The Bird Angel
"It's still there," Caroline Snow whispered to her mother in awe.
She and her mother were staring outside their cracked window at a
white dove perched on their mailbox. It had been sitting there for
three days now. Caroline was amazed, but her mother clearly was too
tired to notice much of anything.
Disappointed, she let her mother go back to sleep. Sighing, she
walked over to Kate's bed. She put her hand lightly on Kate's
forehead. Burning hot and covered with sweat, as usual. June knew
it was useless, but it wasn't a crime to hope.
It had been almost a year since Kate had gotten sick. She never
left bed more than once a day, and her mother didn't have enough
money for a hospital. She had gotten sick a few months after her
father died. Caroline and her mother and been so busy caring for
Kate that they hardly had time to grieve for him.
For almost a year, Caroline had been the second most important. But
Caroline was so worried about four year old Kate, that she didn't
It was a hot Louisiana day, and with poor air conditioner, Caroline
could feel sweat streaming down her own face. Her mother too.
A few days later, at school, Caroline talked to her best friend,
Sarah. They were at lunch, listening to Sweet Caroline on June's
iPod. Since Caroline couldn't afford one of her own, Sarah would
ask Caroline what songs she liked, and would download them, and
told Caroline she could listen whenever she wanted.
Caroline knew it would be hard, but she had to ask again; she could
feel Kate was getting farther and farther away, and she knew she
didn't have much time left. Sarah's father was a doctor, a rich
doctor. A very, very expensive and reliable doctor. It was for the
reason, Caroline asked all the time if Sarah's father could help
"Can you please ask your father to look at my sister?"
"You know if he goes to someone for free, then like, all of his
patients are gonna hear about it, right?" Sarah sighed after she
finished. It was never easy to hear Caroline's desperate voice. In
fact, Sarah had even asked her father. Of course, he said no. "I
can't clear away my busy schedule to take care of a toddler's
cold," had been his irritated response. Sarah knew better than to
"It's different this time. I think she might die really soon."
Caroline's eyes filled with tears. Touching me, touching
you...Sweeeeet Caroliiiine. Good time never seemed so good. I've
been inclined to believe it never would.
"Caroline..." Sarah's voice trailed off. She wouldn't ever directly
admit it, but she was terrified of her father. An all business man,
he had no time for Sarah's love for music and theatre. June knew
that he looked down on her, and she didn't want to make that worse.
"Please, Sarah. For Kate." There was growing urgency in Caroline's
voice. And when I hurt, hurting runs off my shoulder...
"I'll try. I promise."
Sarah shrugged her slim shoulders.
"Really, you have no idea what this means."
"I think I do, Caroline," Sarah said quietly. Good times never
seemed so good.
Yeah, right. I wish, thought Caroline.
June must've really pushed her father, because while Caroline and
her mother was getting dinner ready, there was a knock on their
door. The doorbell had broken last month. Most visitors-when they
had any-found this incredibly annoying.
There stood a tall man with a fancy suit and a briefcase and
a bag. So this is what Sarah's father looks like, though
Caroline. He did look very severe; Caroline couldn't imagine why he
was so popular.
"Can I help you?" asked Caroline's mother.
"I hear you have a patient," said Sarah's father.
Caroline's mother rubbed her temples. "Oh, Jesus, how much is this
going to cost me?" she muttered.
Louder, she said, "I'm sorry, but we don't have enough money to
"No payment. I assure you, the examination is free." Caroline's mom
was absolutely stunned.
"Well, please come in. I'll show you to my daughter. Oh, and what
did you say your name was?"
"I didn't. Dr. Nelson."
"Thank you very much for coming Dr. Nelson."
Dr. Nelson nodded curtly, and followed Caroline and her mom to the
tiny bedroom that Kate and Caroline shared together. As Dr. Nelson
began to take things out of his bag, Caroline felt awkward and
useless just standing there while her mother watched Dr. Nelson
from the only chair in the room. Her mother sensed her feelings.
"Caroline, go to the kitchen and finish up dinner, will you?"
Caroline quickly nodded and hurried off, grateful for something to
do. It didn't take long, but after Caroline had set up the table,
she sensed they weren't done yet. She paced around the room for
over twenty minutes, and then decided to go take a look.
She peeked her head into the room to see Kate sleeping as usual,
Dr. Nelson with a puzzled frown on his face, and her mother with
her face in her hands.
"Mom! What's wrong?" Her mother said nothing. Dr. Nelson said
nothing. For several minutes, no one said anything. When Ms. Snow
finally picked her head up, she looked about a million years older
than her 40 years.
"Mom. What is it?" Caroline tried to control her voice, which was
shrill with worry.
When someone at last spoke, it was Dr. Nelson. "I can't find
anything wrong with her. I can't connect the symptoms of her
illness to any disease I've ever heard of. Caroline's heart sank.
"You haven't heard of every disease in the world," Caroline tried
but failed to say calmly. Her voice was wavering. "You should get
her to a hospital and run some tests on her or whatever the hell
"If we take her to a hospital, then it's not just me you have to
worry about paying. You have to pay the hospital, and there aren't
many cheap hospitals who could find what's wrong with her. You
would have to bring her to the best doctors, and that costs money."
Caroline's mother closed her eyes. Slowly, as if dragging out the
words, she said, "Thank you, doctor. I think you should leave now."
Dr. Nelson stood up and nodded shortly, first Ms. Snow and then
Caroline. Inside Caroline was fuming. How dare he act like this
didn't matter at all??? She opened her mouth with no idea what to
say just before she heard Dr. Nelson say, "I'm sorry." Caroline
closed her mouth and slumped against the wall.
Before she even heard the front door shut, she tossed herself into
bed, and was asleep in seconds. The last thought she registered
before she passed out was the dove on her mailbox. It was still
there almost staring at her. She wanted to think more about this
but when her eyes closed, she couldn't get them back open.
Caroline tried but failed to open her eyes. They felt glued shut.
With great difficulty, she rubbed her eyes until they fluttered
open. She saw her mother had fallen asleep in that chair. To her
surprise, she wasn't the only one awake. She saw that Kate's eyes
were vague but alert at the same time.
"Hi Kate," Caroline whispered softly.
"Hi Caroline." Her voice sounded so small. Caroline cringed with
"What do you want to do now? Do you want to eat, or read a book?"
Kate shook her head.
"What do you want to do?" Caroline repeated.
"Can you take me outside?"
"You know Mom doesn't want you to do that."
"It can be a secret." Kate almost smiled. Caroline sighed. How on
earth could she say no to a dying girl? She lifted her sister's
weightless body onto her back, and walked outside。
Kate sat on her sister's lap on the rocking chair on their porch.
All of a sudden, the dove that, by the way, was still there,
suddenly flew toward the two sisters. Caroline panicked a little;
she had never been a fan of birds.
The bird sat on Kate's forearm. Fascinated, Kate gently stroked its
head gently with her delicate hand. All of a sudden Kate fell out
of Caroline's lap, being so distracted. And then...she got up.
Caroline's eyes stretched wide as moons as Kate shakily stood up
and took two small steps toward her sister. Kate hadn't walked
since before she got sick. Before Caroline could say anything, Kate
said, "I'm hungry."
Still unable to speak, Caroline walked alongside her sister, who
refused to be carried. While she was in the kitchen, Ms. Snow
walked in. "What is all this?"
"Kate's hungry," responded Caroline, trying to sound nonchalant.
Tears sprung from her mother's eyes, while a smile slowly spread
across her astonished face.
"What did you do to her?"
"Nothing. We went outside-"
"You went outside?" her mother interrupted.
"Let me finish. We went outside, and then she played with some
bird. Kate fell out of my lap, and then she started walking, and
said she was hungry," she finished.
As soon as Caroline stopped explaining, she grabbed Kate's hand and
flew through the front door. Caroline hurried after, wondering if
her mother had gone insane.
The bird was perched on the rocking chair. It flew onto Kate's
shoulder. But something was different. The bird started to have a
pale yellow glow around it. Their mother was too stunned to even
open her mouth. However, she was able to stroke it with a trembling
finger and then the dove took off, glowing more strongly than ever.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light so bright that everyone looked
away. The bird had completely disappeared.
Caroline's mother suddenly hugged her for the first time in almost
a year. For a reason Caroline was unable to explain her tears
burned in her eyes. With a voice wavering with happiness,
Caroline's mother said, "I think your father came to us."