Angel.

Smart, rich, handsome, wanted, popular, admirable.

Pick any of the adjectives and it could be used to describe Shane White. He was the popular guy in school, the one every girl wanted and every guy’s idol. Not only was he good with students but he was just as popular with teachers, they adored his humor and often made way for his disregard for rules here and there.

Shane was one of the few people in life born with everything. He had well off parents who adored him, showering him with love and affection as well as a hefty allowance. He was exceedingly good-looking, charismatic and outgoing.

Smells like a recipe for trouble, no?

Showered with everything he wanted he was hardly one of those wastrel teens you find, he knew his limit well and stayed away from drugs and alcohol for most of his life. But when an offered cigarette threatened to take away his popularity, his will faltered and he began smoking. One thing led to another and from cigarettes, it became drugs. He knew it was wrong, but he became an addict, there was no turning back.

Walking home from school one day, Shane saw a little girl fall right in front of him.

‘That’s odd’ he thought. ‘I didn’t even see her,’

It was odd indeed and it seemed as though she had fallen from the sky. But the evening sun was glimmering unsympathetically from a distance; perhaps he just didn’t notice her.

Shane scurried over to help her up. The little girl had a creamy white fair complexion with long silky brown hair that reached the small of her back. A small bit of her hair was braided at her temple on both sides and braided where it met at the back of her head, keeping her thick mane of hair off her face.

She wore a white cotton dress that looked more like a robe than a dress that clung to her petite body frame with brown sandals.

‘Are you alright?’ Shane asked as he helped her to her feet.

Her brown eyes met with his and she smiled the kind of bright smile that made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Shane can’t help but smile back.

‘I’m alright,’ she replied. ‘I just.. Fell..’ she continued rather awkwardly.

Seeing that she had scraped her knee, Shane brought out his wallet and dug around for the spare band aid he kept in there. After a moment, he found it and gently laid it on her injured knee.

‘I’m an angel’ she sounded all of a sudden.

Letting out a small chuckle Shane corrected her, ‘You mean your name’s Angel,’

She looked confused for a moment and shook her head before repeating the sentence, ‘No, I’m an angel,’

‘Angel’s don’t exist,’ he quipped and her brown eyed dimmed in confusion again.

‘So Angel’s my name?’ she asked.

‘Yes, and mine’s Shane,’ he said.

‘And you don’t believe in angels?’ she asked, still looking slightly baffled. Shane thought about it, hard.

He hadn’t thought about angels since he found out there was no Santa Claus. It was one of those things you shut out of your mind when you find out that some things were just fantasy, lies created by people to fill in the blanks of childhood. He was deep in thought and when he finally came back to reality, Angel was no longer around and the sun had long set, darkness surrounding him.

Shane made his way home feeling oddly hollow.

In the world where Shane came from taking drugs were like building a house of cards – it was only a matter of time till someone sneezed on it. The time came and he was caught red handed taking drugs within the school grounds. Furious and embarrassed, his parents sent him to a strict rehabilitation centre. Overnight, his world crumbled in on him and he lost everything – his friend, his popularity and his family’s trust.

It was a cold and lonely place, the rehab center. Especially at night, where there were no social workers or nurses or doctors or consultants around. No one around to ease the pain, no one around to distract them from the dark hollows of their minds. Night times were the time where one was left with nothing but their minds and the reminiscent of the past and be consumed with regret.

And it was no different for Shane White, the ex-popular student of a prestigious international school. Shane was sweating and trembling from the cold breezes. It was a cold night but it was the painful retribution of taking drugs.

His bones ached and his muscles throbbed. He’d been yelling for hours. And it was not uncommon in the institution, drug withdrawal was one of the worse pains and the wind often carried the sounds of screams and tears.

Shane heard his door swing open and closed lightly. He hugged his knee close to his torso shivering on his bed.

‘Go away!’ he bellowed to the unknown visitor weakly, his voice hoarse from all the screaming. It had been his first day in rehab, and the first 24 hours had been hell as his body went through withdrawal. He didn’t feel like ‘talking’, they’d done enough of that during the day, he just wanted to be left alone, at least for now as his body went through the painful process.

Out of the corner of his eye though, he saw the little girl with brown hair.

‘Hello,’ she said cheerily and sat down next to him on the bed.

‘What are you doing here?’ he asked, voice quivering.

‘I’m here to help,’ she answered in a matter-of-factly tone ‘What about you?’

‘I’m here because I took drugs,’ he answered, no sense lying about it.

‘Oh,’ he brown eyes dimmed in confusion again as her brow furrowed. ‘ But why?’ she asked after a while.

‘Because,’ he snapped back.

‘Because?’

‘Because everyone else was and I didn’t want to be left out! Okay?’ he yelled back with what was left of his energy. ‘Now just leave me alone!’

But she didn’t. She just sat there.

‘Is it bad?’ she asked timidly.

‘Is what bad?’ he asked, anger subsiding a little in his fatigue.

‘Being left out, is it bad?’

Shane exhaled, ‘Well, not exactly..’ he replied in a small voice.

And then a charge ran up his spine, it was one of those that hit you at the moment of an epiphany, when you come to realization on certain matters. It wasn’t bad, being left out, was it? Again when he came back to reality, Angel had left again.

Shane had begun feeling better. His sweats had stopped, as did his shivering. There was a knock on the door and a nurse entered with a tray with a syringe.

‘The doctors heard you, they thought this might help,’ she explained.

‘Actually, I’m feeling a lot better. Where’s the little social worker?’ he asked.

The nurse’s face was a blank. ‘Social worker?’ she asked.

‘Little girl, about 9 or 10? Long brown hair, white dress?’ he explained.

‘I’m sorry, we don’t allow our social workers here at night, nor do we have children in our program. Maybe you were hallucinating, it happens a lot of the times to the other patients,’ she offered. Shane shook his head as he left the room leaving him alone again.

It couldn’t have been a hallucination, could it? But it had felt so real. He even remembered meeting the girl before, her name was.. And then it hit him.

I’m an angel..

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