“You do this every year, Alison. Every year that veil comes down and our realms collide, I find you in the same spot, same table set up and a new game ready to start.” The chair creeks as she slides it out and sits down.
A smile grows on the angelic face across from her, moving a piece forward two spaces, “Well, it’s the only way I get to see that devilish grin of yours, Lady Marian.” She extends her hand out to show its’s their move.
“Please, I haven’t been Lady Marian in a rather long time. Why the formalities after all these years?” She moves her pawn forward one space and waits for the response from her counterpart.
“I’m being polite, not formal, Lady Marian.”
“So why have we gathered here in limbo?”
The celestial woman pushes another piece forward and watches as the other claims the pawn as her own. Almost like the metaphor of how after all these years, the charming grin claimed a quiet piece of her heart, “All Hallows Eve, the one time a year we get to do this. And I do believe I have a score to settle since you cheated the last time.”
“Please, I did not cheat, you simply lost. Don’t blame the devil when I’ve done nothing wrong.”
And there it is, the quiet statement that says I dare you to try me. Alison blushes softly, the color spreading its way down her chest, “A good thing you are not the devil then.” She moves her knight, claiming a pawn.
“Alison, what is it you really want to talk about? I can see it written all over your face that there is a question that is dying to fall off those glorious lips of yours.” The game hasn’t even gotten that far as both women stare intently at each other. It’s an awkward pause but Alison gathers herself and stands from the table. Lady Marian simply watches in awe as the white gown glows and sways as Alison walks, almost as though the dress was made for her.
“I have never been as perplexed as I am now, Lady Marian. About the world, about the way people speak of you. And it hurts to feel…so lost in this maze.”
Lady Marion stands up and adjusts the tie around her neck, “Do you care to elaborate?”
A deep sigh rolls off her lips, a sound that Lady Marian hates because it makes her own heart feel heavy. So, she slowly walks to Alison’s side and holds her hand in her own. The feeling is warm, it glows and burns so bright in Lady Marian’s chest that she has to focus on her next words, “tell me what it is my love. What troubles you so?” And Alison melts into the soft touch, the feeling of safety and a love that is endless. She turns quietly and places her head onto Lady Marian’s shoulders.
“Why does the world hate you, but they beg for me?” It is so quiet that Lady Marian must strain to hear the words but when they are said, she can only hold Alison closer. This was what she feared. The one question that she did not like answering but she knew she owed it to the woman standing before her. So, she pulls away and looks down at the floor, “People beg for me too you know.”
“You know that’s not what I mean.”
“Of course I know but we have done this for so long, why question it now?”
With the comment, Alison grows angry, eyes alight like a wildfire, “Because of the way they treat you, Marian! Death should not be treated like that! You are not some monster!” The ground begins to shake with the intensity of Alison’s anger. Limbo begins to change from its beautiful trees and green grass to storm clouds and rain. Marian looks around and notices the veil from her world to Alison’s is starting to close. Without hesitation, she takes Alison’s face in her own and forces the woman to look at her.
“You need to calm down. Look at what you’re doing. If you close the veil early, we must wait for another year, and I will not be forced to leave you earlier than I have to.”
“Why do you not seem to be so bothered by all of this?”
“Because there is no reason to be. I have accepted my job, it’s who I am. Look, let me show you something.”
Alison looks around limbo, “I can’t leave my realm.”
“Alison, for once please break the rules. Leaving your realm for a few hours will not harm anything. I’ll have you back before you know it. Don’t you trust me?” She holds out her hand but already prepares herself for the worst. Life has never liked to deviate away from the plan. But a small gasp escapes her lips as she feels soft fingers slip into the palm of her hands.
“I trust you with all of me. Show me what you wanted to.”
And they are off, Life and Death leaving their realms and walking through the land of the living. The first stop is a familiar house. Alison remembers this place, the family that lived here. They had prayed for a little girl or boy to fill their lives with joy and Alison had answered. The gift of life was not easy, but Alison enjoyed making it. To mold someone in her hands and breathe into them for the first time, to see the look of love and curiosity behind those eyes. It was something she would never grow tired of. She remembered this child, they were filled with such joy and wonder in their hearts, never leaving a leaf unturned. Until sickness set in. The look of sadness flashes across her features and Marian gently holds her hand.
“Don’t cry my love. Look. Their child could not handle the sickness. Your gift of life still followed this child, and she was never alone. She found her way to me, and I lead her to a new life, some place where she is never alone and feels no pain. She is happy.”
“Why is this a good thing? Her parents blamed you for her sickness, for her short years of life.”
“Yes, they blamed me, but look at the altar, the food they leave. They welcome me now because it is how they still reach their daughter. Come, there is still much to show you and such little time.”
And so, the rest of the night plays out like this. Marian leading Alison to different times all over the earth, showing her that not everyone despises death. Alison learns that the world is not as hateful towards death as it used to be. Sure, there will always be those that fear it, that are angered by it, but Alison knows that Marian has thick skin.
“So, now that we are back at limbo, shall we finish that game of ours?”
“You saw the world in less than twenty-four hours and all you want to do is finish that stupid chess game?”
Alison laughs and pulls Marian in for the sweetest kiss, “I’m a sore loser remember? Come on, Death. Are you afraid I’ll win?”
A wicked grin spreads across her face, “Oh baby, I’ve never been afraid of Life.”