Unearthly Page 27

“It was that obvious?”

“To me it was,” she says. “But I’m glad. I’ve never known anybody else like me.”

She laughs and before I can totally process what she’s saying, she bends her knees and swoops up off the stage, gliding effortlessly over the darkened theater and up into the rafters.

“Come on,” she says.

I stare after her, thinking of the huge amount of damage I will probably do if I try.

“I don’t think you have enough insurance on this place for me to try to fly here.”

She drops lightly back down to the stage.

“I can’t fly,” I admit.

“It’s hard at first,” she says. “I spent all last year climbing up into the mountains at night so I could jump off ledges and catch some air. It took months before I was really able to get the hang of it.”

That’s the first thing anybody has said that makes me feel better about flying.

“Didn’t your mom teach you?” I ask.

She shakes her head wildly, as if she finds the idea hilarious.

“My mom’s about as human as they come. I mean, what angel-blood would name their kid Angela?”

I stifle a smile.

“She lacks imagination, I guess,” she says. “But she’s always been there for me.”

“So it’s your dad then.”

Her expression becomes instantly sober. “He was an angel.”

“An angel? So that means you’re a half blood, a Dimidius.”

She nods. Which means she’s twice as powerful as me. And she can fly. And her hair is a normal color. I’m a pot of envy.

“So your mom’s not human,” she says. “That means you’re—”

“I’m only a Quartarius. My mom is a Dimidius and my dad’s just a normal guy.”

I suddenly feel a little exposed standing there on the stage with my wings out, so I fold them in and will them to disappear. Angela does the same. For a minute we stand contemplating each other again.

“You said in class you’d never met your father,” I say.

Her face is carefully blank.

“Of course not,” she says matter-of-factly. “He’s a Black Wing.”

I nod like I completely understand what she’s talking about, but I don’t. Angela turns away and wanders out of the pool of light on the stage into one of the darkened corners.

“My mother was married once, but her husband died of cancer right before she turned thirty. He was an actor, and she was this shy costume designer. This was his theater. They never had any kids. After he died, she went on a pilgrimage to Rome. She’s Catholic, so Rome’s a pretty important place for her, plus she has family there. One night she walked home from evening mass, and a man followed her. She tried to ignore it at first, but she had a bad feeling about him. He started to walk faster, so she ran. She didn’t stop until she was at the family’s house.”

Angela sits down at the edge of the stage, her legs dangling over into the orchestra pit. She keeps her eyes downcast while she tells the story, her face turned slightly away, but her voice is steady.

“She thought she was safe,” she says. “But that night she dreamed of the man standing at the foot of her bed. His face was like a statue, she said. Like Michelangelo’s David, impassive, sad in the eyes. She started to scream, but then he said something in a language she couldn’t understand. His words paralyzed her; she couldn’t move or make a sound. She couldn’t wake up.”

I sit down beside her.

“And then he raped her,” she murmurs. “And she realized it wasn’t a dream.”

She glances up, embarrassed. One corner of her mouth lifts.

“So the downside is that I wasn’t exactly conceived in love,” she says. “But the upside is that I have all of these amazing powers.”

“Right,” I say, nodding. I’ve never heard of such a thing happening. An angel raping a human? I can’t imagine it. The night is starting to take on a weird sort of Twilight Zone feel. I came to work on a history project, and now I’m sitting on the edge of a stage with another angel-blood as she spills her entire life story to me. It’s surreal.

“I’m sorry, Angela,” I say. “That . . . sucks.”

She closes her eyes for a moment, as if she can see it all in her mind.

“So if your mom is human and you’ve never seen your dad, how did you even know you were an angel-blood?” I ask.

“My mom told me. She said that one night, a few days before I was born, another angel appeared to her and told her about the angel-bloods. She thought it was a crazy dream for a while. But she told me as soon as she saw that there was something different about me. I was ten.”

It’s not really the kind of story you want to hear from your mom. I think about the way Mom told me about the angel-bloods, only two years ago, and how hard it was to accept. It blows my mind to think about what I would have done if she’d sprung that kind of information on me when I was a kid. Or if she’d been raped.

“It took me a long time to find out anything else,” Angela says. “My mom didn’t know anything about angels besides what it says in the Bible. She said I was a Nephilim like in Genesis, and I would grow up to be a hero like in the days of Samson.”

“No haircuts for you, then.”

She laughs and drags her fingers through her long black hair.

“But you knew about the Dimidius and Quartarius and all of that,” I say.

“I’ve picked up the facts here and there. I consider myself a bit of an angel historian.”

It’s quiet for a minute.

“Wow,” I say.

“I know.”

“I still think we should do our history project on Queen Elizabeth.”

She laughs. She turns toward me and pulls her legs up and sits Indian-style, so close her knees brush mine.

“We’re going to be best friends,” she says.

I believe her.

I have to be home by ten, which gives us hardly any time to talk. I don’t even know where to begin, the questions come so fast. One thing is clear right away: Angela knows tons about the angels, so much of the history, the powers they’re rumored to have, the names and ranks of different angels who appear in literature and religious texts. But in other areas, things about angels and angel-bloods that you can only get from the inside, she doesn’t know much at all. She and I could learn a lot from each other, I realize, being that my mom only tells me what she thinks is absolutely necessary, if that.

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