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The Fuel

ICHABOD FRENZY - Chapter 4 & 5

Chapter 4 – Angelina

 

 

"Papa, may I use your car?" I asked him. It was six o'clock in the evening, and the annual-year-end cheerleading bash at Melody's house will commence in fifteen minutes. "I just need it for tonight."

 

Hot iron was made for long silky hair and the style felt prim and proper. It was a gift under-appreciated by some, but a golden nugget for this superstar.

 

"It's the last party Papa. I just want to end the school year with a lot of fun." A few fragrant spots of 'Pleasures,' on my wrists and my clavicle, and now I'm ready to go.

 

"Don't come home too late," my father said, dangling the key to the family's Toyota Prius. He placed it on the bathroom counter, and kissed me on my forehead.

 

My father, Tom, worked as the chef of China 2000, a local Chinese take-out in Silver Creek. His young face has often been falsely mistaken for an amateur cook with no experience. To the contrary, my father was once a premier chef of a swanky restaurant in Chinatown, New York, before moving to Silver Creek, Colorado, on contract with the current establishment.

 

The poor son of a rice farmer in rural China, who impregnated my mother out of wedlock in a small village, he had no status to marry my mother, Sun-Chen (Sunny), a Chinese Princess of a noble Lee family, who was deemed the imperial jade of the small town they lived in.  My father was just the creek pebble, and marriage with Sunny had to involve equal worth of valuables and lineage. There was no other way, other than to run from the predicament and escaped to Jakarta, Indonesia.

 

My mother, Sunny, was the one who left my father in Jakarta, after giving birth to me, Angelina. Her family wanted status to remain in their lineage, so she was later arranged to marry the heir of a tobacco plantation for financial stability. My father had no prospect for a future, nor respect, but a super chunk of a beautiful daughter who proved to be his path to America. I was the reason he moved, so I will be the reason he succeeds.

 

"Don't drink anything with alcohol in it," he said, walking around our two-bedroom apartment searching for his spare keys.

 

"Papa, when have I ever gotten drunk?" I replied, my hands akimbo.  I brushed some last sprinkles of glittery powder on my shoulders, showing off my smooth skin.  Just a white tank top and blue jeans would work tonight. Nothing pretentious, and nothing too provocative. Sometimes, subtext to the mind gave more to the imagination.

 

"Just don't stay there too long. Pay your respects to Melody. Then go home," my father said. "I know what goes on at parties. I wasn't born yesterday."

 

"I'm going alone Papa, Collin's not coming," I told him.

 

"Why not? I thought they're friends?" he asked.

 

"No, Papa. Collin is completely mine. He's all about me, and me, and me," I told my father, pointing to my heart. I took the keys and kissed my father's cheeks. "I'll be home early."

 

"We'll see if Collin is Egg-Foo-Young or Peking Duck," my father said. He frowned upon parties during weekends. He told me it hollowed his heart because he always felt unsteady from the unknown without me in his arms. Once a princess in his eyes, I will always be.

 

"Love you, Papa. I'll be back, I promise," I said. I closed the door, because the evening awaited.

 

 

A dozen cars were parked on the curved driveway atop the regal hill of Silver Creek Estates.

 

"What kind of people can afford this neighborhood?" I asked myself, as I drove my small Red Prius closer to Melody's house. 

 

Silver Creek Estates was a gated community, in the upper crust of St. Vrain Valley, closer to Boulder. Multi-million dollars mansions surrounded the large private lake in the middle of the community.

 

I found a parking spot three full block away from the house, passing rows of Mercedes Benz, BMWs, Saabs, Hummers, and fancy sports cars.

 

"I love my little car," I said, in awe of the expensive alternatives.

 

The deck from the lake from a side angle gave me a glimpse of Melody's party. Floating tea candles were on the water with some paddle boats for kicks. It was a hot spring season, and the snow subsided, closing in on June.

 

"Get in, get out, and stay out of trouble," I mumbled to myself, charging off temptations for staying late, or being "lushed up" by alcohol, and peer pressure.

 

I rang the doorbell as the first few bars of Strauss, tuned from inside the house. I felt a stab to my right shoulder from behind me, as if a large needle prickled into my back pushing me forward onto the door. "O god! Who's there?!" I thought someone hurt me, and I touched my right shoulder, but it was normal. I looked around, yet nothing was around me.

 

"Where did that come from?" I wondered. "That hurt a lot!" I said, crossing my arms and touching my shoulders on both sides, but really, nothing was there.

 

The oval door knob twisted, as a girl in a white tube top opened it. Two dozen other Silver Creek High School seniors were dancing to The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight," behind her.

 

"Here is our China Doll! HELL YEAH!" Melody yelled from behind the girl in the white tube top. She pulled me inside the house and hugged me, then squeaked a high note as she usually does upon excitement. Melody wore a black mini-strapless dress countouring her athletic body. Her hair was pixie brunette with blonde highlights, striking to her cute heart shaped face. With her hazel eyes, creamy light skin and cherub face, Melody no doubt deserved the title, "The Prettiest Girl in Silver Creek High School."

 

"Jeans? But, you always wear jeans!" Melody yelled at me. She squaked again, and this time, with a blink and a fast head shake for disapproval. No one around us cared to listen about fashion faux-pas, as the seniors kept dancing to the hip-hop mix. "At least the cute white baby tanky is a classic."

 

"I don't have a house with a lake, Melody. Here, I have something for you," I told her. I reached into my left jeans pocket and took out a small box with a silver wing necklace.

 

"I'm wearing mine," I said, showing her our matching necklace. I handed her the cute small box and kissed her cheeks.

 

"Oh my gawd! China Doll, you are simply irresistible!" Melody said, this time with a softer tone of voice, perhaps out of surprise as she opens the box. "Thank you, baby, you're my best in the squad."

 

"Really?" I said, and giggled. I looked around the house, and all the lights inside the house were off. Only black lights glowed everything white.

 

I saw glowing shirts, skirts, hats, tube tops, and shoes from some Silver Creek seniors, and my own tank top was bright as a paper lantern in the dark. I peeked to the kitchen window from the living room, and saw some cheers from our squad standing out in the backyard, in a small commune. I walked closer to the window, and someone grabbed my elbow from behind me.

 

"Check me out, Angel. What say you?" said Samantha, pointing to her outfit. "I bought it all from Target!"

 

Samantha aimed for intrigue for every party, but sometimes she goes way too far from French Couture. To her, every party was a costume party because if she was not in a costume at a party, she won't feel "The Vibes," as she confided in me, multiple times ago.

 

"A bit disco, you say?" Samantha said, grinning with her non-smoker teeth glowing bright. She lifted one hand to the sky posing a magician's assistance stance. Her wig was glow in the dark blonde Shirley-Temple curls with red bows. Her tights were black and white plaid and she wore a tight black mini-skirt with a black tank top with a white heart of faux-fur glowing in the dark. 

 

"There was a lamb sacrificed, somewhere in Boulder for this fur," I told her.

 

 Samantha's hips swished to the side.  "Harper's Bazaar, right?" says Samantha, her hands in the air.

 

"Bazaar! Yes! You're a natural goof-ball," I told her. "This is so crazy cool. You were right! It is a glow in the dark jam."

 

"I'm a genius, and I know everything," Samantha said. She held on to my arms to walk towards the kitchen island, where the keg was. "Those kegs have liquid vemon inside. Those beefy fraternity boys hauled them in. I saw them." She pointed to the chiseled men standing outside of the kitchen in the backyard, talking to Melody while sipping on their beers.

 

"I thought this was a high school party?" I asked Samantha. "Those guys looked like college men?"

 

"They should have hired a bar tender for their empty bar over there," said Samantha, pointing to the medium sized bar at the edge of the kitchen, next to the living room.

 

"Angel, Melody's here," Samantha nudged me from behind.

 

"So here's the deal, I'm concerned about our relationship," said Melody. She placed her arms on my shoulders. "Collin is not here, why? Isn't your boyfriend supportive of me and you? I'm squad leader, why isn't he here? He's power forward."

 

"But, it's all about me and you, Melody. You're my co-squad leader. Our time is precious and he needs to give me privacy for girlie times," I told her. I didn't want Melody to bring up my Collin.

 

"Well done, but still, squad leader is not well pleased with star baller," Melody said. She walked to the kitchen table and took a test tube shot arrayed nicely on its rack, free for all. She walked back to me, and told me to drink up.

 

"For penance, and justice," Melody said, handing me the tube.

 

"Umm...nope, that's an alcoholic one," I said. With my pointer finger to the sky to stop the tube-feeding.

 

"What is inside the shot?" Samantha asked. She took the tube as it it was a specimen and smelled it, then handed it back to Melody. Melody gulped it down.

 

"Love Bomb," says Melody. "It makes you love everyone, I call it my secret weapon."

 

"I see. Thank god Collin's not here. He is only allowed to fall in love with me," I said, and made sure the insidious tube shot won't drug me.

 

 "China Doll, let's meet my brother, Merrick. He brought some of his hot friends," Melody said, pointing to a group of atheletic college men outside near the lakeside deck. The flock of men or hawks, as I saw them, looked chiseled, gorgeous, and of diverse races. 

 

"Let's go outside," Melody said, taking my left hand holding it as we walked to the backyard towards the lake under the moonlight. Melody made it a point to ignore Samantha.

 

"Wait, can I come?" Samantha asked. She tried to follow, and Melody turned around and hugged her, her pointer finger to the sky whispering. "Wait your turn. Angel is my co-lead," said Melody.

 

Melody and I walked outside, leaving Samantha pouting behind us. Standing near the edge of the deck, with his face in amber glow from the reflection of the floating tea candles, was Merrick, Sophomore at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Merrick was the most popular guy two years ago at Silver Creek High School. Melody mentioned to me sometime ago, that Merrick became the Pledge Father for a popular fraternity at CU Boulder.


Merrick and Melody Johnston were what the Silver Creek High Schoolers called "Pedigree Siblings." Their parents owned the Merrick's Steak House restaurant chain in Westminster, and Denver, and soon to open in Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Estes Park.

 

"Merrick, this is China Doll. Introduce yourself, baby," said Melody, holding on to my waist. "She's my best friend for tonight. She gave me this." Melody showed Merrick the silver wing necklace.

 

"Nice," Merrick says. His striking face sent chills down her back, and his smile felt organic to my bones. I must say, he truly was Greecian Gorgeous.

 

"Pleasure is mine," said Merrick. He offered his right hand for a handshake. 

Merrick was a 6'4 brunette-green eyes darling with a strong bridge of a nose, strong jaw line, crescent moon eyes and smooth complexion. He wore khakis and leather shoes, and if I was Harvey Weinstein, I'd recruit him for a runway model for my agency.

 

"Likewise," I said, as my hands shook slightly in the presence of the elite. I never meant to have friends of priviledged status, but now that I met The Johnstons, I felt an invisible lift to my soul. Oddly, it felt sublime as if I was on a yacht in the middle of the Pacific Ocean wearing linen pants and a white button down, my hair blowing in the wind.

 

I kissed Melody on her cheek. "Beautiful family, Melody. Thank you for inviting me." Merrick dove deep with his green eyes into my soul sending a rush of needles into this heart of mine. If temptation was the test, I failed subliminally and pscychologically. Merrick was simply intoxicating.

 

I yearned for acceptance from these pedigree siblings, the royalties of Silver Creek, and the most popular teens in Boulder County. I wanted to be Melody's sister, and her confidant. The desire was so strong, and I wanted to be loved by them, simply because the finer things in life felt centimeters away from me. Rich by association wasn't just an idiom, it was the American power of privilege.

 

"We're going to party some more. Merrick, join me and dance with China Doll," Melody said, handing my arms to him.

 

"Um....I was going to just hang out and talk to Samantha, then go home," Angelina said, my nerves crept up and my shaking hands left no subtlety.

 

"Nonsense," Merrick said. He took my left arms with his left arm, and grabbed my waist with his right hand. "It's the last party of the year. There is no way, I'll miss out of this Chinese beauty." I blushed, his touch sizzled the center of my being. There was a gentle sway from deep within me, as if I was swooned to the left. I've never felt this way before.

 

"How about you and Collin switch?" Melody said sarcastically. "Merrick for Angel, and me for Colin." Merrick laughed out loud as I wriggled away.

 

"No, thank you," I scolded. "Colin and I are steady." I didn't want this to happen. Temptation beckoned lifelong regret, and I didn't want to be broken because Colin meant everything to me. No, I won't touch Merrick, but he touched me. 

 

"I'm sorry, Angel," Melody said. Her hands on her cheeks. "I just want you to be with Merrick so so much."

 

"Oh, that's okay, Colin and I are pretty committed to each other," I said, insistently. Merrick's every touch became irritating and itchy. I took myself out of his arms.

     

"All right, let's just go in and have fun. Melody, shame on you," said Merrick. He let go of my waist and softly caressed my right arm and held it tight. "I take care of my little sis's friends, and that includes you, Porcelain Beauty."

 

I closed my eyes for a split second to ground myself, as if the clouds bumped into me, tumbling forward into Merrick's chest. Melody couldn't stop giggling and I noticed she must be tipsy from the alcohol.

 

"Cliff, take my sis, will ya?" said Merrick, to one of the fraternity brothers near the lakeside deck. Cliff, a tall dark skinned fellow with light brown highlights also looked runway material. I looked to the other brothers, and they prime caliber of model good looks with stylish fashion sense. Silver Creek was an enclave of the gorgeous and rich families in Boulder County. This was not an imagination, it truly was my reality.

 

A hip hop song came on, My Pony by Ginuwine, with beats demanding moves to release my nerves from all of this guilt. Merrick took my right arm and whispered, "Since you're alone tonight, I'm taking my chances." His tongue spoke flattery, but I shook my head, "No."

 

Yet, he came closer, and whispered, "Yes."

 

Melody was suddenly beside me, girating her shoulders and poking fun at Cliff, who swirled his left hand over his head.

 

"You're babe on top!" He moved in to kiss Melody, as she kissed him back. The room became sexual, and I was utterly nervous. Samantha was gone, and I felt the same fear when I lost my father in a crowd of strangers.

 

"Stop. I can't," I told Merrick, he held me close to his chest. Instead, he held on tighter, and lifted me over his shoulder, and carried me to the kitchen. "Put me down! Merrick! Put me down."

 

Merrick put me down near the kitchen island, and no one cared. He kissed me and forced his tongue down my throat, holding my jaw hard. He took a test tube shot, and held it over my lips. He squeezed my jaws, opening my mouth as my hands shook. I tried to push him away, but he was too strong for me.

 

"Just once, try it. Just for tonight," he whispered. He poured the Love Bomb into my mouth, as my tongue wiggled from anxiety. "Just drink, baby."

 

Tears rolled down my face, because I wanted to be their family, and so I swallowed. He held my waist tight, and he kissed me rapturously, and I gave in out of passivity. Our bodies bounced to the beat of the hip-hop remix, as Cliff came to the kitchen island with Melody and whispered in secret to her.

 

The next song was Billy Currington's "People are Crazy," and Merrick gruffed my arms, and pulled me close. "Slow dance," he whispered. The vocal chords that would wail during cheer was silenced, and the darkness and loud music made me frantic. I couldn't speak, and I didn't know what to do.

 

The room spun in my eyes and the black lights made the polyopia worsen. I staggered away from Merrick, and felt my body lift up from the floor into his arms.

 

...

 

The dim light from the lamp next to the bed was too bright, as the crevices of my eyes opened slowly. The light burned my corneas as I grimaced and tried to open my eyelids slowly. I felt the edge of a messy bed with my hands as it was spread open as an eagle's wings. My body felt fatigued, hollow, and sore. My stomach felt like eels ate through its layers. I was frozen, incapable to think. There was a dim lamp beside the bed. I felt my tank top was still on, and so were my jeans. I raised myself slowly, and felt my jeans were on too high, as if someone forced it up my hips. My tank top was on backwards, because I felt the front seam was higher than the back.  

 

As if a screwdriver was stuck in my belly, I felt it twist inside me as I cringed in pain. I felt bruised internally, and my pelvis felt tender, as if someone used my stomach as a punching bag. My vagina felt sore and my head was still spinning.

 

"What happened to me?" I mumbled, swiping my hairs away from my face. "I'm so drowsy."

 

My eyes wandered around the empty room, with a flat screen television in front of the bed with matching furniture. My blood boiled from under her skin. A spirit inside me said, "Something is wrong," as my mouth felt dry and my tongue had mint and mouth wash after taste. Something in me inflamed, stirred, and shattered.  

 

My eyes moistened, as I struggled to focus with blurry vision. My head felt heavy and splitting open. My brain throbbed inside my cranium.

 

"What happened?" I asked myself again. Fears filled me up to my chest, and I heaved again, and tears gushed out.

I struggled to walk out of the room, because of the intense pain in my abdomen. The party was still on, but fewer people were inside the house. It was later in the evening, but I didn't know what time. My soul felt burnt by a sinister force. I didn't know who to ask for help. I stepped down the stair case, and nearly fell down the stairs. The dance floor was bumping, and I saw Melody, still grinding Cliff.

 

Melody looked up the stair case, and saw me, "China Doll, why are you upstairs?"  She briskly walked up the stairs to face me. Attitude, anger, and coarse language was next. "How dare you sleep inside one of our rooms? We didn't give you permission to sleep here!"

 

"I don't know what happened," I said. "I don't know how I got there."

Melody walked down the stairs to the living room, turning on the lights. The dancing stopped. The music stopped. Everyone froze in place.

 

"I don't know what happened. I think I was raped," I said. Tears on my face, I felt my skin dry, aged a thousand years, as my soul cracked from between my chest.

 

 Melody was bewildered, and in a rage, she yelled, "Slut! This is not a whore house! Get out!"

 

 "I think I was taken there by someone," I said. I didn't understand what happened or how to speak at the moment. All I wanted to do was cry, and ask a wise spirit if I would be okay. "I think I was with your brother last, Merrick."

 

"This is just so rude. Angelina, you're ruining my party. Merrick's outside and he doesn't sleep around. How dare you come into our private rooms without my permission," Melody says, in all coarseness of speech. "Get out, slut!"

 

My feet rooted to the ground as I found myself in panic. The whole house stared at me, as if I was ugly animal inside a zoo of peacocks and butterflies.

 

Sobbing, I said, "I need help."

 

Melody yelled, "Get out, China Doll! You need to go home. This is an exclusive party. I expect you to be respectful of my home, not treat it like a hotel."

 

My body shivered from distress and humiliation. I slowly walked to the door, and no one came to help. Not a single person at the party wanted to look at me.

 

The door slammed behind me. I stood in front of her house, in sobs as the lights inside the house turned off again. The pains in my vagina burned and my gut felt a jabbing pain. Help was a far cry at this moment, because I wasn't sure if it was an emergency, a crisis, or a dream.

 

 "Papa, I am so sorry," I said, under my breath. Nobody could hear me. "I don't know what to do, Papa."

Drowsiness and fear made me feel so completely confused, and all of my intent to go home early was the only thing inside my head. Was this supposed to happen? Was this real?

 

"Is this rape?" I asked myself. I felt I was raped somehow, by someone.

 

The walk felt like a gauntlet in medieval times, with barbarians awaiting my death. Some men who looked familiar were in front of me, and I felt so lost and in defeat. I lost to temptations, to shame, to judgements, and was thrown out from the most desireable family in all of Silver Creek. One of the high schoolers from the party looked at my tank top, and looked to the ground in embarrassment. There were other high schoolers standing outside near the parked cars, whispering.

 

I was savaged out of the comfort of my being. As helpless as a dying queen, I lost control of my body, my soul, my mind.  Racing thoughts came to me, and I sobbed and sobbed. I felt my pockets, and my keys were there.

 

"I don't know what to do?" I told one of the familiar faces. He looked down. Their silence showed disgust towards me.

I kept walking, as my heart kept bleeding. I staggered to the Prius, and slowly sat myself inside the car. My microcosm of life was now brutally damaged.

 

"I have to drive to the ER," I said to myself. The human body was resilient and so was the human mind, but all these ideas must be theoretical. I felt dumb.

 

"I am so hurt. Please help me," I sobbed. I wailed inside the car in agony.

 

"Help! Someone help me!," I screamed inside the car. "Hospital! I need hospital! I was raped!"

There was nothing that could prepare me for this tragedy, not even the angels. I was a sole victim, in a house full of princes and princesses. I felt trashed.

 

I drove to the hospital, barely aware of street signs, and dodging incoming traffic. There must be a patrol officer who would ticket me, or so I hoped. But, none was around early in these hours.

 

I saw a light to the left, Silver Creek Hospital, as I swerved into the drive way. The front door looked empty of visitors, so I drove to the front of it and slowly walked in, hoping for some help.

     

"Please, help me," I said to the front desk volunteer, sobbing with my blurry vision as my head spun out of control. I waited for her to reply, but my vision faded to black and I slumped to the ground.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Ichabod

 

 

In peace and tranquility, I walked on soft grass inside this garden with birds serenading my thoughts. The tall trees soared to the skies as the clouds burned from the hot sun. I looked above me and the sunshine was tender, loving and constant. The stony path ahead was unscathed by the tall grass, it grew around it, and I wondered if such was possible with natural growth? What was this, I wondered? A dream or fantasy unheard of that puzzled me. The sun was a sign that beamed a bright journey ahead in my life, as my face enjoyed its glorious light. Ahead of me was a bench underneath a sequoia, and as I approached it, a voice boomed about me.

 

"Welcome, Tobias," said the low echoing voice. Why that name again? This was serious, if even spirits couldn't recognize me with my birth name, what was I in reality to humans?

 

Searching for the source of the voice, I turned around as the sunlight beamed upon the stony path. Particles of the sun came down from the clouds and formed into flesh, that of a man with a long wooden staff. His dark skin vibrant in contrast to his tattered cream robe. As he came closer, there were freckles on his cheeks. The face of a humble soul, with hair was dark as the soil and his tattered brown robe seemed hundreds of years ancient, with torn parts sewn back on with patches made of thick animal leather. There were threads protruding out of his brown robe and the glow of golden yarn in the midst of the ripped and torn parts as if beauty out of human suffering on his cloth shined through.

 

He wore a smile as if I was his family.

 

"Tobias," he said, opening his arms to me. He had a regal walk, that of a warrior with a soft glow of light surrounding him.

 

"I'm Ichabod," I replied Ichabod. "Who's Tobias? "Why did you call me by that name?"

 

"Your spirit is Tobias, my son," said the man. "I am your father, Raphael, the healer."

 

"But, my Father left my Mother and I, for another woman," I said. 

 

"This is about a young maiden, Sarah," Raphael said. "You are meant to be here."

 

Of all the gods in the world, I was not sure this man was a god at all. He looked somewhat ordinary, a man of humble appearance, although his voice was comforting and his presence felt diety.

 

"You are chosen, son," Raphael said. "To help someone as Tobias came to help Sarah long ago."

 

"Why would you come to me for help? I have Major Depression," I asked him. How would I help another, if I couldn't understand what was before me? Watching National Geographic was beaten to this strange fantastical encounter.

 

"Because your help is valuable, Tobias. You will understand," Raphael said. He reached for my shoulder, as my brain tingled with sparks through my synapses. "Do not be afraid, I am with you at all times, and so are your guardians."

 

His touch calmed my soul, and I felt a wholesome peace inside my chest. I felt safe, and I felt home. I breathed in, immersing his presence into my being.

 

"Guardians?" I asked.

 

Raphael stepped aside, and the same particles of sunlight formed into another man. A man, much younger and shorter in stature, came into form. What circus magic was happening in front of me? This was baffling!

 

The newly formed man wore a similar robe with dark hair and dark eyes, but a youthful face. The face of a boy holding an orb made of glass, and inside it were the hands of time ticking before my eyes.

 

"This is my friend, Gabriel. He holds time and space," Raphael said. He had a kind smile, a smile of a friend with whom we all knew. His dark eyes befriended me, and his boyish face reminded me of myself when I was a boy. He shook his body and shivered.

 

"Life and death, is in the palms of heaven," said Gabriel. "Thank you, Raphael, it was cold in between passages of the worlds."

 

Raphael nodded, and replied, "You are most welcome, and here comes our protector."

 

Another man came into form out of the particles of the sunlight. This time the transformed man appeared to be in between in the ages of Raphael and Gabriel. He was tall with dark hair and dark eyes. He had a face of a fierce swordsman, with lines along the sides of his cheeks, as if signs of battles won.

 

"He is your protector, Tobias," Raphael said. My shoulders tensed as I felt a force around me, cocooning my body.

 

"Michael," the new man told me. "At your service."

 

He truly was as I expected, with a white sword on his belt of jagged edges that shined as steel. In his other hand, an object unbeknowest to man. A small oval magnifying glass with a gold rim encasing it, covered by metal of somekind. He came gallantly towards me, as I stumbled back in fear.

 

An invisible force pushed me against gravity and lifted me to face him, as he hugged me. His hug felt like a bear was holding me close to his chest, in safety, strength, and solace.

 

"My honor," Michael said. "And with the strength of dragons and lions, I will protect you," He took the glass object and held it to the skies.

        

"Protect me from whom? Or what?" I asked Michael, as my nerves and anxiety radar was on like a fog light in the dark. This moment felt like an omen from above. Not desireable to a young man with his whole life ahead of him.

 

"Show him, Michael," Raphael said to him. Raphael turned to me, and said, "Michael has the eye of the universe."

 

Michael took the small oval magnifying glass that hung on the strap on his chest, and held it to the skies. It reflected the sun, and quickly, the day turned into night as the sun became the moon. The clouds moved across the skies faster than during a storm. The wind gushed about me inside the garden and a cold chill froze me on the spot.

 

The object Michael held showed an image as if a large screen was afront. A film, or perhaps something else? There was an image of a young girl, about my age with a beautiful oval face and long silky dark hair. 

 

"She looks familiar," I told Raphael. "Who is she?" Suddenly, the girl on the screen evanesced into the darkness.

 

"Watch closely," said Michael. He tilted the magnifying glass to reflect the light from the moon.

 

"She is your Sarah," Raphael said. "She is in trouble."

 

 "You are to help her, Tobias," Gabriel said. He placed his orb inside his leather pouch across his belt. "There is much to be done."

 

"Guardians, please call me by my birth name, Ichabod. Calling me Tobias only confuses me," I told them.

 

"Fair enough," said Michael, holding the oval glass higher towards the clouds reflecting the moonlight. Standing next to them, I felt protected and strong as a stealth ship. 

 

"The devil cheated through time and space," said Raphael. "Look closely."

 

There was a party showing on the screen, a dark room with glowing objects and some familiar faces. One face I knew since Freshmen year. "Melody Johnston," I said. "Why am I watching this? I don't like her."

 

The screen showed Melody walking upstairs to a room, as she opened the door, there were men inside. Men of elite status, I presumed. Good looking, almost aristocratic, fit to be kings and princes.

 

"Is this the cheer squad glow in the dark party everyone spoke about at my school?" I asked, pointing to the screen.

 

"Tobias, warning," Raphael said.

 

"ICHABOD!" I yelled and pleaded, may hands in a fist in front of me. "Let there be no punishment for this. I never knew Tobias. I am not him!"

 

"Your soul is. In the other realm, you are Tobias, on Earth, you are Ichabod," Gabriel said. "But, let us call him by his birth name."

 

"Keep watching," said Michael, holding the oval glass closer to his chest, and centering it as the screen became closer to view.

 

The men inside the room were standing around the bed, and there was a body, a strange sort of act was committed.

 

"She's snug, bro," a man said. Melody closed in to the group of men, and her brother, Merrick, a man I won't remiss, stood in front of her.

 

"Melody, don't watch," Merrick said. "She's hot, brother. Tight as rumors said."

 

"China Doll don't disappoint, right?" Melody high-fived her brother., Merrick.

The room appeared dimmed, but the young girl's body was in the center. Merrick held a beer in his hand, drinking it, downing it, as he walked about the room.

 

"Cliff, you next," he told his friend. Another man with dark skin stood in the middle, and unzipped his pants.

 

"Tighest vagina on Earth, Bro!" Cliff said. 

 

Michael shut the object with the gold rim with its covering, and the guardians stood in silence.

 

"What happened?" I asked. "They objectified her and de-humanized her?" My mind could not grasp the very detail in such a short moment of time. What tragedies unfolded before me?

 

"They took turns assaulting the young maiden," said Raphael. "All of them, all those men of different races and backgrounds. They destroyed her."

 

"We need you to help her," Gabriel said. "She doesn't know what is ahead." Flabbergasted, I stood in silence. Was this a life long mission? A journey? A season of friendship? Why me?

 

The sun came back above me. The night turned into day, and I looked to the skies with the clouds above me. Michael's face as doomed as my depression. The lines on his face became more defined as his tall figure walked further down the cobbled path. Michael took out his sword and slashed the tall grass in front of him, destroying the tranquil pasture apart.

 

Raphael took me beside him as we walked away from Michael. Gabriel stood still, with his right hand over his forehead. They knew I was not confidently in agreement to the challenge.

 

"Ichabod, Sarah is not her name," Raphael said. "She is a friend, with a ravaged soul."

 

"Why would you ask me to help her?" I asked Raphael, his dark face soothed my spirit.

 

With gentle eyes and his friendly voice, he replied. "Just lead her, but let her work her own salvation. Ichabod, you are the crux of time."

 

"My own father doesn't want me. He left me for another family," I told him. My voice deepened, loud, agitated. "I was left behind."

 

"Not everything you believe is true, Ichabod," said Raphael. "Truth won't always feel convenient."

 

"What made you think my life was convenient? I have mental illness," I told him. "Nothing in my life has been convenient."

 

I never felt sane or at peace, since my own father left our home without care. He took all of my sanity and hope with him. "What do you want me to do?"

 

"Lead her to truth and love," Raphael said. He took my hand and encased it with his two hands. "We will guide you."

 

My eyes were deeply shut, but a jolt woke me. I raised up from the bed inside Room 25, with Mother, asleep on the chair beside me. My hands palpated my stomach, and as I lifted my shirt to check, Mother awoke. "Ichabod, are you okay?"

 

There were no more bruises, and my own Mother gasped. "How did it disappear?"

 

"Mother, I had guardians in my dream," I told her. Seldom do I remember the details of my own dreams, but this time I felt destined to remember.

 

Mother scratched her forehead, and said, "Nothing bored me since I gave birth to you. The bruises, the pains. I saw them, and now, they're gone." Mother touched my stomach gently and raised her palms to cover her eyes. 

 

A knock on the door startled her. I rubbed my stomach, and breathed in.

 

"May I come in?" asked the woman behind the door.

 

"Please do, perhaps you could explain some things," Mother said.

 

"Ichabod, how are you?" said Nurse Practitioner Young. She had deep set eyes, and dark shoulder length curly hair with light brown eyes. A round face with a subtle smile and a voice of an endearing woman, soft and comforting.

 

"The bruises, they disappeared," I said. I lifted my shirt and with a bare stomach gifting her a moment of surprise.

 

"This is very strange," Nurse Practitioner Young said, as she came closer. She pressed her hands into my gut, and asked, "Any pain?"

 

"Nope," I answered, smiling.

 

"Truly, odd," said Nurse Practitioner Young. "A fluke won't explain the level of your anxiety last night. You looked tormented and in agony."

 

"Yes, he was," Mother said. "Would allergies explain what happened?"

 

"No allergies caused jabbing pain, Mother," I told her. I kept rubbing my stomach. "I had a dream last night." I told the Nurse Practitioner.

 

"I see. A disturbing dream? Or a pleasant dream?" Nurse Practitioner Young asked.

 

 I sat stunted for it was all of the above. "Both," I answered.

 

 "Jenni, is Ichabod still taking his anti-psychotic and anti-depressants?" Nurse Practitioner Young asked Mother.

 

"Yes, both of them. But, how could you explain the bruises?" Mother asked. For the first time, in years, my own Mother argued against medical proxy.

 

Nurse Practitioner Young stood up from her chair and leaned onto the wall. Her hands over her chin, she answered, "I saw the bruises. And from the level of pain you described, it felt internal. But this speedy recovery showed signs of healing from external symptoms. Which meant, nothing affected your organs or intestines or anything in your physiology."

 

"Ichabod, were you reactive to something else?" Mother asked me.

 

"You meant lie? You are asking me if I lied? About the bruises and the pains?" I asked her, with my voice calm but inside my chest was a volcano erupting. My breath short and my face felt stiff, from anger, from accusations. No one in my life thus far, believed in me, even with physical evidence last night.

 

"Ichabod…," said Nurse Practitioner Young. "It is medically impossible."

 

My eyes moistened. Rage and fury entangled inside my chest, as I was doubted by the most intelligent and believable staff who heals human beings.

 

The dream, the bruises, this situation felt alien and I couldn't handle it. Tears gushed and I felt my eyes warm from anger as the tip of my eyelids tinged. Life was too difficult with mental illness and this soul of mine wrung out of control. Mother held me close and hugged me.

 

"I want to go home," I told my Mother. Depression wasn't the cause of my trauma. It was their disbelief.

 

To be continued...Just write.

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