Abigail Emsley just wants to get rid of the "guardian angel" her uncle insisted on, but after collapsing from grief in her very first session, she doesn't have high hopes for a speedy recovery.
Angel: Part 4
Abigail's second encounter with Chad
“Abbey! Dear!” Mother jumps up when I enter the dining room. “I didn’t expect to see you at breakfast, sweetie.” She reaches out, probably to steady me.
I ignore her help and slide into my chair, smiling reassuringly. “I’m fine, Mother, really. I think talking about it might be cathartic. Perhaps Uncle Edgar is right,” I lie.
Mother bites her lip. “I’m thinking of asking him for a different Angel. This one seems … wrong.” It looks like she is struggling to find the right words.
The only benefit I see in getting a different Angel is that a new one won’t know what I look like when I break down. I figure I should stick with Chad. I feel like I can convince him quicker than a new one.
“No.” I shake my head and pull a spoon toward me. “I want to keep Chad.”
Mother doesn’t seem convinced, but she nods anyway.
“When will he get here?” I ask between heaping bites of oatmeal. I try not to think about the slimy way it slides down my throat.
Mother hesitates. “Well, after breakfast, but I told him not to expect too much.”
I force a smile, trying to look amused. “Didn’t know if I’d make it out of bed before evening?”
Mother’s face relaxes at my joke. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe yesterday was good for you.”
Fooling her makes my smile more genuine. “In a few days I’ll be good as new.”
“Would you like to start where we left off yesterday?” I ask when Chad takes a seat next to me in my mother’s sitting room. Much cozier than the regal receiving room.
“We can start with something easier.” I notice how much closer Chad seems today. I’m sure he expects me to faint any moment.
“I feel much better, today. Really.” I smile at him.
The edges of his eyebrows pinch together. I can’t fool him as easily as Mother. “You spent most of yesterday under a sedative.” His face darkens, and he leans toward me.
I laugh, cringing inwardly at the falsely cheerful tone. “Maybe that’s why I feel so rested.”
Again, it doesn’t amuse Chad. The slant of his eyebrows deepens. He folds his hands together and brings them close to his mouth, eyeing me with concern. “Start wherever you feel best.”
I nod. I skip over breakfast memories and the hiccup about who Father flew with. “I went to class right after breakfast.”
“World Civilizations, College Algebra, Spanish two.” The list falls off my tongue with ease. The details seem bright in my mind. I can see the TV monitor hanging above the tables at the student center where I went for lunch. I recognized the plane the moment it flashed onto the screen. Instinctively I shy away from the emotion, expecting the dizzying feeling to start overtaking me, but I react mildly compared to the total collapse yesterday. I return my focus to Chad, forcing the difficult emotions away.
“You saw the newscast at school,” Chad prods me onward, his voice gentle.
I nod. “At lunch. I called him. I thought it might be a mistake. I called him over and over.” I grip the sides of the chair. Get through this, get through this, I chant.
“You tried to call your father?”
I start to answer but hesitate. Closing my eyes, I think about the phone in my hand and the speed dial number I pushed. Not two for my father, but three. The dizziness attacks again. I squeeze the sides of the chair harder and force my eyes open, ignoring the pounding in my head. No episodes today.
“I don’t remember. Maybe. I think I called him. Who else?”
Chad sits back, relaxing his posture. I realize he’s anxious, waiting for me to collapse again. “Then what happened?”
I find it much easier to relate that day after I discover I can control my reactions—at least when I recognize the warning signs. The rest of our visit goes well. We talk through the entire day of Father’s death and the release feels good.
I haven’t appeared in public for weeks. We tried after the encephalitis, but the roar of a jet overhead sent me into uncontrollable hysterics. I’d barely left the house since then.
I insist on joining Uncle Edgar at a baseball game the following afternoon, despite Mother and Chad’s agreement that it’s too soon.
“Darling Abbey!” Uncle Edgar beams when I enter the box with Mother in my wake. I grin back. Convincing Uncle Edgar means getting rid of Chad sooner. Uncle Edgar embraces me and holds on to my shoulders to eye me seriously. He pinches one side of my ribs. “More to pinch than last time,” he stage whispers. “You’re finally eating again.”
“Hungry as a horse.” I force every inch of my expression to cooperate with my act.
Uncle Edgar turns to Mother. “I told you sending an Angel would work,” he boasts.
Mother scowls. “I’m not sure it was such a good idea to pick Chad.” She looks over at me, worry in her eyes.
Uncle Edgar avoids her gaze. He takes my hand and leads me to a chair. “Seems to be working fine, Maddie.”
Mother harrumphs, but sits in a seat next to me. “For now,” she says.