This story is by Miguel A Zamora and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Angel ran the three miles to his art studio every night. He had worked hard to lose a hundred and twenty pounds in one year and had just fifteen pounds left. That’s how Angel met the love of his life, Krista. He was in the best shape of his life, and his art career had just taken off.
Angel started down the jogging path along the highway. Due to the construction, concrete divides marked the course along with some temporary fences. Angel’s phone rang. He stopped and jogged in place. Angel smiled when he saw Krista’s name on the caller ID.
“Hey love, I was thinking about you.”
“You headed to the studio, sweety?” Krista asked.
“Yes’um, but don’t worry, I won’t be late.”
“I know. Be safe,” Krista said.
“Always,” she said.
A red car was coming towards him. The car swerved to make the off-ramp, misjudged the distance, skidded off the median, and jumped the curb. Angel jumped out of the way as the car missed him by inches. The car sped away.
Angel stumbled to his feet. He felt nauseous and tasted metal in his mouth.
BEEP… BEEP… BEEP
Classic rock played from a small Bluetooth speaker as Angel painted. Page, his blonde-haired muse, lay nude on a platform in front of him. Page was a part-time pin-up model.
“I can’t believe you almost died,” she said. “What did the police say?”
“They made a report, and they said they’d let me know.”
“Sorry to hear that, but Krista comes home tomorrow, right?” Page asked.
“Yes’um. 6 a.m., flight 180.”
“You nervous? She asked.
“Not really,” Angel said with a grin.
“Liar.” They both laughed as a blue light started to flash.
“Your boy is here… a bit early.”
Page smiled, and Angel buzzed him in. Matt was an Army Ranger and liked wearing shirts that were tight to show off his physique. Angel nodded as he walked in.
Angel stood up tall and sucked in his stomach. Matt smiled as he stuck out his chest, showing off like a bodybuilder.
“Looking good big man,” he padded Angel on the back.
Angel let out a deep breath and started to cough. Everyone laughed.
Matt looked at the painting, then at Page. She winked at Matt and blew him a kiss.
“It’s a good thing I trust you,” he said.
“Any other man would have a problem seeing their girl naked with another man, you know?”
“Nude, not naked, and besides, you know I can kick your ass.” They both laughed. They grabbed forearms and hugged.
“You do great work, bro,” he said.
“It’s easy when you have something pretty to look at.”
“I’m right here, you know?” she said as they laughed.
“Ready, love?” Matt asked.
“Ask your boy,” she said.
“Sure, I’m at a good point. Thanks, Page.”
Page sat up and slipped on her tight red dress and heels. She opened her purse and sprayed perfume. The scent of white rose and lemon leaf filled the room. She smiled as she looked at the painting.
“I love the way you captured my expression,” she said.
“And your curves,” Matt said.
“Matt,” she said.
She turned and kissed Angel on the cheek and hugged him tightly. He smiled and winked at Matt.
“Don’t test me, little man,” Matt said. Angel shrugged his shoulders.
She grabbed Matt’s arm and headed for the door.
“Wait.” Matt turned back to Angel. “Tomorrow is the big day.” “You ready?” He asked.
Angel reached into his pocket and pulled out an engagement ring.
“Where’s mine?” Page asked. Matt picked Page up and threw her over his shoulder. She screamed.
“See ya,” Matt said.
“Bye, Angel. Good luck.”
Angel turned up the music and gabbed another canvas. It was two hours later when his alarm rang.
Angel stood in the terminal with a sign that said, Krista. She dropped her bag and ran towards him.
“Goober,” she said with an excited smile.
He dropped to one knee and flipped the sign. It read, “Will you marry me?” The ring was taped to the sign.
She put her hands to her mouth and started to cry.
“I told you. It was you and me to the end, love.”
She took the ring as she looked at the crowd forming.
“Is that a yes?”
She nodded. “Yes.” He stood and grabbed her by the waist and kissed her. The crowd in the terminal clapped.
“I love you,” she said.
The alarm startled Angel awake. Krista grabbed his arm and sat up; she used her other hand to cover her bare breast with the sheet. Krista wrapped her arm around him and kissed the back of his neck.
“Sorry, I woke you.”
“Stay with me; a bit longer,” she said.
He smiled and took a deep breath.
“I would love to, but I have that show coming up in a couple of days, and I need to finish a few pieces.”
“You can stay in bed for a bit more,” she said with a playful grin on her face. He gave her a wink and leaned in and kissed her. “Is that a yes?”
“How about a rain check?” He asked with a laugh. She shook her head and laid back down, exposing her nude figure.
“You don’t make it easy to say no.”
“Then don’t say no,” she said.
“Always,” she said.
Angel laughed and stood. He grabbed a shirt and shoes.
“I’ll be right here waiting for you,” she said as she blew him a kiss.
“I’ll hold you to it.”
Angel stumbled and grabbed his chest.
“We’re losing him,” the paramedic said. “Starting chest compressions.”
Angel’s body laid on the sidewalk by the storm drain. A piece of rebar was sticking out of his abdomen and his left thigh. A smashed red car was fifty yards away from Angel. Police were marking off the area.
“I got a pulse. We need to move.” The EMTs loaded Angel into an ambulance.
Angel could smell bleach and other disinfectants. He felt disoriented and could hear a ringing in his ear. “Where am I?” Angel asked as he opened his eyes. The light was intense.
The nurse was startled and pressed the call button. She started to tend to Angel.
“Where am I?”
Dr. Mathews walked into the room moments later as the nurse was checking Angel’s vitals.
“Where am I?”
“You’re at Saint Micheal’s, and I’m Dr. Mathews.”
The doctor looked over the monitors and Angel’s chart. “You were hit by a car. You died twice. Once at the scene and once on the operating table. You’re lucky to be alive.”
Angel tried to sit up. The nurse helped him. “That bad?”
“I won’t lie to you. You’re in bad shape. You’re looking at multiple surgeries and a lot of rehab,” he said.
“How long have I been here?”
“Two days,” Matthew said.
“I told her I wouldn’t be late.” “I need to call her. I missed picking her up at the airport.”
“As soon as we move you from ICU to a room,” he said.
“No, now. She’ll be worried, please.” The doctor nodded to the nurse, she administered a dose of morphine, and Angel felt sleepy.
“Wait, please. I need…”
Angel woke up, and the news was on the TV. The broadcast showed boats and planes over a search area. He tapped the volume on the remote.
“Day four, and the authorities are announcing that they are moving from rescue to recovery. We send our condolences to the family of the flight crew and passengers of Flight 180,” the reporter said.
“Krista,” Angel said through trembling lips.
The remote fell from his hand to the floor. He smelled white rose and lemon leaf perfume. He looked toward the doorway and saw Matt and Page.
“Angel,” Page said.
“Bro, I’m sorry,” Matt said.
“Please, not now.” He turned back to the tv. Tears ran down his cheeks.
“Angel, please,” Page said.
“If you ever cared for me, just go.”
She walked into the room and picked up the remote. Page placed it in his hand. She also put a postcard on the end table. She kissed Angel on the forehead and left with Matt.
He took the postcard and smiled. He cleared his throat and wiped his face. The picture on the card was one of his that he sold years ago to Sunset travel company.
“Hey love, I just had to. I told you one day you would be famous.” Angel couldn’t help but smile as he continued to read. “I can’t wait till I have you in my arms. Just know I will always be at your side no matter where life takes us. Love you always. K”
Angel placed the postcard over his heart.