Chapter 1: The Crush
This all started with a crush.
My name is Cave and I just so happened to be the one crushing. I was twelve- years-old when I met Audie and was just halfway through the sixth grade. It’s hard to believe looking back now, that the Angel Archives all started because of a crush. Webster Dictionary defines a crush as, “temporary love of an adolescent.” Although in my case it didn’t feel temporary at all.
This was a simple boy-loves-girl crush that I had on a girl in my class. And not just any girl. A girl that had a force-field surrounding her—made of magnificence. A girl that captivated everyone she passed in the hallways and on the school grounds. And because of this force-field, I wasn’t the only one who crushed on her—practically every boy in my middle school was absolutely madly and unconditionally in love with Audie—of course none of them told her except me. Well…let me clarify…I told her eventually, not right away of course.
At the time I didn’t even know her last name or what had happened in her life that had made her the girl she was. All I knew was that I had a crush on her that made me think of her when I was riding the bus, when I was playing tether ball during recess, when I was in the cafeteria, and even after my mom turned my light out at night. It was as if she had cast a spell on me. Later, after it all began, she asked me to write these Archives for her. She asked me to do this so there was a record of all the adventures she, I, and the others had together.
That’s right, I had a crush on her and I was lucky enough to spend time with her. She was so sweet, she allowed me to tag along on her life changing journey that took me from being a loner little boy with glasses and turned me into a man—or at least that’s what Audie calls me—a man. These Archives are not my stories to tell, but I will do my best. Some of these are firsthand accounts of what I personally observed and some is what Audie herself, or others observed, and later told me.
I guess there’s no better way for me to start other than…night terrors. Yes, that’s right, I said night terrors. Audie had them every single night that she could remember. Don’t get me started on how badly I wished I was there at night with her; let’s just stick to night terrors. They were always the same dream, night after night, and she always woke up in a sweat. Again…wish I was there…but I digress. She said she even woke up with tears dried to her cheeks as though she had been crying for hours. Here’s her account of the repetitive dream…
“YOU’RE GOING TO KILL HIM!” A familiar looking blonde woman screamed, “PLEASE!” She was lying on the floor of what looked like an old castle. An eerie fire flickered angrily behind her and made her hair stand on end. She was crying and the tears sparkled like crystal from the warm light of the fire. She was hovering over a body that looked deadly still.
A man with raven black hair stared down at her and screamed back, “I own you! He doesn’t get to have you! No one will; you’re mine! You’ve been mine since before the day you were born and I OWN YOU! You don’t get to leave me!”
He raised his arm up high behind his head and made a striking motion.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” The woman shrieked!
Then Audie would wake up soaking wet in angst and tears. Her father would rush to her bedside and hold her as tightly as he could. Audie was too upset in the moment to ever tell her father what she saw. She didn’t want him to think she had a crazy imagination and whenever the topic was brought up she promptly distracted him with a problem she faced at school, or some homework she didn’t understand.
Now that brings me to Audie’s upbringing. Audie was raised by her dad, August, and because of that she was slightly considered a tomboy. She told me once that he didn’t know much about raising a little girl, and because of that he raised her the only way he knew how. She said they seemed to learn everything together, from how to cook amazing meatloaf, to how to be generous to all animals even the smallest of creatures, all the way to driving at age ten without running over curbs.
Audie loved spending time with her dad. He had the kindest, warmest brown eyes, like maple syrup on a Sunday morning. But every time she asked him about what happened to her mother, her father would barely breathe a word about it and then go to bed early. She heard him sobbing once or twice behind his bedroom door so tried not to mention it often.
Even so, the absence of her mother was a loneliness that Audie couldn’t quite explain. She truly missed the woman she had never met and it was always apparent to her when she saw her classmates being dropped off for school by their mothers.
Audie and her dad moved around a lot which made them even closer. The best memory Audie has of her dad was that every night after dinner they would laugh hysterically over playing Yahtzee. Her dad worked on cars for a living and she recalled how her dad permanently smelled like gasoline, a scent that reminded her of him no matter where she went. She knew before her dad walked into a room that he was coming because the gasoline scent paved the way for him. From what Audie told me her dad seemed to know when she was upset or when she had a bad day and would always be there to make her smile. In a lot of ways, because of all the moving around, her dad was her best and only friend. Audie was born with golden blonde hair and intensely blue eyes that gazed deeply at the world, not as a skeptic, but as an admirer. When I met her, she always had her hair pulled back in a ponytail and wore very conservative, almost boyish clothing, no doubt picked out by her father.
After the passing of both of his parents, August inherited his family’s estate; a house that could have passed for a mansion or even a castle. When Audie turned twelve-years-old, he finally decided to stop living like a nomad with his daughter and settle back in the home he was raised in. He brought Audie to the mansion with hesitation even though knowing a stable life would be best for her. Audie’s new home was cold and strange to her but as long as she was with her dad, she knew she would adjust to the new surroundings. August decided to open up the enormous twenty car garage as his own auto body shop. With him starting up his own business and Audie going to yet another new school, the two of them leaned on each other for support.
Now this brings me to the part of the Archives where Audie and I met. I lived in Lowell, Indiana, a sad small town not too far from the border of Illinois. This happened to be the town where August’s family mansion was. My upbringing was very different from Audie’s. My life was the exact opposite of moving around; we never moved once in the duration of my existence. I was bred, born, and raised in that sad little town of Lowell. Not that I had much to compare it to at the time, but it was a boring ho-hum life until the day that Audie walked into it.
One rainy day when the sun had seemed to be playing hide-and-seek behind dark clouds for over a week, I was sitting in English class, as any old usual Tuesday tired of hearing about synonyms and antonyms and staring blankly out of the window. I was wondering when the sun would come out and grace our small town with its presence just when the class door creaked open. In my mind it all happened in slow motion, as she walked through the door frame it seemed as though a breeze blew across her cherry-colored cheeks and the sun raced into the room, coming out of its hiding place. Even the sun itself couldn’t wait to gawk at her and I think my bottom jaw fell open a little bit. I remember shoving my Buddy Holly glasses up on my nose, wondering if she was more attracted to Superman or Clark Kent, as I considered myself classified more as the latter.
She walked in and stood at the teacher’s desk. Our teacher who was up at the blackboard turned around abruptly and said, “Ah, you must be…”
Our teacher’s bun must have been tied too tight; I thought to myself, how dare she forget such an amazing organism’s name. As the teacher rustled through her papers, Audie smiled at the class and I swear as she looked at me a little twinkle jumped into her left baby blue. In the distance I could hear a collective gasp from all of the boys in the room, but couldn’t take my eyes off of Audie.
“…Ah here it is! You must be Aud—ah, this must be a typo, Audrey.”
“No ma’am, it’s no typo, my name is Audie.”
Audie’s voice rang in my ears for the first time and it seemed as though the clouds opened even wider to let the sun have a better view of her.
“Uh,” our old teacher grumbled, as she looked at Audie with wrinkles around her eyes, “ah, Class, this is Audrey, and she is our new student I told you all about last week. Audrey, please have a seat over there.”
“Thank you ma’am” Audie said slowly, not distracted by the fact that the teacher had completely ignored what she had said.
I remember sitting in that class day after day peeking at Audie out of the corner of my eye, always nervously smoothing out my dirty blonde hair and pushing my glasses further up on my nose. I watched as Audie ran and fetched the teacher more chalk for the board, passed handouts to each of us, cleaned and organized the teacher’s desk every morning, and brought cupcakes to the class every Friday, of course before the teacher got there, as she would never have approved of us eating all of that sugar.
In the hallways boys pushed each other to get to walk beside her, and they clambered over each other to sit near her at lunch. All the while, I admired her from a distance; sitting with my smart friends who would rather talk about math class as I gaped at her out of the corner of my eye. She quickly made friends with some of the girls and grew a reputation of being kind and generous. She was always the smartest and quickest to answer in class, made the best grades, and helped the other students who begged her to study with them.
One afternoon, as we neared the end of sixth grade, around the time the buses pulled into the parking lot and all of the students were rushing to pack their bags and waiting impatiently for the bell to ring, I realized I had forgotten my English book back in the classroom. The bell pierced through the hallways, stinging my ears and as everyone made the mad dash for the buses I fought the crowd to go back to the English room.
I stowed away into the dark room and just as I was pulling my book off of the teacher’s desk and checking that it had my name in the front cover, I heard someone else coming in the room. Thinking it was our old-bag teacher, I hid behind the desk, hoping I wouldn’t be reprimanded for leaving my book behind. The scent of vanilla wafted over to me and I soon realized it was the lovely Audie in the room with me. I felt paralyzed out of nervousness even though I wanted more than anything to pop out from behind the desk.
Just as feeling was coming back to my legs, a boy that looked my age, and was African American, walked into the room from the hallway and looked right at Audie. I had never seen the kid before, and I remember having the feeling that he didn’t even go to our school.
“Can I help you?” Audie asked the boy.
“Yes, please follow me.” The boy said, with a strong English accent. It was at that point I knew for sure he didn’t go to our school.
“Pardon me?” Audie asked politely in her sweet voice.
“You’ll need to follow me now,” the boy said, as he motioned with his hand for her to follow.
“You’re in danger here, Audie, you’ll need to follow me right now.”
“I’m sorry,” Audie let a beautiful little smile glide across her face, “what’s your name? What bus do you need to get on? I will help you find it.”
“I have been sent to protect you and you must come with me now,” the boy said, visibly losing his patience.
“Protect me…from what?” Audie smiled deeper now, thinking this was some kind of a joke.
“There is no time for this,” uttered the boy, as he impatiently walked quickly past her and to the classroom closet door.
I had gone into that closet over a dozen times in the school year to grab supplies for my ornery teacher, but when the boy opened the door it was not the same. When he opened it, the shelves of paperclips and colored paper had disappeared and there was snow that opened up to a tunnel of ice!
From what I could see, the tunnel seemed to go on forever. I immediately rubbed my eyes behind my glasses, thinking I must have fallen into a twisted dream and that when I opened them, the plain simple closet that housed the wet mop would reappear. But no matter how hard I rubbed, the same snow-filled tunnel was there.
“What the—?!?” Audie exclaimed in disbelief. It was as if she had read my mind and her voice brought me right back to reality.
Without any hesitation the boy walked right through the door and into the tunnel. “You’ll need to follow me now, Audie,” he stated, over his shoulder.
“In there?!?” Audie stood stationary and gaping as if she didn’t trust that her eyes were being honest with her.
As I watched her take one step forward a complete panic seemed to swallow me, starting at my toes and working its way up to my forehead. I guess I should tell you now that when I get nervous there is only one result that ever comes from it and unfortunately that result is—oh God, I cannot believe I’m writing this in these Archives—well, honestly...it’s sneezing!
You’re probably thinking that I’m a sad little excuse for a kid for having that ailment and you would be right in thinking that. This disorder of mine had plagued me since birth and despite Doctors assuring my mother I would grow out of it, I could never quite beat it. Anytime something surprised me, anytime I was shocked or intimidated or alarmed even, a sneeze attack would be brought on. It typically resulted in me being called some choice names by kids at school but nonetheless, never resulted in anything good.
I felt helpless and miserable because I knew there was nothing—and I mean absolutely nothing—to stop the sneeze attack from coming on. In that instant I tried holding my breath, but to my dismay I sneezed hard, not once, not twice, but three wretched times.
As I wallowed in my self-hate for sneezing, the boy sprang back in the room from the tunnel and Audie spun around on her heel. I wiped the spit from my chin, smoothed out my plaid button down shirt, and looked up to see them both staring down at me.
“Cave!?” Audie shouted in surprise.
Now, call me crazy, but all I could think in that moment was…she knew my name! All of the days in class I had worshiped her and all of the nights I had dreamed of her and all this time, all along, she had actually known my name! It was as though the world stopped spinning and we were alone in the state of Indiana, just me and her in that moment and, did I mention…she knew my name?
“He’s seen the tunnel; he must come with as well.” The boy sneered at me in revulsion. He instantaneously walked back through the closet door, put his hand on the knob and said, “Now,” sternly.
Audie and I followed him without saying a word to each other. Maybe we were scared of him, maybe it was instinct, maybe it was some cosmic force of fate, but for some reason amidst the oddness of that tunnel being in the closet, we followed the strange boy who neither of us knew. Even odder yet, he didn’t seem surprised that we followed him; he just had expected us to do as he said, as if he was some foreign ruler that was accustomed to bossing people around.
As Audie and I crossed through the doorframe from one world into another, the boy pulled the knob shut behind us.
“In we go,” said the boy, walking in front of us, putting on a black facemask and a slick helmet on top of that.
He then pointed to a snowmobile sitting in the icy tunnel. I hadn’t noticed the mobile before but it truly looked like something out of the future. It was bright blue and perfectly shiny, glimmering from the dancing lights on the icy walls of the tunnel. The boy pulled out a helmet that he handed to Audie and hoisted himself onto it.
“No thanks,” Audie said, and turned back towards the door. When she looked for it she realized the door to get back into the closet was completely gone and there was only ice in its place.
“There’s no going back,” the boy breathed through his helmet, and he motioned for her to come join him on the mobile.
“He’s a man of few words, huh,” she said looking at me.
She handed me her facemask that was tucked inside her helmet and she hopped on behind the boy.
In my defense, I had just learned a few minutes prior to this moment that she even knew my name and now she was actually speaking directly to me. So I did the only fitting thing I could do at this point and that was to sneeze. Audie giggled as she put on her helmet. I hurriedly pulled the facemask over my head, snagging it on my glasses, and jumped on behind her. I started to put my hands around her waist to hold on, but stopped a minute to bring myself back down to Earth. I again started to grab her leg this time but I gasped for air as I felt a sneeze coming on. Within a minute’s time, the boy had fired up the engine and as the snowmobile shot forward, I grabbed Audie’s waist out of instinct to refrain from flying off of the back.
I looked over her shoulder at one point but the wind was stinging my eyes through my glasses and all I could do was wish that the English boy had brought along three helmets instead of only two. We went further and further into the icy tunnel. There were turns but it all looked the same to me. Every few yards there were bright LED lights that lined the tunnel walls to keep it well lit. At one point I turned and looked behind us and felt actual relief to leave the life of decimals, fractions, and geometry behind. Even though we were going to the unknown, I knew it was with my crush, and all that mattered was that she knew my name.
Audie the Angel is available from Amazon.