In the Company of Angels

I looked over to the clock on the stove as I dried off my hands. The red numbers glowed 7:03. Only twenty-seven minutes left.

Tonight, everything had to be perfect because she was perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but perfect for me. Thoughts of the first time I saw her flashed into my mind. I don’t remember it, but she swears I said, “I was hoping maybe meeting me would be nice and you have pretty smile.” Maybe I did. I was so nervous. Mortals have no place in the company of angels.

I caught a dim reflection of myself in the kitchen window and tried to judge my appearance through her eyes. The 2-day stubble that she joked took me a week to grow was gone. My brown hair looked almost black with all the gel that held it up. I straightened my already straight tie and let my eyes wonder over the rest of my outfit. Black pants hid a new pair of black dress socks. I chuckled to the sound of her voice echoing in my head, “You can’t wear brown socks with a black suit! It’s tacky…”

Shaking away the memory, I took the salad into the dining room and went through my mental checklist for what seemed like the hundredth time. Tall candles stood like twin guardians over the table. The Justin Bieber cd that played softly would have ruined the mood for anyone else, but I knew that it was secret pleasure of hers. Every detail had been meticulously planned, even down to the bread.

“DiMaggio’s has the best bread in town. Did you know that they brush each loaf with a thin layer of honey as soon as it comes out of the oven? That’s why it has that hint of sweetness.”

She always noticed the details. It had been the source of more than a few fights. Compared to her, I was blind. But tonight would be different. Tonight, nothing escaped my attention. I was determined to show her that…

I returned to the kitchen to check the time. The clock read 7:22. There was only one thing left to do, but I stood frozen just inside the threshold. My nerves were greater now than when I had gone to speak with her father.

“I don’t want you to think that I am trying to take your place in her…”

He laughed a great big laugh.

“A husband can never take the place of a girl’s father, but he can make it more affordable to be one!”

Time mocked me as another minute blinked into existence on the stove. The freezer stood only a few steps away, but a canyon of fear filled the space between. Another minute passed and the thought of failing to go through with the evening grew stronger than any other fear I would have to face tonight.

I took a deep breath and crossed over to the freezer. Cold air escaped as I opened the door and seemed to crawl up my arms. I took out the desert and closed the door with my elbow before the cold could find its way to my heart.

The cake looked perfect. Two small figurines stood facing each other with their feet buried in icing. It was hard to believe it had been a year already. She loved looking through our wedding album, but for me, nothing could capture the look in her eyes as she walked down the aisle towards me. I placed cake on the counter to thaw and retreated to the dining room once more.

My hands searched for the comfort of each other and I folded them together in front of me, but the sweat between them convinced me that my pockets would be a better option. As they dove in, I felt the ring for the first time since I had gotten dressed. She had never taken it off, even in the shower. My fingers rubbed the cool metal as if it were a magic lamp. If only it were. The medicine had not been strong enough to save her. All I had left were memories and wishes.

Copyright © 2012 Adam Drake

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19 comments

  1. Knowing your talent for twists, I was trying to figure what was coming, but that ending sucker punched me. It’s 13 months since my wife left me. I’m not an emotional person, but congratulations, you nailed me between the eyes with this one.

  2. I’ve had three friends lose their spouses in the last month and one was my age with a 3 year old daughter. This hit home. Such a precious reminder again to hold close those who are dear to us and make the most of the time we have with each other. Very well written and so unexpected.

  3. Overall a great story with a great twist. The action interspersed with dialogue was a nice touch; however, I felt that there were moments where it’s possible to get lost as a reader, like when you’re jumping constantly between the words said long ago, the flashbacks of the wedding and the dinner.

    I felt that it definitely needed a lot of concentration to understand the implications of the ending, and for a twist of this kind that’s not such a good idea. You can be clear about your message and your twist without blowing it wide open. I suggest perhaps more explicit clues?

    It’s definitely one of those stories that doesn’t fall into a genre or plot convention. It’s meant to convey an emotion and it does it very well. Congratulations!

    1. Wow! That is amazing feedback. Thank you so much.

      I agree that the dialogue, at times, gets a bit muddled. This is not one of my best stories in the area of clarity, but I hope to go back and fix some of those issues.

      Thanks again for taking the time to really share your thoughts and insights about this piece. Whenever someone does that it helps me understand the different perspectives readers have as well as helping me see areas where my writing technique can improve.

    1. Thank you. My deepest desire as a writer has nothing to do with money or being published; it is to affect those who read my words in a positive way. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s one of my favorites.

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