Mrs. Life and Mr. Death
Mr. Death stood alone at a door, bearing the weight of a solidarity few would ever understand.
In truth, he had long ago passed over the threshold of this particular home. He stood now much closer by, closer than any realized, though patiently awaiting his turn all the same. He brought with him a farewell, one that not unlike the goodbyes of the living weighed heavy in his heart. His farewell was not to be the same.
There would be no tears in his goodbye.
And his would be the last.
It had never come easy, that. Being the last.
Delivering on the closing end of a promise had over time settled a quiet ache in the darker parts of his mind. And he had tried at first to prevent that sorrow, he really had. Honestly believing it was possible to do what he did, and remain impartial all the while. Though the bitter reality had seen to showing him otherwise. In fact, it was so far the opposite he’d come to almost welcome the sodden weight that would claim his eyes at night. If only because it would pull his mind away from it’s own pursuit of self damning.
It was strange, because now his memories of Mrs. Life were fading too, memories he’d once sworn immortal. And that was something that saddened him more than anything else ever would. Because for a very long time his memories of her would still the misery, set his task apart, but they did so no longer.
The boundaries of separation had faded to the point where it was hard to remember a time they’d been there at all. He had actually believed that Death alone lived without fear, though that too had turned out to be equally as untrue.
He feared misremembering her.
Though, he did not regret it. Being the end as opposed to the beginning.
It was a burden he had willingly agreed to bear, and though he knew now it was not one he could shoulder forever, he would insist on the same again if it came to it.
It was within these thoughts that Mr. Death was so often tangled in, when the man who should have held his attention, who he had come to see, spoke noticing him.
“Who are you?” He asked with none of the surprise Mr. Death’s presence deserved.
Death looked up, blinking, for it was not a question he got often.
He took a moment to think about his answer, for he spoke less and less these days. After a moment though he shrugged.
“Does it matter?”
The faded man looked to those surrounding his bedside a moment. He nodded suddenly as if remembering something.
“So you’ve come to take me then.”
Death cringed at the lack of question.
“I’ve come to see a promise kept.”
The man sighed wearily, and lay back, though he did not pull away in a disgust some did. For that, Death was grateful. Too many now seemed to forget that life promised death, and one did not exist without the other.
“I should like to meet the maker of that promise,” the man said.
Death smiled warily and moved to kneel before the bed, taking the man’s hand in his own. He lingered a minute on the deep wrinkles that surrounded the timeless eyes staring back.
“I believe you know her well.”
The man paused, though a slow smile forced a final youthful gleam to his eyes. He even laughed.
“I suppose so,” he said.
A moment followed in which even Death was not privy to, though the man did not speak again. The earth had been swept away from under him.
He had seen his promise kept.
Sorely, Death let slip the man’s hand from his own before standing again, leaving in a remorseful quiet the same way he had come.
Outside a scarlet sun dripped red onto the horizon.
Mrs. Life stood in a room not unlike one that Mr. Death often found himself in. On this particular evening, she held the company of three others, two of whom were grinning with a frenzied panic she had come to love.
The third, the only one to notice Mrs. Life’s presence, said not a word. Though that was not something Mrs. Life, nor anyone else for that matter, could really blame her for. The journey from nothing to something was a road strange enough to silence anyone.
And in fact at first, it almost always did.
But on cue, deceivingly sudden, and as though only just realizing it was possible, the third did open her mouth. And she did so with such tiny ferocity that the man in whose arms she lay nestled stepped back in what very well could have been fear.
And, as Mrs. Life knew well, he had some right to it.
The little one continued to loudly announce her arrival into the world until the woman, who shook still from the effort of seeing that arrival through, began laughing herself.
It was in the moments like the one unfolding before her that proved to Mrs. Life time and time again the world was good.
The world was good.
With those words resting quietly behind her lips, Mrs. Life’s mind slipped, and she felt a dreary sense rest on the corners of her smile, dragging them down.
It was a familiar longing, undeniably a sadness, and one that she had first faced long ago.
At the beginning.
She knew where it stemmed from, those dormant parts of her mind, though it was not something she always acknowledged. It was admittedly easier to just drown in the smiles she brought and forget, even knowing her own then were too often hollow.
Because when she was not careful, something about the endless optimism could poke holes in the mortar of her most guarded thoughts, and let leak memories of a different time.
But thoughts like that were without purpose entirely, because existence had demanded a beginning and an end for the middle it seemed determined to see through.
It had demanded a death and a life for all those it was to breath into being.
And so came to be the split of a union never really intended to exist apart, though they stood alone all the same. It was precisely how Mr. Death and Mrs. Life came to be alone on opposite shores of something they themselves did not entirely understand.
But, they sent letters all the same.
Every day Mrs. Life would remind those new to the world of a promise, one that would see them one day to her other half. And in that promise, she would whisper her love for Mr. Death, as well as a reminder.
Everything finds a way to end.
So you see, Mrs. Life loved Mr. Death equally as much as he loved her. The lives that lived in between them were precious tokens of that affection unknown to all. Letters in a bottle pushed off from one beach to float into the next some years later. For though some thought them the first enemies of a most natural kind, the truth was precisely the opposite. The time a life spent in between a beginning and end was just how Mrs. Life and Mr. Death held one another, for their arms no longer reached.
So as Mrs. Life stood alone on her shoreline that evening, she whispered to the wailing child, reminding her gently of a debt she’d pay for the promise she’d just begun.
And in doing so, she waved a dim lantern through a fog that was life, to be seen only distantly by one other some time from then.
But that was okay, because Mrs. Life and Mr. Death had few things if not patience.
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