Archive for the ‘Two Is Better Than One’ Category

Chapter 3

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Two Is Better Than One
“I have to die?” Carrieanne whispered.
“Yes. You would have the baby and then you would die. That’s how it works. I would raise the baby to do its job as an AOD and then I would eventually die too.”
“Wait, so let me get this straight. I have to give birth and then give my life up to a baby who will grow up to watch people die?”
“In a nutshell, yes.” Jace said, nodding.
“This is crazy! People actually agree to this? How long have your people been around?”
“Over a thousand years. Our wards do it so willingly though because they have known them all their life and would do anything for them. Just like how you could have a best friend you are so close to that you would take a bullet for them. It’s that kind of relationship. In fact. A lot of times, the intended mate will fall in love with their AOD. It‘s very interesting.”
“But since it took you so long to make yourself known to me, I’m having doubt?”
“Exactly.”
Carrieanne let out a large breath she hadn’t been aware she had been holding in. “I can’t believe this. This is insane.”
“Insane or not, it’s also real and I need to know if you’re willing to fulfill your destiny or not.”
“Right now? I need to decide now?”
“Is that a problem?”
“Well…yes. I just met you. I don’t know if I want to have your baby.”
Jace rolled his eyes. “I’m not asking you to be my girlfriend Carrieanne.”
“No, you’re asking me to have your kid. I know what you’re asking. But how do I know you’ll be a good father? How do I know the baby will be in good hands?”
“You’ll have to trust me.”
“I can’t. I don’t know you well enough.”
Jace sighed. “How much time do you need then?”
“I don’t know,” Carrieanne said. “Just spend more time with me. Let me get to know you better. I’ll let you know when I’ve made up my mind.”
Jace stared at her silently for a few minutes then said, “Fine. I’ll come visit you every night ok? Maybe I’ll see you during the day if I’m not too busy. How does that sound?”
“Lovely,” Carrieanne said and then yawned.
“You’re tired. I should let you sleep.” He started getting off the bed.
“You’re leaving?”
“You don’t want me to?”
Carrieanne shrugged then said, “Not really. I like the company. It’s nice. You know, since my best friend just died and everything.”
Jace nodded. “Ok. I’ll stay then. Just until you fall asleep though. Then I’m going. Alright?”
“Ok. But Jace?”
“Hm?”
“Can I ask you something?”
“I guess so.”
“Did you know Athy was going to die when she did?”
“You mean was she one of my wards?”
“Yeah.”
Jace shook his head. “No, she wasn’t. But you are, so when she did, I knew because of you. I knew that’s when I’d be able to see you again.”
“Oh…Do I know any of your wards?”
“Do you know yourself?”
“I don’t count.”
“I can’t tell you. I’m not permitted to reveal that information to you.”
Carrieanne nodded then lay down. She sighed as her head hit the pillow.
Jace lay down next to her and faced her. “Go to sleep now Carrieanne. It’s very late. You need your rest.”
“Good night Jace.”
“Good night. Pleasant dreams.”
Carrieanne closed her eyes. An image of Jace’s face burned into her mind, she fell asleep thinking of him and their planned destiny together.
She and Jace were in a dimly lit ballroom and they were dancing. She was wearing a long, pink dress that sparkled under the low lights. Her hair was down and she wore diamonds around her neck. Jace was in a gray tuxedo, a pink flower pinned to his breast pocket. He was smiling, his teeth a perfect pearl white. They weren’t the only ones dancing.
All around them, people that Carrieanne was close to were dancing and smiling and laughing. It was a wonderful party. Her father smiled at her over the shoulder of a pretty woman in a black dress. They turned and Carrieanne saw the woman was her mother.
“Mom…” she said quietly.
Jace kissed her forehead and said, “Don’t worry love. Everything will be fine.” He placed a hand on her stomach.
Carrieanne looked down and saw that she was pregnant. Her stomach was huge; she was very close to the due date.
“I’m scared,” she said to Jace, tears gathering in her eyes.
“Don’t worry love. Everything will be fine.” He patted her stomach again.
She looked down again and her bulging belly was gone. She was flat and normal again. She looked up at Jace in horror.
“The baby? Where is he?”
Jace laughed. “He’s fine. Look. He’s playing.” He pointed in the direction of where her mother and father were dancing.
A little baby boy was walking over to the couple, his arms outstretched. Carrieanne’s mother smiled and bent down to pick the baby up.
“Mom! No!” Carrieanne screamed. But it was too late.
The second her mother touched the infant, she dropped to the floor, dead.
“MOM!”
“Everything’s ok Carrieanne,” Jace whispered in her ear, still twirling her around the dance floor.
“NO! MOM!” Carrieanne began sobbing.
Now the baby was walking all around the room and one by one, touched the people and watched them crash to the floor in death.
Soon, there was no one in the room except Carrieanne, Jace, and the baby. The babe tottered over to her and held up his arms.
Carrieanne shook her head franticly. “Go away,” she urged.
“Mama…” the baby cooed.
Oblivious to what she was doing, Carrieanne let go of Jace and bent down to pick up the baby. She lifted him off the ground and looked at Jace.
“How?” she asked.
He just smiled.
Carrieanne looked at the baby.
“Mama,” he gurgled. Then he kissed her cheek.
Carrieanne’s face felt as if it were on fire. She began screaming and she handed the baby to Jace, who was still smiling. Carrieanne fell to the floor in agony. “Jace, help me. Please,” she begged.
But Jace was no longer paying attention to her. Instead, he was spinning in slow circles, talking to the baby and tickling his chin.
“Jace…”
Carrieanne jumped up in bed. She looked over and saw that Jace was gone. She took a few shaky breaths to calm down. That dream had been worse then the funeral ones she had been having.
“These nightmares really need to end,” she whispered to herself.
She glanced at the clock and saw that it was almost five in the morning. She lay against her pillow again and sighed.
“What am I going to do?”
“Are you ok?”
Carrieanne jumped at the sound of his voice. Jace had appeared next her again.
“How do you keep doing that?”
“I’ll show you later. Are you alright?”
“I had a nightmare.”
“I know that.”
Carrieanne sighed. “It was really scary.”
“Most nightmares are. Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really,” Carrieanne said.
“Ok. Well, do you want me to hold you until you fall asleep again?”
Carrieanne looked at him and raised an eyebrow.
“Hey, it was just an idea. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I can very easily leave if that’s what you’d rather me do.”
“No,” she said quickly. “I don’t want you to leave.” She moved closer to him, resting her head against his chest. She smiled with comfort and security.
Jace wrapped his arms around her and kissed the side of her head. “Pleasant dreams for real this time ok?”
Carrieanne sighed and fell asleep.
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Chapter 2

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Two Is Better Than One

Three days later, Atherine and her mother’s funeral was held. Robin, Carrieanne’s five year old sister, was being watched by a neighbor. It was in the same graveyard where Carrieanne’s mother and Aunt Theresa were buried. Everything was the same as it had been ten years ago at her mother’s funeral. Flowers and flags were placed on the ground to decorate the places were loved ones lay. The woods that had grown just a few feet from the cemetery still stood tall and proud.
Carrieanne sighed and looked at the trees and nearly fell over with fright. Standing among the trees, dressed in all black, was a teenage boy. He had dark black hair and slightly tanned skin. He stood with his arms crossed, staring at Carrieanne.
Carrieanne felt spellbound, completely drawn in by the boy’s stare. The words of farewell had become indistinguishable in Carrieanne’s ears. She couldn’t wrap her mind around where this boy came from and why he seemed so familiar. Suddenly, he raised his hand and beckoned her with his index finger. Carrieanne snapped out of her trance and looked around. Everyone was walking around now, talking and giving their condolences to Athy’s father and other relatives.
“Dad, I need some time to myself. I’m going to go sit over there by those trees, ok?”
Her father kissed her forehead and squeezed her left shoulder. “Alright honey. Are you going to be ok?”
“I’ll be fine Daddy. I just need to think.”
“Ok sweetie. I’ll come get you when it’s time to go.”
“Can you make sure no one bothers me please?”
“Of course.”
“Thanks Daddy.”
She walked away from the crowd of people and suddenly realized that how stuffy the air was with everyone surrounding her. She took a deep breath of clear air and sighed. When she reached the group of trees, she looked up into the face of the boy standing in front of her. His eyes were a pale gray, but beautiful all the same.
“Can we sit?” she asked. “All this standing is making my legs tired.”
He nodded and the two sat down. The grass was warm, despite being in the shade of the trees.
“So, who are you? And why are you here? And where do I know you from because you seem so familiar.”
“You ask a lot of questions,” he said in a throaty, yet soft voice. “All will be answered soon. I can’t tell you everything here.”
“When then?”
“Later. Very soon. I promise. As for now, my name is Jace.”
“Jace? That’s a…unusual name. I’ve never heard it before.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“I’m sorry,” Carrieanne said, color rising to her cheeks. “I do like the name. It was a compliment.”
Jace just grunted in response.
Carrieanne felt that the end of their conversation had already come, but she didn’t want to go back to the looks and words of sorrow that would be passed out by the mourners. So she leaned against the tree and let her head rest there. She closed her eyes and willed herself to relax.
“Carrieanne, it’s time to go sweetie. Are you ready?”
Carrieanne opened her eyes to see her father standing over her, a solemn expression on his face.
“Yeah, I’m ready.” She looked over to her right where Jace had been sitting, but he was not there. She stood up and through the rush of the wind in her ears, she could’ve sworn she heard someone whisper, “I’ll see you tonight.” She looked around, but there was no one there except her and her father.
At home, she felt too sick to eat. Her mind was full of thoughts about Jace and everything they had said. While their conversation had been short, it had left her with much to think about. So, instead of joining her father and sister for grilled cheese sandwiches, she went straight up to her room.
She changed from her dress to some silk pajamas that were given to her last year for Christmas. She climbed into bed and pulled the comforter over her head. She was asleep in ten minutes. She dreamt of running through silk fabrics, all black. As she passed through the fabric, it became sharp and tore at her clothes, skin, and hair. She was cut and bleeding and sobbing, but nobody was helping her. Nobody was anywhere to be seen.
“Wake up. Carrieanne, wake up!”
Carrieanne lurched upward and gasped. Sweat rolled down her forehead.
“Don’t make a sound. You’ll wake your father.”
The voice next to her made Carrieanne’s heart drop to her stomach. Someone was in her room…
She slowly turned her head, biting her bottom lip to prevent screaming. Standing next to her bed was Jace. She let out a sigh of relief.
“How did you get in here?” she whispered.
“One of my many talents. All of which you will learn in the talk we need to have.”
“When you said ‘soon’ I didn’t know you meant this soon.”
“Next time I’ll elaborate a little better,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Sorry. You just startled me.”
“You think you’re scared now? Wait until you hear why we need to talk so bad.”
Carrieanne moved herself closer to the wall, making room for Jace on the bed. She sat up and stared at him as he made himself comfortable.
“Have you figured out where you’ve seen me before?” Jace asked, staring into her eyes.
“No,” Carrieanne admitted, “and it’s driving me crazy because you’re so familiar.”
“Think hard Carrieanne. Think very hard. Close your eyes.”
She did as she was told and pictured Jace in her mind. She tried to visualize him as a younger boy, and suddenly, it came to her.
“The funeral. You were there. At my mom’s funeral. Watching from the trees. Just like you were today.”
“I was there at your Aunt Theresa’s funeral too. Of course, you were so young then. You probably don’t remember.”
“Ok…so you tend to show up at the funerals of people close to me. Why?”
Jace sighed. “We’re meeting all wrong. I was supposed to show myself to you years ago. Probably back when you were about six or so. But I never did. And this is the price I pay…”
“What are you talking about? ‘Show yourself to me’? What is going on?”
Jace sighed again. “Carrie, I am part of a secret race called AODs.”
“AODs? What does that mean?”
“AOD is short for Angels Of Death.”
Carrieanne stared at him, open-mouthed.
“I know. This is a lot to take in at one time, but stay with me ok?”
Carrieanne nodded.
“AODs are exactly what they sound like. We are there when people die. Some like to refer to us as Passing Guides. But, we’re not. We aren’t people to hold your hand while you die. We stand there and we watch you. We don’t intervene no matter how terrible it is and we don’t ease pain, no matter how much it hurts. Each AOD has a certain number of wards. And for all those wards, they know when each person is going to die.”
“So, you could tell me right now when I’m going to die?”
“Yes, I could. But I won’t. That’s my information to know and mine only. However, there is a rare occasion when you can change your death. If you truly, don’t feel like it is your time to die and you know that you could somehow make things better by living, you could be saved. But, again, that’s very rare. Nearly impossible in fact.
“Anyway, each AOD also has a human mate. One of their wards has a connection that allows them to see and speak to that AOD. That’s where you come in.”
“I’m your human mate?” Carrieanne asked, disbelievingly.
“That’s right. That’s why you can see me. That’s why we are having this talk right now.”
“There’s a catch isn’t there?”
“There always is.”
Carrieanne sighed and nodded.
“The human mate of any AOD has a job that they must complete. Now, normally, an AOD would reveal him or herself to their mate when the human is at a young age. That way, they are used to seeing the AOD around and when the time comes to expose their job, they accept it willingly.”
“But I’m the exception. You’ve had years to show yourself to me. To make me know who you really are and you didn’t. Why?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never been proud of what I am, and I just couldn’t imagine myself bringing the burden of what I’m going to ask of you to a younger child. Especially one that went through as much as you did.”
Carrieanne raised an eyebrow. “I’m still going through crap though. My best friend just died. I’m not really in the mood for bad news.”
“Maybe not. But I can’t wait any longer. You need to know now. I have to tell you what your job is before it’s too late. I need to know if I can count on you.”
“I need you to just tell me what I’m supposed to do already. I’m tired of you dragging it out. Just tell me.”
“AODs need to continue on. We are not immortal. We die eventually. So, the job of the human mate is to reproduce with their assigned AOD to continue on the next generation of AODs.”
“Why can’t two AODs make their own baby?”
“We don’t have compatible genes. For some reason, two AODs can’t create offspring together, but a human and an AOD can. They reproduce and make another AOD.”
“Does that mean that all AODs are male?”
“No. There are female AODs. And they will have the baby that the human male helps to produce.
“So basically, you’re telling me, that my destiny is to have your baby?”
“Well, yes. But there’s more.”
“Of course,” Carrieanne sighed. “Another catch. What is it this time?”
“As soon as the baby AOD is born, the human parent will die.”

Chapter 1

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Two Is Better Than One
Carrieanne jolted upward, suddenly awake and alert. Her whole body was covered in cold sweat and she was breathing heavily. She looked around the dark room making sure everything was as she’d left it when she fell asleep. She saw all the familiar shadows; her dresser, computer, T.V., and bookshelf. She let out a sigh of relief and lay back down on her pillows.
Tonight was now the fifth night in a row that Carrieanne had the nightmare about seeing the young boy at her mother’s funeral.
Why is this dream suddenly returning to me? Why now? Mother’s funeral was almost 10 years ago.
Carrieanne took a deep breath and let it out slowly. If she was to get back to sleep, she needed to relax. She took another calming breath and closed her eyes.
“Carrieanne? Carrieanne. Carrieanne! Wake up!”
Carrieanne’s eyes fluttered open and a blurry image of her father appeared before her. She groaned and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and looked up her father.
Since his wife’s death, Fredrick Dougherty had aged a lot. He had deep wrinkles, his brown eyes had lost their shine, and his once light brown hair was now flecked with gray and white.
“Carrieanne,” he said, gravely, “I need to tell you something.”
Carrieanne sat up and yawned. “Dad, if you need me to watch Robin, it’s fine. I’ll call my friends and tell them I can’t go today.”
“I appreciate that honey, but it’s not that.” He sighed and the sound sent Goosebumps crawling up Carrieanne’s skin. It was like wind blowing through an old and abandoned cemetery.
Now why did I think that?
“Carrieanne, this is about your friend, Atherine.”
“Athy? Did she call? Is something wrong?”
“Carrieanne, she’s dead.”
It was as if her father had thrown a cinderblock at her chest. Carrieanne’s breath was gone and her mouth just hung open.
Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Atherine is dead. No. No. This can’t be. Athy can’t be dead. No. Not Athy. Please. Anyone but her.
“Carrieanne I’m so sorry.”
Her eyes became misty and she looked at her father, his face etched with pain.
This is real. Another funeral…
The rain of her eyes fell onto her cheeks and before she knew it, she was sobbing, speaking incoherently into her father’s chest.
He rubbed her back and spoke quietly, “I know baby. I know. I’m so sorry.”
When Carrieanne had finally cried until her eyes were dry and stinging, she asked in a watery voice, “How did it happen? How did Athy die?”
Her father sighed and took her hands. “She was in the car with her mother. It was very late and dark. A car was in their lane, but going the wrong way. He was going way too fast. He hit them dead-on. They died upon impact. Coroner says they didn’t feel any pain. The man who did it died too.”
Carrieanne couldn’t say anything. She was still processing the fact that Athy was dead.
“Carrieanne? I know you’re upset baby, but is there anything I can do for you?”
“When’s the funeral?”
He sighed. “Tuesday.”
“I need a dress. The last one is from Mama’s funeral. I don’t own any other black dresses.”
Her father nodded and pulled out his wallet. He drew out eighty dollars and handed them to Carrieanne.
“Eighty Daddy? That’s so much.”
“Treat yourself. Find something really pretty. Maybe find new shoes and jewelry. Get some food. I don’t know, but use it. All. I don’t want any back. God knows you need some time at the mall.”
Carrieanne wanted to cry more at her father’s generosity, but her eyes hurt dreadfully from crying over Athy. She hugged him and whispered “I love you.” Then he left the room and she got changed to go to the mall.
Dressed now in a comfy rainbow striped T-shirt and white jeans, Carrieanne walked through the mall, looking for the same store she always went to when she needed a dress. She had put on foundation to cover the red splotches on her face from her tears. She also added eyeliner, mascara, and eye shadow. She took a deep breath then walked into the store.
The first thing she saw when she walked in was rows and rows of black dresses. All in different styles, but all black and nothing else.
“Welcome!” said a happy clerk who’s nametag read Airsten. “We are having a black out today! All our black dresses are sixty percent off!”
“Thanks,” said Carrieanne, trying not to sound too morose.
The clerk smiled and bounded off to greet another customer.
Carrieanne waded through the sea of black dresses until she found one that she liked. It came down just above her knees and clung to her curves perfectly. She took the dress up to the register. The clerk here was named Belissa.
“Hello dear,” she said sweetly. “What a pretty dress.”
“Thank you,” Carrieanne replied quietly.
“I’m sure it looks lovely on you.”
Carrieanne nodded.
Belissa folded the dress and then scanned the price tag. “So what’s the special event? School dance?”
“No. We are on spring break.”
“Oh, hot date then?” Belissa asked, giggling.
“No. Funeral. My best friend died.”
The giggling stopped and Belissa looked as if she had just witnessed a murder. “Oh. Dear, I’m so sorry.” She put the dress in a bag and handed it to Carrieanne.
“Yeah,” said Carrieanne. “I am too.” And she walked out of the store before Airsten could come and bid her farewell.
Carrieanne sat down on a bench and watched the people pass by her. She wondered what she should do now. She wasn’t hungry. In fact, she was sure that if she tried to eat anything, it would just come back up. Then suddenly, her cell phone rang.
“Hello?”
“Carrieanne!”
Belsey.
“Hey Bell. What’s up?”
“Oh Carrie, it’s terrible.”
Belsey Hunt was the only one who ever called Carrieanne simply Carrie.
“Carrie, Athy is dead.”
Hot, new tears tickled the corners of Carrieanne’s eyes. “Yeah,” she choked out. “I heard.”
“Carrie, I don’t know what to do.” Sounds of crying came from Belsey’s end. “Oh, Carrie, I’m so sorry. I’ll have to call you back.” She hung up before Carrieanne could even say good-bye.
Carrieanne jumped up from her seat as if it had scalded her and she began to run. She tore through the mall, slamming into people she was unable to see because of the tears blurring her vision. She finally arrived to the bathrooms and she fell against the wall. She slid down until she was sitting, with her knees drawn up to her chest. She laid her cheek against her knees and sobbed in the lonely mall bathroom, her cries echoed eerily against the pink tile walls.
People who had been occupying the bathroom before she has arrived passed Carrieanne. No one said anything. They just stared and then walk wordlessly out the door. To Carrieanne it was as if the cruelty of all the world was opening up to her.

Prolouge

Posted: September 3, 2010 in Two Is Better Than One

Carrieanne Dougherty held her hand out to her father. His took it without a smile, his rough skin scraping her own soft skin. She tried to give a reassuring squeeze, but her hand was so small against his, he barely noticed. A light, but refreshing wind blew, slightly lifting the edge of Carrieanne’s black dress. She squirmed a bit, but stopped when the wind ceased. She tried hard to listen to the man who was speaking, but she couldn’t focus. He was boring and she didn’t understand anything he was saying anyway.
Of course she knew why she was here. Daddy had explained that before they left the house. She knew that it was Mommy lying in the box, above the ground, waiting to be lowered and covered with dirt. She knew Mommy wasn’t coming back. She was dead. But it was ok. Daddy promised Mommy didn’t hurt and she was in a better place; having tea with God. The picture made Carrieanne smile. Mommy loved tea.
She sighed and looked around her. They were in a cemetery. Rounded stones littered the field. Many of them had flowers around them. Carrieanne looked down at the hand that wasn‘t clutching her father‘s. Purple flowers shone in the sun. She looked back up. Across the field stood a group of trees. Standing in front of the trees was a small boy, not much older than Carrieanne herself. She cocked her head in puzzlement. The boy seemed familiar, but Carrieanne couldn’t think of where she had seen him before.
He looked up and saw her staring at him. He smiled and waved at her.
Carrieanne just stared.