Arms Of Your Angel

Arms Of Your Angel
By Sarah
Short Story

    "How come you never told me?"
    "It wasn't my place to tell."
    "You still could've told me.  Now what am I supposed to do?"
    "I guess you'll just have to rough it out.  I'm sorry, but you know the rules, you know the protocol, you've been here enough times to hear it."
    "Yeah, yeah, I know."  He paused.  "But what am I supposed to tell Brian now, Ma?  I can't just go up to him and say 'hey, B-Rok, how's your week been?  Oh, don't worry about my mom, she's fine, but your son is dead'?"
    "You aren't making this any easier."
    Denise sighed.  "Listen, Alex-"
    "Enough with the Alex business, I'm AJ," he demanded, glaring up at her from his place at the chair in the private office of the hospital.
    "Fine, AJ, listen to me, please.  There is a thing at all hospitals that bind me and anyone else that works here with patient confidentiality.  I couldn't very well have told you Suzanna and Pauly were here unless you were a resident pediatrician or you were a RN.  Those kind of technicalities bind me."
    "You still should've told me!"
    "I wasn't allowed to!  Suzanna had asked me not to anyway, there was nothing I could do, I was not going to go back on the wish of a patient's mother."
    "Wait, how long have you known that she had come back to Florida?"
    "She's been here for the last year and a half."
    "WHAT?!"  AJ tried to speak, but everything came out all jumbled up in stutters.  He finally stopped and took a deep breath.  "She's been here for nearly two years, ever since the baby was born, and you never told anyone, not even Brian?  It was his son!"
    "Suzanna didn't want to ruin what Brian had.  She knew that he was seeing Leighanne, that they were thinking about getting married for a while.  I don't know if she has heard that they are engaged or not, but either way, hearing this now will hurt him."
    "Damn straight it will hurt him, it will down right tear him apart!"
    "Stop cursing at me, Alexander, and stop fighting.  This conversation is over, until you cool down, I have explained to you why I was bound, don't damn me for my work," his mother said sternly.  She leaned against the back of the chair she was sitting it, wheezing slightly.  Her pneumonia had cleared up a bit, but she was still sick, and still a patient in the hospital.  She stood up and walked to the door slowly, opening it and preparing to walk down to her room.  She turned back.
    "AJ, you have to have Suzanna tell Brian, even I think it isn't right that he doesn't know his son is dead," she whispered.  AJ nodded and his head bowed as she walked out of the room, without seeing his tears.

    "I said no."
    AJ sighed, looking at Suzanna in her stage of stony silence.  Tears still fell from her red-rimmed, bright, green-hazel eyes, but she made no sound as she breathed in and out.  Her back slowly rose and fell as he sat across from her in the small motel room she was staying in.  Her apartment was rented out to someone else, she'd been in the hospital for the last two months almost non stop, then she had no money to pay the rent again, for the third time.  She was evicted.
    "Suzanna, we've known each other for a long time.  We both know Brian well too, but we have to tell him.  I know its going to be hard, and I'll be right there with you when you tell him, I won't leave your side," AJ promised.
    Suzanna shook her head.  "You don't understand, AJ, Pauly is gone, my reason for living has died, there's nothing left for me here, I don't need to tell Brian what he doesn't have to mourn over after I'm gone.  As soon as Pauly's buried, I'll be gone, and then you won't have to ever worry about it again, you won't have to put Brian through the pain."  Suzanna paused, sniffling lightly and wiping her eyes with a tissue.  "He wouldn't be able to handle it anyway," she whispered.
    AJ knew she was right, Brian wouldn't be able to handle it.  One mention that he had a son, and he'd be in hysterics.  If he were told his son was alive for two years without knowing him, he'd be furious.  But if he knew his son was dead.
    "Suzanna, please, I'm on my knees in front of you," AJ said, following his own words.  He lifted her chin gently, looking in her eyes.  "Please, Suzanna, I can't keep this in me, even if it isn't for me to tell.  He
deserves to know.  I promise I'll be there with you, we can go together, just as long as you tell him."
    Suzanna leaned forward and started a fresh round of sobs on his shoulder, to which he automatically reacted with wrapping his arms around her shoulders.  "Ok," she sobbed out.  AJ silently gave thanks up above and held Suzanna until she stopped crying, knowing that she would do it right then and there.
    "Ready?"  He finally asked.  They were sitting in his car in front of Brian's house, had been for the last few minutes.  They'd left the motel about an hour ago, then driven around Brian's neighborhood before finally stopping at his house.  AJ had seen Suzanna cringed in physical pain the closer they got to Brian's house, until she was curled up on the seat, shaking as they sat in front of it.
    "Let's get this over with," Suzanna mumbled.  AJ nodded and got out, then went around and helped her out, holding her around her waist, trying to not make it visible that she was having trouble walking.  They made it to the front door and he rang the doorbell.
    "Hey, AJ, how come you didn't barge in like you normally do?"  Leighanne asked as she answered the door.  She was all smiles, as usual, her cheerful demeanor never left, the smile was permanently plastered on her face.
    'Until today,' AJ thought.  "Hey, Leigh, is Brian here, she and I need to talk to him," he said, gesturing to Suzanna next to him.  She was looking down at the ground, looking so small and closed up.  She started to shake in AJ's arm at the mention of Brian's name.
    "Sure, come on in, go ahead into the living room, I'll get Brian, he's hiding somewhere," Leighanne said, pulling the door open a little wider and gesturing them in.  She closed the door behind them and hurried down the hall, calling out Brian's name as she went.
    "Brian, where are you?  Brian, come on, AJ's here and he wants to talk to you," Leighanne called.  She stopped at the end of the hall and peeked into the last door and then shrieked as she was attacked from behind.
    "Brian, don't do that!  We have guests!"  Leighanne exclaimed, laughing.  Brian laughed with her before planting a kiss on her lips.
    "Its only AJ," he teased.
    "Actually, Brian, its not," AJ called as he walked out of the living room.  He'd heard the whole exchange from the room, and then left Suzanna sitting, curled up on the recliner.  Brian's recliner.
    "Ok, ok, I'm coming," Brian said as he walked down the hall, carrying Leighanne over his shoulder.
    "Brian, put me down, I still have to finish cleaning up your mess in the kitchen!"  She said, laughing.
    "Oh, please come with me, Leigh-Leigh, I don't want to face AJ's new girlfriend without you," he said, whining.
    "Brian, she's not my girlfriend," AJ said stonily, trying to make his mood harden Brian's.
    Brian raised his eyebrows.  "She's not?  A first, she must be a possibility than," he said, smiling cheekily at him as he let Leighanne down.  He kissed her soundly before she ran off to the kitchen and then turned to  AJ.  "Lead the way, my friend," he said, his face bright with happiness.
    AJ nodded and turned, leading Brian in the room.  He sat on the arm of the recliner next to Suzanna and gently rested his hand on her shoulder.
    "Suzanna, how come you're here with AJ?  Where have you been for the last few years, I've missed you!"  Brian said, advancing to hug her.  As soon as his arms went around her, she sobbed and cringed, to which Brian backed away.
    "What happened, Suzanna, what's wrong?"  He asked, worried, kneeling down in front of the recliner and trying to get her to lift her head from her knees.
    "Suzanna, do you want me to leave?"  AJ asked quietly after a few moments of silence.
    Suzanna shook her head.  "No, I need you, AJ," she finally said, taking his hand in hers.  She took a deep breath, looking at Brian.  "Brian, I-"
    "Where have you been the last few years?"  He interrupted.
    "Away.  Brian, I have to tell you something."
    "Where did you go?  Where did you stay?  You all of a sudden just got up and left, I didn't know what to think, I thought I'd done something wrong," he said hurriedly.
    "You didn't, Brian, please, listen to me.  I have to tell you something, and it isn't easy to say," she started again.
    "But, Suzanna-"
    "Brian, PLEASE!"  She cried.  Brian shut his mouth, not accustomed to hearing her yell.
    "Brian, the reason I left three years ago, it was because something happened.  Remember on our one year anniversary, how we both had a little too much wine, and what happened?"  She started.  She held up a hand to him as he opened his mouth to talk.  "Let me finish.  I have no regrets to that night, but what happened as a consequence changed my life."
    Brian's mouth dropped open.  "Are you telling me I have a daughter?"  He managed to get out hoarsely.
    Suzanna shook her head.  "No, Brian, a son, you did have a son," she corrected him.  They were both silent, her with remorse, him with confusion.  "He's dead," she whispered, clarifying for him.
    There was a loud thump as Brian's knees gave out and he hit the floor hard, causing Leighanne to run in the room, asking what was wrong.  AJ saw her cheerful disposition disappear as she observed the thick tension in the room.  "What's wrong?"  She asked as her face fell.
    "I... she...he..." Brian couldn't chose the right word to say.  AJ stayed silent, it wasn't his place to tell, he had only volunteered to hold Suzanna's hand as she talked.
    "How?"  Brian finally managed to say.
    "He had a heart defect, and then he got pneumonia.  He died at two-thirty a.m., the day before yesterday," Suzanna relayed, her voice flat as the tears began to fall again.
    Leighanne kneeled down next to Brian on the floor.  "Brian, honey, what's going on?  Who died, I don't understand," she asked.  She looked at Suzanna, then at AJ.  "AJ, who died?"  She asked, worried.
    AJ shook his head, not saying anything, feeling tears come to his eyes as Brian's head rolled forward and he started to sob.
    "God, no," he said simply, tears falling at a fast rate.  He jumped up and picked up the first thing he found, a lamp, and threw it against the far wall. "DAMMIT!"  He yelled at the top of his lungs.  He picked up a left over coffee cup and threw that, then a plastic bowl filled with candy, followed by a vase of flowers, all smashed against the wall.  Leighanne jumped up and tried to hold him back, but he pushed her away.  AJ ran to Brian and grabbed the large crystal vase out of his hands before he threw it and pushed him down on the couch.
    "God, how could this happen?  Not him, not him, why couldn't it have been anyone else?  Why not me?!"  Brian cried, tears still falling.  He sobbed into his hands, something AJ had never seen him do.  He had seen him cry once before, and that wasn't even on a sad occasion, they were tears of happiness
then, but now, at a time like this, these tears were nothing but tears of mourning.
    "Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on?  What did you tell him, AJ, why is he so upset?"  Leighanne demanded, bordering on angry.
    AJ took a deep breath and glanced at Suzanna, who had curled back up into a sobbing ball of mourning.  She wasn't going to talk anymore.  "Brian had a son, but he died two days ago," he whispered.
    Leighanne turned white, her eyes betraying both shock and sadness.  The concern for Brian won over and tears spilled down her cheeks as she sat next to Brian and tried to comfort him.
    AJ just stood there, he was at a loss for words.  He didn't know what to do.

    "Paul Thomas Cox-Littrell.  Quite a mouthful for a little boy."
    "I don't think he introduced himself that way."
    "Well, you never know.  Some children do talk like that."
    "Not him."
    "What makes you say that?"
    "I just know."
    There was silence.  The two men walked on, out from under the large tree, looking at each headstone as they passed.  They were finally gone, and then a gentle rain started to fall.  The raindrops fell onto the headstone, dripping down each of the engraved words, then hitting the freshly turned earth in front of it.  The area was only about three feet by four feet, at the very most, the smallest burial plot in the cemetery.  There were small sunflowers sitting at the bottom of the headstone, under the small picture of a cross.

Paul Thomas Cox-Littrell
September 2, 1997 - February 4, 2000
A little lamb taken from our arms and placed into those of the Lord above. Forever rest in peace.

    Next to that headstone, the only other headstone in the section of the cemetery, slightly larger, but no more or less important.  White roses were placed below the picture of a cross with an eternity symbol around it.

Suzanna Marie Cox
June 19, 1976 - February 20, 2000
An angel from above with a broken heart has returned to her rightful place above. Love forever reigns, rest in peace.

    The gentle rain kept falling, mingling with the tears of the mourner in front of the two graves.  He said a silent prayer and clutched the cross hanging around his neck, his sobs coming more frequent.  He kneeled between the two headstones and kissed the top of each, saying his final good-byes to the two.
    "I love you, Paul, I love you, Suzanna," he whispered, placing a small gold cross among the roses, then a smaller one on the sunflowers.  He sat with the graves until he felt someone tap him on his shoulder.
    "Let's go, Brian, we don't need you getting sick."
    "Its just rain, leave me alone."
    AJ sighed.  "Brian, we need to go."
    Brian nodded, consenting.  He said another prayer and kissed each headstone again, quietly whispering to each after he kissed it.  He stood up and looked up, blinking into the rain, then turning and walking ahead of AJ, ignoring him as he pleaded him to get under the umbrella.  AJ followed him out of the cemetery, not saying another word, only knowing that it would be a long time before either of them were themselves again.

You're in the arms of the angel
Fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You were pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of your angel
May you find some comfort here.

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