Kimberly Gould’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Wingless Angel
I stood on the curb watching traffic fly by. I kept meaning to flag one of the cabs, but something in me wanted to walk, to take in the busy streets that surrounded me. Bright lights and loud noises followed me for a few blocks, then things became quieter, darker. There were still streetlamps, and the sky was still painted orange, but there weren’t any more signs lighting up the night around me. I walked further, aimlessly, trying to find something I didn’t know I’d lost.
I stopped at a familiar sound, water rushing.
My mind flashed back to that day. I remembered bobbing in the ice cold water. My mouth and nose were covered then not, then covered again. I choked and struggled, trying to fight the current sending all of us over the precipice. I couldn’t stop it. Thankfully, it had been long enough since we’d called for help that I could see a helicopter on the horizon. It looked like any of the dragonflies buzzing around, except it was large and becoming larger.
I screamed as I went over the edge. I gasped for air, knowing I’d go under when I hit the bottom. Water was everything, everywhere. Bubbles and water, white and grey, I couldn’t make out anything.
Thankfully my life jacket jerked me up. I coughed while gripping it, trying to expel what had been forced into my lungs. That was when I saw him, an angel without wings.
Water splashes me again, less cold and less violent than that day. A car splashing through a puddle has soaked my shoes and socks. Cursing, I shake my foot and step back. The rushing water was just the rain being drawn down a storm grate. I’m too shaken though, too lost in my memory to walk further. I lean against a power converter box instead, grey and cold. My face feels too hot and I rest my cheek on the metal, watching more cars speed by.
I straighten, surprised to hear my name.
It’s him, my hero. What is he doing here? “Brian?”
His smile is warm and different from the cross expression of determination as he pulled me out of the water. “Yeah. How are you?”
I put a hand to my head. “Been better.”
“Get you a coffee?” he asks, his elbow extending to me. I loop my arm through it and lean on him, just as I did in the chopper once we were both hauled up. He smells different. He smelled salty, sweaty that day. Today he smells musky. It’s familiar enough though, and I let his presence stabilize me in the middle of the remembered fear and panic.
“I gotta stop running into you,” I tell him. “You’re going to think I’m stalking you.”
He laughs. “Nah. I’m pretty sure I’m following you.” His smile fades just a little as he opens the door to the coffee house. “Would that be all right?” His eyes fill with concern and a little fear of his own.
I smile broadly. “I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have watching over me.”
Kimberly Gould is the author of Cargon: Honour and Privilege and the upcoming Thickness of Blood. She can be found most places as Kimmydonn, including Kimmydonn.com