The sound of rapid footsteps echoed off the marble walls. I stood in my position as the sound grew louder followed by heaving breathing. Tiny hands grasped the gate holding to it for support. I could not turn my head to get a better look at the tiny creature sliding to the floor. Her red curly hair slipped between the bars as she looked up to the ceiling.
"Mister God, please do not let them find me. Sister Anna told me whenever I needed help to talk to you. I am scared. Please, do not let them take me," she whispered.
The girl turned looking at me. Her big emerald eyes stared at me piercing my soul. Her nose was freckled with red dots. She wore a white nightgown with a matching ribbon tied in her hair. In her freckled arms she clutched a frail, ragged teddy bear with only one eye.
"Mister Angel, you will protect me won't you?" she whispered. She closed her eyes taking in a deep breath repeating what the nuns had made her say every night before bed.
"Angel of God, my guardian dear
to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this night be at my side
to light, to guard, to rule and guide. Amen."
The darkness in the hall was cut with a small beam of light. The little girl gasped stumbling to her feet. She shook the gate once realizing it was locked. My heart ached for the little girl. How I wanted to help her. Her cry to Heaven moved me, if only I could deliver her message.
Heavier footsteps were growing louder as the owner of the light got closer. I could hear the girl's tears hitting the tile floor as she tried so desperately to make the gate open.
"Olivia!" a male voice yelled at. The girl stopped shaking the cage gasping. Her tiny head whipping around for a place to hide. Pushing back her hair, she ran to the broom closet. Silently she slipped in, closing the door with a small snap. I heard her get comfortable before becoming silent. It was like she was never there.
The footsteps got closer and stopped by the cage. "Hello, Jerome. Have you seen our Olivia?" The voice belonged to Father Benedict, a terrible man. No wonder this child was running.
My only response was to continue holding my book and keeping my arm out. I heard the old man scoff and walk away. One day that man will pay for the sins he inflicted on the poor children.
He continued his search for the girl. I heard the door slowly creek open, an emerald eye rapidly searching the hall. A small sigh of relief was exhaled from the thin lips of the timid girl. She pushed the door further open still grasping the teddy bear.
Olivia walked back to the gate. "Thank you Mister Angel," she said smiling as her eyes sparkled. At that moment, the girl was not afraid. Her faith was completely in me and my Father. How radiant her faith glowed from the core of her body.
She slid the teddy bear through the gate giving it a strong push. The bear landed at my base. The girl smiled, "Protect him, Mr. Angel like he has protected me, like you protected me. I am going away. It would be mean of me to have him to myself when others like little Sophia might need him." She stepped away from the bars
"Give Mr. Teddy to another kid who needs him Mr. Angel. Protect these children. I will be back one day!" little Olivia swore.
With that her rapid footsteps went down the hall from the direction she came from. I heard the loud bang of the orphanage doors slamming shut. I sent a quick message to my Father to guide her to safety.
It was then I heard the mass of multiple footsteps running to the doors. A young man, a novice, stopped outside my gate yelling, "I found her." Father Benedict with his large chain of keys unlocked my gate opening it. The novice went to the opposite side of my base giving a silent curse that echoed to the gates of Heaven.
"Now, now Simon, she could not have gotten far, not without this old thing," Father Benedict said picking up the teddy bear.
They left me as I was forgetting to lock the cage behind them. Still, I remained solid in place. The children of this orphanage needed me. One day the children will be saved from fear and despair, all because of one brave little girl by the name of Olivia Valiente.
Inspiration: A Look into the Thought Process
I was daydreaming during one of my writer block moments. I was trying to remember my freshman year of college and my fears at the time. My mind wandered off and went to the image of a little girl clutching onto a gate staring up at an angel statue.
St. Jerome was not what I imagined, but I did research of Patron Saints of children and I found he is the Patron Saint of Orphaned children. I was wondering why a little girl would be in a church at night when it was locked up.
After this daydream and research, I finally was able to write the scene out of my head.
Father Benedict: I am not saying that all priests are evil and corrupt, but it was the problem presented to me. Why would a child be so scared to leave? She obviously trusted the nuns to be following their advice and speaking their prayers.
Olivia Valiente: Her name came to me just like all names do for me. They just pop in my head. What an appropriate name for this child. Olivia= Live Valiente= Courageous...Live Courageously. The future of Olivia is that she grows up to be successful. She eventually goes back to the orphanage where Sister Sophia, the little girl Olivia thinks about before leaving, greets her. Olivia buys the orphanage and makes the orphanage a better place.
Point of view: I chose to use the point of view of a statue because this is how I imagine how angels work. They look over and protect children without actually interfering. The angels trust that what happens is part of God's plan.
I wanted to end the story of with Olivia coming back, but then I realized how much better would it be if the angel told us while Olivia is still young.
I really enjoyed writing this, and dissecting it like I just did to give you a peek at my thought process. I hope you enjoy reading it as much I did writing it.
More Information about St. Jerome Emiliani
- St.Jerome Emiliani
A short history behind St. Jerome Emiliani and his road to becoming the Patron Saint of orphaned children.