Acquainted with Death: A Short(lived) Story This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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‘Do you fear death?’
‘I hope that I will not welcome it, but I hope even more that I will not fight it when it comes’
Woke up this morning, just a kid on the rock, bedded down tonight with ingenuity. Nose was redundant, I was breathing through my mouth. The horrible fiberglass feeling to raw chicken scratch on the inside of my throat was my wake up call. Dog’s claws tore at my bare legs as I rise out of the protection of the covers. Eyes still sealed shut, partly with drowsy sand and partly with a desire to view the world no more. I try to sweep back my hair, but it refuses, plastered to my face with sweat. I run my fingers through the greasy follicles, bobby pin awkwardly secured in my mouth with my tongue and teeth. My fingers occupy a tense position of contortedness; a scrunched wrapped around one of them. But no…..I must open my eyes again.
I rise a second time, without the pounding of mucus educed headache and unforgiving sinus blockades. With no worry of homework unfinished or dehydration and no sweat, my feet touch the ground, but suddenly they are rather levitating above it. I stare into the bleached white face that is not so from the sun, but rather from the absence of it. The hollow eye sockets are unforgiving, and the bear teeth have no sinews, just a jawbone. The whole face is enveloped half in shadow because of the hood protruding just above the forehead of the stranger.
He proffers his hand, also bony and white, but I dare not take it. I dare not clutch his hand for fear of what I may become, but I realize, I cannot turn into anything lower than what I am now. I glance back at the bed where my fleshy prison of a body now lays. My face is slack in the clutches of death and I’m sure if I could feel my hands, they would be cold. After an explosion of short-lived Greif, my emotions too seem to dissolve and evaporate.
All I am now is a transparent film, incapable of speech or touch, just a kid from the rock. Too lazy to have moved or made a change previously, and now to have that taken away forever is surprisingly more welcome than not. Never again will I feel obliged to do anything, no pressure, no fear, no organs. Supported merely by my lack of things to support, an antigravity paradox that I will wrap my mind around later.
Suddenly the bony extension of death’s arm seems like an oasis. I grab his hand with a newfound hunger for anything different. As soon as my ghostly finders caress his bone, he seems to be smiling, despite the absence of flesh and sinew on his face. My hand rests lightly in his palm and suddenly instead of staying simply a support, he clamps my hand between his in an iron grip that he seems to never let go. With a whirl of his dark cape, we teleport to a place where he is on the tip of the cliff, the only thing holding me from certain death, as I am already off of the edge.
I claw up his arm, and for once his grip softens, my eyes begging silently for him to never let go, the opposite of what I previously though. And then an epiphany, as my arms go slack like a puppet without its master I realize that nothing can kill me now, I am invincible in death to the horrors of the human realm. He is definitely smiling now, and his grip tightens, hauling me back up to the outcropping.
I sit cross legged in a passive state, not panic stricken or alarmed by passed events, neither harnessing nor dismissing them. He sits beside me, in a display in which I no longer think of death as a stranger, but a close friend. He has known all my secrets all along, and has planned for this day which he knew would come, but now I feel as if I know all of his as well.
Once again he proffers his hand, but this time as a companion and not an enemy. I take it, and this time without hunger or fear. We are back in my bedroom, once again beside my death bed, but another figure is with us. It is my mother, weeping with her head in her hands and her scapula convulsing in grief. She has not noticed us, and I presume that we are silent and invisible to her now. He lets me go free, with a simple gesture. Separating our hands and motioning for me to sit on the bed. He arranges my limbs in the way I had them before I died and inexplicably waves goodbye.
The puzzled look on my face is the same which I wake with, suddenly requiring breaths and oxygen to live. Death is gone, his skeletal presence absent from my dwelling in both energy and form. Mother’s face brightens as she hears my sputtering cough and inhalation of the sweet air. Her cheeks still wet, but now tense and smiling, she wraps her arms around my living body. I rejoice in life, but realize I will only see death again if I am to betray its trust.





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