TITLE: Colors Like Memories
I greeted his tombstone the way I always did--with a swift kick. The release of frustration was more than worth the sharp pain in my toes. The polished marble tilted to the left because of all my visits; a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves.
I sat on the damp grass, folding my legs under me. "I keep hoping one of these days you'll be here waiting for me." The words were tradition. I couldn't keep myself from hoping I'd come over the hill to find him leaning over his grave, wearing a sly smile. He died so very long ago, but I couldn't stop wishing.
I leaned my head against my knees, wishing I could sleep. If I slept, though, I would dream of him, and that made things so much harder. I tried to explain this to him, but tonight I didn't have the will to pretend it was more than starlight that listened.
It wasn't so much a sound that made me jerk upright and glance over my shoulder. Something made me certain I wasn't alone; a tension in the air, or the rush of someone's breath, I wasn't sure which. For one heartbreaking second I almost saw him step out of the shadows, but the illusion scattered with a breath of wind. Scanning the darkness, I couldn't see anyone lurking in the expanse of headstones. Could a stray groundskeeper be working late? Another visitor to someone's grave? If anyone saw me, it would lead to problems I didn't want to deal with.
I kissed my fingertips and touched the top of the smooth white stone as I hurried to leave, alert to any movement in the cemetery. "I'll be seeing you," I whispered, wishing it were true. I wound through the sea of identical marble markers, making for the swell of ground at the far end of the cemetery where it was easiest to catch an updraft.
The small knoll overlooked the freeway below, which was a little too close for comfort, but at this hour there were no headlights streaking past. I stretched out my wings, their emerald green inky black in the moonlight. Each feather ached to catch a hint of breeze. I leapt from the ground, thrust down hard, and was airborne. I circled up, straining, until I reached an altitude where no one would see me from below.
Tilting my wings to swing north, my thoughts wandered to my destination. I said a silent prayer to whoever might be listening, hoping the lonely girl I was supposed to be guarding was safe in her bed. Visiting Frederick was the only thing that kept me sane some nights, but it did nothing to dispel the churning worry over Marcy. She deserved to have someone who wasn't struggling with their own grief, but she was stuck with me. Somehow, I had to help her.
As a Sary, saving Marcy was the only way I'd get to save myself.
Sary are the souls of children who die before they are born, before they take their first breath and are tied to the mortal world through flesh and blood. I was unable to take that breath of life, and the only reason I have a body is because I chose to join the Sary and serve humans in need. The alternative was eternity without a body--never being able to touch, see, taste, or feel. Most days I know I made the right choice, but sometimes I wonder what it might have been like to never know what a broken heart felt like. Those days, I'd take back my choice without a second thought.
The rest of the time, there was a good reason why I was here. I was allowed to help people. I showed them what it meant to live, and why committing suicide was not an option they wanted. When the time came, we were assured our work would be worth the price. The Sary would be rewarded--given the highest honors at the End of Days. Whatever that meant. For now it was reward enough to see the softest pink that rimmed the distant hills, reminding me I needed to get out of the sky and onto solid ground before the dawn. Even if I had to enjoy the sunrise alone.