Joe Flintham CC
XOXO, Your Alien Angel
I came from a hidden galaxy your kind had never explored. Constellations exploded above us like the notches in your spine, little knobs of white bone against a silk curtain of infinite darkness. I traveled the 120,000-light-year radius of the Adrastos Galaxy in a glass rocket to meet you. You had crafted me from the underpinnings of your dreams, and when I found you, I had known the definition of home without even looking at a dictionary.
I hadn’t known the way people measured things, but I was the size of a man’s shoe. You were bigger than I expected, but I had never experienced the wonder and awe of a child. You could fit me in your hands and cradle me like a baby, but instead, you stared at me with your bright cerulean eyes with curiosity. You had been playing with a plastic kitchen, but your ladle fell out of your pudgy hands when you saw me. Your mouth dropped open, and I felt silly. Perhaps the stained-glass eyes were overkill or maybe it was the way my iridescent wings glittered against the morning light like a drop of dew on a blade of grass.
I hid, trembling, behind a sheer curtain, hoping that maybe I had enough otherworldly powers to make me vanish. You peeked behind that curtain as though I was playing a game, and when I stared back at you, wide-eyed and surprised, you were the one who gasped.
I climbed into your lap and sat there, legs crossed prettily. I twirled a strand of my cotton-candy pink hair around my finger like I had seen you do when you were trying to get your mama to do something nice for you.
When you spoke, I understood that others might not be able to decipher your gargle, but it was clear to me. You said hello. You reached down to touch me, but you were cautious as though I were made of glass.
I wanted to assure you I wasn’t that fragile, but maybe I could be broken, and I hadn’t known it at the time.
You taught me how to hold a spatula, and when I crafted one from my powers, you looked delighted. You had let out an excited squeal, and when your mama came dashing in the room to see what the fuss was about, my gifts to you (the kitchen apparatus and my sheer presence) disintegrated without so much as a trail of residue.
I watched, though you could not see me. The bewilderment on her face was a sight to behold, but you giggled and babbled in your way, and after a few minutes, her face broke into a smile.
I wanted to be a part of the family. When your papa came home, we had been playing for hours. I crafted costumes for you that looked like mine: shiny taffeta bodices and tulle skirts that flowed to our knees. We looked as though we were going to a ball. I created a tiara for you out of raindrops and ice crystals I had collected before you summoned me to your planet.
The realm we shared was magical. I created worlds for you in that room. We traveled to distant horizons. I showed you my constellation. I taught you each stars’ name and where she belonged in the heavens. You listened, enraptured and fascinated with the world you were just beginning to learn.
Some days, you played as though you were discovering my planet for the first time. I didn’t have the heart to tell you how many kiloparsecs it was from your home. You wore a suit of aluminum foil, and it crinkled when you took a step, but you called yourself an “astronaut”. A star sailor. How quaint, I thought. I thought of the possibility of taking you in my glass rocket so you could lay your hands inside of craters and make angel shapes on the surface of a star.
But you stayed little, and your dreams strayed to domestic things.
You moved hurriedly back and forth from your tiny plastic stove to your tiny plastic refrigerator, constantly harried from the pressures of being a make-believe housewife. You were always hosting parties with fluffy purple panda bears and silver sea lilies. I watched in amusement, wondering when you would learn to slow your pace and move more fluidly.
Little did I know you were a ball of energy. Once the dinner parties had ended, we were in crisis mode again because we must clean up from the dinner parties, and the fluffy purple panda bears were such messy eaters.
I wanted to show you more of the world, allow you to explore and grow with me. I wanted to teach you to be wild and explode with a thousand epiphanies. I had words I wanted to teach you and worlds I wanted to show you. This was the beginning of the end, but I did not know it yet.
Nothing was set in stone. Each day you woke up, we had different experiences. I laid my head to rest on your pillow, and before I knew it, your pudgy fingers were splayed out over me, covering me like a blanket. But you would soon bounce and spill words over me like a stain.
One day, you started speaking clearly. It started with monosyllabic words. Simple things then, “Dada”, “Mama”. You never tried to say my name, but I can’t say I blame you for steering clear of it. It had too many syllables and too many sounds unfamiliar for your kind.
Your parents grabbed a hold of each other and tried to document the moment, to cement it for eternity. You were growing. “Milestones,” they said in unison, a term of measurement in sentimentality.
You grew a few inches too, they had said. The doctors had told them you were in a healthy percentile. I remember the way your papa beamed with pride when the doctors had said that. He had called you “healthy” in this handsome baritone that practically sang jubilation.
We continued to play. I did not notice the changing of seasons.
The sun was beginning to set earlier in the day, and when darkness passed over us, your mama would simply turn on the light.
I had been warned about the changing of the seasons. I had been told about metamorphoses.
But no. Not you. You were my safe place. I had told you about our hidden galaxy.
We continued to play, but the playing evolved and grew more serious. We would sit at desks and play with paper. We would cut out shapes and write squiggles on them. We would draw four-legged creatures with curly tails.
I say we, but I mostly just watched you. I did not grow bored because you still talked to me. I sat on the desk and created new colors out of my imagination because you did not ask much of me at this time.
Sometimes, we would go back to making costumes. I would make you gowns. You would occasionally have specific requests now that language was within your grasp. You would ask for a dress the color of ice: a silver-blue with a sparkle to it. Sometimes, you would ask for a purple dress with a gold organza cape. I would fashion you crowns from exotic birds, ones that were not from your land or sky, and weave in ribbons and flowers that you had never heard of. I was doing my best to make you beautiful and exotic.
I did not want you to settle down because your mind was so full of so many new ideas. I wanted you to experience the ecstasy of this life and savor these moments.
You looked at yourself in awe when you saw the feathers and flowers. You asked what kind of bird had feathers the color of frost and which one was the color of marmalade. You asked about which birds were the color of mulberry jam. I ran out of answers because I had begun to invent more colors just for you. I told you about the periwinkle birds that flew so high they could catch a star in their open beaks. I taught you about the ones that, though they had wings covered in heather down, would never soar above the ground. They lacked the powers needed. I explained the elegance of flowers, even if their petals looked like thorns.
You listened, my pupil, delicate and doe eyed. But there were times, now, that you went outside to play, and when I stumbled for the door, the glass had already slammed in my face. No matter, I was the size of a man’s shoe, I would have been lost in between long blades of grass.
When you came inside, you were breathless, and your face was red. You drank lemonade like it was pouring out of buckets. I tried to talk to you, but you were busy talking because by now, you weren’t just saying monosyllabic words. Sentences flowed out of you like they were always meant to come.
I brushed your hair one night with my magic brush, waving away the pieces that wouldn’t lay flat and whispering a song in your ear. When I whispered my song, you swatted at me like I had seen you swat a fly.
I began to wonder then: am I capable of being broken?
I never thought I was made of glass. I thought I had a sturdy exterior. They never told me the inside was what was soft.
Time crept on: sometimes, slowly like sticky treacle; other times, as fast as it took you to blink. I never understood how something that does not hasten nor lessen in speed could vary so drastically from moment to moment, but that was the funny thing about spending time with you. Time ebbed and flowed in a magical sort of way.
When your mama asked you about me, you told her a name that flowed like poetry in a foreign land, each syllable a lyric. When you told her about how my eyes shone in a stained-glass kaleidoscope, I thought her own eyes would roll back in her head. When you described the opal shine of my wings, I watched as she hid a laugh behind her hand. You explained to her my cotton-candy pink hair and told her I was an angel from another planet. You said, “You know how our religions have angels? Other planets have angels too. This one traveled from the Adrastos Galaxy.”
She stood, speechless, and walked away.
That was the last time you bragged about me.
I remember watching you fall asleep that night. Your hand fell over me clumsily, knocking into me like tipping over a glass of water. You did not show concern or compassion, but you did mumble something. I thought perhaps you were telling me you loved me, but your words were clogged with sleep and nonsensical.
You were growing older, your hair growing longer and your cheeks grew less rounded, but I did not see my reflection to know my skin was growing wan, my features drawn.
The sparkle slowing dimming from my eyes.
Instead of glittering with thousands of colors, some colors had become muted and dulled. Over the course of a few days, I had lost much of my colors and gleam. My wings had all but withered.
You talked to me less and less. You started to play outside more and explore places I couldn’t take you because, though I was small to begin with, I felt I was shrinking until the blades of grass towered over me. A drop of dew was a threat. It seemed, to me, that I would shrink down to the size of a freckle.
I tried to teach you and talk to you, but you were too busy to listen.
It wasn’t your fault. The Elders had warned me this would happen, but I gasped your name one night, unable to catch my breath. I stammered your name again and again, tears rolling down my cheeks, matting my cotton-candy pink hair. I begged you to hear me, but still you slumbered, soft snores, your chest rising and falling.
I surrendered my soul to be here with you, but now, you were betraying me.
One day, my voice just gave up and vanished. I could no longer speak, and when I gestured like a person who spoke using hand signals, you ignored me. I could have been squashed under your foot like a bug, but this-this was an untold agony.
You didn’t say goodbye. You did not look my way as I collapsed on the floor, choking on tears and memories.
You forgot my name, my galaxy, and all the things I taught you. You began to replace our imaginary worlds with grown-up things: geography, spelling, penmanship. I was disintegrating. By falling to pieces, I thought you would scoop me up and make me whole again.
I just wanted you to look at me.
I just wanted you to remember.
Please don’t leave.
Please don’t leave me.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.