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“So do you think that we could work out a sign;
So I know it’s you, and that it’s over
So I won’t even try?”
-“Jesus Christ,” Brand New
Fate brought me here. I’m sure of it. I don’t even know where “here” is, but I’ve seen this room before. The smooth marble of the floor and the grey of the walls. The mirrors, placed randomly throughout, are the only objects in the otherwise vacant space. As soon as I enter, I know what is going to happen here, and I give up. I walk to the mirror in the center of the room, lined up directly with the door, and stand in front of it, waiting for the one who I know is coming.
I feel her enter the room before I actually see her. And when I do notice her behind me in the reflection of the mirror I am staring into, I don’t immediately acknowledge her. I don’t exactly want to rush the issue.
Standing behind me in this room full of mirrors is Death, in the form of a pretty girl.
She waits patiently, her hands clasped behind her back as I study my own appearance, taking in every little detail. The purple shading of my eyes. The way my hair looks red when the light hits it. The slight curve in my nose from the time I broke it snowboarding. Every freckle, every blemish, every hair regrown from the last time I shaved three days ago.
I have no idea what’s going to happen to me after I die; whether or not I’ll retain any sense of myself. If nothing else, I’d like to at least remember what I looked like.
Death lifts a hand to brush the hair out of her face, and I see it happen in the reflection of every mirror set up around me. I shift my attention to the image of her in my mirror and give her a look over. Curly brown hair. A black and white dress draped over her thin body, hanging just above her knees, dipping down low to offer a peak at her modestly sized chest.
How cliché of Death to appear to me in such an innocent, unthreatening body. I admit, I’m more inclined to cooperate with her than say, the Grim Reaper. But I still wouldn’t mind some originality. I’ve never heard of Death having three heads. Maybe she should try that next time.
“This is me,” she says. I flinch at the sudden sound of her voice. “I cannot change it.”
It doesn’t surprise me that she knows what I’m thinking, but I still don’t like it. I look back at myself, avoiding her eyes.
“I’m not the only Reaper. There are many of us. We are sent to people based on what they would be most comfortable with.”
“So you are here to take my life,” I say, although I knew that from the beginning.
“Yes,” she replies in a kind, hushed tone. Hearing her confirm it doesn’t change anything. The depression has been with me for weeks. I’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with it, since dreaming of this very moment two weeks ago. They always come to pass. Never has a dream of mine gone by unfulfilled. When I saw myself die, I knew there was no avoiding it. And now here I am. It’s over. There’s no point in fighting it.
Still, I let out a long, heavy breath and ask her why.
“It’s your time,” she says.
“How do you make that decision?”
“I don’t. I’m just told whose time it is and I take them where they belong.”
“Who decides then? And where do I belong?”
I look at her again and see that she’s smiling. “You’ll know soon enough. But I suppose I can give you a hint. You have dreams of people dying, don’t you?” I nod slowly. “So did I.”
I don’t understand what she’s trying to say to me. I turn around to face her as she holds her hand out to me. “You’ll see,” she says. “Come on, we don’t have much time.”
I glance at her hand, then look into her eyes. They’re soft, brown, with a purple tint to them.
“Come on,” she says again, still smiling, trying to be as comforting as possible.
‘Wait,” I say. There’s an idea nagging at me. It’s a crazy idea and I’m probably better off not even addressing it. But I can’t help myself. “I…I’ve seen so many people die. My dreams have always been so detailed. I’ve experienced every second of it. But when it came to my own…it was really sketchy. I saw you and me standing here together, and then I saw myself on the ground. I…I want to watch this.”
Her smile falters for a split second, but she retains it, and nods slightly. “I understand.”
I face the wall of mirrors and stare down at the floor as she stands in front of me. I close my eyes and give a silent prayer to a God I’m not even sure I believe in, and then look up. Death is short enough to allow me to see my face in the mirror, but she blocks my view of myself from my shoulders down. I look myself in the eye.
“Are you ready?” she says.
I take a deep breath and hold it before exhaling sharply. “Yes.”
She puts one hand on my chest and the other on my stomach. My body starts to tingle at her touch. It’s not painful. She pushes harder against me, and slowly, her hands start to sink into my body.
My breath catches in my throat. It still doesn’t hurt. It just feels strange. I feel the pressure of her hands digging through my organs and cringe more at the thought of it than the sensation.
I watch the muscles of my face twitch and the movements of her arms in the mirror as she searches through my body. I feel it when she finds what she’s looking for. There’s a sharp stabbing sensation somewhere in my abdomen and I let out a small pained whine as she huffs in satisfaction. And she starts pulling.
Now the pain hits me. It feels as if she’s pulling out all of my organs at once. It’s an impossible feeling to describe. My body is on fire. It’s encased in ice. I’m being stabbed repeatedly with a steak knife. I’m being carved slowly with a dull blade.
My body trembles and my mouth falls open, but I don’t scream. I can’t. All of my energy is being drained from me, more and more as her arms begin to come out of my chest and stomach.
She pulls my soul out of me. I feel it when it’s completely out. The pain is gone. I’m numb. There’s an emptiness inside of me. I still gape at myself in the mirror. I don’t dare look down at what she has in her hands. In the mirror, I can see the light reflecting around her, like the movies are right and souls really do glow a bright blue. The color starts to fade as she closes her hands around it, and suddenly it’s gone. She clasps her hands in front of her and watches me, waiting. I don’t look at her.
There is something different about my face. My eyes in particular. The purple isn’t as bright as usual, and I can’t focus very well. The edges of my vision are starting to blur. My head feels light.
“You’re strong,” Death says. She sounds surprised. She almost sounds guilty.
Some kind of noise escapes my throat. Some kind of dying noise. A depressing sound.
I try several times before I can get words out of my mouth, and when I do, it comes out as barely a whisper. “I want to see this as long as possible.” The effort is too much. I can feel myself losing consciousness. Everything is getting darker. I try to take a step closer to the mirror, to be closer to myself as I die, but…
Death catches me as I start to fall. She holds me up on her shoulder, but she’s a lot shorter than me, and my knees are almost touching the ground. She holds my hand and puts her other arm around my waist, trying as hard as she can to prop me up.
“I don’t want you to see this,” she whispers. “I’m so sorry. This was a bad idea. I’m so sorry.”
I can’t find the strength to respond to her. She doesn’t need to apologize. This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The deaths that I’ve witnessed have always been bloody, violent, unexpected, accidents. Horrible.
This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. This is beautiful. This is terrifying.
I feel peaceful.
I feel empty.
I feel calm.
I feel scared.
I can’t make up my mind.
“I need to get you out of here,” she whispers, and starts to walk. I can’t move my legs with her. She has to drag me along slowly. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
With each mirror we pass, I can see less. My vision is becoming increasingly tunneled, and the colors around me are fading to shades of grey.
She can’t hold up my weight anymore and we both collapse to our knees. I sway, and start to fall. My reflection watches me.
I hit the ground and can’t focus my eyes on the mirror anymore. All I can see are the splotches of black and grey in the marble that I’m lying on. I can feel it cold against my face. My whole body feels cold. Each breath I let out crystallizes in the air around me. I’m so cold.
Death puts her arms around me and pulls me into her lap. I’m staring up at her face, but I can only see the outline of it. None of the details. I wouldn’t mind her face being the last thing I see, if only I could make it out.
In my dream, I was alone as I died. I was lying facedown, alone.
This feels so much better, having someone here with me. I don’t care that it’s the girl who killed me. I don’t care that it’s Death holding me. It feels good having arms around me.
“Please, just die. Please, just go. I’m sorry. Why is this taking so long? I’m so so sorry.”
I can’t feel it. Please, stop crying. I asked for this. I don’t mind that it’s taking so long. I feel fine. I feel good. This feels good. I’m glad it was you. You’re a nice girl, Death. I hope that we see a lot of each other when I’m a Reaper too. See, I understood your hint.
Her sobs start to slow. She rocks me in her arms, stroking my face with the back of her hand.
Stop crying, Death. You’re not supposed to cry. I asked for this. I’m glad I did. I wanted to see. I’m glad you’re still here. Thank you for staying with me. Stop, please…You’re Death. You’re not supposed to cry. You’re not…supposed…to…