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Sad Teens & Young Adult Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

"How much higher can you go?" asked the old man.

"Until I make a full circle!" Maria yelled over the roar of the wind in her ears.

With each kick of her legs, Maria swings higher and higher on the swing. She can't get enough of the wind that hits her face and whips her hair around. Maria can't fight the smile on her face.

The playground is surprisingly empty on a Friday afternoon. The skies are cloudy and grey, and a thick fog surrounds it like a barrier that protects those inside.

Maria started to slow down, feeling an ache in her legs. Each time she reached the bottom, she dug her heels into the mulch to slow down. Dirt and dust flew everywhere as Maria continued digging her feet.

Finally, Maria comes to a complete stop.

"Tired?" asked the old man, smiling amusingly at Maria.

Smiling, Maria looks up at the old man. He must be in his seventies, with white hair and a black suit. The man has a silver cane with a handle shaped like a crow.

"Yeah, I am," Maria said.

"I need to sit down. I can't keep standing," the man laughed as he sat down in the swing next to Maria.

"Would you like me to push you?" Maria asked.

"No. I'm too old for a swing." chuckled the old man.

"Then why are you here?" asked Maria, confused. "Why did you come to the park?"

The old man loses his smile when he regards Maria. "I'm here for you, Maria," he said earnestly. That once friendly smile turns to a solemn frown.

"How do you know my name?" Maria asked. Oddly enough, she wasn't afraid of the man. Something about him told Maria that she could trust him and that he was not a danger.

"I know a lot about you. I know that you're ten years old. That you love to play at the playground every day after school before going home." said the man fondly. "Except today, you won't be going home." 

Maria's face twists in confusion.

"I don't understand," she said.

"Do you remember coming here? Do you remember leaving school?" inquired the old man.

"Of course I . . . " Maria trails off as she realizes that she doesn't remember. She doesn't recall leaving school. It's all a blank.

"Why don't I remember?" she asked herself.

"What I'm about to tell you is going to be a shock. You won't understand, but it is the truth," said the old man.

Maria doesn't say anything as she waits.

The old man sighs as he prepares himself. He becomes crestfallen, his eyes watering and lips quivering.

"A sick man went to your school with a gun. You tried to hide with your classmates, but he found you." said the old man sadly. "I'm sorry, Maria, but you didn't make it. You passed away."

The ten-year-old opens and closes her mouth. Maria struggles to process what the old man is saying. She stares at the man, slack-jawed.

Finally, she explodes.

"Y-You're lying!" Maria screamed, jumping up onto her feet. In her rage, she shoves the old man. He just rocks backward on the swing.

"I am not dead!" Maria yelled.

"I'm sorry, Maria, but it is the truth," the old man regrettably said.

"No! No! No!" 

Maria shakes her head until everything is spinning. Angry tears stream down her face. Her lower lip quivers as Maria can't decide if she wants to cry or scream.

"Maria, calm down," said the old man as he stood up. He reached out with a wrinkly hand to try to rest it on Maria's shoulder. "No! Don't touch me!" Maria screamed, smacking the hand away. 

The old man grabs Maria's hand, holding it in a vice grip. "Maria, listen to me," the man orders, his voice still strangely calm.

Maria tries to pry herself free of the man's grip, but it is stronger than steel. Scratching, biting, or punching don't phase the man. Frustrated, Maria ceases her struggle and glares defiantly at the old man.

"I want you to look down at your dress." said the old man.

"Huh?"

Confused, Maria glances down and gasps when she finds bloody blots on her favorite dress. The stains contrast with the yellow and blue flowers that decorate the dress. Maria counts three bloody holes centered around her chest. 

With a shaky hand, Maria touches one of the bloody spots. Her finger sinks into her chest.

"A-Are these what I think they are?" Maria asked hesitantly, looking back at the old man. Her eyes widened when Maria saw that the old man had changed form.

The black suit is replaced with a shredded cloak that drapes down to the man's feet. The cane has elongated into a staff with a sharp, curved blade at the end. The old man still has a kind, wrinkled face, but his eyes are black as coal.

"I'm afraid you were shot. Your death was instantaneous." apologized the old man.

Maria stares at the man, recognizing the scythe and black cloak. "Y-You're the Grim Reaper, aren't you?" she asked.

"Yes, I am. I've come to help you." said the Reaper.

"I thought you were a giant skeleton," Maria said.

A small smile graced the angel's face. "I take the form of various people to help calm the souls," he said. I hope you're not upset that I took the form of your late grandfather," apologized the Reaper.

Maria didn't notice initially but blinked when she realized the Reaper looked like her grandfather. The Reaper copied her grandfather's face with the quirky smile and dimple cheeks.

"So I'm really dead?" Maria asked, saddened.

The Grim Reaper nods regrettably. "Yes, I am sorry." he apologized. The angel of death holds out his hand. "It's time to come with me," he said.

"Am I going to Heaven?" Maria asked as she took the angel's hand.

"Yes, and your classmates are waiting for you." said the Grim Reaper.

The playground is suddenly bathed in a comforting white light. Maria keeps her eyes on the Grim Reaper, smiling as she feels at peace. 

April 13, 2024 15:10

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2 comments

Charli Adams
21:31 Apr 24, 2024

Thank you for raising awareness of something so hoffiric it never even occurred to me that it would turn into such a frequent occurrence. Hopefully we can affect real change.

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Isabella Montoya
22:50 May 08, 2024

Amazing story! For a moment I thought the old man was going to do something bad to the little girl. It was sad when he revealed what actually happened, and even sadder to think that it actually has become a frequent occurrence in today's world. Also, I didn't see coming revelation at the end of who the old man was. Great job!

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