I don’t know where I first heard it, but I always knew there were angels and if you had any sort of luck, you could become one of them. Most of the time, they were invisible. But once or twice a year, sometimes more, they appeared. Just for a moment and only ever at night.
The first time I saw one, I was still living in Plybrock Wood with my parents. I was wrestling with my brothers and sisters when I heard the singing. The parents’ tall, wide figures blocked most of the view, but through a gap between arms, I saw it! A glowing light zipped across the night sky and became invisible once more.
My siblings cared not for angels. They didn’t dream of greater things, like I did.
“What do you want for yourself?” I asked them, “Other than food and water, and a place to raise children?”
The answer was always the same: Not to be taken by the snatchers, the vicious beasts that lived outside the wood. Many parents and siblings had been lost to them.
But what use was dreaming, if you only dreamt for nothing to happen? No. I wanted to see an angel again, and when I heard I could become one, I wanted that too.
I don’t live in Plybrock Wood anymore. I was taken.
You always knew when a snatcher was coming, at least you did with the ones I grew up fearing. They growled so loud it felt like the sound would crack the earth.
But there was no warning for me. Nothing I knew to suspect anyway. There was nothing that could have stopped it. It stalked up behind me, took one long tooth to my leg and sawed right through. The pain was terrible. Even now, as I think of it, I can still feel it.
Now I am in a place where it’s always night, but the moon and the stars are gone. There are no angels, no food or water, no place to put children.
At least I’m not alone. There are others, taken from their homes like I was. We sit together, where the snatchers placed us. Our arms and legs have been cut off. We cannot move. We cannot eat. We cannot feel. All we can do is whisper to each other.
They whisper about the silent snatchers, voices low and fearful.
“Why did they do this?”
“What will become of us?”
“They took my family!”
I try to give them something hopeful to dream of. I tell them about the angel I saw.
“It was made of sunlight and sang like a bird.” I say, “Stories came from outskirts of Plybrock Wood, saying that it was possible to could become one. That’s what I’m going to be.”
“How?” says one of the others, “You’re trapped here, like us!”
“We won’t be trapped here forever.” I say, “My parents watched the earth change, watched mountains crumble and mud turn to sand. Our kind live beyond everything. This dark place will crumble and we will see the light again.”
“You have a lot of hope, Little Dreamer.” says Old Ash. We call her that because her skin is cracked and coming loose with age. “That’s a rare thing….worth cherishing.” she pauses, “What harm could it do? Stave your doubts everyone. I’ve been passed around by snatchers for years before I came here, and I can confirm that there is a way to become an angel.”
I beg her to tell me. Gone are my siblings and my parents. Even if I do somehow return to Plybrock Wood, I have no roots to put down. I cannot be as I was.
“Your halfway there already,” Old Ash says, “It’s the snatchers, you see. They commune with the angels. It’s they who guide the process. And that’s the real trouble. No one knows who the snatchers will pick. You have to be very lucky.”
The others tell me it’s hopeless. They say the snatchers are cruel creatures and we’re lucky to be abandoned. I ignore them and spend my days whispering with Old Ash.
One day, much later, the snatchers return.
Just like that day in Plybrock Wood, they come silently. They take a few of us, me and Old Ash included. We’re taken out of that cold, dark, space and into the night. Real night. The stars are out. The moon too! It has been so long since I’d seen light.
“It begins again!” Old Ash sighs, wistfully, “If we’re separated, Little Dreamer, I’m glad I met you.”
We aren’t separated. We aren’t taken far and wide like Old Ash had been in her youth. We’re made to sit in a circle. In the middle, stands the tallest of us, dressed in snatcher’s skin. A snatcher crouches by us and leans in close, making a soft clicking noise. In it’s paw, an angel appears.
“We’ve been chosen!” I shrill, “We’re going to become angels!”
Old Ash doesn’t say anything.
The angel hops down from the snatcher’s hand and sits with us. It quickly envelopes us in its glow. Its light climbs up to the one in snatcher’s skin and engulfs him too. Would this light give me the power to fly?
Suddenly, there’s a sound above. Singing! It’s that time of year again. This time there’s no adults blocking my view, and I can see everything! The angels appear in bright colourful explosions and vanish a moment later. Again, they sing, appear, and vanish.
Covered in angel light, we whisper excitedly to each other. Even the snatchers make happy sounds! Maybe they aren’t so bad after all.
I wait to take flight. Eventually, the others stop whispering, but I don’t mind. Absolutely nothing can spoil this for me.
Header Photo by Pixabay.