***Since 2008, I have worked on my current novel, The Hunted One. I’ve rewritten it countless times, tossed thousands and thousands of words to the side. None of it was right. But this story haunted me. I could never leave it. Luck was on my side, and I finally managed to get it close to the story I heard in my head. However, until January (when it’s published), I wanted you all to get a sense of my story about Michaela and Gabriel and the war they wage. I hope you enjoy these upcoming short stories. Pardon any cumbersome writing – I wrote this a few years ago. Sorry for grammar mistakes. I’m not an editor for a reason. Without further ado, meet Gabriel.
Gabriel’s Creation – from Gabriel’s Point of View
When I opened my eyes for the first time, all I saw was leaves. Thousands of leaves. Oak leaves. Maple leaves. White bud. Hickory. Elm. Red bud. Bradford pear. Lombardy popular. Black cherry. They hung all around me, consuming my brand-new vision. I smelled their brassy tang. I reached my fingertips to touch their curled edges, but they were further away than they appeared.
I was not disoriented like you might imagine I would be after opening my eyes for the first time. I was not waking up. I had not drifted off in a nap. I had not just closed my eyes for a rest or contemplation. I was never knocked unconscious and dragged into some unknown place.
Instead, I only became. I blinked into the light and felt a certain assurance. I had been created not more than a moment before yet I understood peace as I thought only of your name.
I pulled my long legs beneath me and eased onto my feet. I straightened slowly, adjusting to the pull of my powerful, twining muscles. Wisps of shining hair tickled around my face in the light breeze. I wore filmy white pants slung low on my hips. I ran my hand across the ripple of my stomach muscles. The muscles in my back tugged as something caught in the wind.
My shadow stirred on the soft grass beside me. A tall man slipped from the tips of my feet, flowing across the field. Upon his back stretched two huge wings, feathers fluttering in the wind. The wings crested almost to the top of his head, cascading like water the length of his body, stopping mid-calf.
I am Gabriel, I thought.
Excited, I craned my neck to see my wings. They were truly amazing. The feathers were like molten lava flowing across the breadth and length of their structure. With an easy twitch of a muscle, they fanned out to my sides and expanded to their fill width. The facets of my feathers caught in the light, reflecting a million shining diamonds into the air. My wings seemed to cast their own light around my body, like I was spotlighted from above.
A small, crooked smile of satisfaction pulled at my lips. My wings were just an extension of my organs or muscles. Truly, it felt like they originated from within me. I knew if I angled them just so I might catch the breeze just right so that I would lift into the air. Yet, I remained on the ground.
I stood in a circular field surrounded by tall deciduous trees of all types. The limbs stretched long from each tree, reaching and meeting in the middle of the clearing to form a dome of sorts over my head. The grass blew around my ankles, tickling at my skin.
There was no sun, yet there was plenty of light from an omnipresent glow that radiated from every surface, even me. The air around me glimmered and glistened like damp glass. My eye caught on the air’s molecules, refracting back to me in a beautiful symmetry.
I looked to the east, naturally orienting myself towards that which I waited. My eyes locked into position, staring unblinking at one spot along the eastern tree line. I stood unnaturally still in the middle of that field, hardly breathing, solely focused.
I waited for you.
“Michaela,” I said, testing your name in my mouth. My voice was deep and gravely, your name too pretty for my heavy tongue. But it was perfect. Already you were perfect for me.
In those earliest moments of my existence, I knew you as well as I knew myself. Without you, I was not complete. We were infinitely tied together for eternity. Our creation centered on our togetherness. We were meant to be together forever.
I knew you were here a moment before you stepped into our field. I sensed you. My being lit up from the inside, causing the air molecules around me to spin and dance faster. Their glimmer made me dizzy. Or maybe it was the anticipation of you that made my mind whirl and spin.
You passed underneath the trees and swished through the tall grass, a warm light seeping from your skin. You glowed as you smiled, recognizing me as I recognized you. I watched you, soaked you in, like my own sun rising for the first time. I would not ever need to question. You would always be answer enough for me.
I was your moon, and I would forever chase after you through the skies.
You drew closer and our fates were sealed to each other’s. Your hair was like strands of glass slicing down your back. Wings as large as mine were folded at your back. Your eyes were crystal liquid underneath dark banks of long lashes. Your shy, quite smile completely stole my entire existence from me.
I didn’t breathe in those moments as I watched your every move. I wanted to know that you were real and tangible in front of me. I needed prove to myself that you were whole and complete, not just a desperate imagination.
Clearly, I loved you.
When you were close enough, I pulled your slight frame into my arms. I couldn’t stand it any longer, I had to touch you. You practically melted into me, and at that moment, we lost our individuality. From then on, it would be nearly impossible for anyone to tell where one of us ended and other began.
But back then we were so enraptured, we didn’t think to miss our individual selves. We never had it to begin with, so what was there to long for? Or at least that was how I felt. I wonder now if you felt the same way as I did back then. Back when things were simple and there was only right, only good.
You leaned back and looked into my eyes. The way you stared at me sent chills across my skin. Even early on, you were so intense. Your gaze alone felt like fire.
I realized you were speaking, but I hadn’t heard a word you said.
You told me there were others like us. That we were going to meet them. I only watched the way your lips moved as you spoke. I was fascinated with how the sound of your words hit the air, tinkling the molecules around your mouth.
You lead us away from the field toward the others. I didn’t care about the others. I just concentrated on memorizing your face, committing every detail to memory. I must have looked at you a million times during that walk with quick glances to confirm the tilt of your chin or the slope of the skin between your nose and upper lip. I studied the point of your collarbones, the delicate slope of your shoulders. Your hands were feminine, yet powerful in my grip. You must have thought I was crazy. But I had to know everything about you. Yet, you seemed like you already knew everything about me.
By the time we arrived, your face was forever charred into my mind. Your voice was eternally in my memory. Your smell. Your touch. It was all seared into me. I knew I could find you in a crowd of thousands just by the way the air around you moved or the wild gestures you used as you talked or the sound of a whispered word from you or the way your hair carelessly fluttered around your face.
The urgency to secure myself to you was a desperate gnawing in my belly, like even then I thought I might lose you. I promised myself that I would never lose you. No matter what, I would be certain of that.
But I was naïve and young. We were both so different back then.