He awoke from his nap to the sound of rasping metal, and rubbed his bleary eyes with the palms of his hands until the buzzard raking his talons on the Airstream came into focus. He’d grown rather fond of the bird, and was glad to see him back after a week long absence. Plus, three made a party. Blue snorted in agreement and pawed at the ground.
Death reflected on the dream he’d just had. It puzzled him. Before, he had never been able to remember his specific prayers. Famine had mentioned their answering, so Death took his word for it. But now he recalled the moment, preparing to cook in prison for lifting cigarettes, when he confessed anything would be better than this. In hindsight, he believed to die would have been better. How could he have known a life as Death to be an option?
A dust devil formed beside him and kicked grit into his face, causing him to stand. Shaking the dirt off and stretching his legs, he felt he should do something special. His lethargy finally started to rub him, and he knew it couldn’t last much longer.
He retreated into the trailer and clanged around before returning to the midday sun with a pencil and a spiral notebook. Blue and the buzzard watched curiously as Death pushed his chair back from the pool and sat with the notebook in his lap. He dabbed the pencil on the end of his tongue and started to write.
The Day Death Died
He wondered if the alliteration was too much, but decided to continue.
Like the taste of blood and metal
Warm and cold together, I once embraced
The life of Death —
Scythe in humming hand
Vibrating the invisible pitch of the Universe,
I, the only force able to silence it.
As he started warming to his subject, he felt the tension in his soul unravel.
But folding through time and space,
Trembling through sulfur rifts like a newborn
Sloughing from the womb,
Soon becomes the hollow life of a wraith:
(Did he like that hard rhyme with “space”?)
Tedious errands, repetition,
And failure. How could death make a mistake?
Born up by all eternity,
Each stroke of the scythe spoke Finality
Certainty, Truth. Not for me.
A lying slip, a false stroke
And Famine falls prematurely
He couldn’t stop the errant rhyming as the words poured from his pencil onto the paper.
And no mortal years of service can erase
The fecund yet foul mistake.
Now a piss-poor form of Death I am,
Floundering in the dust of Adam
Yearning for the day to come
When death could finally die.
Dropping his pencil into the dirt beside his chair, he stared at the words he had written. He read them out loud to Blue, his voice croaking with the use. Was this how he really felt? He tore the page from the notebook, crumpling it in his fist, and bit down hard on his knuckle. Kicking his chair over he swore loudly and chucked the paper into the pool. The buzzard startled from his roost and flapped away.