Alanna Stewart was not meant to die at age thirteen. Death visits 136-year-old women with forty stringy, bluish-gray hairs poking out of their sunburned scalps; not teenagers, and certainly not the invincible Alanna.
She had cherished this foolish belief since the age of seven when an almost accident, at Busch Stadium, threatened her life. An unknown spirit wrapped its tender arms around her head just in time to keep Albert Pujols’ rogue baseball from shattering her skull. While her parents breathed a “Thank God for coincidental flukes,” Alanna believed in a guardian angel reserved just for her. From that moment on, Alanna gambled her luck by riding helmetless on bikes, scaling barbed wire fences, and loosening harnesses when rock climbing.
“I don’t worry about getting hurt! I have someone to protect me,” she once told her sister Debbie. As a result of her shoddy belief system, Alanna wore permanent scabs on her bony knees from following the whims of her teenage friends. Even though physical risks never worried Alanna, the fear of peer rejection terrified her.
Which is why she accepted Melissa's challenge. "Bet ya can't jump off the school roof without breaking any bones."
Alanna smiled and conjured up her guardian angel. "Of course I can. Just you watch."
Melissa did watch, as did the rest of the 12:30 lunch groups at Hilltop Middle, as Alanna stretched and jumped. Others would later describe it as a 'swan-dive,' not a jump.
But everybody agreed on 'splat.'
Melissa stood next to Alanna's mushy carcass. "Anyone else got a guardian angel?" she asked, scanning the crowd. "No, I didn't think so."
Opening: J.....Continuation: takoda