain (I know, that is so wrong of me to do, but I was super curious!) to find out what happened.
It kind of went a little something like this - they stood outside the glass viewing window, with a police officer warning them that the vision of what they could see would be quite traumatic, so they should just be prepared. The morticians inside the room pulled the blue sheet away from my face, revealing my stone cold and now-grey face.
Mum shrieked and cried, throwing her face onto Des's shoulder, and nearly falling to the floor once again, if he hadn't supported her. She then turned around to the police officer, said that yes that was her daughter, and sobbed uncontrollably as the mortician replaced the blue sheet over me, shielding me away from the outside world.
Mrs. Sanders was a great babysitter and storyteller to Jade. While her husband stayed home with their children (very much voluntarily when he was informed of my death), she suddenly launched into Surrogate Mother Mode, and helped console Jade in her grief, without necessarily touching on the subject.
Tired, exhausted, and looking excessively ragged, my mother and step-dad came into view.
I caught my breath as I took in their expressions. I had come to a stage where I had accepted my death, even grown to like the fact I carked it thanks to my new life as an angel trainee. Although seriously, if you've been dead for four years, you can't continue being a sullen little pain in the butt, now can you?
Mum gave a quick and silent nod to Mrs. Sanders, who threw her hand up to her mouth and tears welled up in her eyes.
"I am so sorry, Jane. I-I honestly don't know what to say," she said in a low tone as the two adults stood up to face each other.
Mum sighed tiredly, forcing a smile onto her face. "There is nothing that really can be said, I'm afraid. But thank you. We best be getting home now. Jade needs sleep, so do we in fact, but funeral arrangements are in order."
"Yes, yes, understandable." Mrs. Sanders nodded in agreement, and the three adults turned to Jade announcing it was time to go home. But Jade knew. She could read it on their faces.
I was definitely dead.
In the car journey, I kept up the casual chatter I had been during the waiting room visit. Of course Jade couldn't hear me - with my last mission here, only eighteen months into the future, she and my closest friends sensed me best when they were asleep. It 's just some weird angel occurrence that could tap into their mind better.
Everybody practically collapsed as they dragged themselves through the door. It was only 7:30 in the evening, but I could tell all of them just wanted to get to sleep.
Mum took off her coat and threw the keys on the table, rubbing her temples and her forehead. Des checked the answering machine. Nearly an hour or so and already thirty messages from friends of mine and theirs, relatives, and workmates. Word spreads around fast, I thought, impressed. I knew Sky would've gone straight home and told her Mum and our best mates, who would've told their parents and friends, who would've told...
"Mummy? Can you tuck me in?" a small voice interrupted my thoughts. Jade was standing there, looking entirely exhausted, and yet still scared and sad. "I don't want to go to sleep without you."
That was enough to bring my Mum to tears again. But composing herself like she hadn't today, she kept it all back, and smiled at my sister.
"Sure, sweetie." Silently, they walked upstairs, me trailing behind them.
What followed was the sweetest scene in the time of grief, a memory I will forever remember. Little Jade, curled up in a ball next to Mum, listening to her favourite story about fairies. She slowly fell asleep, and when Mum tucked her in properly, she kissed her on the forehead, a tiny clear tear falling from her eye.
"Goodnight, my love."
Needless to say, this mission had reduced me to nothing more than an emotional wreck. While the tears were flowing with my family, so were my own! But nothing could prepare me for the events that were to follow.
Early the next morning, Mum and Des sat themselves at the kitchen table. Jade was still sound asleep (her bedroom protected by a myriad of angelic symbols and vibes), and the adults were up at a time I can only call disgusting.
"Seriously, who wakes up at this time?" I groaned, rubbing my eyes as I got up from the couch. Even as an angel, I was drained enough to need nothing except sleep. I laid my head in my hands and tried to stop this hangover-like feeling of tiredness and overwhelming exertion.
"I think the first thing we should do is decide what to... Do with her," Des began talking in a low voice.
Intrigued, I suddenly became more perky and opened my eyes and ears.
"You could at least make it sound a little more tactful," my Mum began with a peeved off sniff. "Cremation is cheaper and easier, but this is a teenage girl we are talking about. I think she deserves a proper burial, not shoved into a little box."
"Alright, I do see your point and I agree with you."
This overly formal way of talking was making me cringe. Obviously the cracks between the marriage were showing, with all this grief on their plate. I tried boosting up the vibes so it was less crackling with intensity.
"Funeral plans will have to be arranged, like flowers, the hall which I believe should be a church, and the..." Mum faded off, a grimacing look on her face. "Casket."
"What were her favourite flowers?" Des asked, writing down on a notepad.
"Red roses and lilies," Mum said in a very soft voice. Her eyes began brimming with tears once again, and her voice broke with emotion. "She said she wanted a bouquet of these flowers on - her - wedding - day."
By this stage, as you probably guessed, she was once again sobbing. I was feeling even worse, so I sank back down onto the couch. "Why did they use me?" I asked aloud to the air. "I'm not the right person for this mission. It's way too personal, I can't handle this!"
Despite my complaining to the Universe, and Mum's crying, we all managed to stop what we were doing when an ear-splitting scream cut through the air.
It was Jade.