I'll never forget them. Or that night. Or the way they make me feel.
His strong hands as they caught me, stopped my small body breaking and shattering, stopped my breath and made me happy for one minute. His face was angelic. Sculptors never get angels right because they can only imagine a human being. This man was not. He was ethereal, otherwordly, lit from inside by a loving glow that made me calm.
Dad didn't understand. After the train he told me not to talk about them any more. He said they were not holy, and we should reject them. That was Mum's last argument with him before her spirit was completely repressed.
Dad's a priest. Thinks I need chastisement for what I dared to say about them. I 'forget' to go to Confession and I never say grace because 'my lexicon is far too familiar.' Just because back then I dared to call HIM daddy and now I talk to HIM like HE's my best friend.
The other one glowed, shining like a sun. I thought he looked like a Viking warrior. I could image a large broadsword strapped across his back, his hair flecked with snowflakes as he ran, leading the charge. Now I can picture him in times of peace, tending a flock of sheep and watching the local children run alongside his shepherd dog.
Dad also hates the way I draw. I sit here, scribble mad pictures of angels and demons and gods and wrath, blood and vampires and saints with swords. Dad locked me in my room when I was fifteen for drawing a picture of the two angelic men, locked fast in the heat of each other's embrace. He said I was profaning nature, warping the Original Plan. I screamed back it was far more fucking original than what he did to Mum.
Mum takes the hardline coz she has to. If she's ever caught being the slightest bit friendly towards me, out comes the strap. I shut my ears and put Korn on really loud, shove the headphones deep into my ears and cry for her.
Dad never finds out that I'm the one who comes to put antiseptic on her back and sings her to sleep.
It's been like that for years here. I hold Mum and Dad together sometimes, I think. Dad never finds out about the blissful three hours we spend together before he gets home. I mean, Mum goes back to her old self, the one that used to fight back when Dad argued, the one that taught me how to walk in high heels, helped me totter round the kitchen in them at age six. Age thirteen, the stereo as quiet as possible, introducing me to a band called AFI, to dark, dark eyeliner and black clothes. The one who laughed abandonedly, danced in her long flowing skirts and kicked off her shoes and made us flower bracelets. The beautiful golden-haired young mother, born of the wind and fire, the one who read palms and told young girls to look in the mirror to find their true love. The one who showed me what birds' nests look like inside, a soft downy bed with a pulsing warm living egg nestled secretively, quietly, preciously inside, watched over jealously and listening to the entire world. Sometimes I think she'll stay like that til Dad gets back, and then it will be different. But no. She's so scared now of him, like that bird who pretends to break her wing, lures the predator away from her precious chicks. Only there's only me.
Tonight my desk is littered with paper, endless re-drawings, crossings-out, sketches with horns and wings and blending leather and feathers light as air. I'm getting my masterpiece finished: a tableau of glorious angels, sinfully sensual demons, vampires with precise otherworldly beauty and powerful dangerous warlocks and over all this, HIM uniting them all and the air of friendship flowing around. It's taken me ten months to get the damn thing looking respectable, and even longer to plan and sketch and write about each character. There's a small part of the story on the back and lots more in a file I keep locked shut, hidden under my bed under a loose floorboard. You see, I think that, given the chance, my esteemed father would rip the entire masterpiece up before I can move out and display it to the world. They're all befriending each other, good and evil disappearing and hate and treachery and cruelty smashing to bits. The devil's at the bottom, crushed, his wings snapped and his beauty a terrible parody of what it once was.
Devil. I remember hell.
She was young, but old, and strong and mad. Her breath stank, stank like corpses and death, and I cried because she was so tender with me. Terrified I was, but I knew that this… thing… had once been a beautiful woman, electrifying, engaging, amazing. I knew that and I didn't know why.
I remember hell very well. Her name was Tormenta.
Later, when I was older, I looked her name up in a Spanish dictionary and discovered it meant storm. Aptly named. Her mind was a storm of un-reason and deathly insanity.
Those men hated her. The good in them abhorred the evil in her, and it ended in her being… well, I reckon you could say it was a form of euthanasia. Tormenta was crazy, hurt, lost. Snapping her neck sent her back to HIM, to atone for her mistakes. I think at least.
The other reason I think he'd rip it up is because there are two unearthly beings, a mixture of all the other creatures, locked in a very definite kiss. The two men from that train, preserved in their love on the paper forever. They were lovers. I could tell from their body language, the way they looked at each other, the concern in their eyes.
I can hear voices. Damn. Mum's not well and Dad's just returned home to no tea on the table.
I think this has gone far enough. Mum doesn't deserve this. She has given her all and got nothing in return.
The stairs seem long from my room, but I don't much care. I just have to stop these arguments, have to stop Mum's hurt and basically, give Dad one hell of a good smack. I bolt down the stairs, skidding as I take two at a time, the memory of my guardian angels from the train keeping my resolve up.
The kitchen door looks huge. I gulp.