every morning is the same.

at nine o'clock, she sits quietly, submitting to their attentions. 'what an angel,' they breathe, as they untangle her white-blonde hair. they like to call her that because she is so pale, and gentle, and beautiful. we play along because we have nothing better to do. we don't delude ourselves, though.

she is not really an angel. none of us here are.

but she is special. more than any of us, she is special.

once in awhile i even try to speak to her.

'how are you?' i say, almost touching her shoulder, but not quite. no one ever touches her bare skin. i don't know why.

she looks at me and her eyes are so tired.

'i'm fine,' she says, and everyone else will believe her, because they want to. but i'm not that silly. she wouldn't be in a place like this if she were fine.

i wouldn't be in a place like this if i were fine, either.

though sometimes, i think she is the only sane one here. and i even wonder whether they made a mistake in sending her at all...

...but then i remember the nights.

at night, she is not an angel. at night, she becomes something else entirely.

at night, the darkness invites the madness within to come out and play. and it does.

and when she wakes up, the walls are scratched and the bedding is torn and she is a mess. her throat is sore, because the other something she becomes likes to voice its frustrations very colorfully and audibly—i try to muffle the sobs and screams from the room next door with a pillow, but i haven't been lucky yet. her face is even more transparent and the circles under her eyes are darker. her clothes are in shreds and i can count the bones on her back.

and when i come in to help her i almost expect to see raw scarlet dripping down from between her shoulder blades where i suppose her wings were wrenched off. but of course, there's nothing.

every morning is the same. she stares at me because she is not herself—at least the side i hope is her real self—quite yet.

'don't look at me,' she says. but she is not ashamed, because she knows i am not like them. she stares at me behind her white curtain of hair. 'i don't think i'm your angel.'

'i know,' i say. 'i never said you had to be.'

and always then, she whispers something else so quietly i can barely hear her:

'but you know...even angels bleed sometimes.'