Four years ago, Frankie Rios walked away from her best friend and big sister, Iris. To Frankie, Iris died the day that she last rejected Frankieâs attempts at getting Iris alcohol and drug treatment. Rather than accept grief for her beloved sisterâs loss, Frankie turned to her music. A renowned cellist, Frankie has managed to ignore the pain and suffering of losing the person she loved most in this world. With Iris out of her mind and out of her life, Frankie was able to move on...or so she thought. Until Iris really died.
Topher went to war in 2001 only to return two years later damaged and broken. Unable to reconcile the war vet with the boy he used to be, Topher gave up on life. When Iris Rios, his long-lost childhood best friend, dies from liver failure at thirty-two years-old, Topher is forced to confront his past. He must decide whether he deserves to heal. He must decide whether he will take that first step and then take another until he can recover what he lost: himself.
Weeping Angels is a story of grief carried and grief ignored. Itâs about learning to love and moving on. Mourning someone once is hard enough, but mourning someone twice is unimaginably harder.
Genre: Womenâs fiction, romance
Release date: June 27, 2014
A woman hurls herself into the parking lot without even checking to see if a car is coming. Long blonde hair flies like a cape and she moves as though propelled by a rocket. Black, slinky heels flick off her feet, smacking into the asphalt with every rapid step. The scarf wrapped around her neck, despite this god-forsaken humidity, flaps over her shoulder. Any other day, I might have tried to stop her. If not, I might have fallen to the ground and covered my head with my hands, brought back to Afghanistan by some misapprehending synapse fire. But not tonight. Tonight, I merely stand by and watch her go.
She stops abruptly at the edge of the parking lot and just stands there. Her back to us, she drops her arms to her sides and her shoulders slump. Iâm not sure what Iâm looking at, but whatever it is unfurls as I watch. A woman like that doesnât need to be crying at the end of the parking lot alone, and weâre watching like a couple of jackals who are just man enough to smoke outside a funeral, but not man enough to rescue her from herself. Iâm not sure what it is about her, but I canât stop staring, so I donât even try.
I suck on my cigarette, taking the longest pull I can to give myself time to keep from engaging in conversation, when the woman slams her palms to her thighs. If she were any closer or if there was any less traffic on the highway, we might have heard the smacking sound echoing in the air. Even without sound, I feel it. A sonic wave crashes into my chest. My heart stops beating for a second in its wake.
Through a stream of white smoke, I jut my chin to the woman.
âWhoâs that?â I ask Jose. &nb sp;
âThatâs Frances.â Heâs curt, and the sharpness when he says her name makes it sound like an offense. âI thought you knew her,â he adds, raising an eyebrow skeptically.
Thereâs a silence between us as we keep our eyes trained on Frankie. For the life of me, I would have never known it was her had he not just told me. I wonder now why no one makes his or her way toward her. If thereâs a husband or a boyfriend standing about inside, someone needs to tell him that sheâs out there alone, grieving.
âFrankie loved Iris. Sheâs probably taking this hard.â
As soon as the last word has fallen from my lips, Jose chuckles humorlessly and again my eyebrows furrow. I can feel the anger lining my forehead. Jose brings the cigarette to his lips and smoke pours from his nostrils as he inhales and exhales simultaneously like a fuming dragon. He shakes his head as his gaze wanders back to Frankie.
âFrankie loved Iris, thatâs true, but Frankie also disappeared and refused to come when Iris got sick.â
âI donât believe you.â
Shock slaps across Joseâs face when I declare him a liar. There is absolutely no way I can know if what Jose said is true or not.
An ephemeral summer breeze catches her hair. When it passes, she combs her fingers through her hair and twists it into a knot that she promptly releases. Even though sheâs far away, I make out the shaking of her shoulders, as if she might burst.
Iâve never felt as intimate with Frankie as I do right now. Sharing in her private, raw space is wrong. I want is to throw a curtain between her and the rest of the world. I want to put my body between Frankie and all the smokers, spread my arms, puff my chest, and yell out, âThereâs nothing to see here! Move along!âlike some cop directing rubberneckers forward in traffic.
I take my first step off the curb so that I can go to her and do I donât know what, when she turns around and hugs herself so tightly youâd think it was freezing, when itâs actually a humid ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Her head tilts forward and her blonde bangs sway, falling over her eyes.
She starts walking, slumped and dejected, in my direction. If a car whizzed by her, she might look up, but given by the way she ejected herself from the building, Iâm not fully convinced she doesnât have a death wish. So I do the only thing I can think of, I finish taking that first step and then take another.
What Frankie says breaks me. It breaks me. And it's not even about Iris or me; itâs about Frankie. Everything she said about Iris fills me in on years that Iâve missed. Even when Iâd been standing right beside her, I was ignoring what now seems so obvious itâs blinding. Yet, for all the talk about Irisâs alcoholism and suicidal tendencies, what Frankieâs opened up about is herself.</ p>
Iâm not even sure she notices because sheâs so guarded. Never once has she reflected on what sheâs said. Sheâs been stating facts, telling stories. Thatâs what she thinks, anyway. I know this like I know myself, because itâs what I do. I state facts and I tell stories, and what Iâm actually doing is diverting attention from whatâs going on inside.
Frankieâs all Iris this, Iris that, but what I hear is: I canât live with myself because Iris was never happy and I couldnât save her. Itâs what I hear inside myself every minute of every day, and my heart breaks for Frankie and for me. What I do next comes so naturally that it scares the living shit out of me. I donât let her leave. I hold her as close as I can because what I want is for her to be inside of me the way sheâs let me be inside of her.
In this space and time, Frankie and I are one person. Iâm angry with her. Iâm aggressive about it, maybe even hurting her, but I reason that it canât be any worse than how sheâs been hurting herself by balling this all up for decades.
As much as I need her to be close, I want to push her away. I want her to leave and never come back. I want Frankie to take flight tomorrow morning, and I want to be the one to deliver her to the airport because what Iâm feeling is something that Iâm not ready to deal with. I tell myself to let her stay here, to give her this space from death that she needs. Iâm surer now more than ever that we have an unbreakable bond, but I donât want it.
We have right now and I need it right now, but I canât want to have it tomorrow. I canât want to have it ever again. Itâs like being with yourself all the time, but only with the ugliest parts of you. Itâs looking at all the broken pieces of your psyche and being forced to confront them.
Thatâs what Frankie is to me. Thatâs what sheâs been to me all day if I cop to it. Maybe it was like that last night when I went out after her in the parking lot and walked her back to the service. Maybe itâs why I couldnât believe that she could be out there alone with no one to hide her sadness from the world. Iâm making up for it today, though. Right now, Iâm making up for leaving her naked and on a slab for the world to pick apart. The more I hold her, the more I fear that Iâll never be able to let her go, but I keep doing it because sheâs something worth saving and, if she can be saved, then maybe I can be, too.
Ten Fun Facts about Cristy Rey
1. I am a librarian.
2. For the holidays last year, I knit a Cthulhu scarflette for my good friend, Dre.
3. I have harvested over 100 mangoes from the tree in my yard in the last three weeks. (Please, no more mangoes!) I donât even like mangoes.
4. My parents are Cuban.
5. I was a vegetarian and, later, a pescatarian for over fifteen years. Thanksgiving 2012 was the first time I had poultry, beef, or pork in half my life.
6. I thought of Weeping Angels as I stood at the funeral of a good friend â the real Iris â observing the mourners, looking at photos of a woman who didnât match the one I used to know, and holding the hand of my sister, her ex-fiancÃ©e.
7. My dog is named after Indiana Jones and Sherlock, and my cat is named after a comic book character by Roman Dirge and a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
8. I am almost 6â tall.
9. I am a fangirl through and through: I read comics, I am a Whovian, I am a Sherlockian, I am committed to the Whedonverse, and I have a Fringe </ em>tattoo.
10. I make my own Halloween costumes.