March 22, 2006 at 3:49 am #1910SilasHughesParticipant
She awoke screaming.
She did that often in the early days, for weeks after the accident. After all, there were few adults that could handle the horror of what she?d seen; her beloved mother and younger brother mangled almost beyond recognition in the wreckage of the hansom cab. Some people said it was divine intervention that threw her clear of the wreck; Evelyn knew better.
Oh, perhaps ?he? had been sent by God to preserve her, but ?he? wasn?t an angel. Evelyn knew what angels looked like. There were several different types; the most common were the cherubim (which looked nothing like the round-faced naked babies one saw on Valentines). Then there were the seraphim, the many-winged, sword-wielding, too-bright-to-look-at Voices of God (she would be perfectly happy if she didn?t see one of those until she was kneeling at the feet of the Lord). Perhaps Evelyn?s favorite angels were the ones who look the most like normal people, the ones in the paintings at the museum, shepherding children across broken bridges, and through the wilderness, keeping danger at bay.
But the man who had jerked her out of the hansom just before it struck the lamp-post was no angel. Evelyn knew, because Evelyn had seen him before. Many times. In fact, he?d even shown her where he had been killed. It was very near her father?s rectory; there had been a factory on the property before the queen had given it to the church. Although noone would tell her about it, Evelyn had the distinct impression that this man, or at least the events related to his death, were the reason a church had been built there.
Evelyn couldn?t figure out why the man had chosen to save her, and not her mother and brother. And when she tried to talk to her father or other grown-ups about it, they would sigh and pat her on the head.
Father hired a housekeeper, as Evelyn was too young yet at seven to run the household, but a rector?s income couldn?t stretch to pay for a governess. So father began teaching Evelyn himself. She learned that she much preferred the books in father?s library to other children. She could already read English and had begun to learn Latin and French. In her father?s library she found many books on many different subjects. Books became her closest friends. Companions who wouldn?t shake their heads and whisper behind their hands about the poor little girl who didn?t have a mother. Companions who would stay up with her at night when she couldn?t sleep.
Nights like tonight, when she would wake up screaming, struggling to answer the questions in the staring, unseeing eyes of her baby brother, blood matted in his baby-blonde hair, his head not even attached to his shoulders, and in the eyes of her mother, one of them dangling from the socket. Those eyes, asking her over and over again, ?Why you and not I??
No. She didn?t wonder why she woke up screaming every night. What she wondered about was that they didn?t haunt her waking hours as well.
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