A Small Reward

And now, a randomly generated scene …

Nouns: self, mass, damage, reward, growth, act, effect

Adjectives: low, relieved, heavenly, two, curved

Verbs: solicit, edit, extract

Adverb: doubtfully

Feather

One great mass. Two. Their growth was alarming, feathers unfurling rapidly as her friend’s shoulders slumped, vertebrae curved with the sudden weight. May gazed with wonder and want as Sarah gave a relieved laugh and the heavenly appendages carried her into the air with three easy beats, her radiance bathed in the white glow of the low moon.

“A small reward in anticipation of your service,” the slender angel-man spoke up. Their angel-man. He had come to them. For years he’d returned without fail, and now the day was finally here. He’d remained silent all through Sarah’s short transformation into her new self, as terrifying as it had been marvellous, but now May fancied their stern-faced guardian nearly smiled.

Now, it was her turn. But why did he say nothing? Why did he not extract her tightly-rolled contract from his trench coat as he had Sarah’s, letting her sign with a great feather that could have only come from one of his own powerful wings. He would not turn to May, nor look even as she tried in vain to catch his eye.

“What of May?” Sarah saw her silent struggle to gain the angel-man’s notice. “Where is her contract?”

“Yes, where is …”

May’s words stilled as the angel-man turned at last to look upon her. When before it had been almost a smile on his pouting lip, there was nothing uncertain of their set now, doubtfully frowning as he gazed straight through May into her heart and soul.

“There is too much damage,” he said, not unkindly, after an endless minute. “Every act you have done and has been done to you has a lasting effect. Dark acts tear rents and leave scars. I had hoped your purity would remain unscathed. You kept it safe for years, despite your hardships. Only last year it was intact…”

“That wasn’t her fault!” Sarah exclaimed, landing and gathering May in her arms, disbelief and horror melding hideously within.

Only last year she’d been pure…

“Her own acts have not caused this, no.”

“Please,” May solicited the angel-man from within Sarah’s protective embrace. It was all she could do not to beg. “This is all I’ve had to look forward to. Please, don’t take this from me.”

“You promised,” Sarah added accusatorily.

“You are scarred, May. You can protect no one.”

“Fix her, then!” Sarah exclaimed, her tears flowing freely.

Now it was sympathy the angel-man expressed. Beautiful as it was on his face, May wouldn’t look, not trusting her innards to continue functioning and keeping her well. She felt ill. Gutted. Worse.

Worse than last June.

“A soul cannot be un-scarred any more than the past that caused it can be edited and re-written.”

“If she cannot come, I will stay with her!”

May numbly listened to the angel-man’s gentle reminder of Sarah’s contract. Then Sarah gave damaged May a final kiss and fierce squeeze, and the angel-man took her reluctant hand, drawing them apart.

“What am I to do?” May managed to form words. Without Sarah, she truly had nothing.

“You have become one we are sworn to protect,” the angel-man said, reaching out to briefly brush May’s cheek in farewell. She would not see them again, the touch said. Not him, and not Sarah.

“Why didn’t you protect her before?” Sarah demanded, speaking over her new kin. “If you had, she would be with us now!”

“You will have our protection.”

“You will have my protection,” Sarah swore fervently as she and the angel-man lifted together into the night, leaving May alone on the hill. “I can protect you, now. I will protect you.”

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