2004-10-22 | 4:32 a.m.|
-----Darren wasn't crying. The bus was going impossibly slowly, people were whispering, and he was far away from home, but still he didn't cry.
-----Days passed in the 15 minutes it to for the school bus to reach his stop. He bolted out the door, ears burning, eyes burning, heart burning. He ran all the way home, busted through the door that didn't open qiuckly enough for him and ran upstairs.
-----Still he wasn't crying. Curled into a little ball on his bed, holding himself, he shook with the need to get it all out. But nothing would come, no tears, no words, nothing.
------Cause that's all his life meant. Nothing. No one cared about him. No one loved him. She didn't love him.
-----Unable to take it anymore, he leaped from the bed and began tossing books, papers, clothes, games, all the stuff on his for aside, looking. He eventually found his pocket knife. A gift from his dad. Every man needed a knife.
-----The pressure was too great. He had to let something out. He placed the blade against his wrist, ready to draw it across....
-----"You're doing it wrong," came a voice from behind him.
-----Darren yelped, and nicked himself, dropping the knife, he grabbed his wrist as he turned around. A hand was reaching out to him, holding a gauze bandage. He took it and looked up suspiciously as he placed it over his bleeding wrist.
-----Standing next to his closet, next to a pile of dirty clothes, stood a girl, looking distinctly innocent. She was older than him, maybe 16 or 17, a few years. Kinda pretty, with nice, clear white skin. Her hair was shoulder length, light brown, and very neat, and her eyes were a really pretty green. She was wearing a long sleeved red shirt and jeans. She seemed a perfectly normal pretty girl. But there shouldn't be any girls in his room, let alone pretty ones, he thought bitterly.
-----"Who the hell are you?! What do you want?"
-----"I'm Death. But you can call me Emily."
-----"Emily. It's my name. I prefer it. People get all twitchy and nervous when they meet Death. Sometimes they scream and try to run away. No one ever tries to run from Emily."
-----"Not particularly, no. I mean, no more than anyone else, at least. Anyway, I'm not the one cutting my wrists, and cutting them the wrong way at that."
-----"Fuck you, that's none of your business!" Darren retorted.
-----"Actually, yes, technically it is. I'm Death. Suicide is always my business."
-----"Oh yeah? Well if you're death, why did you try to stop me?"
-----"Two reasons. First, I don't want you to kill yourself. Second, you were doing it wrong anyway. It's down the block, not across the street," the girl demonstrated with her fingers. "If you do it the wrong way, you'll still die, it's just really slow and painful. Kind of unnecessary."
-----Darren just stared at her. Finally, "You really are crazy. Just get out of my house."
-----Emily sighed. "Do you want me to prove I'm Death, is that what you want," as she spoke the room seemed to darken, "I don't usually have to do this, you know," and her voice deepend, and she seemed to fall into shadow, "most people like my human form," and she was wearing a dark black cloak, and her voice boomed from the deep hood, "but if you want Death, then hear, she speaks," and a skeletal hand reached for him.
-----Darren shrank back, forgetting where he was for a minute, and nicked himself again on the pocket knife that was still lying open on the bed.
-----"Crap." Suddenly Emily was back to normal, as if nothing had happened, and was reaching for the pocket knife. She picked it up, closed it, and had more gauze ready for Darren's leg. "Sorry, this is all I have, I don't carry band-aids. They're not exactly dignified."
-----She'd bandaged his leg before Darren found his voice. "You're death!" he gasped.
-----"I said call me Emily."
-----He stared at her a moment more, then frowned, "But it doesn't sound as dramatic to say, 'You're Emily!'"
-----It was Emily's turn to stare at Darren. "You're kidding me, right?"
-----"Well, it's not," he said defensively.
-----Emily just sniffed, ignoring him, and looked around the room.
-----Darren watched Emily absentmindely straighten his room, while nosing through his stuff. Part of him was offended by the invasion of privacy, part embarrased that a girl was picking up his dirty underwear, but mostly he was just confused, and a little worried. Eventually he couldn't stop himself. "So, seriously, why are you here."
-----"I told you, to stop you from killing yourself in a messy and painful manner."
-----"But..., but...., you're death. Don't you want people to die."
-----"No, of course not! That's just mean. It's not like I kill people you know! I...."
-----Emily put down the stack of books she'd been straightening, and sat down on the bed next to Darren. "Look. It's just a job..., sort of. A position. I may be Death, but I'm not DEATH. DEATH is a Power, a force of nature. I'm just it's Incarnation, I hold an office."
-----"I don't understand. What do you mean?"
-----"Once, I was just a high school kid like you. Went to classes, did homework, played with friends, pretty much the same. DEATH has been around a lot longer than I have, forever really. I wasn't the first Death, I just...sort of...inherited the office...I guess."
-----"So being death is just, your job? So, you have to like, what, collect the souls of everyone who dies?"
-----"Not really. I mean, like I said, I'm not DEATH. DEATH happens whether I'm there or not. Most of the time I'm not needed. I only have to be there if there's something complicated about the death, or if someone important is dying. Or, you know, if someone summons death, they get me, not DEATH. They talk to me, cause the real DEATH, the Power, no normal person can talk to it. And especially with something like DEATH, no one really wants to talk to the real thing. I'm an acceptable substitute, and I can speak to DEATH on their behalf, if I think it's really important."
-----"...I still don't get it. It sounds like you're just, I don't know, like death's promoter or something."
-----"I prefer the term Ambassador. Of course, different Powers and Incarnations have different relationships. I mean, the Incarnation of Evil refers to himself as Evil's Commander. The Incarnation of War is War's General. And really, their jobs are kind of different. I mean, EVIL always has plots and plans and things, and WAR is pretty important, too. But DEATH doesn't really care about much. It just kind of sits there and waits. Eventually everyone dies."
-----"So wait...why did you come here? Am I one of those important people dying!?"
-----"Oh Darren, everyone's important. But no, not in the way you mean. Like I said, being Death doesn't really require too much work on my part, so I find things to do in my spare time."
-----"Like save people from dying? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose."
-----Emily's voice took on a cold tone, completely different from her previous voice, and she glared at him, "I'm Death. Where life and death are concerened noone and nothing save DEATH itself can gainsay me." Then she shrugged. "If I want to save people's lives, then I will. No one can stop me. I'm Death, I have the power of Death, and I'm expected to use it. There's no rules that say I have to use it the way everybody else wants me to. It's my job, not theirs.
-----"But, but, what about God's plan. I mean, doesn't your randomly saving people endanger that?"
-----Emily sighed. "I don't know Darren, but.... I've met the Creator, the Connector and the Creation, and I don't know if I believe there is a plan anymore. And if there is, it's far, far too complex for me. Far to complext for anyone. I've kinda been too scared to ask."
-----"They sound important. Are they Incarnations, too."
-----"I don't know. I don't think so."
-----Emily had nothing else to say on the subject, and Darren couldn't think of any more questions. But she was sitting there, looking so sad, and the silence was stretching, becoming uncomfortable. He had to say something, so he tried a different question. "So...um....not that I'm complaining or anything, but, uh....why did you decide to save me."
-----Unfortunately, she didn't look any happier about that question. She looked him directly in the eye, and began to roll up her sleeves. There were faded scars across both her wrists, and two large, white ones, straight down each wrist, as if they'd been slashed wide, and then healed over.
-----"Thrity years ago, I committed suicide. I was 18 years old, and I'd been playing at it for a long time. That's how I knew I'd be able to save you. You weren't really trying to kill yourself. Most attempts at suicide really are just a cry for help, as cliche as it sounds.
-----"But after a while, I realized that no one was listening. I could cry as lound as I wanted for help, could cut and tear myself up, and no one ever seemed to notice. I realize now I was just being a silly little girl. No one ever noticed cause I hid it, pretended I was just fine. But I didn't want to believe that, so I blamed their inability to see through my tricks on their apathy towards me, real or imagined."
-----Darren wanted to stop her, tell her it was okay, he really didn't want to know, but her eyes still held his, and he couldn't speak.
-----"I slit my wrists. I wedged a knife in a block of wood, then ran each wrist down it. It hurt, but I didn't care. I wanted to die, or I thought I did. I sat in my room, and bled to death, and by the time I realized I wasn't ready to die yet, it was too late."
-----And dammit, she was crying. He was uncomfortable, wanted to help her somehow, but he couldn't hold her, I mean, what if she got mad? And she was Death, how was he supposed to cheer her up?
-----"I don't know why he was there. He called himself Anselon, it meant Death in his native language. He had these large, gorgeous, dark blue wings, and this big nose. He looked like a bird would look if it were human, you know? I thought he was an angel. By that point, I'd lost so much blood that even if he'd taken me to a hospital, I'd have died before they could seal the wound. Even a magical healer wouldn't have been enough. So he did the only thing he could do. He gave me his office."
-----Emily had stopped crying. It was very quiet now. Maybe she was done, maybe the story was over, but Darren had no idea what to say, where to go from here.
-----"There are a lot of ways to become an Incarnation. It's pretty different for every office. For instance, to become Death, you have to kill the previous Death. That's rare though, it's pretty hard to do. But any Incarnation can voluntarily step down at any time. That's what Anselon did for me. He'd only been death for about 150 years, when your average Incarnation holds their office for at least a thousand. He gave up his office cause he didn't want to see me die so young.
-----"So when I learned you were about to kill yourself, I decided to come stop you, sort of in his memory. I didn't think you really wanted to kill yourself, so I came to give you a chance to take it back. Or to at least do it right, so it doesn't hurt as much, or take as long.
-----"Well, that, and you're sorta cute."
-----Darren blinked rapidly a few times, not sure if he'd heard the last line. She'd almost whispered it. And she was actually blushing! Her eyes were downcast, and it seemed she was staring very hard at her own knees. Darren knew it was his turn to say something, but he paniced, he couldn't think of anything, so he said the first thing that came to his mind.
-----"I think you're very pretty."
-----Emily smiled, throwing her arms around him. She hugged him, and kissed his forehead, and it was Darren's turn to blush. "Thanks Darrren, that's very sweet."
-----They stayed like that for a few moments, holding each other, then Emily pulled away. "Well, I have to go."
-----"Wait, already!? Can't you stay?"
-----It seemed a simple request, but Emily heard the question he hadn't asked, as well as the question he had. "No Darren, I can't, I'm sorry." She rubbed the two large scars on her wrist. "I'm still not ready to die. As an incarnation I'm immortal. The moment I give up my office, I die. There's no real blood in my body, not exactly, only the power of my office. But don't worry Darren, you'll see me again. Death is wherever and whenever it needs to be." With that, she took a short hop backwards, waved, and was gone.
-----Sarah couldn't hold back the tears as she read her grandfather's journal. He'd written in it intermittently from highschool until his death, just a few days ago. So much about that old man she'd loved. Even up to his last moment's he'd been full of life.
-----He'd become a great writer, and his journal contained some pretty insightful information. She'd finally come to the last entry, written less than 12 hours before he'd died. It was a strange one, more peculiar than most. Especially the last paragraph.
-----I can feel my heart giving out. I suppose I won't live much longer, but I don't mind. I worry about my children, my grandchildren, my greatgrandchildren, but not about myself. I know I'll be fine. Emily's just not that scary anymore.
Step Back ---/// Take a Step ///--- End of the Path
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