Hot Breath

It was 12 o'clock in the morning and I was lying in my bed, half asleep. The moon was shining so brightly through the blinds that I could see almost everything in my bedroom. All of a sudden, a light much brighter than the moon came through my window. I was surprised to see in front of me the figure of my cousin Jordan. I blinked a few times to see if it was real or just my imagination. He smiled at me and told me that he loved me. I felt how much I'd missed him during the past three years. On September 9, 2003, my 12-year-old cousin was taken by cancer. Ever since that day, his life has been on my mind.

I jumped out of my flannel sheets to hug him as soon as I knew he was real. He asked me how my family was and I told him they were all doing fine. Then, he took my hand and told me he wanted to show me something miraculous. I just smiled because seeing him was enough of a miracle. We began to fly through the air. He pulled me higher, higher, up into the starry night sky, above all the rooftops and mountains. I watched as the world passed underneath me. The cool night air ran through my veins and sent a chill up my spine. I held his hand tightly, wanting him to never leave me again. We kept soaring until we reached a giant white cloud. In a swift motion, he let go of me and I landed on the huge cotton ball.

Sitting in the bright sky, he told me something that I will never forget. "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." A tear ran down my cheek and fell through the cloud. He told me that he needed to take me home and that he would see me again soon.

Once I was back in my room, I looked out the window. It was raining hard, and Jordan was no longer with me. I lay in my bed with my blankets around me. I could not cry because I knew he was happy where he was. I smiled to myself and thought, "I'm glad there is a heaven, so Jordan can be where he belongs." -- Natalie Venolia, Ramona H.S.

It was pretty dreary out and I'd just gotten home. I dropped my keys on the table and slumped onto the couch. I flipped on the tube and found myself staring at a woman wearing a tie-dye shirt, faded jeans, and flip-flops. She had on a large, outdated set of headphones and seemed consumed by whatever it was that she listened to. Confused because there didn't seem to be a television program to accompany the woman on my screen, I turned off the TV. To my surprise, the woman was still there. She looked up and seemed a little startled to be on my screen. She removed her headphones and calmly introduced herself, as if she appeared on television screens all the time. Her name was Maya. She told me she was an angel. My response was that of any sane human being: I laughed. It's not that I didn't believe in angels, but if she really was an angel, why was she on TV, where was her halo and shiny, white gown? She began to explain that angels came to humans in the form that the individual could most likely relate to, which explains why she came to me as a hippie. She said that every angel had a pair of headphones and through those headphones God gave them their assignments. With the assignments, they were given a brief description of the individual's history and what kind of comfort they needed at that time. She said that they embraced technology in heaven, and because T.V. is so prominent in society today, it was a successful way to reach their assignments.

She apologized for being a little disorganized and explained that she wasn't expecting to see me for another half hour; our appointment was for five o'clock sharp. She said that the more urgently the individual subconsciously cries for help, the sooner they arrive. Then she told me what I'd been hearing for years (but never listened to until then): Stop stressing out, let everything take its own course. My overanalyses only created problems that were beginning to take a toll on those around me. I tried to thank the angel, but no words left my mouth. She just smiled and said, "All in a day's work, my friend." -- Marion Finocchiaro, Grossmont Middle College H.S.

After I dropped my notes off at Lena's house last night, I found that I had lost control of my body. Instead of walking to my car, my legs led me to the convent across the street. I went through the courtyard and began climbing a 12-foot wall that blocked off the nuns' private garden. As my body climbed, I tried harder to regain control of myself. Yet, nothing my brain demanded seemed to work until I had reached the top of the wall and heard a screaming "STOP!" escape my lips. My body crumbled, and I fell from the top of the wall into the huge rose bush beneath it. I lay there in pain from the thorns and bruises, wondering how I was going to explain myself to the nuns who tended the garden. Then, my body picked itself up and began walking across the garden. I walked through the nuns' maze of exotic flowers until I arrived at a table set for two at the far end of the garden. My body sat down at the table. I'm not sure how long I had been seated there before the chair across from me became filled with a glowing figure. I felt my body fill with an eerie warmth.

The figure spoke in a language I had never heard before, and I felt my mouth reply fluently. I began to serve tea. Despite the fact that I couldn't comprehend the words, I understood that I was discussing the universe, a war, and somebody called the "Infinite Spirit" and "Divine Master." Yet, the longer we talked and the more tea we drank, the more I felt myself slipping away. Soon I was completely detached from my body, physically and mentally, and I fell into a deep sleep. When I awoke, I was back in my car, wondering if what had happened had been a dream, but the cuts from the rose bush were proof that it had not been.

I doubt a real explanation of last night will ever be provided in this lifetime, but even if it were possible for me to know what had happened, I wouldn't want to. Some things are better left unexplained, and I am content in believing that the figure I drank tea with was an angel of God. -- Amy Culley, Academy of Our Lady of Peace

It was pitch black. I heard sounds in the distance, someone talking. The voice came closer, until it was right by my ear. And then I opened my eyes. Still, I could barely see. A mixture of brown and red, a sort of burgundy color was all I could make out. "Can you hear me?" I could. I tried to move my head toward the voice.

"Don't move. An ambulance is coming." An ambulance. I tried to remember what had happened. It smelled of asphalt and gasoline. I felt the hot breath of the voice beside my head. A cloth gently wiped my face and I could see. I looked around slowly, taking in what I could. There was so much to process, I could almost feel my brain swirling. I was upside down. I could feel the warm wetness of blood crawl from my forehead and into my hair and ears. My eyes moved with my head toward the voice. I wanted to see who it was.

"Don't move. You're fine," said the voice. "You're fine. An ambulance is coming, I hear their sirens." I listened. No sirens. Not yet. I opened my mouth to speak. It was dry and my lips were cracked. My mouth tasted of iron, and I felt the heat of my breath.

"What," I panted, "happened?" I drew my bleeding tongue out and licked my lips. Blood on blood.

"You cut me off." The voice was warm against my head. "And then your car rolled off the side of the road. You're okay. Just stay put." I wanted to apologize. I couldn't speak. I slowly lifted my hand toward the voice. It was covered in the same burgundy that had masked my face. I licked my lips slowly. I wanted to speak. Or nod. I did neither.

Sirens. Off in the distance. I felt relief swarm over me.

"Are you ready?" the voice asked. And then it was black. Pitch black. I heard sounds in the distance. Someone talking. It was getting farther and farther away. It was a mere whisper. And then I opened my eyes. Still I could barely see. It was bright. A golden white, it was like looking into the sun. My pupils danced and morphed inside my head as they adjusted.

"I told you you'd be fine," a familiar voice said. I turned my head. There he was. -- Erin Bradley, Rancho Bernardo H.S.

I had hoped for divine inspiration; I never expected to get it. I was on the verge of falling asleep one night when a blinding light appeared in the corner of my room. I was awestruck, and the deep, reverberating voice coming from the light did nothing to lessen my disbelief. "Ask and ye shall receive," it proclaimed.

"What the..." I managed to stammer, knowing that this great luminous being was an angel.

"Well, if divine inspiration is what you want, then here I am."

"But I never actually expected to...well, get it. I mean, really now, how many people actually get to see an angel in their lives?" I asked, beginning to get my nerves back.

"Maybe everyone does; they just don't stop to notice." Then, in a quieter voice, it muttered to itself, "You're all too self-absorbed."

"I don't see how anyone could not notice," I said sarcastically.

"Hmm, no matter. Anyhow, we're getting off topic. I only have a short time. I have other things to do, believe it or not. You people and your petty requests.... It would never occur to you that we have things to do, too. Back to that whole egotism thing," it said with a hint of stuffiness.

"Yes, but you have all eternity to do it. I just have a short time."

"Eighty-six years, actually, but that's not important," it said, interrupting me.

"Oh, so it's predestination now? What's next, 'Unto me a child is born?'" I asked, jokingly.

"I hadn't gotten there yet, but if you must know, yes."

"Oh, you're kidding; I didn't know it was even possible for you folks to have a sense of humor," I said.

"Well, all of eternity would be awfully boring without one. You'd be amazed the stuff we come up with up there," it said, clearly enjoying itself.

"Hmm, now who's getting off topic, huh? I thought you were here to help me, not tell me about heavenly humor."

"Well, fine, if that's all you want. I was just trying to lighten the mood, be conversational, but no, all you humans want is help with your insignificant little problems. Why should I inspire you? We created you, and now that you're here, it's your job to inspire yourself; after all, what would the point of life be if all your problems were solved for you? Live your own life, don't let others live it for you."

Then, as suddenly as it had come, it disappeared. I, still in shock, sat upright in bed and thought about what I had just witnessed. -- Grant Barba, La Jolla H.S.

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