[An early try at something different. I don’t feel like it landed well.]
I made my way to room 325 to meet with my new patient. I kept my wings tightly folded behind my back as to not take up more room than I needed. I politely said hello to doctors, nurses and patients as I went, stopping to tie a young girl’s shoes, “Are your wings real?” She asked, wide eyed. I laughed, “Of course they are, dear,” She looked like she wanted to ask me more questions. I pat her gently on the head before she could, “I have to go now. Try not to step on your own shoelaces,” I gave her smile as I walked away. She waved at me as I left.I headed up two flights of stairs. The third floor was an empty place, reserved for the very ill and dying. Most people were able to be healed from horrible illness by magic and science so there weren’t many people here. I was one of the few who frequented this floor. Room 325 was a small blue room with a single bed, a few chairs and a small desk. I stepped inside and unfolded my wings with a sigh of relief. My wingspan was about eight feet, a little large for an angel. I looked around the room. No one was here. The bed was unmade and placing my hand on the mattress, it was still warm. They had just left. I sat on one of the chairs and waited for their return. I looked around the room, other than a few electronics on a table next to the bed, it was empty of any personal items. Usually people here were given flowers and cards by loved ones. Nothing of the sort here. I got back up and opened the curtains, bringing the morning sunshine into the room. I stared out the window at the nearby lake, a small boat scooted across the water carrying two fishermen. The sun rose on the opposite side of the building, sadly. I spread my wings, letting the light wash over me. “Who are you?” A voice asked behind me. I turned to see a wide eyed boy standing in the doorway, a brown jacket over his hospital gown. His icy blue eyes stared into mine. His skin was pale and his hair was light brown, “Are you here to take me to heaven?” He was confused. “I am Angelica, are you Andrew?” I asked. He nodded, still unmoving from the doorway, “I am here to provide you with hospice care.” “Ah. Right,” He finally moved from the doorway and took of his coat. He threw it on the bed and sat at the desk. “Is there anything you need?” I asked, sitting down on the other chair. “Uh, no,” He was tapping at one of those phone devices that I didn’t understand. “Alright, just let me know,” I smiled at him and sat back. I pulled a book out of my bag and began to read. I looked up at Andrew every few minutes. He had massive bags under his eyes, bloodshot eyes and very low amount of body fat. Obviously, he wasn’t eating or sleeping much. I returned to my bag, reaching for the note I had received on him. Illness: unknown. Time to live: unknown, “How are you feeling today?” I asked. “Like I’m dying,” He smiled. I shot up from my seat, “Do you need anything? Can I-” “I’m joking, lady,” He interrupted me, I could see youth for a moment on his worn face as he let out a small laugh, “I’m just tired today. How about you, bird lady?” “I am quite well, thank you. Just so you know, I am not a harpy, I am an angel,” I proudly displayed my full wingspan of well groomed white feathers. “Oh, uh, sorry. I don’t have much experience with monster girls,” He looked down at his feet. “Do not worry. I take no offence. Can you tell me a little bit about your illness? I was not briefed on your condition,” I sat back down. Andrew looked up slowly and began speaking, “Doctors and whatever magic people they bring in here say I’m withering away.” “It cannot be healed I assume.” “Yeah. No one knows what it is and no one wants to catch it,” He sighed, “So here I am, alone.” “I am here to help you now,” I put my hand on his shoulder, “So you are not alone anymore.” He smiled weakly, “Thanks. Angie, was it?” “Angelica. Angie is fine too.” I returned to Andrew’s room the next day, ecstatic to spend another day with him. He was unlike most other hospice patients I had worked with. I arrived much earlier than the previous day. Andrew stepped out of his room wearing his coat as I neared, “Good morning!” I called. He stopped and turned to me, nervous smile spread across his lips, “H-hey. Morning.” “I am glad you are able to walk still, but you could get hurt going somewhere by yourself,” I gently scolded him, “Where are you headed?” “Uh, the bathroom.” “Andrew. It is easy to tell when you are lying.” His body froze, “Fine. Just don’t tell the staff, they’ll lock the door. C’mon,” He began to walk down the hallway. I followed him, confused. No one was walking the halls this early. No doctors, nurses or other patients. I could thankfully stretch my wings, “How did you sleep?” I asked. “Eh. You?” “I don’t really need to sleep. So I think it was fine.” He smiled and shook his head. He stopped as he neared a corner. Straight ahead of us was the staircase. He peeked right around the corner, and held his hand up for me to stop. He turned back to me, “Two nurses, they’re talking to each other so we can hopefully slip past.” “Here,” I whispered, I waved my hand and pointed to a stack of papers near the nurses. The papers spilled off of the table they sat on. Just as planned, the nurses scrambled to pick up the pages. Andrew and I dashed across the hallway and quietly opened the door to the staircase. “This way,” He started climbing the stairs slowly. I walked behind him, ready to catch him in case he fell. We passed the fourth floor and kept climbing. There wasn’t a fifth floor. “The roof?” I asked. “Yeah. The maintenance guy doesn’t lock it,” He slowly pushed the metal door open. The sky was just beginning to turn red as the sun was coming up. Andrew sat on a dilapidated chair and stared out at the sky. The cold air bit my skin, I could only imagine how much it was affecting him, he wasn’t wearing much other than socks, shoes and his coat, “You brave the freezing air to come watch the sunrise?” He nodded, “Its what gets me out of bed every morning, knowing that this sunrise could be my last.” “You seem very… at peace with your mortality,” I noted. “Yeah. I couldn’t tell you how or why, really,” He let out a long sigh as the sun poked above the horizon, “Better than the last one,” He told me as he stood up, “Better head back to the room before the hallways get to populated. Back in his room, he stared out the window, watching the sky turn from orange to blue, “You do this every morning?” I asked him. “Mhm. About two months of it now,” He turned to me and gave a small smile, “You sure ask a lot of questions.” “Does it bother you?” He laughed, “There’s another one! No, it doesn’t bother me. You’re just curious, and I’m curious about why you’re so curious.” “You’re unlike other hospice patients I have worked with. Your personality, jokes and finding happiness in small things. Its all so refreshing.” “I’m glad you think so. Did you do this back in your world?” “Yes, I did. I was technically a nurse then, but hospice is what I love doing. I love helping however I can, especially comforting like this.” “Hey could you do something for me?” I perked up, “Happily.” He grabbed his wallet off the desk and handed me a ten dollar bill, “Can you head over to that convenience store across the street and get me a tube of pizza Pringles and a box of Swedish Fish?” “Andrew, you shouldn’t eat junk food.” “Please. I’ve been off that stuff for months. I’ll even split it with you,” He pleaded. I sighed, “Just this once. This will not be a recurring thing.” “Thank you.” I returned in just under half an hour. Andrew was sitting at the disk, typing away at a laptop. I handed him the bag of junk food. The big smile he gave me as his eyes shined made my heart flutter. It made the guilt worth it.
Andrew and I made our way to the stairs a few days later. We had fallen into a usual routine of heading to the roof early, going back to the room and chatting. I would get lunch and dinner for the two of us and bring it back to the room for us. Andrew spent most of the day browsing the internet and writing. Sometimes he would draw, he claimed he wasn’t very good but I loved the massivly winged caricature he had drawn of me. Andrew stopped to catch his breath at each of the landings on his way up the stairs. His ragged breathing terrified me, “I’m... only... in my twenties. I should be able to do this,” He was angry with himself. “You’re sick, Andrew. Let me help you,” I offered. He shook his head, “No. I can do it,” He grabbed the railing with white knuckles and continued to climb. I pushed the heavy metal door open for him. He nodded in thanks. We made it just as the sun was starting to rise. He sat down on the same chair, among all the other broken down chairs, and watched the sky. I stood behind him today, hands on his shoulders and my wings draped over his body trying to keep him warm. The days and, more importantly, mornings were getting colder and Andrew’s condition was getting worse. He looked up at me and said the thing he said every morning, “Better than the last one,” He smiled weakly, his breath still shaky. “Let’s get you back to your room and into the heat,” I said, trying to pick him up. “Let me walk,” He demanded. I nodded hesitantly. He got up and slowly made for the door. I followed closely and pulled the door open for him. He thanked me silently again, I could see sadness spread across his face. He started down the stairs with me close behind. Down was easier than up, thankfully. He paused on the fourth floor landing once more. Sweat dripping from his brow.I put my hand on his back, “We could take the elevator from the fourth down to the third.” “No. I can make it,” He said weakly. I nodded again. He clutched the railing and kept going down. Halfway to the third floor, he lost his footing. I reached out with my arms and wings with quick reflexes, pulling him backwards into me, sitting us both down as to keep us both from falling. Andrew froze, letting me hold him to my chest. “Andrew?” I asked. He mumbled something unintelligible, “What was that?” “I- I can do it,” He said a little louder, trying to get up. “No! You can’t!” I cried, clutching him tighter. “Angelica,” He turned to me, a tear running down his face, “I need to.” “Let me help you,” I demanded. “A-alright,” He nodded. I wiped his face gently with my sleeve. I helped him up and grabbed his arm, carrying most of his weight. We made it back to his room where he sat at the table again. He didn’t get right to work today. He sat silently, staring at his hands. “Andrew, are you alright?” I asked him. He didn’t speak for a few moments, “Yeah. I’m okay,” Another weak smile spread across his lips for a few moments before he went back to staring at the floor. He was lying. I arrived at Andrew’s room the next day and threw the door open with a smile on my face. The smile immediately fell off as I saw Andrew collapsed on the floor. I picked him up and set him on the bed. His eyes were closed, “Andrew? Andrew!” I called out to him, lightly shaking him in a panic. His eyes slowly blinked open, “Angelica? What happened?” He asked. I sighed with relief, “You were asleep on the floor!” He thought for a few moments, “I got up to go to the bathroom in the night…and…” Tears welled in his eyes. “You didn’t make it. Just rest now, dear, I’ll take care of you.” Tears poured down his face as he looked at me, “I don’t want to die, Angelica,” He sobbed. I sat him up on the bed and wrapped my arms and wings around him, “I don’t want you to die either,” I let him cry as long as he needed to. Andrew sat up on the bed, typing furiously on his laptop, “What are you working on?” I asked. “Oh, its nothing. Just finishing up some important stuff before I release it. Guess I don’t have much time now, huh?” He laughed slightly, his face looked like he was about to keel over, the bags and wear were both tremendous. “I hope I get to read it some time.” “You will.” “Do you have any objections to me staying here overnight with you?” I asked quickly, almost hoping he wouldn’t hear. “Go ahead. I know you’re just really worried about me dying while trying to go to the crapper.” “Thank you,” I sighed, “Now, Do you need anything?” I asked for the hundredth time. I was lying in a cot next to Andrew’s bed. He closed the laptop and set it aside. We were surrounded by darkness, “Angelica?” Andrew called quietly. I sat up quickly and snapped my fingers, producing a small flame so I could see him, “Yes? Do you need something?” “Could you help me to the bathroom?” He asked sheepishly. “Gladly,” I said with a smile. I got up and scooped Andrew up in my arms. He didn’t protest for once. I carried him to the restroom and sat him down in one of the stalls. “Could you uh, not be in the stall with me?” He asked. “Oh, sorry,” I stepped out. He was quiet until he was done, I helped him once more with washing hands and brought him back to his room. I sat him down on his bed, he looked at me as if he needed something, “Anything else, dear?” I asked. “What happens when I die?” My heart dropped into my stomach, “I-I cannot say. I am not an angel of death. I exist to bring happiness to those who need it. I am sorry.” He nodded, “Can you do something to make me happy tonight?” I looked at him quizzically, “Hold me. Please.” “I will,” I picked him up and lie down on his bed, laying him down on top of me. My arms and wings wrapped around him holding him close. He cried again, resting his head on my shoulder. “I’m sorry for being such a bother,” He sobbed, “You’re such a sweet girl.” “You’re not a bother. I have enjoyed my time with you.” “I-I love you,” He blurted out. I hesitated and thought about it for a few moments, “I love you too.” “I wish I could be with you longer,” He told me. “I’ll find you again. I promise.” He looked at me, “I hope so.” I woke up without Andrew on top of me, I looked over to see him at his laptop, his breath ragged. He noticed my shuffling and tried to turn to me, falling onto the floor, “Andrew!” I cried. He pushed himself up at me and looked me in the eyes I could see his light dying, “The roof. I wanna see the sunrise, one last time,” He told me, clutching my hand weakly. I nodded and picked him up in my arms. I looked out the window, it was already starting. The stairs were too slow. I snapped my fingers and the window blew open. With Andrew in my arms, I jumped out the window gracefully. We fell a few feet before my wings kicked in. My wings flapped furiously, bringing us to the roof. I sat him down in his chair and stood behind him, wrapping my arms and wings around him tightly. Snow gently fell around us. We watched as the sky turned from a dark purple to red then to orange. It was beautiful. Andrew spoke, “I think I figured out why these last few sunrises were so nice,” He was quiet, “Because I spent them with you,” Tears rolled down my face as Andrew shakily stood. He grabbed my hand and put something in it. I clutched it tight. He leaned forward and put a kiss on my lips. His head rested on my shoulder. Tears rolled down my face uncontrollably, my arms and wings wrapped tightly around him. As if my hugging would keep his soul from leaving his body, “I’ll miss you, Andrew,” He nodded, unable to speak. His breathing kept slowing. He slowly went limp in my arms. He gasped for breath one more time. Slowly he exhaled his last breath on my neck. Andrew was no longer with me.
I wiped my face off. I was standing in Andrew’s room again, staring at Andrew. He looked so peaceful, like he was sleeping. I knew he wasn’t. I looked at the item he had placed into my hand. A small box, I opened it and looked at the included note. He had written me a note. ‘Angelica, if you’re reading this, I am probably dead. Please don’t cry for me. Thank you for everything. You have made my last few days wonderful. I wish I could spend more time with you, especially after confessing my feelings for you. In the included flash drive (Its a computer thing, I pray you can figure it out!), I put all the writings I have ever done. You’re the first person to ever be interested in it. I finished up the third book just for you. I never really said why I didn’t want to die. Its because you made me feel like life was worth living for the first time in my life. I love you. -Andrew.’ I held the small box close to me. The tears rolling down my face again. The nurses finally arrived to remove Andrew from the room. I touched Andrew’s cold face one more time and kissed his forehead. I slowly left the room, wings dragging behind me.