Note: This was based on events in my own life. There are two more parts to this trilogy. They will be up soon. Read, review and enjoy! God bless, Wonder
Part One of the "Crystal Chronicles" trilogy
Part One: Burdens
Late September 2012
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in downtown Durham, North Carolina. The sky was blue as can be with only a few clouds scattered across. For late September, the cool was slowly starting to usher in fall. The breeze rushing in. It was a beautiful day.
Unseen by the human eye, three angels were enjoying some time together outside the library, reading the newspapers and watching humans as they stood in line waiting for it to open.
Andrew, as usual, went straight for the obituaries, finding any one he took home. Monica always preferred the culture section. And today a storyteller from Japan was going to speak at library about legends. Gloria, always went for the science articles, but recently has tried to slow down and enjoy reading. Her mind was made to run like a supercomputer. An angel for today's tech-based society.
Then Monica casually looks up and sees something, or more specifically, someone. Getting Andrew and Gloria out of the papers, she points out a auburn haired, bespectacled, teen coming out of a car. Waving at the driver, she walks briskly towards the doors, a full bag hanging from her side.
"Our next assignment?" Gloria inquires. "Yes she is. And she's at a crossroads. One decision can change everything." Monica answers, folding her newspaper. The others do the same and go on inside.
Crystal stood at the counter, pulling out the previous week's books she had checked out and finished. Then straight up the stairs she goes to the third floor. It was always a place of refuge. Quiet, peaceful and she could get away from the stresses and cares of school and home. Also, she came here every Sunday to kill time before going to Youth Group at a church a short walk from there.
The three angels stood unseen watching her. She looks at the shelves and when something strikes her fancy, she takes it down and browses through it. "Her name's Crystal Grayson. She's 17, and has a terrible burden that needs to come off before it's too late. Gloria, you may like her. You two are a lot alike, that's why you're on board here." Monica tells her, then notices her bewildered look. "She's very smart, but troubled." Andrew stares at Crystal and says, "Something about her is familiar..."
It had just turned 4:45 and Crystal started to wrap it up. She had to get to the church and finish up the final details for her program. In her years in middle and high school youth group, she had never done a program. Plus, like the library, it was a place of comfort and safety for her. Checking out a handful of books, she walked just down the street.
"Miss Golds? I presume?" Andrew, dressed in a casual shirt and jeans, sat in an office facing a husky woman with dark, shoulder length hair. "I was sent to help with this group until a replacement can be found." They shook hands.Cassie Golds sat looking at the resume he gave her. "Pleased to meet you, Andrew. Now this is a roster of our regular kids who come here." She gave him a sheet of paper. He took the list and read it. Sure enough, Crystal's name was there. Cassie went through it, describing each one in some detail. But when it came to Crystal, she paused. "Facinating girl she is. Funny story of how we met. But if she trusts you enough, I'll let her tell it. She does it better than I can. And that would be her now."
Andrew hears somebody singing just outside the door. Something about lighting a candle in the rain. A dark haired girl pops in and says hi. This was the assignment. In a quiet voice she says, "Let me get the materials so i can finish this for tonight." She pops in and picks up a pack of flash paper then leaves. Cassie stops her.
"Crystal, this is Andrew. He's filling in for Beth until a replacement can be found." Crystal looks at him inquisitively. Then she blushes and shakes his hand before leaving. Again, Andrew had that feeling they met before...could this be part of why he's here? He regains focus and gets the orientation.
Crystal sat crosslegged in a corner of the small sanctuary, cutting the flash paper into pieces. Her mind drifted back to the night before. Mom and step dad were at it again. All about her, how she spends more time at church than at home and all this. But he didn't have any say in what she did. Her stepfather always had a hated for Cassie, Crystal knew it. Maybe because of the close relationship they had. Tears started to form, but she wiped them back. She had been moody lately and chalked it up to a recent adjustment to her medication.
But she knew why. Last year, he wanted her to do something totally inappropriate to him and threatened to tell if he did it again. Since then, things had been tense between them. She also thought of her sister, she couldn't leave home after graduation and leave Haley alone. Things were getting desperate and she had chosen this topic of secrets and how confessing it can bring relief. Letting God help and all that.
The group would each write their darkest secrets on the flash paper and greatest desires, but not to share with the others, then fold them up. Then they're placed in a pan, where they're lit with a match, making it disappear.
To Crystal, at least this way, someone would know, she thought, holding back the emotions best she could. That was becoming harder to do these days. Why would God allow things like this to happen? Where was justice?
She had finished by the time the others started coming in. Cassie and Andrew were finished prepping for the dinner and welcoming everyone before officially starting. About 12 (including Crystal) kids show up. Everything went well, but Crystal was on pins and needles when it came for her to take the reins. This was harder than being in stage doing a solo for a dance concert at school.
Everyone wrote on their slips and placed them in the pan. Her hand shook as she wrote on her slip. She could at least write it down in front of others and not let them know it. Crystal took the lighter and put it to the pan. In a flash it was gone, to her it felt like a burden lifted a little.
Gloria, unseen, watches on with a curious look. It grieved her to see someone so young worn out from unseen burdens. How can humans go on like this? She couldn't see what was written on her slip of paper, but the pain on Crystal's face said it all. Monica said this one was a lot like her, wonder what that meant?
Monday arrives and it was the start of the rat race for Crystal. Arriving, she goes straight to her Special Needs counselor. Knocking on the door she expects Mrs. Lindsay to motion her in as usual because the light was on. Instead she gets a surprise.
Instead of the older woman with the blue glasses, she finds a red haired, slender, younger woman. Dressed in a light gray jacket, black shirt and jeans. "Hello, my name's Monica." She extends her hand to Crystal and motions her to sit down. Her Irish accent made Crystal feel at ease, in fact, she liked accents, as long as they're not too thick "And I will be filling in for Mrs. Lindsay. She had emergency surgery and will be out for at least a month." She had that calm, soothing voice. "And you must be Crystal Grayson." They shook hands.
What drew Crystal's attention was the hair, that shade of red enthralled her. After a minute or two, she had to leave for her English class. Today it was "Frankenstein". She made everyone laugh when asked what came to mind about the book, she said "recycling". An answer nobody expected. Even dance class was more fun than usual. Plans for the winter show in mid-December had to start. The day went well and then she had to go to the nightmare called home. The one she shared with her mom, stepfather and baby sister.
That night Cassie calls Andrew. "I am really not well and I need to ask you a favor. Could you take Crystal to her therapy appointment tomorrow?" Cassie coughs, hacking up a glob of mucus, "her mother works and I help however I could." Andrew says he could and she goes, "Good. I'll text her and give her a heads up. She'll show you where and all. Need her school address?" Again Cassie has a coughing fit. "I'm going to see the doctor in the morning." She hated these times. So busy helping others she forgets about herself.
Crystal was having a harder time sleeping. Like clockwork, the nightmares came right on time. She's being chased through the woods by a creature. It ends up cornering her and wraps its long spindly hands around her throat. It then transforms into a human she knows all too well. Then the pain comes just before it goes black.
Checking her phone, the time says, "3:30 am". Turning over, she shed silent tears to get back to sleep. Another day to keep her secrets, agonizing over what to do. The one part of her past she would rather forget. The emotions would be too much for her to handle. As her mom puts it, Crystal was always "delicate" emotionally.
Gloria looks on, watching each year slide down, gently wiping them away. What could be so painful it causes this agony? She was quite literally still the new angel on the block, but knew something pained this girl. And seeing Crystal in pain, it hurt her too.
The next day, school had let out. Crystal and her best friend Emily were outside the school cutting up. Emily lived not far from the school, like Crystal, and she had her weekly therapy appointment. All she knew was Cassie was sick and someone else was coming for her. Today was also her first session with Monica. Not bad, went over her background and the usual "if you need to talk, I will be here" line.
"The file shows that you've had a difficult life." Monica says, scanning the thick folder. "Foster care, a time in a psychiatric unit...My, you have endured a lot." She closes it and looks straight into Crystal's eyes. "Now I want to hear your side. Don't be afraid to hold back."
Crystal so wanted to take the offer, but the voices in her head overwhelmed that, so now she was under their control. That was the way she put it. The voices that taunted her as far back as she can remember. She was no good, secrets are your friend, nobody cares for you, and so on. Those were what she heard. Every good thing she did was...tainted by those voices. Her ability to trust was dampened by the memories, and living under the same roof as the person who ruined her. Now she's got a sister that could have the same thing happen to her too if it hadn't already.
A horn honking snapped her back to reality. There was Andrew, in a red Cadillac, calling her name and waving. Emily came up and Crystal soon followed. After introductions, Emily headed off and it was just her and Andrew. She was impressed by the car. On the way to the session, they talked some. About her and the city in general.
They come upon a two story brick building near one of the hospitals. After parking, they go in and the receptionist takes Crystal's name and appointment. After a few minutes of waiting, her name was called. A short woman, dark hair and glasses, comes and greets them. "My name's Gloria and I'm a student helping out Dr. Steele with some cases. You don't have a problem do you?" Andrew stays in the waiting area while she goes in.
"Now, I would like for you to try and think back to what upsets you the most." Dr. Steele calmly tells Crystal as she lays on the couch, eyes closed, her breathing steady. It starts out well, but soon it goes downhill at a certain point.
In her mind Crystal was able to go deep, but when the words start to form and are on the tip of her tongue, a hand grabs her throat. Or at least it feels like it. And the voices whisper "We can't stop this thing we got going." They tell her disgusting things about herself and then the physical pain begins.
Gloria and Andrew watch as she curls up, her face contorts in silent screams. She begins to choke despite nothing at her throat. Crystal begins to flail on the couch, her hands around her neck and when Dr. Steele reaches to touch her, she flinched.
For the two angels, it was sheer agony to even watch. With a snap of the fingers, Dr. Steele brought Crystal out of her state. It had been only the last year this started and has been chalked up as a severe case of anxiety.
"I had one didn't I? Doctor?" She said it like nothing had happened. Promptly Crystal ran out to the bathroom and threw up. The idea of going through this made her sick, thoughts raced through her mind. Why not just say it like in that fan letter she sent during the summer? One of her favorite singers always got fan mail like this and maybe she may get a response. The first time she told anyone what really happened.
Ten pages of pouring her heart out. At least, if something happened to me, someone out there would know. Ironically enough, he was coming to the State Fair next month. And the youth group was going, including her. She smiled at the thought.
After the session, Andrew decides to take Crystal out. Her and Cassie did this just about every week. It would be something like shopping or dinner. A girl's day out. But it was her and Andrew. They went to a small Chinese place in a mall and for some reason, Crystal could be open to him. "Well, Cassie says you two met in a very strange manner. Mind telling me, if that's all right."
She was stunned. Briefly glancing into those green eyes, she began a very brief outline of her life. Life with autism, the days in foster care, including her stint in the psych ward at 11, where she met Cassie. Every detail was seared in her memory, down to her clothes. A slight smile came to her just thinking about it.
"She's that important to you isn't she?" Andrew calmly whispers and places his hand over hers. He felt trembling in her just by touch. She looks up and behind those gray eyes, there was a great pain he saw. Clawing just below the surface, eating at her.
Regaining her composure, Crystal picks up her fork and resumes eating. "Yes, she is. Like the sister I never had. I guess that's the best kind of friend one could ever have." Andrew was surprised at how casual she spoke of her life, difficult as it was. Almost like it was normal. He had talked to Monica earlier and she said the same thing.
He drove her back home. Her mom and sister were finishing up dinner and her stepfather was reading a paper. And as usual, downing a beer. Looking up at Andrew, he scowled and went back to the paper. After a few minutes and introductions, he left. Her stepfather gave Andrew the same look he gave all her friends, a scowl. It was like he didn't want her to have any friends.
Once she was settled in, Crystal finished her homework and logged into a chat room she often frequents. The others there knew her as "X-77". Over the last two months she had been talking to "Andy37". Nothing inappropriate, just friends. Beside her was the letter. A response to the one she sent to this one singer she loved and chose to reveal her secret to. For about an hour she chatted and then logged off.
Nervously, she picked up the thick envelope and opened it with a letter opener she kept at her side. Removing the contents, she began to read. It was almost 9:45 before finishing her homework and going to sleep. But not before placing it in her small safe. It gave her a lot to think about.
Week And a Half Later (early October)
Crystal wakes up from a nightmare once again. The bruises on her arm stung and pain in her groin was almost too much. Why was it with these nightmares real pain comes? It had been the last few months this has happened and chalked it up to thrashing about while sleeping. Could the night terrors she had as a kid be coming back, that she never grew out of fully?
Stumbling into the bathroom, she turns on the light and finds her neck red where it looked like hands were wrapped around them. The sight made her gasp, only one person could pull this off. The anger inside flared up and she resolved herself to end this, one way or another.
Monica was standing unseen beside her. The storm cloud grey eyes matched a tempest of emotions that brewed inside Crystal. The three angels had taken turns watching her from the start. Taking blows for Crystal and her sister when her stepfather went off on them if need be. She ached from the last one. It frustrated the angel that Crystal hadn't been able to speak out. A shudder went through her at what could happen if she doesn't let it out...
Crystal looks in the mirror. The burden she held was physically taking a toll, she literally could feel it in her shoulders. Stopping at her little sister's room, she sees little Haley sleeping. Her half sister, only nine years old, laid there in bed like an angel. Worry filled her. Would she be next? Lately that's what her dreams were filled with. Haley being hurt like she was. Hot tears filled her eyes and Crystal left for her room. Where she wept herself back to sleep like so many times before.
At school things were getting worse. Despite Monica's gentle urging, Crystal was sliding. She was becoming more withdrawn and agressive. At school, a boy called her a name and she went ballistic. Flashbacks were coming frequently and often, even in class. Excuses to explain her actions were harder to come across.
She kept it together still. Andrew marveled at how some humans were able to even function under these conditions. Crystal was slowly trusting him, at times it seemed she had something to say, but pulls back. Her eyes said it all, a shadow crosses over them when she talks about what she calls "the dark times". That's what she calls the time when she was in foster care and what led up to it.
But it all fell apart the week before the Fair trip. In an argument with her stepfather, Crystal pulled out a knife. "You know what you did and if you touch my sister, I will kill you!" She raises it and swings it down towards his head.
Andrew, unseen, whispers in her ear, "Whatever it is that's hurting you, this is NOT the answer. Think about it, once it's done, there's no going back." With one word from the Father, he grabs her arm just as it's coming down, stopping an inch from his head. Try as she could, Crystal just couldn't budge her arm.
The stepfather, blank faced, smirks and chuckles. "You never could finish what you started. Coward." Straight-faced and cold. "You're always threatening to tell the world lies against me. Well, how about an exchange? Keep your mouth shut or everyone knows about what goes on between you and my daughter." His eyes said that he was serious.
The door opens and Haley enters, fresh from playing in the yard. Crystal slips the knife in her sleeve and puts on a plastic smile. Mom had just left for work as a manager at a local restaurant she owned, often working long shifts.
He rises up and whispers, "Keep quiet or I just might make her an object lesson." He shoots a glance at Haley, who was hanging her coat up in the living room. "And it will be all your fault."
Andrew hated these cases. In his time as an Angel of Death, he has seen his fair share of self-destruction cases. This was one of them and every time it tears him apart. Inside he was wanting to rip this animal into pieces for what he was doing. Instead he punches the wall beside him. Of course being in his angelic form, it wasn't damaged, but he did wince from it.
By now the agony of realizing her sister was now at risk was almost too much. People were getting suspicious and she knew it. Monica was probing way too deep and it made Crystal panic inside. Then the body betrays you. Her hands start trembling, something she attributes to the lithium she takes for her manic depression. Even during her waking hours the emotions come. Her mind goes back to the Sunday before.
Everyone was having a good time at the weekly supper. This week it was pizza and chips with cookies for dessert. She was finishing up a lively chat about the upcoming trip to the Fair and particularly the concert. Michael Reigns was coming and this was a dream come true. Crystal played his music day and night, had all his albums and pictures plastered on her wall. Now she was finally going to see him live.
"Who can resist those blue eyes? I could drown in them." Kathy, one of the other girls says with a dreamy look in her eyes. "It would be awesome to meet him..." Crystal laughed, though she shared the same thoughts. Excusing herself, she went up to the first first floor ladies room to wash up.
She carried that letter with her. One of the volunteers who worked with the fan mail gave her advice on how to deal with this. Also about how God sees her agony and weeps. Righteous anger and all. Also included was Rebecca's (this person's name who responded) story and referrals to websites and hotlines.
Crystal preferred to be alone, part of it was because of her biological father being like that by what her mother has told her. Lately also, she's asking more questions about that. Splashing water on her face, she looks in the mirror. The agony was showing on her face. Even looking into her own eyes in a mirror was difficult, almost impossible. Drying her face, she slips off. And instead of going back, it was straight to the main sanctuary.
This was right above the smaller one. It was where all the major services were held. It was of course empty, giving her quiet time to kneel at the rail before the altar and pray. The silence helped keep her focus and maybe even if she's lucky, hear something from God. "Where are you God? It's getting worse here. What can I do?" Crystal whispers into the air. And as usual, nothing.
Andrew had noticed Crystal missing, gone too long. He slips out to find her. He caught a glimpse of dark brown haiir sliding into the sanctuary. He had come here the week prior thinking someone was there but found nothing. But this time it was different. Approaching the rail, he sees her kneeling. Reaching out, he touches her shoulder. "You shouldn't really be here".
She panicks, turning around staring at him. Andrew saw the horror in her eyes. Like she was staring at someone else. Crystal had a glare that could kill a man. After a moment, she softened. "Didn't think anyone else was here." She sat down on a pew. And he follows. "Did I ever tell you about my brush with death as a kid?" She begins, telling of how at one, she almost died and while recovering, tried to sneak out of the hospital ward. Then about how she fell off a 20 foot cliff at age 5 with only bruises and two fractured wrist bones.
Andrew's memory started going off, these incidents ring a bell. Why did he feel like he knew this girl from before? They rise up and go back downstairs. Those questions would have to wait until later. But what drove her to say what she did? All these thoughts ran through his mind, but he sensed time was short for her. So those questions would have to wait.
End of Flashback
Crystal had her overnight bag packed. After the fair, they were coming back to the church for an overnight. She would leave after dance class and miss typing but this time of year, lots of kids did it. Monica would hold her bag in the office during the day. It would be fun!
She just talked to Andy37 online and got a little deep. Brought up a scenario where someone close to her was hurting and didn't know what to do. They had gotten a little close, comfortable. "Did you ever have a secret so unbearable it had to be let out, but the pain of it doing so would make you feel like you're giving up your sanity or life? Maybe both..."
The screen was blank for a minute. Then the words popped up. "What is it X? What is it you want to get off your chest?" Crystal was stunned, left speechless. Never was he so blunt. Also, how did he know? Making up some excuse about being tired, she logs off. She falls asleep, that last conversation on her mind.
The day had finally come! Cassie would pick her up after fifth period class and from there, meet everyone else at the church. By 3:30, they would be on the Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Everything went as planned. The day was good, no homework, and almost everyone was at the church when it was time to go.
Going to the State Fair was always a joy for Crystal. The sights and smells stirred up emotions of a better time, more innocent. Plus, the rides and food made it all better. Drove the bad emotions away, at least for a while. As a senior, she was able to roam for a while on her own. At least until 6:45 when the group would meet by the arena and go in for the show.
Monica, Andrew, and Gloria watched the group split. "What can we do?" Gloria asks. In the short time she got to know Crystal, she discovered they truly were a lot alike: both of them were highly intelligent, and for a young human, Crystal had wisdom beyond her years. After a few moments, Andrew spoke. "There may be a way, and this person is the key." Then he pulls out his ticket for the concert. "Brilliant! But will it work?" Monica questions. "It may be the best chance to help her." Gloria says. Andrew then disappears.
After buying a few pounds of saltwater taffy and souvenirs for Mom and Haley, she waited in line to buy a hot dog and a drink. Then sat down at a table near the arena to dig in. For some reason, fair food always tasted better. Like that one thing families made once a year, at times like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In a dressing room deep within the arena, a man was finishing up prepping for the show. His jeans and jacket freshly dry cleaned. He was wanting to wrap this up and get back home to his wife and kids. But this time, he was able to set aside some time to slip away in a cap and glasses. To see the world as everyone else.
Suddenly, a glow fills the room. In the center was a man, tall and blonde haired and Michael sensed this was from God. He sang about Him as a career and passion, his calling. Lately he had been questioning what impact he had made on the world.
"You have been questioning your purpose Michael. And I am here to steer you back. I am an angel sent by God to show the impact you've made on one fan. She entrusted you with something so dark, she doesn't know what to do." He then hands Michael a small stack of papers. It was Crystal's letter and Andrew had not read it on orders from above.
Michael remembers visiting the office where the fan mail came to and sifting through some of the letters. This was one of them. He remembers the scrawl, and how desperate she sounded. It tore him reading this, and when it became too much, he passed it to a female worker.
"What can I do to help?" Michael asked the angel, a look of curiosity on his face. "Just come with me. No need for the cap and glasses. It won't take long..." Suddenly they were just feet from where Crystal sat. "Now go ahead and encourage her," Andrew tells him, "and don't worry, people won't recognize you."
Nervously he approached Crystal, who was scribbling in a notebook. Sitting down with his bottle of juice in hand and a sandwich, he politely asks if he could sit down in front of her. She says yes without looking up from her writing. Nobody else was there.
A brief chat about the fair and the show was an icebreaker. Crystal tried to look into those blue eyes, but couldn't hold it. "I'm just going through a lot right now. With school and home." This was the opening Andrew needed and whispers to Michael.
Michael thought hard, then says, "My advice is trust God. You don't know what His plan for you, but whatever you're going through, He can help. Ask Him, that's all." Placing his hand over hers, he flashes that trademark smile and excuses himself. Pausing only briefly, he whispers four words Andrew hopes reignites the spark in Crystal." Be strong and courageous". Then he walks away with Andrew.
Crystal was left speechless. She recognized that voice but, it couldn't be. Anyhow it was enough to her to make a final decision. And she knew exactly who to share it with. Looking at her watch, she was running late. Finishing up the last of her hot dog, she cleaned up and left. She felt like walking on air.
Michael was back in his dressing room, almost no time had passed. To him, it seemed like a dream, but he felt that his faith in the One who gave him the gift of charisma and music was restored. With the help of an angel and a fan. Taking the outfit off the rack, he preps for the show.
The concert was great. Crystal and the gang had made a sign wishing him a happy birthday (it was the week before) and he pointed their way which was stage left when he saw it. Dedicated a song to "someone who reminded me that if one person was touched by God through my music, that's enough." And the worship was intense, she felt the Holy Spirit fire fall on the venue.
Then after the show, the group got to meet him. Andrew and Cassie was there to catch her in case she fainted. Everything went well and again Michael whispered, "Remember, be strong and courageous." Then he winked at her. She was stunned! This was the man she talked to earlier! The entire ride back she didn't say a word, just a smile on her face. She had courage now to go ahead.
It was almost eleven-thirty by the time they got back. The traffic wasn't bad and everyone was tired. Crystal slept for a while, waking at 2 am. She had her tablet and connected to the wifi after sneaking off to the next room.
As usual, Andy was there in the chat room, and she him about the show. What she felt and how they got to meet Michael. "I have made decision. I'm going to tell Cassie." She hadn't told Andy her secret, just that she had one. "And its going to be Tuesday while we're out.". A brief pause then writing pops up. "Great! You can do this X. I'll be praying. Keep me posted!" Then she logs off.
The door opens. It was Cassie checking in. "You all right?" She asks, holding out a bottle of water and Crystal takes it. "I was checking my emails that's all. Everything is going to all right" she says with a smile. She was feeling good, but deep down, there was dread, something was going to happen that will bring her down from that high. And it was coming sooner than she thought.
She always had a 'sixth sense'. She saw things before they happen in dreams and visions, a lot like what happened in the Bible. And this was one of those moments. Crystal always felt "too different to be normal and too normal to be different". She felt out of place, even among autistic people like herself.
By noon the next day, Everyone was ready to go. Cassie takes Crystal home. And she enters. After putting the bag in her room, she hears sounds of struggle from her sister's room. Barging in, what she sees shakes her to the core.
Part Two: Aftermath
There was her stepfather with Haley, fully naked, raping her. The flashbacks were coming full on, her sister screaming for Crystal to stop him. He looks up at her and smiles. "Payback's a..., well, I don't have to tell you the rest. And you drove me to do this." Looking at the dead face of the nine year old under him, "In fact, my dear Haley, she forced me to do this. She begged me day and night to do this. And she wants to watch, don't you girl?" He tells the little girl, giving her a wink and a nod.
Crystal steps forward, but from under a pillow he pulls out a pistol kept for self defense. "One more step or that pretty little head of yours becomes art splatter behind you." Then he proceeds to further brutalize Haley in front of a terrified Crystal, and he let them go when he was finished. "Take a shower!" He yells back.
Gloria and Andrew were there, unseen and sickened by what had just unfolded before them. She had to throw up and thankfully Andrew had a bag with him. In her short time in existence, this was certainly one of the most disturbing things she's ever seen. Violation of a child in this way. Andrew was fuming, frustrated by not being stop it. A tear ran down his cheek and the emotions were like Crystal's, pure rage.
"I have to go, Gloria." He says, "I can't take it!" and he vanishes, reappearing under a tree beside an abandoned house on the other side of town. It was white and quite simply, falling apart. Tears began to run down his face. "Why God, why is it I have to stand aside and witness the worst in humanity while my hands are tied? And why does it feel like I've seen her before?" Then he feels another angelic presence arrive. It was Monica, today dressed in a off white pantsuit with a long sleeved shirt.
She looks at him like a mother with a child who just cut themselves. "It hurts too much, seeing all this death and destruction is too much for me. I'm thinking about a transfer request." Andrew sobs into Monica's chest. "After all this time, I'm still mystified by how humans can treat each other like this, especially children." He was more frustrated than anything, though the anger flowed through him.
"Gloria is with them, don't worry. Now to help answer your questions. Humans are flawed and with free will, it can be disastrous. But, at the same time out of the greatest pain comes the greatest motivation to make the world a better place, sometimes even the greatest art." Monica sits down beside Andrew and finishes. "As for the other question, maybe this can help."
Running her hand in front of her, an image appears... a little girl, pigtails that went down her back, went running by. She was barefoot and had a cast on her right arm. An older woman chased after her playfully."Crystal, come on, dinner's ready!" She takes the little girl into her arms and brings her into the house.
Then it hits Andrew. There was a case where he was taking someone home as an assignment and he had to catch a girl who had fell off a sheer drop, but almost missed. She had looked straight at him and asked him to stay. It was an assignment within an assignment, so to speak. After seeing her off, he went about his way. But what about the other one? Where she was in the hospital?
That was another revelation. It was 1996 and he was assigned to a hospital ward for sick kids. Sometimes during these shifts, he would take one home. It was around midnight and Andrew had just did rounds as a male nurse, checking each bed and was about done when a little girl, almost two, came wandering down the hall. Blood on her arms where the IVs were inserted, and she was waving at everyone like she was leaving.
He picked up some alcohol wipes from a cart and wiped the blood off her arms. "What's your name?" He asks, but she wouldn't respond. He took her in his arms and by the bracelet, brought her back to the room. She looks up at Andrew with grey eyes, a curious look in them...It hit him right then!
End of Flashback
Their assignment was that little girl he met before! She felt the same way: they had met before, but Andrew couldn't quite remember where. "The Father brought the two of you back together because of those memories of her being secure in your arms. You told her a story about how God would always be there for His children. She wouldn't remember, but it has remained a part of her soul since." Monica explains, "Now the Enemy has found and is exploiting a weakness in her to destroy her. They know how precious she is to the Father and want stop her from fulfilling His plan for her."
Andrew had formed a bond with her and suddenly was filled with a resolve to help. If she was going down, it wouldn't be without a fight! This was why he was brought in for this assignment!
Gloria stayed with Crystal and watched as the seventeen year old silently wept, the front of her sweater soaked in tears. How could he do this, she played it repeatedly in her mind. That feeling of bravery was gone, Now she couldn't bring herself to say anything. To her there was only one option, if she was going down, so was he. So she started to collect some things out of the safe by her bed...
Gloria was under orders to watch over not just Crystal, but Haley as well. Haley was sitting in the corner, freshly scrubbed but mentally, she was out of it. Looking her sister's way, it was a glare of contempt. "How sick are you?" She demanded. "Telling him that?" Haley looked at her sister and Crystal knew it was real. This was no kiddie tantrum, but pure rage all in a 9-year old body.
She tried to reach out to her sister, to hold and comfort her. But Haley would have no part of it. "Don't touch me!" She screamed and left the room.She had lost her only sibling. Next it will be her mother, she never knew her father, so as far as he's concerned, he's out of the picture. Beyond that, there was nothing keeping her here. Crystal pulls out some stationary and begins to write the hardest letter she's ever had to write...Crystal felt like she had landed in the deepest level of Hell.
Cassie had to leave to visit a sick family member and wouldn't be back until Monday afternoon. So it was Andrew in charge of the group meeting this evening. Crystal came in as usual, but unusually quiet. She didn't want to talk to anyone, passing it off to the moods. Also she was carrying a small box taped up.
After the meeting, she slips into the office and places the box in Cassie's mail cubby, telling Andrew it was a few things Cassie had lent her and wanted to return. It had an envelope taped to the top. A tear fell from her face knowing what was to come. In her mind there was one way out and she was taking it.
When she got home from school the next day, Crystal's mom went ballistic. "What is all this about you and Haley? About you lying about her dad? He told me about you messing around with his daughter!" In a profanity laden rant, she laid it on thick, using every name in the book. It became unbearable.
Crystal bursts out, "You want to know the truth Mom? That sorry piece of crap you married? HE RAPED ME AND HALEY! Yeah, that's right, he's been cheating on you right under your nose! And you never suspected a thing!"
Margaret was stunned. She didn't know what to say or think, the words that reached her ears stung her. That still didn't stop her mom from lunging at Crystal and Mom ends up having a small gash on her forehead right up at the hairline from the struggle. She ends up taking Haley and going to the emergency room.
Crystal locked herself in the bedroom, all cried out and alone. She didn't mean to do it, hurting Mom like was her worst fear concerning this. To be rejected, maybe even committed to another psych ward because of her being accused of lying. Monica tells Gloria to stay and comfort her when Andrew shows up. He has a package finder his arm. "I have to take this to Cassie, it's addressed to her." he says, pointing to the envelope on top. Then he vanishes and so does Monica.
Crystal pulls from under her mattress a braided 'rope', made from yarn she kept for crocheting. Like so many times before, she ties it around her neck and pulls it tight. Hoping she blacks out, waking on the other side. But she just blacks out. Her grip loosens, allowing her to wake up minutes later. Questioning why this doesn't work, she places it back where it was hidden.
Relieved, Gloria speaks to Crystal's spirit. "God is here with you. You need to be somewhere safe. Before he comes back. Try your friend from school." The teen seemed to respond. With trembling hands, she picks up her phone and calls Emily. "I need a place to crash. I can't explain over the phone."
Andrew meets with Cassie at her place. Handing the package to her, he was dreading this moment. He knew what it was, and his heart was breaking. "Here's something that was left for you yesterday while you were out." His hands were trembling. Cassie opens the envelope and begins to read the contents.
(The Letter) My sister Cassie,
"I've held on to a dark secret from everyone, even you. Now I'm desperate. From five until almost eleven when I was placed in foster care, my stepfather molested and raped me. Then twice at thirteen. I also think he's been raping me while I'm sleeping. I wake up with bruises and bleeding.
His mind is always filthy, always accusing me of sleeping around and asking if I had a boyfriend. Last year, he asked me to perform an...act on him and I responded by slapping him right in the face. That's why I've had the fits I've told you about in therapy.
That's why my mental state has gone downhill. I'm heading for a meltdown I will never come back from. Now he's forced himself on Haley. Yesterday (the letter was dated the day after the Fair trip), I came home and found him with her. His own daughter and my sister.
How can go on Cassie? I was stirred enough to tell you all this Tuesday, but that's gone out the window. Now I can't even look you straight in the eye.
There's only one way out for me. I haven't decided when or how, but don't be shocked if you hear of my passing. At least when I go through with it, someone would at least know the truth. Enclosed are my journals and a flash drive of my computer journal entries. Password: Veritas. As a final request, in the event of my death, turn these in to the police. If i go down, I'm taking him down with me. It's nobody's fault but mine about not speaking up sooner. I carry that burden alone. Maybe that's why we mesh so well, we both experienced the same kind of trauma. At least I will have left something to bring that monster down. If not for me, for Haley and any others who suffered by his hands. If I go down, I'm taking him down with me. It would be the only right thing I've ever did.
Please forgive me Cassie (and Andrew). I've felt like I've betrayed you. The number of times I've had it on the tip of my tongue were more than the grains of the sand and like a coward, pulled back. See you on the Other Side. Love, Crystal. She left a shaky signature.
Cassie began to weep and was dialing Crystal's number when it rang. It was Crystal. That confirmed her worst fears.
Andrew flipped through the journals as she talked to her. They were shocking, going back to age 13. "Listen, promise me you won't do anything to hurt yourself." Cassie pleaded, "let me call Pastor Gray and we can talk this through." She had put it on speaker for Andrew to hear. He could hear Crystal on the other end. "Already tried. Right now I'm too exhausted mentally to do anything. I'm staying with a friend. Please don't tell my mother where I am." She had a flat tone in her voice and hangs up.
In the emergency room, Crystal's mom called Monica, the woman from Crystal's school and soon after she arrived. She filled her in on what happened and expressed frustration about her older daughter. "I have to do something. Her outbursts were never this bad. I want to draw commitment papers on her."
"No! She was under a great burden and couldn't handle it." Monica tells her, "she's been trying to find a way to tell someone, but couldn't until it built up and exploded." But Margaret wouldn't hear of it. The wound took three stitches to close up.
Gloria walked unseen with Crystal to Emily's house. Emily and her parents were there and after a talk, she managed to get some food into her then finally returning Cassie's calls. "I am too tired physically and emotionally to do anything. I wish I kept my mouth shut. And I know Andrew's there. If anything happens to me, get those journals to the proper authorities. Good night." and she hangs up. Mercifully, Crystal falls into a dreamless slumber.
"What do you mean she went off on you? And those accusations are lies!" Crystal's stepfather screams, " I never touched her or Haley! I have to put my foot down. She needs to be locked away. Who knows what she's done to our little girl? Maybe she's the one messing with her! I want her out!" Monica was there, trying to mediate the situation. But there was no way he would budge. His wife was waiting when he came home after a long day at the auto shop he owned. She demanded answers.
Andrew held Cassie in his arms. He felt her pain, a sign of true compassion for her friend. "You know she had no malice in lying to you. It's a survival technique, you know this full well. Now that it's out, she can get the help she needs." Stroking her dark hair, he comforted the 30 year old. "At least now we know she's in a safe place. Alive."
The next day at school Crystal dreaded. Monica had to know what was going on now and was going to pester her for details. Calling her out of class, they talked. Monica got a statement and wouldn't let her leave. It wasn't until someone came asking for help with a file cabinet that she finally slipped away to Geometry class. When Monica returned, she was gone. The rest of the day, she avoided the Irish woman. It was too much for her.
That evening, while doing homework, there was a knock on the door. It was the police asking for Crystal. They explained that her mom had papers drawn for her to be on a psych hold. She went peacefully, only asking Emily to call Cassie and let her know what was going on. And to start praying. Then she went with the female officer.
Outside was her mother, and Monica beside her. Mom was laughing, like she won some game she knew nothing about. Monica's face showed great sadness. Her greatest fear come to life.
Cassie answered her phone. It was Emily. "Crystal asked me to call you. She was just taken by the police for a psych evaluation. Her mom had papers drawn up. Please pray and she will contact you when it's possible. Andrew was there , listening on the speaker phone. Both of them were shocked, but the first thing they two did was get down on their knees and started to stand in the gap for her.
Going through downtown, the police car passes her church. "Please pray, just pray." That was the only thought going through her mind. Gloria was beside her. "At least she's got a spark of hope left. Maybe it's enough." Gloria thought holding the shocked girl's hand.
After arriving and an assessment, then some tests, she was admitted. It was almost midnight when she arrived on a ward. It wasn't the same one as before. But the emotions were still just as strong.
All she had was the clothes on her back and set for the next day. She was given a robe so her clothes could be washed overnight. The change of clothes had to be checked out for anything potentially dangerous. Falling onto the bed, she was thankful exhaustion quickly overwhelmed her. At least she got some sleep.
The week passed slowly. Every minute seemed like an hour. Not being able to move around much gives you time to think. Between on unit school, social workers and doctors, there's not much spare time for anything but to think. Dr. Steele came up and was able to get somewhere with her. Of course, Gloria was at her side.
Crystal knew it was coming. Her family was going to be torn apart like before. Where would she go? And once she turns 18, she's aged out. "I have a surprise for you." She told Crystal late in the week, "First, there's someone to see you. And second, a home has been found for you." Gloria goes to the door and motions someone in. It was Andrew and Cassie!
Her heart filled with joy at seeing them. For the first time in a long while, there was a ray of hope. "We hear you're getting out of here next Tuesday." Cassie tells her, "but where you're staying is a surprise." After a few minutes, they had to leave due to a disruption by one of the other patients
After two weeks of being cooped up in the hospital, Crystal was released. All she knew about her stepfather was that he ran off and the police were looking for him. The exams on her and Haley clearly showed they were assaulted. Thankfully the results for diseases and pregnancy were negative. Her little sister was also in a foster home, but they would be allowed to see each other.
Andrew came to pick her up along with a social worker. She had to come back to the ward after school to get her bags and sign out. It was 7:15 in the morning when they arrived. Straight to Monica's office she went, a student was sitting outside, detention apparently. Motioning to the door, the girl nodded yes. Crystal knocked and Monica lifted her head and rose. The two embraced and talked up until just before the bell.
Everyone was asking her where she was, but she tells them that she rather not get into details. Safe to say, the day went better than expected. It felt good to be out of the loony bin. After swinging by the ward to wrap up the release process and pick up her bags, her and Andrew left for the new foster home.
"Everything has been moved. We even got what you left with Emily." He did most of the talking, trying to make conversation. They turned onto the street she grew up on. "Stop here. Just do it." Were Crystal's first words since they left.
He did and saw a old house on the verge of collapse. "This was where I grew up. Where it all began. My grandfather left it to my mom. She had to sell it so she could pay lawyer fees from when we were taken into foster care. Haley was two, but I don't think she remembers." Her voice was flat and emotionless. "My foster mom avoided this stretch of road when I was with her on advice of the social worker. Let's go." Andrew hands her a blindfold and asks for her to put it on and she does wondering why.
Less than 10 minutes later, they arrive. Leading her up the steps, Andrew pulls off the blindfold. Crystal was shocked to find herself at Cassie's house. "Your mom asked me to let you stay here. She ." She says, with a smile on her face. Crystal just gave a glare when her mom's name was mentioned.
After settling in and dinner, Crystal did her homework and went to bed. All she wanted to was withdraw. Mercifully, she drifted into a dreamless slumber. But yet, strangely calm, it has to be the change in scenery.
"She's in shock by what the therapist has said. And the police have her statement with the journals and flash drives she left. "Veritas means 'truth' in Latin and she told it." Cassie poured herself and Andrew a cup of hot tea. "That stepfather of hers never liked me. Now I know why." Her hands shook trying to drink it. Andrew calms her merely with his presence.
"It's not your fault. She trusts you and at this moment, that is key. God won't leave the two of you or her family. Let's check on her before I leave." They look in on Crystal, where she was sleeping, looking somewhat peaceful. No thanks in part to Monica sitting next to her, whispering words of peace and rest to her.
The next week was about Crystal adjusting to her new schedule. Between therapy, school and the social workers, there was virtually no time for her to even breathe. But the hardest thing was the fact her mom and sister refused to see her. Despite Mom's betrayal, Crystal loved her. Haley was in a foster home and not doing well.
Andrew watched Crystal as she slept. A mixture of emotions ran through his mind: anger, pain, frustration. "How can she go on with all this? She doing everything possible to put up a brave front, but how long can she keep it up?" Monica answers that real quick. "It's a defense mechanism to keep from feeling anything. She feels that if she does, it would be too much. Like a sedative, it will eventually wear off. And when that happens, we have to be there to catch her."
Crystal suddenly began to toss and turn, muttering. "No, leave me alone." She begins flailing and knocks a cup off the nightstand. Her eyes are wide open and arms waving, screaming. Cassie runs in and begins to comfort her. Holding her close and whispering soothing words, Crystal slowly calms down, her breathing slows and finally sleep.
Monica and Gloria were trying to reach out to Margaret (Crystal and Haley's mom) the next day. She was still overwhelmed by what happened. "I can't believe this, nobody can give me a straight answer. Not even my husband and he's run off." She holds a cup of coffee and nearly drops it because of her trembling.
"You have to know they love you." Gloria says, taking the coffee from her. "They're just as upset as you are." Monica pulls out a letter and hands it to her. "Crystal wrote this and you should read it." Margaret turns away and refuses it.
Andrew takes Crystal to and from school. With her stepfather on the loose, they couldn't take chances with safety. There was sufficient evidence to justify an arrest warrant and he was now a wanted fugitive. Just off the school grounds, a man dressed in black watched.
It was a risk coming back here, but he had to. In his mind, the girl ruined his life. Now he had to find out where she was. But he had to get that Andrew guy out of the way first. Whenever he was around, the stranger couldn't even get close. Then, just before the cop car passed, he slips into the shadows.
Another week. Now the cabin fever and having someone else always around was getting on her nerves. Crystal just wanted to be alone, even if it's for an hour. Even that would help. "We can't let you do that. You may go through what you said in that letter." Cassie tells her repeately, "and I don't want that. Neither would your family. Also, you know who's out there. And until he's caught, we can't risk it."
Crystal looks into her blue-gray eyes and knows she's right, but still feels it isn't fair. Anything sharp or medications were monitored and kept away. If things got too quiet, people worried. All she wanted was for all this to away, but that was shot to hell now. She couldn't even sit on the porch and not feel watched.
Cassie's heart broke watching this. She endured a lot in her childhood and this took her back. All her bouts with depression, the attempts on her own life, all stemming from her own trauma. She always believed traumatized people attracted others like themselves. In a sense, she was looking at her younger self.
The angels were in the room, unseen. Crystal kept looking their way, like she knew they were there. They knew the shock was wearing off, it was clear by the look. Her eyes were barely alive, the spark long faded. "Why can't she just get it over with?" Gloria asks, sounding a little impatient.
"Emotions for someone like her are more difficult to process. Some parts of an autistic person's brain are not fully developed. Also, something like what she's been through, it's just a struggle to even get up in the morning." Monica tells her.
Placing a hand on her shoulder, Monica also tells Gloria that sometimes the best thing to do is to just be there. Pointing to the two friends clashing hands, they could feel the deep bonds of friendship that would last throughout their lives.
Andrew was standing on the front steps when he noticed something move in the shadows. A figure had tried to hide, but by time he got there, it was gone. A smoldering cigarette butt the only evidence remaining. The man slinking away had found out what he needed to know. Now it was time to execute his plan...
It was a dreary day, that meant staying inside for Crystal. Andrew was trying to help her with homework, and Cassie had choir practice. Out of the blue she asks, "Have you ever have the feeling someone is following you?" Andrew was surprised, she hadn't said much today. The rain and lightning came down hard, it perfectly matched her eyes and emotions. "It's so strong. He's close, I can feel it Andrew." A tear slid down her cheek. But nothing more. Pulling herself together she asks, "Now can we finish this homework?" She said as though nothing happened.
Cassie came back and together prepared and ate dinner with Crystal, Andrew, Monica, and Gloria. It was almost a routine now. Crystal's appetite was coming back, at least it was a good sign Cassie thought, watching her. But she noticed a slight tremble in her hand.
Later, at bedtime, they talked."Your mom asked me to take you. She was duped and feels she can't take care of you now." She explains, "and she regrets her actions. How she treated you after all this. I know you were scared, it was out of self defense you hurt her. You feel it too. Want to talk?" Crystal looks at her with anger and turns away. "Goodnight."
Cassie grabs her arm. "Let's get it out. You have every right to be angry and we don't even think you know how deep it goes." Andrew steps in and tells Crystal, "It's OK to be angry. But it has to come out sometime and somehow." She pulls away and goes to her room, slamming the door.
The next day, Crystal had decided. She had to get out of this place. Somehow she would get out and run. Pulling out some money and her glasses case, while Cassie was out shopping. Andrew was napping on the couch, so the front door was out of the question. Slipping out the window, she left a note. "Had to get out. Going back to where the nightmare began. It's too much. Love C."
Andrew watched as she left. The ground was still wet from yesterday and made it hard sometimes to walk. A bus stop was nearby and she caught it. Gloria was not far behind. Her face said it all. They were in the dark of what was to happen now.
The bus ride gave Crystal time to think. She knew exactly where to go. How would she feel going back there? It had been six and a half years since she left there. It began there and it was appropriate it ends there. She caresses her glasses case. When Cassie went through her things for safety reasons, she missed a little something.
Cassie had found the note and was frantically trying to track Crystal down. She called her cell, got no response. Now her nerves were shot, worry etching her pretty 30-year old face. Sitting on her couch, Cassie began to cry for her little sister. "God, please watch over her and keep her safe. Send her angels to hide her from that madman until she's back." It wasn't much, but it could be enough.
She suddenly sensed a presence filling the room. Looking up, Cassie sees Andrew, glowing with a light from above. "Cassie, I am an angel sent by God." He says kneeling before her, lifting her head. "Don't be afraid. You didnt didn't fail her. And yes, she does have an angel with her. But right now she is in great danger. He is following her and will strike at the right moment." He points to the note. "She tells where she's going here. There was good reason her foster mother avoided that area whenever possible."
Crystal got off about a quarter mile from the old house. Little had changed and she took a back street. When she saw the pond, she knew she was close. The wooded patch was there, it would lead her to where she needed to go. Just before stepping in, she see Gloria standing about three feet away. "Leave me be. I just need time alone." Crystal's voice was heavily laden with anger just below the surface.
Gloria stood her ground. "I can't let you" she says, her tone firm. "Fine then, come along." And they trudged into that patch. "If you must know, this is the part of town where I grew up. And straight ahead is..." The woods broke and opened to this huge backyard. There had been a garden here once, at least part of it, but it was almost like it never was there.
"How do you know this area so well?" Gloria asks, then she sees the old, white house. It looked like it was on its last legs. A couple of trees were in the grassy part, but Crystal was in her own world. Like mentally she was traveling back in time. The pieces came together. The nightmare began here.
"Never thought I would ever step foot here again. It's almost like nothing's changed." Crystal sat under the big oak tree. Gloria sat beside her. She notices the glasses case in her left hand.
"I couldn't stand being hidden away. So I had to get out." Crystal was showing some emotion. "I can still remember the last time I was here. It was raining and..." She went into detail of that day she was whisked away.
"She is planning to take her life. Ending it where it all began." Andrew tells Cassie. "She feels like there is no other way. God is proud of what you've done, never think otherwise. "Her mother is too distraught right now to really do anything but you can. That's why she asked you to take her daughter. She trusts you." He extends his hand and helps Cassie up. "We don't have much time. It was His plan for you two to be together."
"Leave me be Gloria," Crystal begged. "I can't do this with you here." Opening the glasses case, she peels back the lining and two razor blades drop out. Holding it to her wrist, she tells Gloria and to stand back. "I swear I'll do it. The pain is too much for me to bear. My mom was right, I am too emotionally fragile for my own good."
Behind them they heard a click. Gloria could see a man behind Crystal, clad in dark clothes with a cigarette in his mouth. "It would be a good idea, you're too much of a liability for you even to be breathing." He says, the gun right at Crystal's head.
He throws her against the tree, this time aiming the pistol right between her eyes. "You are a worthless piece of trash! I've tried to warn you but you wouldn't listen. So I to make an example of your sister to make you submit." He had a smile on his face.
Crystal just stared at the man, a look of begging crossed her face. "Might as well do it. There's nothing here for me." Her voice was flat and emotionless.
"In the name of God, stop." Crystal glanced over to see Gloria...glowing. She didn't know what was going on, but the distraction was just enough for her to slash one of the razor blades across his left cheek and run towards the woods her and Gloria came out of.
"I'll get to her sooner or later." He turned his pistol towards Gloria, bleeding pretty bad, "I guess I have to deal with you too." Then he pulled the trigger. Gloria caught the bullet and tossed it aside. "How dare you harm a child? How dare you try and kill her?" Her voice barely contained the rage within. He shudders and scared, dropped the weapon and ran.
He didn't get far. An auburn haired woman, and glowing, stood before him and made him fall. Monica, stern faced, picked him up by the shirt and stared right at him. She wasn't playing. "As you humans would say, your number's up." Her Irish accent enhanced by her anger. Just as the police sirens rang closer.
Crystal was running on pure adrenaline. Scared out of her mind, it was all she had. What she just saw didn't matter. Tripping over a root, she scrapes her knee and the cut in her hand was bleeding pretty good. But the pain was nothing compared to the terror that filled her. Crawling under a tree, she just wanted to die. Maybe God would finally grant her wish.
Cassie and Andrew arrived to find Crystal had fled. After Gloria leads them to where she was, the sight shocks them. She had withdrew from all outside stimuli and was bleeding from her hand, the second razor blade thrown a few feet away. "Get the first aid kit. In the glove department." Andrew asked Gloria. Cassie reaches out and calls her name. "Come back please." She was whispering, "Don't let this man win. You have a reason to live, let me help you."
"I couldn't stop her Andrew. It happened so fast." Gloria was trying to get it all out. Turning over her left hand, they found an inch long cut on the back of it. Not serious, but breathed a sigh of relief that it was not the wrist. "Praise God. Let's get this wrapped up. Then the hard part begins." Andrew says.
Monica shows up, worried sick and is filled in. "The good news is that he's in custody. Neighbors reported a man waving a gun and following somebody. Andrew begins to speak to Crystal's spirit. All three angels do. Cassie knew then all three were sent to help. Her prayer all this time was answered.
Crystal found herself in a dark place. The voices that have chased her all her days were there. Whispering how useless she was and every negative emotion felt intensified. The last thing she remembers was a flash of pain across her wrist. Chains were wrapped around her body, including her throat, severely affecting her ability to scream. Another of her worst nightmares come to life. "Somebody help me", she cries out mentally. Maybe someone can hear her. "God, either help me or take me home. Those are your only two options."
The angels had to do something. Then they get the authority from the Father. Andrew would go in and bring her out, all this in her spirit. It was not often used, but effective in extreme cases. This was one of them. It had to be done really quick. A bad storm was moving in and the wind was picking up.
Cassie was fascinated. Monica and Gloria explained that her and Andrew had met before and he had the best chance of helping Crystal. "All we can do now is pray." Monica says, "hope is important."
Andrew suddenly finds himself in a deep dark place. Storms raged overhead and destruction was everywhere. This was her soul at the moment and he felt Walking far, he finds a clearing where the storm was originating from. In the center, Crystal was uncontrollable, her rage and pain manifesting itself in this storm.
Dodging the thunder, lightning and hail, he manages to reach her. The look on her face said it all. She was dying inside and this was symbolic. "Crystal, I am an angel sent by God. You have to stop this before you destroy yourself. We have met before, when you were one and again when you were five. Now I've been sent to help you again." The rain had soaked though his clothes and it was cold. When Crystal heard his voice, she became calmer and the storm eased. Not much, but some, enough for him to get within touching distance.
Crystal was livid, her eyes flashing with anger. "Where was God when that man raped me, all the crude remarks came from his lips, and when he moved in on Haley? WHERE WAS HE THEN?" She demanded, "Couldn't He have struck that excuse of a pound of flesh right then and there? Spared us all a lot of pain." The storm flared up again, worse this time.
Andrew had to yell, "He was there, and He wept when all those things happened. It broke His heart and your stepfather will answer for what he's done. As a matter of fact, the police have him in custody. He won't bother you again.." He reaches out to her and pulls her closer to him. "Really?" She asks, but it was futile.
Crystal knew this wasn't a fake. She let down her guard and fell into his arms, weeping. The storm suddenly stopped and gradually it cleared up inside her soul. Monica and Gloria came in and brought her back. Crystal came back to find herself weeping, finally letting all those emotions out.
The first person she sees coming back to the real world was Cassie. Face tear streaked and relieved to see her little sister back. Quickly they get out of there. Just as the real storm was starting.
The next day Crystal was starting to be more like herself. Her stepfather was in jail with no bond, and her mother had filed for immediate divorce from him, the wound on her hand was healing.
Andrew hated to leave Crystal, he had grown quite fond of her, they both knew it. They had a picnic at a local park with Monica, Gloria, and Cassie. She told him something.
"Andrew, last night I had a dream. I dreamed I was standing on a beach. I remember where it was because I would go there as a kid. Looking out, I suddenly was taken up and flew across the ocean. When I landed, there was a lion with a fountain pen in its mouth. Reaching out, it was dropped in my hand. Then I saw the Union Jack flying over a city. Then before me, was a tall man. Dark haired and brown eyed, reaching his hand out to me. What does that mean?" She asks Andrew.
"I don't know. But it seems to me it may be a vision of the future. Ever have dreams like this before?" He says. "Yes, I've had them before. But usually they're warning ones." Crystal finished off her lunch, then reaching for the slice of cheesecake for dessert.
"Maybe you may be able to drop by to watch the trial if you're able. Who knows if we'll meet again." Andrew shrugs, "Maybe. Also, I am the one you've been chatting with online, 'Andy37'? Or should I call you X-77?" He winks.
Monica and Gloria were there too. Soon it would be time for them to leave and sent somewhere else to do their Father's bidding. Final goodbyes were made and when possible, they would drop in on Crystal whenever possible. Especially during the trial. Cassie and Crystal watched as the red Cadillac drove off. Things were starting to look up after all.