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Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Death Kindly Stopped for Me (in a Hawai
Someone knocked on my door. It was three in the afternoon, and I was studying for a Calculus exam, so any distraction was fine, really. I opened the door to see a pudgy middle aged man wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt and beach shorts.
“Hi there, bucko!” he said. “I’m Death! Can I come in?”
I weighed my options. On one hand, this man was probably insane.
“I have candy!” Death offered.
On the other hand…. Calculus. I invited the man in.
As we walked to the living room, I noticed that all the potted plants were shriveling and browning as the man passed them by. Huh. Maybe he was Death. I was interrupted from my musing by the seemingly harmless old man.
“Oh, I’m not here to take your soul today,” he said. “I’m just here to help you work on your will and testament. There’s way too many people in your generation dying without writing one, you know? So no robe or scythe today! Feel free to ask me anything!”
I remained silent, chewing over the information I’d been given.
“I’m underage. Why would I need a will?” I asked.
“I, uh,” Death stuttered before recovering. “Look, you’re what, fifteen? Sixteen? Some countries consider sixteen year olds as full fledged adults, I’ll have you know! Next question!”
That seems fair.
“...When am I going to die?” I tentatively asked.
“Sorry, rules say I can’t tell you that,” Death chuckled. He plunked himself down on the couch, looking around the house.
“I don’t suppose I could chain you up like Sisyphus did,” I uttered gloomily.
“Try it and you’re… well, dead,” he replied. The room grew colder, only to warm up again when Death leapt up, clapping his hands.
“So another reason why I’m here is to brush up on my cultural knowledge! Y’know, gotta be totally righteous with you teeny boppers!” the old man chuckled, pointing at me with both hands.
“Please, never say that again,” I said, muttering around the desk I’d slammed my face into. I was in a house with a vaguely predatory old man in a Hawaiian shirt who was spouting 80s slang. This was my life now.
“Alrighty, let’s start writing!” Death clapped his hands.
“A will? How long would it take? I have a calculus exam tomorrow.”
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that! We’ll finish it soon!” Death cheerfully replied, while pulling out… was that my laptop? “While working on my little side project, of course.”
I soon realized that I probably shouldn’t have believed the man who barged into my house calling himself death incarnate.
“What do you not understand about this?!” Death cried. “We’ve been over this ten times!”
“And I keep telling you, I don’t have any heirs!” I shot back.
Death covered his face with his hands. “Well maybe you should get some!”
“A lot of countries consider sixteen year olds adults!”
“I don’t consider myself an adult!”
The old man sighed, muttering something about how uptight mankind had become.
“Ok, we can skip that part. But on the bright side, you’re almost there! So, who do you want as your executor?”
It was a long and painful process, but I was finally done. I can stop now.
“Great job, kid!” Death chuckled. “We’re halfway done!”
“Oh my g- you know what? Let’s take a break.”
“So what are these ‘memes’ I keep hearing about?”
“Please don’t ask me that.”
“I just realized that you guys sing a lot more about human anatomy now. Like the a-”
“Oh hey, look! Literally anything else! Let’s pay attention to it.”
“I keep seeing similarities between addictive drugs and this… Netflix you keep talking about,” Death murmured.
“What are you talking about?!" I cried. "You have got to try it out! Once you try it, you think about it all the time and can’t stop!”
“Uh-” Death uttered.
“It cannot be denied.”
“What are fanfictions?”
“How did you get my laptop?”
“You’re not answering my question.”
Death and I hid under my desk.
“I DON’T CARE HOW MANY PIECES OF CANDY HE OFFERED!” my mother roared. “YOU DO NOT LET A STRANGE MAN INTO THE HOUSE!”
Groaning, I checked my watch. 6 in the evening.
“You… you suck,” my completely lucid and attentive self said, yawning. I checked the time again. 9 o’clock.
“Back at you, kiddo,” Death retorted. “How do I know more things about pop culture than you do?!”
“So I didn’t watch Star Wars, I’m sorry!”
“How do you not know Darth Vader was Luke’s father?!”
“Vader is Luke’s father?!”
“Dies... slowly... and… painfully,” Death muttered, scribbling in his notebook.
“What was that?”
“Oh, nothing. Just a bad cough.”
The house was a mess. The chemical fire Death and I had lit in the toilet was still smoldering, and there were crumpled chip bags scattered all over my desk.
And then it hit me.
“...Death?” I asked.
“Yeah kid?” he replied.
“We didn’t finish the will.”
“We didn’t...” Death trailed off, surveying the carnage around us.
“Oh. Oh man,” he grimaced. “I just realized that I… have to go.”
“What?” I groaned. “What about this mess?”
“Look, I’ll make it up to you next time, but right now, I have to go. It was nice working with you!”
He extended his hand. Well that’s strange. You’d think that a guy like him would go for a fist bump or a high five.
“Likewise,” I said, taking his hand, firmly shaking it, and-
Son of a b****. He got me.