Death's Cafe | Teen Ink

Death's Cafe

April 29, 2014
By Red546 GOLD, Warrenton, Georgia
Red546 GOLD, Warrenton, Georgia
13 articles 0 photos 32 comments

I saw her only three times, though it took until the third to recognize her for what truly she was.

The first time, I was eight years old. My family had driven all the way to the lake, and my father commanded me to stay away from the dock because he refused to teach me to swim today, since we needed to unpack. Of course, as an eight year old boy, I had to play on the dock. There I was, peering over into the water to watch the fish, and I lost my balance and fell.

Since I had not been taught to swim, I had no way to keep myself afloat, and I kept popping up and going under. On my third time up, I caught sight of my family running down the hill to the lake, but my focus was trained on the woman already on the dock. She locked eyes with me and offered her hand. Something, deep down, rebelled against taking it. The hand that could save me drowning, and I didn’t want take it. I shook my head at her as I popped up again, gasping. She smiled widely, turning away and disappearing as my father arrived and yanked me out of the water by my shirt. Two days later, I had forgotten the woman and was enjoying my vacation. However, we were destined to meet again.

The second time I was nineteen, in college, studying fervently for the exams next week. If I planned to get into medical school, I had to pass, but I was falling asleep on my text books, so I walked down to the coffee shop a few blocks from campus. I ordered my coffee, dumped inhuman amounts of sugar in it, and turned to go. Then I stopped. Something, someone actually, had caught my eye.

She stood out for three reasons: Her attire. Heavy black boots, black skinny jeans, black hoodie, dark grey T-shirt. Her looks. Her skin was deathly pale, with a slight tinge of grey and her hair was ash colored. Not ash-blond, just ash, and that hair reached her knees pulled back in a braid that actually started at her shoulders, leaving some loose around her face. The loose part curtained around her face and made her pale, yet somehow bright blue-ish eyes that much more mysterious and haunting. Come to think of it, I never really registered her facial features, or their arrangement. She could have had a nose on her ear and I wouldn’t have noticed it. The final reason was her aura. No, I don’t mean I could see auras, but I could feel it. She was sad, and tired, and a little bored. She leaned against the wall, ankles crossed, cup of coffee in her hand, watching the other patrons.
“Hi,” I smiled, coming to lean against the wall next to her. She paused, looking at me strangely.
“You can see me,” she mused, more to herself than me.
“What?” my smiled faltered slightly.
“Nothing,” she gave me a tiny smile through that curtain of hair. “What brings you here?” she asked. I chuckled.
“Exams. I was falling asleep,” I grinned at her. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Many people have told me many secrets and I take them all to my grave,” she said, still smiling, though it seemed a little painful now.
“I hate coffee,” I told her, ignoring the undertones in her voice, “I have to dump all kinds of sugar in it before I can drink it. But I love the smell. It’s just-“
“Comforting,” she finished for me. “Energizing. I hate the taste as well, but the smell always makes me feel ironically alive.”
“Ironically?” I c*** my head at her.
“Nothing,” she shook her head, now focused on a mother and her little girl walking in the door.
“So why did you come here?” I asked her.
“I only come to places like this when my job gets difficult,” she replied, still not having touched her coffee.
“Bad boss?” I ask sympathetically. She snorted.
“You could say that, though that’s not quite it,” she smiled. “My coworkers don’t like me very much, and I don’t like them. But that’s not the hard part either.”
“What is?” I asked, feeling like I was prying, but still more curious than polite.
“The people,” she sighed. “They’re everywhere. I’m around them all the time, no matter where I am or when. I hate seeing their faces, especially the suicide cases. But occasionally there’s one who fights me, or tells me to go. And I leave happily. Oh,” she glanced down at her watchless wrist, “it looks like I have another place to be.” She pushed off the wall and headed for the door, setting her coffee on the table next to her.
“Will I see you again?” I asked, a little desperately. Something about her…
“One day,” she turned back and smiled. I sighed, and glanced back at the table. The cup of coffee was gone.

The third time was eighty-one years later. My wife, Martha, had passed away nearly thirty years prior, and I was lying on my bed, unable to rise, and attended by my youngest daughter, Kellie. I leaned back on my pillows and sighed, closing my eyes. It was late, and Kellie was nearly asleep while reading to me. I was tired, so painfully tired. I opened my eyes again, and there she stood, at the end of my bed, watching me, smiling gently. The woman from the coffee shop.
“Daddy? What is it?” Kellie asked me, seeing me focus in on the end of my bed. It was clear Kellie could not see the woman. The woman offered me her hand, and now, instead of telling her no, I reached for it. As I grasped it, I experienced the curious feeling of my soul easing out of my body. Suddenly, my bedroom was gone, and I stood beside the woman in front of a pair of pearly white gates. She held my hand and smiled at me again.
“I told you I’d see you again.”

The author's comments:
I read the Book Thief, which is narrated by Death, and this came to me. I've debated other stories starring this particular Death, but I'm not sure how I'd go about them.

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