Contest #4 shortlist ⭐️

Love at a Funeral

Submitted into Contest #4 in response to: Write a story based on the song title: "To Love Somebody" ... view prompt



A matte black suit ensured he blended in with the shadows. His tie was a vibrant purple in deference to the corpse who practically drowned his house in sweet-smelling heliotrope. Normally he skipped these things, too expected, especially with the scythe. He had to bring the scythe cane to funerals on the off chance someone could see him in the graveyard. Stupid, really, making Death visible in a graveyard. He pulled at the half Windsor knot of the tie in frustration at the oversight. Not a single Death had managed to catch Ben’s soul before embalming. He was going to be one traumatized soul now. And the paperwork! Hell, the bloody paperwork was going to drown someone.

“Sad isn’t it,” a voice whispered at his elbow. 

“Aw, Charon,” he swore, turning slightly to see what lucky human had spotted Death before their time. She was plump with large jet black eyes, full lips, and vibrant magenta hair. Her cocktail dress was shiny black with tiny red crystals sewn into the bodice. Her shoes were blood-red Chucks. 

“Emily,” she chirruped, “Who’s Sharon? Exgirlfriend who looks like me? Nonsense, no one looks like me.” She beamed with her bright white teeth.

The Rule Book said to keep interaction with humans to a minimum. Be bland. Make them forget you. Death ruffled his messy brown hair and peered at her with his own dark eyes. Her smile brightened. He glanced around, hunting for an escape route. There was none. The church was beside him, the graves behind, the funeral in front and Emily was in touching distance.

“How did you know Ben?” she asked, undeterred by his silence.

“Um, from work?” he offered. Lying wasn’t against the rules. It was frowned upon. Death had a reputation after all. And then for inexplicable reasons he asked, “How ah, did you know Ben?”

“Work, also,” she replied. “Do you want to go to the thing after with me? I hear that Ben’s brother is a chef and he made all the food. Should be...depressing really. Might be nice to have a buddy or a date.” Emily’s eyes glittered with hope.

“I-” This had never happened before! Death felt sweat building up under his collar and sliding down his chalky skin. He glanced out over the graves in time to see Ben stumble out of his coffin. “Yes!” he shouted then turned to the beaming human woman beside him. “Oh, Stix!”

Emily beamed. “Great! It’s a date.”

Ben stumbled around shouting, “What is happening? Oh God, where am I? Is that my body??”

“Ah, can I, meet you at the thing? I need to-” What do humans do? What the hell do humans do? “Use the bathroom.” Death winced. “Sorry, I had bad food-for-lunch?”

Emily blinked. “Okay,” she drawled and her smile dimmed a bit, “don’t keep me waiting, alright?”

“I’ll only be a minute, promise,” Death added as Ben’s spirit just gave up on questions and started screaming in confusion.

“I believe you,” Emily said as if she didn’t believe him at all.

Death nodded. The crowd had moved off toward their cars. Ben was rolling in the grass tearing at his hair in front of the priest who was oblivious to the apparition. Emily moved off too, no doubt on her way to the food expecting never to see him again. She’d be right. He needed to get Ben taken care of and… She looked back. “Aw, Charon.”

Emily was beside the sandwich table when Death made himself visible at her elbow. “Hey,” he breathed, careful not to touch her.

“Hey,” she replied, standing up straighter, fluffing her hair and making her aura glow a lovely healthy, happy pink. “I thought you might bail on me.”

“No,” he drawled even though that had been the plan. “I love these things. Well, not love.”

“No, not love but free food is good,” she replied sliding an arm through his.

Death jolted at the weight of her arm on his. He glanced down. He glanced at her again, as confusion and warmth flooded him. This was the strangest day on the job in several hundred years. No one actively attempted to touch him. Ben had run around in circles until Death tripped him. Emily leaned against his shoulder.

She was a mathematician. Death liked statistics about life expectancies and accidents and said so. He didn’t eat-touching things would wither them. Emily browsed. She took pieces of things. Death managed to drink a glass of scotch to look more alive. Emily giggled and sipped a rum and coke. Death giggled too. This tiny human woman was charming.

“You’re so cute, and awkward,” she said reaching up to touch his hair. 

He pulled away. To touch Death was DEATH. 

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s sticky, I use a lot of um-stuff in it.”

“Oh,” she grinned, “I thought maybe you didn’t like me and you were being polite.”

Death paused, unsure what to say. “I do like you.”

“Good,” Emily replied, patting his arm. “I like you too.”

Death signed the guestbook. He talked to Ben’s brother to compliment him on the bacon-wrapped things he couldn’t eat. They smelled delicious. Emily never left his side. She would let go and he would be bereft until she returned. One by one the people left, shaking hands and offering condolences. Death eyed up a 90-year-old gentleman in a brown suit.

“Do you know him?” Emily asked.

“I know you, sir,” the old man said with terrified blue eyes.

Death grinned. “You’ve got a few years yet.”

“Oh,” the man remarked, “better get more whiskey then.”

“Yes, do it.” Death encouraged before Emily pulled him away.

Outside they stood close together. Death donned gloves to keep Emily safe. He wished had had a pair for her. Emily reached out to touch him and he caught her hand in his gloved one, tangling their fingers. The heat from her fingers seeped into his cold ones. “You’re a marvel, Emily,” he whispered.

“I’m nothing special,” Emily said, blushing prettily.

“Why did you ask me to accompany you?”

“I liked your hair,” she replied, “and you looked lonely.”

“Are you lonely, Emily?”

“Not today.”

“Nor me,” Death replied pulling his lips back away from his teeth in an approximation of a smile.

His watch beeped. Emily’s lovely eyebrows lifted in askance. Death frowned. There were souls to cull. His lovely interlude was over. He squeezed her hand affectionately. Emily used their joined hands to pull Death into a hug. He stiffened, melting slowly into her embrace as he realized there was no open skin to threaten her. Her warmth burned him. He smiled into her hair, careful not to kiss her hair.

“I’ve got to go.”

Emily nodded. “Will I see you again?”

“Yeah, you will.”

The End

August 28, 2019 01:59

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