I’m not one to believe in guardian angels. My mom always told me that someone was out there looking over my shoulder, making sure I was doing the right things and making the right decisions.
She bought me an angel pendant that would swing from my rear view mirror from the time I had my learner’s permit. It had a small emblem that read: Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly. She thought it was cute.
I thought it was bullshit.
Until Christmas Day this year.
We had a wonderful day visiting my parents in Ridgemont, an out of the way dirt town in the deserts of California. Ever since my daughter was born two years ago, we had to visit, especially on Christmas.
After opening presents and sharing a meal of over-baked turkey and cheesy green beans, my daughter had shred through all of her gifts leaving a pile of torn wrapping paper and empty boxes in her wake. She fell asleep in a new dog bed that my father had bought for his pug.
My siblings and parents opened our presents together. My brother bought me a pair of noise-canceling headphones I’d been asking for forever. I slipped them on and turned on some Christmas music. It was amazing, the entire world drowned out and faded into the background. I couldn’t hear a thing.
The festivities had died down, and my wife gave me the nudge that, without saying a word, meant ‘Get the baby and let’s go home.’
I took out the presents and left them by our car, a light blue Toyota Prius that my brothers loved to tease me about. My wife and I said our goodbyes, and she headed to the bathroom one last time before the car ride home.
I put on my headphones again and lifted my daughter out of the dog bed, which the dog had now joined her in. I leaned her against my chest and could feel her tiny body rising and falling with each breath. It was one of my favorite things about holding her.
I carried her to the car in the ninety-degree weather. It was considered cold for the winter in Ridgemont but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t sweating through my ugly sweater.
I opened the curb-side door to our car and slipped her into her car seat. She gave a deep sigh but thankfully didn’t wake up. The non-stop screaming from the backseat would’ve been a nightmare on the three-hour drive back to Los Angeles.
I left her unbuckled, but I wish I hadn’t. I propped open both curb-side doors. I figured she was asleep, she wouldn’t be able to get free and the heat from the car needed to escape, less any of us pass out from heat exhaustion.
I turned my attention to the mountain of presents that sat on the curb. I popped the trunk and loaded them up. The presents piled so high that the back seat was obscured from view.
I smiled, bobbing my head to the Christmas music in my new headphones and putting the last few presents inside.
Then I felt it.
That weird feeling that you get when someone enters a room in silence, but you know they are there. I can’t explain it, it’s just a sense I get.
I turned my head to look at who was there, expecting it to be my wife, but it wasn’t.
It was six feet tall and shrouded in shadows with a black flowing robe. Its yellow eyes glinted in the deep recesses of its skull. It didn’t have skin, nor muscle, just bone.
Its skull was thin and long like a horse but tapered to a point at the bottom where it’s few sharpened teeth were. I could see long thin nails hanging out of its black robe like ten sharp daggers.
There was a strange ethereal wind around it, lifting its robe in places.
It was floating above the ground, but it had no shadow. It was almost as if this thing, whatever it was, swallowed up all the light around it creating the darkness that I saw.
I was horrified and frozen with fear.
It raised it’s scythe-like fingers and pointed past me towards my daughter in the back seat.
I leaned around to look in the side window at her car seat only to find it empty. She was gone!
I rushed to the open door to see if she had crawled out but she wasn’t there. I was so out of it that I didn’t see the moving truck barreling down the street towards us, and the driver didn’t see my daughter toddling out into the middle of the street.
The shadowed creature pointed toward her, calling my attention to where she was. I ran as fast as I could to grab her a moment before she would have been run over by the truck.
My heart was pounding. My wife ran out to us, screaming, but all I remember was holding my daughter close and being thankful that I can still hold her at night and feel her breathing in and out.
I looked up to where the creature was, but it was gone.
Without it, I never would have known my daughter had gotten out of the car. I wouldn’t have heard the truck coming towards us, and my daughter would be dead.
I don’t know if that was a guardian angel or not. It certainly didn’t look like the angels from the movies. I’ve tried to put it out of my head, to forget the flowing tendril-like pieces of its garb or the bladed fingers it warned me with.
But ever since that day, the creature has been following me.
No matter where I go. No matter what I do. It’s always there.
Except now, it’s only pointing at me.
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