Your Guardian Angel
“Just pinch me, will you?”
“Because I haven’t been ridiculed once tonight; Stephen hasn’t tried to hit on me, mom hasn’t said anything out of the way, and Alice and Margot have been quiet. All night.” Natasha was leaning towards Ben, whispering their conversation.
She strategically placed herself between Ben and Callie so that she wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone unpleasant but much to her surprise no one had said anything spiteful to her all night. She nearly jumped a foot out of her chair when she felt a pinch on her right arm. She turned to see Callie grinning down at her plate. Keeping her head up as to not bring suspicion, Natasha curled her fingers into a fist and punched Callie on her upper thigh. Callie grunted, but covered the sound with a cough. When Natasha’s parents looked at Callie, she excused herself and took a sip of water. Natasha grinned into her plate while receiving a death glare from her best friend.
Dinner passed, much to Natasha’s surprise, quickly. Once it was over, they all went to the living room so that Natasha could open her presents. Awesome… she thought to herself. She loved the idea of birthdays and Christmas and loved presents, both giving and receiving them. What made her nervous was the idea of opening the presents that she hated. Should she act surprised or squeal with excitement? Should she yell, immediately thank the person or act like the gift they got her, which was the last thing on earth that she wanted, was the greatest present she’d ever received? She hated the fakeness of it all. However, there weren’t a whole lot of presents for her to open. Her mom had gotten her a book set that she had wanted so she had something physical to open tonight, but they were taking her car-shopping over the weekend.
She had bought a Mercury Cougar when she was seventeen with her own money, and her parents had called it an eyesore. She didn’t see it that way, though. She saw it as something she had paid for herself; she owned it. She and Callie even called it the “little tank” because it had been through so much. It was a great car up until a week ago when the transmission went out, completely ruining the car. Her parents had refused to get it fixed saying it was a death trap and they wanted to get her a new car; she didn’t disagree with them.
From her Uncle Jim and Uncle Alec she got a new car stereo and a gift card to Advanced Auto. Alec owned a car dealership and was all about everything cars. Jim was a producer in a country music company in Atlanta, which only fueled his daughters’ haughtiness. Speaking of which, they had given her a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to Starbucks. Like Natasha really drank Starbucks coffee. She was surprised they had even given her anything.
She said her thanks and as everyone started to socialize, she along with Ben and Callie slipped out the back door and made their way across the lawn. Ben’s tree-house from when he was seven was still in the giant oak out back, and they laughed at their stupidity of escaping to the place that they all used to when they were younger. Barely making it through the door, they squeezed in and all sat Indian-style around the only room. Ben’s head was an inch away from the room and they all laughed when he accidentally sat up straight and hit his head. Callie pulled out her cigarettes and handed one to each of them, Ben having left his pack in the car. Natasha watched as her best friend shifted herself around to a different position. Callie was lying on her back on the wooden floor with her legs hanging out of the window. Natasha laughed at her position.
“This night is just too fucking weird,” Natasha said, exhaling.
“Yeah for real,” Ben agreed.
“Well, tomorrow we’ll be able to forget about the shitfest of tonight’s dinner. We now officially all get to get wasted in public,” Callie said, tilting her head back, looking at them.
Ben and Natasha high-fived as they laughed.
In spite of her family, it was actually going to be a great birthday, Natasha thought.
The next day, she sat in her Religion class while the class was engaging in a group discussion. Kellam had introduced their new book, Partners in Holiness: Guardian Angels in the lives of Saints by Melanie Rhyther. His first question had been what the class thought about Guardian Angels. Many of her classmates had scoffed at the questions, saying they didn’t exist. A few people said they believed in them. Even the self-proclaimed Atheist in the far corner of the room (who was taking this class because it was required), had spoken up saying “it’s all a bunch of horseshit”. Natasha had laughed at that, causing Professor Kellam to bring his attention to her.
“Natasha, you’re usually outspoken. How do you feel about guardian angels?”
She thought about her answer for a minute and inhaled deeply as she began. “Well, it really depends on the person. We don’t really know what’s there and what’s not there. It’s like asking someone if they believe in luck; you don’t see it, but you want it to be there. Guardian Angels are just there to help you out. I think if they existed, they’d definitely look after their charge.”
“How do you explain people getting sick? Or people dying in car accidents or bystanders getting shot on accident?” the Atheist asked her.
“I think it’s part of a pre-determined plan. If it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. If there were guardian angels, I think they’d be able to keep you safe until it was your time to go.”
“So you’re saying their raising us like pigs for slaughter?” the Atheist asked, looking towards her.
“No, I don’t. What I meant was that, if there are such things as guardian angels, they know when our time to go is, or what our purpose in life is and they keep us safe until that moment or for that specific purpose. If we’re meant to become doctors to save a future president and we get into a car wreck before medical school and we survive, that’s a guardian angel doing their job. Guardian angels are just that: guardians. That’s their “job”, if they do exist, and they just do their job.”
“Very interesting, Natasha,” Professor Kellam said, nodding and smiling at her.
He moved on to a different subject, explaining their assignment for the weekend and Natasha zoned out; her mind already ahead on that night at the club.
Once the clock struck quarter after two, Natasha was out of her seat in a heartbeat. Callie had a lab on the same floor and Natasha stopped to wait outside of the door for her. She felt the hundreds of students pass by her until she had this weird chill go through her back. Call it a sixth sense or something, she could always tell when someone was staring at her. She looked up and didn’t see anyone looking. She turned around and studied the faces behind her. A guy, taller than every other student in the hall with shaggy brown hair was raising sunglasses to his face as he turned away. He was the only one looking in her direction. As he walked away, he didn’t glance back at her. Natasha’s eyebrows drew together in confusion, but all thoughts were shaken from her as Callie appeared in front of her, grabbing her wrists to leave.
They got ready at Callie’s house. Natasha knew if they got ready at her house, they wouldn’t be allowed out looking the way they did. Her mom would say she wasn’t dressed properly, the jacket was tacky, the shoes were too high, and she didn’t want to look easy. Natasha smiled as she thought about what her mom would say about Callie’s outfit.
Callie was wearing a pair of dark shorts with sandals that reminded Natasha of Roman times. She had a sports bra on with just a ripped t-shirt that had a peace sign on it. Natasha envied her free-spirited style as she watched her finish up her make-up. Natasha looked at the dozens of those stupid rubber bracelets that should’ve gone out of style before 2000, yet Callie still liked them. Her eyes were a random shade of purple, a cluster of stars were hanging around her neck, and she could even see Callie’s navel piercing bearing another peace sign. Her strawberry-blonde hair that barely reached her shoulders had been blow-dried, but that was it, going for a wild look.
Natasha glanced in the mirror at herself. She was wearing stiletto-heeled boots, dark-washed jeans, and a white tank top with a black vest over it. Her black hair was curled intricately and her amethyst eyes played up with black eye-shadow and liner. She had on the ribbon ring her brother had given her when she was eighteen, and the necklace with two angel wings on it that her parents had given her when she was born. Her mom had had complications with her, and the nurse Natasha, had really saved her life. Thus, her parents named her Natasha. Her leather jacket was draped over the back of the chair she was sitting in, waiting on Callie to be ready.
They got in Callie’s car and drove the thirty minutes to Atlanta. They took the 14th Street exit and navigated their way through downtown. Minutes later, they pulled into a parking garage on the backside of the club.
They waited outside for Ben and the rest of his band members. Aaron, the drummer, Nick, the bassist, and Erik the rhythm guitarist hugged both girls.
“All right, guys, let’s get this night started right,” Callie announced as they entered the club. “First round of shots on me!”