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Look Left, Look Right
I have to kill you. In only a few minutes Ryan Carter, you will take your last breath; your heart will beat for the last time. Tonight you will die. You are the only person I have ever loved, and now I have to murder you.
I know I should be used to it by now; I take the lives of humans every day; plucking their fragile souls from their bodies and sending them to the Gods. I don’t see their faces, their blood, their hurt; I blank out the glassy tears, the bloodshot eyes and piercing screams of pain. I never have to think of them again, merely moving on to the next vessel, the next spirit clinging to life. It is my job, the only thing I have ever done. You are just facts; just numbers, dates, times, places. You are just jobs.
I don’t know what it was, but something about you, some part of you gave me hope. Something in your eyes reminded me of myself, all that time ago. I used to dream the way you did, stare at the skies for hours on end, just wishing that someday I could escape, begin an unforgettable adventure. There was nothing left for me in my small town, I longed with every fibre of my being for something more than my average life, more than what I had. I guess in a way I got what I wished for. I packed a bag and left, ready to start fresh, to see new lands, meet new people; I was even quite looking forward to the prospect of falling in love you know. You were long overdue Jack. If only I’d met you before, things might be different. We could be a traditional couple, live a traditional life. But I suppose I can’t change my past, I can’t change the decisions I made or the things I did.
I got into a lot of trouble after I’d left home. I was alone and frightened and I didn’t know what else to do to survive besides steal and trick people into giving me what I wanted. I knew what I had to do and so I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, letting myself float up out of my body and ignore what was really happening; it was easier that way. I didn’t like it, I promise. But it was the only way.
One day I slipped up, I let my guard down and I wasn’t so slick as usual. I got caught. They were going to kill me Jack, let me swing from the gallows like a common prostitute or a petty thief. I wasn’t one of those people; I’d just got caught up in the raging whirlpool of the world, thrown into a nest of all things ugly and dishonest. Once they set their sights on you, it’s impossible to escape.
I thought I was doomed to death, that there was no more hope for me. That was when they came to me; the Gods. They visited me in my sleep, ready and open to make a deal. They needed someone like me, someone able to act without too much thought; they needed my help. I didn’t understand what they wanted at first, not until they explained. What they needed was someone to deal with the messy things, someone to tie up the loose ends of death, to collect the bodies, be in the right place at the right time and send them off to the Gods. That’s how I got where I am today see, I wasn’t born into it. It was a trade off; I got to keep some small part of life in return for taking the lives of others.
I’d like to say it was always horrible, but it wasn’t. All my life I had never been dependent on anyone but myself, and that didn’t change when I made the deal. I knew what I was in for, a life of complete solitude, and I didn’t mind. From my final years on earth I had learnt to blank out the truth, to pretend I was somewhere else, somewhere beautiful and happy. In my mind I wasn’t alone, I had all the friends I could possibly wish for, and someone handsome to call my own, who loved me. In a way it was easier knowing it could never happen, the friends and husbands I dreamed up could never hurt me like real people. Until you, my job was never all that hard. I never really saw the people I took, I just took them.
I remember the day I had to take your mother. The way she looked at you, with her gleaming eyes glued to your sweet, innocent little face. I knew she would do anything for you, she would die for you. In the end she did. That day, I had to take her. You never understood that; you could never grasp why she had to leave you, why you never had the chance to say goodbye. You would have done anything to bring her back, to snatch her away from my cruel, cold fingers. But that would have been impossible, no mortal can see me, let alone stop me from doing my job; it just isn’t the way the world works. I could see you dying inside Ryan; I could see your heart being torn to shreds, the very fibre of your being shattering like glass. Knowing that I had done that to you; knowing I had heaped misery and pain onto your shoulders, it broke me. Something drew me back to you, I felt hypnotised; all I understood was that I had to know you were ok.
So I suppose it was her who drew me started it really, your mother. Somehow I felt responsible for you, for raising you or watching over you. So I did. I watched you grow up into the most amazing man, so kind and gentle, ready and willing to help anyone at the first opportunity. So unlike me. Maybe that was why in the end I fell for you, you were exactly what I wished I could have been. I never wanted to share you with anyone; I didn’t want anyone else to witness your beauty. I felt so possessive over you, so desperate to love you, but not sure how to. I’ve not had much experience in the business of love you see, no-one ever loved me and I never loved anyone.
I would do anything to be with you Ryan, if there was any way, any possible means of becoming human, I would do it, no matter the consequences. But there isn’t, I made my deal and there is no turning back. Tonight you will die. There will be nothing left, no promise of being able to sit and watch you, an inevitable smile resting on my lips. Your truly infectious laughter will never ring through my ears again, softly tickling my soul. Being with you, though you may not have even recognised my presence, made me happy for the first time; it filled a gap, a hole in my heart I didn’t even recognise I had.
It doesn’t make sense that I love you! You don’t even know I exist, you don’t know that it makes me so happy to just be near you that I can hardly stand it.
We don’t exist as you do. The realm of the supernatural is a lonely place, at least for me. I was chosen because I wasted my human life pathetically, never allowing myself to feel anything for anyone. I was perfect for the job. None of them really count me as existing. I am a savage beast to them, living by regulations, cast out. I’m not physically allowed to love you. It is a crime punishable by termination; of me...and you. I knew the rules and I never imagined them being a problem when I signed away my life, but now I can’t seem to let go of you. I can’t let them take you Ryan, I can’t.
It’s time. Any second now you will run out of your house, a smile on that perfect face of yours, your teeth glinting in the sunlight, your hair like a bird’s nest on top of your head, flying in every direction. I know exactly what will happen, every detail. I have played it over and over in my mind, trying somehow to come to terms with reality.
It’s happening. You are stepping out onto the road. You don’t look. There is a terrible screech, a skidding noise that cuts sharply through your ears. When you hear it, you stand as if frozen, wide eyes fixed on the object hurtling uncontrollably towards you. The rancid odour of burning rubber and exhaust fumes sting my nose, the iron taste of blood in my mouth from where I have been biting down hard on my bottom lip.
I want to help you; I want to stop the car. I have to!
I realise something now that I never realised as a human. Life is worth nothing without love, without feelings and emotions, amounting to nothing but a worthless heap of regrets and mistakes. Without love what is there to the world? It is just a big ball of nothing, spinning and spinning in an endless sea of black. The land and soil and trees, they don’t make the world. No, the people on it make the earth a world, a place of feelings, of hurting and loving all at the same time. You are my world Ryan, my entire existence and reason for being! Without you, I just hover, waiting to take my next victim. What kind of a life is that?
I have to stop the car.
But now it’s too late.
You fall, but I am there. I catch you in my arms, cradling you to my heart as the driver, in a panic, speeds away. For the first time in so many years I feel so...human.
You are bleeding, dying. Your eyes search, your breath growing short, rapid. I can hear your heartbeat slowing; I don’t have long left.
Suddenly, something happens; something that I never dreamed to be possible. As you slip away, you see me. You smile that smile that I love so, every inch of your face lighting up, as if little diamonds are buried under your skin. At first, I think you are smiling in a delirious moment common in last dying moments, but it is really happening, you are finally looking into my eyes, seeing me there. You see me, you really see me!
For a moment, everything is flawless. Finally, after so many years I have found what I went searching for. But you will be taken by the Gods any second. They will find me here, they will see it. They will know. I panic suddenly, about to leave you, when you gasp in abrupt pain. I hold you tighter, your hair silky against my fingertips. I know now that I don’t care whether I die, it doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is now. All that I care about is this one moment; this one perfect second.
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper, my voice hoarse and broken. Tears streak down my cheeks; the warm water I haven’t felt since I was a mortal, just a child. Now I know. Now I know the pain. How could I have done this to people! How could I have hurt them like this?
I feel the Gods’ presence, they are coming.
Let them take me, let them take the scrap of life I have left inside me. I don’t want it anymore, I don’t want to take people away, I can’t do it now, not now that I know.
As I look down into Ryan’s eyes there are so many things I want to say, so many things he needs to hear, that I need to tell him. But there isn’t time.
So into his ear I whisper something very simple, something I have never said to anyone before...
“I love you.”