Don’t Fear the Reaper

“Please look at me,” she pleaded. “I promise I’ll do things differently this time.”

Death looked at Lavinia and frowned. He shook his massive head and looked again toward the west. He raised his arm and pointed west. It was time to go.

“What about a last request? Don’t I get one?”

Somewhere beneath the hooded cloak, the darkness gave the expression of exasperation. He shook his head and looked west again.

“Why are you being so stubborn?” she asked. Tears were falling freely down her cheeks now. She was too young; she was only sixteen.

She looked to the west and shuddered. So this is it? This is really the end.

“I was a good person,” she began, “where am I going to go?”

Death dropped his arm and looked down at her. Had he a face, it would have been filled with sympathy. It may not have been right, but it was time. Slowly, he extended his left hand to the west and held out his right. It was a rare display, but it felt right.

Lavinia looked down at it and trembled. Hesitation overtook her for what felt like hours but was only an instant. She took his hand and swallowed.

Death gave her small mortal hand an almost imperceptible squeeze; just the barest reassurance. He led the way, and she followed.

Death is Like This…

Dressed in a long black cloak, scythe held low, she wondered how it was that people didn’t recognize her. Apart from the scythe, she looked just like the fan pictures of her- and more like the less-than-favorable ones. Maybe people just saw what they wanted to see.

Death took the long way home. It was raining, but the rain would soon turn to sleet. She turned her collar up against the cold.

Death still had 78 years on her contract. She’d been doing this for over a dozen years already. When her contract was up, she would be re-born, given a second chance at life.

When she died, she was only nineteen- still just a child in many ways. She was a teenager when her life was snuffed out, and now she had a job- a career without growth opportunities.

She opened the door to her building and climbed the narrow stairs to her flat. She was death incarnate and she still couldn’t afford to live alone. Her roommate was a pleasant fellow.

Her mother would freak out if she knew that she was living with a man. It would hardly matter that he was gay, he still had a penis.

He was laying on the couch when she came in. He was breathing hard and reaching for something in front of him- his inhaler.

Death ran to him and handed it to him. He dropped it instantly; his hand wouldn’t close around it. She held it out to him and pushed down on the trigger.

She pulled out her phone and dialed an ambulance.

There was a knock at the door. She looked at him and saw fear in his eyes. He was begging her not to go. The knock became more insistent.

“I’ll be right back,” she promised.

She could have screamed when she opened the door. Death was standing there; the Death that was on duty now. She wanted to slam the door in her face.

Instead, she led her inside. Death crouched down as the other Death raised her scythe.

“I’m scared,” he whispered. “What will happen to me?”

She took a breath. “Death is like this, it’s like stepping into a warm bath and falling asleep. It’s peaceful.”

He nodded, and the other Death reaped him. She gave an irreverent salute to Death as she made her way out of the flat.

Death sank down onto the sofa and held her head in her hands. Her cheeks were wet as the snow began to fall.

Ghost Apples

Giorgia picked her way along the orchard path, the fresh snow crunching under her feet. Her stomach growled, but the apples were gone, stolen by an early winter and only leaving their icy ghosts behind on the branches.

She hadn’t had much to eat lately. When she started her journey, she had enough food to last a fortnight, but the early winter was steeling that too.

She needed more and more food just to keep going as the temperature dropped. She hadn’t eaten since yesterday and she hadn’t felt warm in over three days.

Even the sun felt cold and miserly. It hid behind clouds and refused to warm anything.

Giorgia dug her map out of her bag with trembling fingers. Was she still making good time? Was she even still going in the right direction? She didn’t know how long she could continue on without food, but she knew she’d have to eat something soon or face Death, and she never wanted to see her again.

Death was an old family friend, practically an assumed great-aunt. Her visits were often and long and she liked to pinch Giorgia on the cheeks and tell her that her time would come soon.

The night Giorgia left her father’s house, Death was there. She hadn’t seen Giorgia when she came to take her due.

Out into the cold night, Giorgia ran and she never paused to look back. She didn’t know for sure if death was nipping at her heels, but she had the distinct feeling that it was so.

The cold seemed to leach the essence from her bones and her breath barely fogged anymore as she panted along on her way. She didn’t know what would happen when she finally reached her desitnation, but she hoped it would be warm.

Her mother’s family had been know to cheat Death from time to time. They were her best chance for survival. If they would be willing to take her in, that is.

Giorgia shook the troublesome thoughts from her head and soldiered on against the howling wind.

An odd thing happened as she made her way, she began to feel warm. Sweat dripped from her pores as she picked her way along the crunching, squeaking snow.

Giorgia unwound her scarf and draped it on a tree branch as she walked past. Next she dropped her hat on the white ground. Soon her coat was unbuttoned and discarded.

She fanned herself with her fingers as she trekked on. She felt a presence up ahead and she hurried up to meet it.

Death greeted her at the end of the orchard row. Her white hair hung loose and flowing over her white robe. She held her scythe low and her smile seemed to melt the snow falling around her.

Giorgia stopped dead in her tracks. Was this the end?

“No, little one,” Death said gently. “This is just the beginning.” She held out her hand to Giorgia. Hesitantly, she took it.

When she did, she wasn’t hot or cold anymore. She wasn’t hungry or tired. She just was.

Death smiled and reached for something inside her robe. She handed it to Giorgia, who took it and looked at it carefully.

It was a long white robe and a small scythe.

“For me?” Giorgia asked.

Death nodded.

“Thank you,” she said as she pulled the white robe over her shoulders and carried her scythe low, as she had seen Death do so many times.

Death turned and left the orchard, Giorgia’s soul followed, leaving her body behind among the ghost apples.