Every once in a while, all the Gods in the universe get together and create a child that is so beautiful, so talented that it's almost as though they tried too hard. A child such as this was born in our small town of Ashland to a poor French Canadian family. From the very moment of her birth, everyone was drawn to her by her beauty and goodness. She truly was a child of the Angels.
She had large, almond shaped eyes, and her long dark lashes were tipped with gold. Her hair was the color of burnished copper and it hung down her back in long, flowing ringlets. Her skin was the color of amber and sunlight danced on her arms as she walked down the street. You could easily picture her on a faraway tropical island with bright red flowers in her hair. Folks kept trying to find a flaw in her but there wasn't any, that you could easily see anyway.
She had the gift of laughter and it drew you to her just to hear that magical sound again. It sounded just like small bells swaying gently in the wind. The local priest tried to persuade her parents to send her off to a convent in Fort Kent, a town located up along the Canadian boarder, but her parents wouldn't be parted from the only beauty in their otherwise dismal lives. Her given name was Angel Marie, but it wasn't too long before she acquired the name "Angel" because that was the name that so aptly described her.
Time passed and before you knew it, she'd grown from a lovely girl-child into a stunningly beautiful young woman. It seemed as though the Gods didn't know when to stop. She was almost too beautiful and too much woman. At fifteen, when she walked down the mean streets of Ashland, sexuality and womanliness oozed from her very being and every male between six and sixty responded with an eagerness that would have put a pack of dogs to shame.
In a small town like ours, people are often judgmental without cause and in Angel's case, they were even more so. It seems that when one person is extremely blessed, this brings out the worst in others, and it wasn't long before the love affair between Angel and the town came to an end.
In a town of fifteen hundred people, everyone knows everyone else, and before long, small bits of gossip began filtering about town concerning Angel. She drew people, mainly men, to her simply by being. The women of the town, who felt threatened by her, began turning on her with a vengeance. Angel couldn't go to a dance or on a date. She couldn't do the simplest, most innocent thing without it being blown all out of proportion.
There was no way could she remain untouched when every male in the County was lusting after her. It wasn't long before she was doing exactly what everyone had already accused her of. She didn't discriminate; she took on all comers and she didn't charge either. The better part of the male population of Aroostook County beat a path to Angel's door.
The years passed, her liaisons became shorter and less passionate. The beauty that had once shown so brightly began to fade. The old crones and gossips gathered on their doorsteps as Angel passed by. They gloried in the fact that her cheeks didn't seem as pink as they used to and her hair didn't have that shine anymore either. Life had taken its share of her, along with everyone else.
Angel knew what she was, and it didn't seem to bother her. She didn't care whom she shared her bed with. When one left there was always another willing and eager to take his place. She loved them, they left her and that was the way her life was, day in and day out, year after year. Folks drove by her house late at night just to see which "happily" married man was now occupying her bed.
Then Angel met a man who came, loved her for who she was, and stayed. To the town's astonishment they married and had three children together. Angel seemed to have renounced her old life and now there were younger, prettier girls eager to pick up where she'd left off. Men still followed her with their eyes, but that was all. Angel was out of the business simply by the fact that she now had a husband and children. Things seemed to go well during the next few years until Angel's husband took a job with a paper company that sent him to cut logs in the woods along the Canadian border and he had to stay in the forest for weeks at a time.
Things being what they were and people being what they are, it wasn't long before Angel's name was making the rounds again, but this time, it was different. She had a husband even if he wasn't around and folks began speculating who would be the first to tell her husband about Angel's fall from grace, when he got back to town.
It was an evening that folks in our small town would never forget. They still talk about it late at night when a cold, north wind stirs the trees and there is a hint of frost in the air. The first and only murder in our town took place on a Saturday in November and Angel was the catalyst that caused it.
On that fatal night, as she lay curled in her newest lover's arms, she didn't hear her husband drive into the yard and enter the house. Her lover never knew what hit him as the bullet entered his head and splattered his brains all over the bedroom wall. Police arrested Angel's husband, and the court tried him for a "crime of passion." Found guilty, they sent him down state to the Thomaston State Prison to serve a life sentence for murder in the second degree.
Everything about Angel faded after that. Her beauty which had been on the wane, disappeared altogether. Folks commented that it was almost as though she had grown old overnight. She was often seen at all hours walking along the streets, but the only thing that chased her now was an occasional stray dog.
Angel died not too long ago and was buried along the edge of St. Mark's Cemetery in Sheridan. The few who attended her hasty funeral still talk about the strange thing that happened that day. As they lowered Angel's casket into the cold, damp ground, a golden mist rose from the gaping, black hole. It hovered over her casket for a brief moment and then it ever so slowly, wound its way upwards through the trees. toward heaven.
Martha Stevens-David Column Magic City
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