Part One: The Early Days
“The Archangel…wings upspread, sword uplifted, the devil crawling beneath…. He is the conqueror of Satan, the mightiest of all created spirits, the nearest to God. His place was where the danger was greatest; therefore you find him here.”
~~Henry Adams, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: ….” ~~Daniel 12:1
The Razor Blades of Queens
The first day of kindergarten was my nightmare come true. The thought of being someplace where kids would make fun of me knotted up my stomach. But at least I’d get to leave the apartment with Michael that morning, and not have to stay there alone with Teresa after Michael and Frances went to school, which I had done every day since the day I could remember.
Saint Michael the Archangel looked down at me from my favorite picture on the wall between the windows leading to the fire escape outside. The archangel held his sword high to kill anyone who would dare hurt me. His wings spread wide so he could fly me away from my enemies. Saint Michael the Archangel stood tall, crushing the evil snake under his foot. He was the strongest angel in Heaven.
I pulled my pajama top up over my head and peeked at myself in the small mirror on the dresser. The face that looked back at me with my thick, dark eyelashes and “kissy” lips, as Teresa called them. I looked like her, with her darker skin, lighter than both Michael and Frances’s.
“Danny, you ready?” Michael, my big brother.
“Yes,” I called in. “I’m coming.” I started to tie the laces of my leather shoes, the ones that Michael had grown out of a long time before. I picked up his brown flannel shirt from the bed. I wished I could wear it so I would feel him with me at that dreaded new school. I crumpled it up and held it to my nose. It smelled like him. I put it in the closet, in the back, so the next time I hid there, I could dig my face into it. Then I grabbed my good yellow shirt. What it was good for I didn’t know. I hated yellow. And it was all scratchy, especially around my neck where the tag was. But Teresa told me she’d bought it new to wear to my first day of school, and I always did what my mother told me, so she wouldn’t get mad.