“Mom, Dad, trust me just this once, won’t you?”
My dad sighs, rubbing his nose and nearly dropping his glasses.
I can’t really blame them for being hesitant.
I always find a way to incorporate something dangerous into my everyday activities. Walk to school? Nah. Try out Dad’s prototype jetpack? Sounds more me. Normal teenage girl weekend stuff like shopping or homework? Ugh. Skydiving from a helicopter? Sign. Me. Up.
But, I have a reason.
I don’t die, no matter what I do.
“Margaret, we’re only worried because you haven’t done one safe thing your entire life-”
“And you’re only sixteen, going off to a cabin on your own-”
“With no cell service? How will we contact you if something’s wrong?” They say, doing that weird thing where they’re constantly finishing each other’s thoughts.
“If it’s a cabin with no electricity, how will I find anything dangerous to do? Really? In the middle of nowhere? I just want a retreat, guys. Come on, I passed exams, and I just want to relax this break. Let go of the stress. Connect with my...inner zen.” It’s true, really. At least half. I’m not planning on doing anything dangerous.
“Margaret...Look me in the eye and tell me we won’t have to worry,” my dad says, pulling down his glasses.
I nearly roll my own eyes before looking into my dad’s eyes and pasting a smile on my face. One I hope looks genuine enough.
“That…?” He motions for me to continue.
“That you won’t have to worry and I’ll be completely fine. Come on, I’m sweating here!” I say, fanning my face. I’m already all dressed in my winter gear and my bags are packed.
They supposedly already allowed me to go, but I’m always expecting this last-minute talk.
My mom sighs, patting my dad on the shoulder.
“Come on Charles, she’ll be fine. Let her go. But young lady if you come back with one scratch on your body, or if I get one call of some destruction of property, you can say goodbye to ever leaving this house again.”
“Yeah, yeah, love you byeeee!” I say in a sing-song voice as I finally walk outside, lugging my bag behind me. I take a breath of the cold winter air and walk over to the car.
“Ahhh, yes, that fresh winter air. Finally free!”
I throw my bag in the trunk and start driving. It’s about an hour away, so not too long. This is going to be the best winter break of my entire life.
Right, well, you’re probably waiting for me to explain the whole ‘can’t die’ thing.
It started when I was fourteen when I had my first near-death experience. See, I’ve always been reckless, but I tried something really risky then. I decided to ditch class and drive over to my Aunt’s house.
Which, doesn’t sound too risky, right?
But I was fourteen.
And I could not drive.
I still remember all the bright lights and screams and then everything plunging into darkness.
Well, that’s when I met one of the soulkeepers, basically Death, who was ready to ‘collect my soul’ or whatever.
But we had a nice long conversation, and he said he’d let me go.
On one condition.
I be his friend.
So that’s how I met my best friend.
Though it sounds a little like the ending to a coming of age movie for 10-year-olds, it’s cooler, cause, you know, ends with me being immortal and whatnot.
I hum as I take my bag out of my trunk and walk into the little cabin.
It’s dark until I find a fireplace in the corner and figure out how to light it. The small room is then showered in light and warmth. I take my hat and the rest of my winter gear off.
Ahh, so cozy.
I take my phone out of my pocket and make myself comfortable on one of the small couches, the one closest to the fireplace. I unlock it before remembering there's no cell reception and set it back down.
This is always the fun part.
I grin and lean towards the fireplace.
“3...2….” I whisper a countdown to myself as I near my finger closer and closer to the flames.
“1.” And I completely place my hand in the fire, watching my skin blacken little by little.
There’s a burning pain for about two seconds, my vision is blackened, and then everything goes back to normal. I pull my hand out of the fire quickly and rub my eyes. When I open them again, I see Grey, dressed in his usual black cloak and outfit, standing in front of me.
I get up and practically tackle him with a hug.
“Gosh, it feels like it’s been ages!” He tries to hide it, but I hear him laugh as he hugs me back.
“Yeah, yeah, you say that all the time.”
This is Death. But Death is a terrible name, so I call him Grey, which is not only fitting, but he likes it. I got it from his eyes- they’re pure grey. Seriously staring into your soul...which makes sense...
“Well, cause it’s always true! Come on, sit down, tell me, most interesting ones so far?”
He always has the best stories of the ways people happened to die. He sits down on the couch beside me and I turn to face him.
“Well...This one girl shoved her hand into a fire.” He looks at me, brows furrowed.
“Wha- Hey, that doesn’t count, I’m safe!”
“You could’ve gotten seriously hurt! I might be able to refrain from taking your soul, but you could’ve still been late at taking your hand out. That wasn’t safe.”
“How else was I supposed to get you here? Come on, don’t be mad, we’ve been planning this for weeks.”
“I’m not mad, I’m just worried.”
“Dang, for someone who takes people’s souls for a living, you’ve sure got a soft spot.” He rolls his eyes and I elbow him. “Kidding. It’s cute when you care. Now, stories!?”
“Right, right. This one lady apparently threw a boomerang and it hit her? She didn’t know boomerangs do that.”
“Cool, cool, sounds fun.”
Sometimes, I feel really bad for him. He’s only a teenager, and he has to bear such a large weight on his shoulders. He’s a recent recruit to do this. He was lonely on the job before he met me.
“How bout you, anything interesting?”
“Ugh, just my overprotective parents as usual.”
“Your parents aren’t overprotective Meg, seriously. You’re just a bit...um...energetic for them.” He’s the only one I let call me Meg. It’s only fair, considering I gave him a name randomly. Plus I like the way he says it, stretching it a bit long. Makes me feel nice.
“Please, I’m too ‘energetic’ for everyone apparently.”
“Aw, not me. So what do you wanna do? I don’t have too much time.” I lighten up, remembering the things I have planned.
“I brought boardgames! Oh, and oreos, you haven’t tasted those yet, have you? Lemme bring my bag.” I bounce up and get my bag from the corner bringing it by Grey. I open it up, grabbing the package of oreos and the monopoly game.
He finally takes his hood off, messing up his already very messy black hair.
“Monopoly. What’s that?”
“You’ll see. Come on!” I pat the floor next to me. Grey gets up off the couch and plops down beside me. I take the board out of the box and set it down. “Alright, move to the other side.” He does, and I hand him the instruction manual. “Skim this for a sec.”
While he flips through the manual, I rip open the package of oreos.
“Okay, so what I’ve derived is that we basically try to be rich? In fake paper money?”
“Yup! Here, taste.” I hand him an oreo. He’s about to bite into it, but I stop him, grabbing his wrist.
“No, no, you’re eating it wrong.” Keeping my hand on his, I twist the oreo in half and drop both pieces back in his hand.”
“So I eat them separately?”
He tentatively places the cream covered side of the cookie in his mouth, chewing slowly. Once he swallows, he eats the other.
“Not bad. I like chocolate chip better though.”
I shrug. “Most people do. Including me. C’mon ready to play?” I open up and eat my own oreo, wiping the crumbs off my lap and thinking about which game piece to choose. I grab the shoe for me and the car for Grey and look up to see him smirking at me. “Grey, what is it?”
“Sorry, you’ve got the white stuff on your face. Right...here.” He leans in and brushes it off with the side of his thumb. I make the mistake of looking into his eyes, which, like I said, stare into you. I notice how close we are, and that his hand’s still on my cheek, before blushing and pushing his hand off.
“Thanks…Here’s your piece.” I squeeze my eyes shut and hand him the car. “God, why are your eyes like that?” I open my eyes to see him frown. I look at him again before fixing my gaze on his nose.
“They just...make me feel so lost.”
“Your eyes are like that for me too, y’know.”
“My dark brown, basically black eyes look into your soul? Death? As. If.”
“Meg I’m serious! Especially right now, in the firelight. They are not black, c’mon. They’re literally amber. Look at me?”
I sigh before moving my eyes up to his.
We stare at each other for a couple of seconds, holding our breaths. When I can’t take it anymore, I move my eyes lower on his face, keeping my eyes on his lips for a moment too long. I shake my head at myself.
What am I thinking?
“Definitely amber. Alright, I’ve officially forgotten what I’ve read. How do we play?”
“Do you ever get sad?” I whisper, bringing my blanket up to my chin. Grey shifts his seating next to me, and looks up at the stars.
“Don’t we all?”
“Yeah, but I mean-”
“It’s mostly the old people. They’re usually in a hospital with everyone surrounding them and….” He sighs, unable to continue. I pat him on the knee.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to go on. I have been meaning to ask though...why me? You probably killed-sorry, passed on, or whatever- thousands of teens before me. So why me? Oh, also, I’m hogging the blanket, sorry, you must be cold.”
“I’m not. Cold… believe it or not, you were the first one to actually agree to talk to me. Everyone else was either too scared, too in disbelief, or just wanted to pass on. Not everyone wants immortality you know.”
“I was the first? Must be my energetic personality, no?” He smiles at the joke. I shift closer to him on the seat. “I don’t believe you,” I say, holding the blanket open so he can take half. He rolls his eyes.
“I’m literally death, I don’t get cold! Stop! Don’t give me those puppy dog eyes I swear…” I pout over exaggeratingly.
“C’mon, or else I put the blanket back!” Seems like an odd threat, but he knows how cold I get, and he always hates me ‘harming’ myself intentionally. Such a killjoy sometimes, really.
“You’ll freeze to death!”
“And you won’t?”
He narrows his eyes.
“You’re so annoying.” He snatches the left side of the blanket and pulls it towards him, dropping it in his lap.
“Oh, shut up.”
“Tsk, you know you love me….How come you let me call you Grey? It’s such a random name.”
“Why are you so filled with questions today?” He plays with the threads of the blanket on his lap.
“I dunno, just bored.”
“Well I guess….I……..I dunno!” He throws his hands up in the air in defeat, bringing them back down to push them through his hair.
“Fine, fine, sorry.”
I stare up at the stars and they remind me of the lights on that day…
After everything went black, I knew I had died. I just felt it. Mainly cause the pain of all the glass puncturing my skin had stopped, but it was something internally shifting too.
And then, Grey was suddenly there. I thought his eyes were stars at first. Though I maybe hadn’t died. But I had.
I suppose I’m lucky. But like Grey said, not everyone wants immortality. You have to slowly watch everyone you know die. I’m still a bit young for that to affect me though.
I’m hit with a wave of drowsiness from staying up all night studying this week and I yawn, leaning back in the chair.
The last thing I see is the stars before I’m fast asleep.
I’m woken up by snow falling on my face. I notice I’m laying on Grey’s shoulder and I quickly sit up straight, careful not to move too much since I notice his breathing is even and he’s asleep.
You would think someone like him wouldn’t sleep, but when he’s with me he’s as normal as teenage boys get.
He’s pretty peaceful when he’s asleep.
He’s always got this mysterious vibe to him, like he’s sad and down. But right now he looks relaxed.
I shiver in the night air as the blanket falls from my shoulders. I bring it closer around Grey.
Something seems...off about Grey’s face.
I lean in a little close, holding my breath.
Before I can pinpoint what it is, Grey jolts away, nearly bumping noses with me. I feel my face heat up at how close we are and quickly back away, turning my face away.
“Sorry I woke you…” I mumble, still not looking at him.
“Wasn’t you...I-I have to go.”
“R-Right-I-Yeah.” I stand up and stretch.
“This was fun Meg, seriously.”
There he goes again, making my heart flutter at the stupid nickname.
“Yeah, it was. See you soon?”
“Yeah, just no fires next time, alright?”
I’m careful to keep my eyes on the ground cause I know if I look into his eyes I won’t be able to stop.
I manage to look at his eyes. He slowly leans in close to my face, so close I can make out a couple of freckles on his nose. I’m about to press a small kiss on his cheek, but he shifts his face and I land on his lips. My heartbeat rises to the roof and I gasp.
In a couple of seconds, he’s gone like the wind, leaving me flustered and blushing...