Amanda looked up in frustration as the curly haired girl skipped up the sidewalk in the morning sun, and knew she did not have the time or patience for an encounter so early in the day. Children seemed to flock to her on busy days, and today was one of those. She hurried her steps to the mailbox in hope of getting back to the house before the child reached her, but without luck.
"Good morning," the ten-year-old child smiled warmly, though Amanda was doing her best not to notice. "What a beautiful day, huh?"
"If you have time for that sort of thing.. Which I don't, as I am almost late for work, excuse me."
Again she tried to make a break for the house, pretending to look through the mail as she walked. Amanda was by no means a cold woman, just busy with the life she led. Being a young wife, then a mother, and then divorced in just a few short years, her work was now her only goal.
"Mama, you dropped one," the child’s voice sounded just behind her, and as she turned there was the young girl, persistent in her invasion of Amanda's personal space.
Amanda forced a smile and retrieved the envelope, another overdue bill, and started again for the door in hopes of escape. The last few years had been hard just to make ends meet, trying to hold down a job and keep old pains at bay was a constant struggle for her.
"Do you believe in Angels?"
"I use to," the young woman mumbled under her breath as she made the first step. Her church walk had gone downhill the last two years; with the accident, then time in the hospital, and all counseling after that. It seemed many felt as her husband had, and placed the blame of the accident on her alone.
"I do," the curly haired child said, "I see them all the time. They tell me things."
Amanda stopped on the top step, only a few feet from the safety of home, and sighed. She turned slowly and looked down at the child, dressed in her flowery skirt and white blouse. Amanda forced a smile and calmly spoke.
"And what do they tell you?"
"They told me you have a beautiful child."
Amanda stood in shock, as the smile slowly drained from her face. The nerve of this child, to prance up and so boldly bring all the pain back into her life. She had taken the car in to get it worked on, as the breaks had gone bad and her husband didn't have the time to work on it. She had packed her two-year-old son in a car seat and strapped him in. On her way to the mechanic shop she had stopped to make a call, to let her husband know where she had gone.
"I use to have a child, but he is gone now."
"I know Mrs. Garretson, they told me that too."
The child's eyes went from the happy little girl to a mature adult, filled with a shared pain for the woman’s loss. Memories flooded over Amanda, those locked deep in her mind from pain. She viewed those memories once more as the car slowly rolled down the hill, away from the phone booth.
She used the parking break as always, but, bad as the breaks were, it had not held, and the car rolled back out into traffic. She ran after it, but by the time she made the curb she heard the squeal of air breaks on the truck, already half-way down the hill, as it moved too fast to stop.
“Who are you, how do you know this?”
“The angel told me to tell you, it wasn't your fault.”
Amanda had told herself that over the past few years, but all she could see was her baby left in a car with bad breaks, parked on a hill. She knew the breaks were bad, and knew also that it was her fault alone that Bobby died that day. Now, this child comes out of nowhere, to invade her inner peace, bringing back all the pain like a flood.
Even as she ran into her house, traumatized by the strange child’s plain spoken words, tears of pain streaming down her face, Amanda could hear again the last words the mysterious child spoke as it vanished before her eyes.
“Bobby said he loves you.”
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