“You’re hypothermic.” Sarah informed her. “Your core temperature is so low all the blood has left your extremities, that is why you have no dexterity.”
She gently moved the child’s hands away and finished unbuttoning the coat. It was oilskin over what seemed to be a down lining, and her torso was dry. That must be what had saved her, lying in the snow. Her boots had kept her slender feet dry, too. Sarah decided to leave the dry inner layers, but the jeans had to come off, they were wet from calf to thigh.
“Josh.” She looked at him, standing there with a pile of blankets up to his eyes. His gray eyes, so like her husband’s, were solemn and she suddenly saw the man he would be, so like his father. Her heart throbbed. “Get my big orange kit.”
“The one I’m not allowed to touch?” His eyes were wide.
“Yes, honey. Right now, please.” She knew he’d needed to know it was ok, but she could still feel how fast this life was slipping away.
Sarah lifted the slight body away from the clothing. The duster was cut oddly, with slits for the wings, but it still took a little work to get it off her. By the time Sarah had the girl off the floor out of her wet things and onto the couch, Josh was standing next to them with the kit. Sarah quickly flipped it open and pulled out the trauma shears. By this time the angel was slowly becoming aware, and she tried to push Sarah away.
“You cannot stay in the jeans, and wet jeans are almost impossible to pull off.” Sarah told her firmly. The girl shook her head weakly.
The older woman sighed. “All right. I’ll try it.”
She undid the jeans and started to peel them off inside out. The angel wriggled a little, but couldn’t help.
“You know, if you wore looser jeans this would be easier. Why does an angel need to look sexy, anyway?”
She grabbed the shear and was half way up one leg before the girl could protest. The angel went limp, which Sarah took as consent.
“Josh, go run a bath, honey.” The little boy had been crouched by the couch, having taken one of the angel’s hand in both of his. Now he nodded silently and trotted off.
“I don’t know how I’m going to get you in the tub with those wings…” Sarah sighed. “Wet feathers are part of your problem.”
The angel’s deep brown eyes had closed again. Sarah felt for her pulse, which might be a little faster, but not a lot. Her top was tied on, it turned out, almost a corset with lacing up the sides. Sarah cut those, too, whispering an apology to the non-responsive girl. She’d done enough of this as a medic over the years that skin was skin, but this still seemed invasive every time.
Once the girl was down to her underwear and pale skin that was almost blue with the cold, Sarah lifted her off the couch and into a fireman’s carry. The angel’s wings were hanging limply, and Sarah bit back a curse as she tangled in them and stumbled. She really did try not to curse in front of Josh. Bad habits from years of working with rough men. Fortunately, that had also taught her to persist and endure. Which got her into the bathroom with her awkward burden.
Josh was sitting on the closed toilet, his feet dangling. The water was still running into the tub. Sarah slowly lowered the girl into the tub.
“Hold this wing.” She told her son. She didn’t want to get the feathers any wetter. It was a weird situation. Normally, with a case of hypothermia this bad, she would have immediately called 911. Not with this girl, though. The lukewarm water would bring her core temperature up slowly.
The wingsoff to one side, Sarah crouched below them, holding the angel’s face out of the water. With the girl on her side like this, drowning was the new danger. Now, arms trembling with fatigue, she finally had time to think. She’d never read anything about angels dying. Falling, yes, as in fallen angels from heaven. This one didn’t strike her as that sort, though. So how had a very young looking angel wound up lying in her backyard?
Josh was patiently holding one wingtip, so Sarah risked letting go of part of her burden momentarily. The girl’s pulse was much stronger.
“Hey… Hello, angel.” She felt awkward addressing the being. Was there a proper form of address for one? She’d read and giggled her way through Emily Post as a girl with her sister, but this situation wasn’t covered.
She was rewarded for her efforts with a flutter of eyelids. She tried again. “What happened to you? What’s your name?”
The girl jerked suddenly, and Sarah got a face full of wet feathers. Spluttering, she maintained her hold on the girl’s face so she didn’t submerge. Josh let go and retreated to the doorway.
“Hey! Calm down, it’s ok…” Sarah couldn’t see, but as the girl was thrashing now, she felt it would be safe to let go, and did so. She leaned back out of the way and wound up with her butt on the floor, looking at the angel. The being had managed to sit up, and her wings made an umbrella over both of them as she held them out of the water.
Her eyes were ice blue, and wide with what Sarah read as consternation. She clutched her arms over her chest and her knees were drawn up. Sarah held out her hands, palms up.
“Can you understand me?” the older woman asked softly.
Sarah glanced over at Josh, still standing poised in the doorway. His eyes were wide again. The angel looked at him as well, then back at Sarah. Slowly, she nodded.
Sarah left out the breath she didn’t know she had been holding. “All right. You’re safe. You had hypothermia, and I was helping you get warm. You understand?”
The angel nodded again. She looked at Josh. “I… remember you.” She whispered.
The little boy smiled, like the sun coming out from behind clouds. He ventured back into the room, putting his hands behind him shyly.
Sarah watched him. “This is my son, Joshua.” She looked at the being. “My name is Sarah.”
“You can call me… Sera.” the other whispered back.