The first time I saw him, I really wanted to kill him. Unfortunately for me though, it wasn’t his time yet, far from it actually. He was twenty-nine and due to live until he was ninety-three, quite old for a human. Of course, I’d been around since the dawn of time and sixty-four years was about a blink of an eye for me (well, if I had eyes that is), but still! I knew these next sixty-four years would be agonizingly long, especially if Mother Time played another trick on me.
I saw him first when I was in a nursing home in a place the humans called “Arizona,” but I still knew as the middle left corner of Pangea. Mother Time says I really should get with the times, but what can I say? I was an old-fashioned entity. Anyways, he was a nurse for this retirement home know as “Resting Willow.” I saw him when I was picking up a soul known as Louis Terrill after he had suffered his third and final heart attack. This beautiful human nurse, known as Andre Wright, tried and failed to fight against my grasp. Though no life could truly beat or escape me, I found it kind of cute how hard humans tried sometimes, so every now and again, I let them win a battle or two, but I always won the war. Louis Terril was ready to go, though. He greeted me politely and told me that he was rather tired of being trapped in his ailing body. I tucked his soul in the folds of my cloak, letting him join his friends and family that all were taken by me much sooner than he was. I felt his soul jiggle with happiness, gave me that nice warm buzz.
Although Andre was physically beautiful with his midnight eyes and square jaw and smooth dark skin. I fell in love with his soul. I could see everyone’s souls, hence how I knew when everyone was supposed to die. His soul was a bright purple color, with a golden center. Some of the purple aura was spotted with holes with suffering, as most of the souls I collected were. But what made his soul particularly remarkable and gorgeous, was the way his golden center shown through with such brightness that the holes where completely filled with its light. At first sight, I knew that I was a goner.
Unlike most of the other staff at this retirement home, Andre tried desperately to take Louis’s soul away from me, trying to jumpstart the man’s heart with his hands. I could see no familial or friendship ties between this man once known as Louis and Andre, which made it all the stranger that he was trying to fight me with such ferocity.
“Death, you cannot have this man,” Andre whispered under his breath.
And I giggled. How cute.
I wanted to stay longer, but I had millions more souls to collect as per usual, so I left my pretty little soul to curse at me by himself.
I didn’t see Andre again until a few months later. I came to pluck another soul from its withered casings. This time, it was from a woman named Gertrude West. Her soul left me with a bitter feeling, and she fought and clawed against me with all of her soul’s might. Even though she was only a human, her soul was pretty strong. The stubborn ones always were. Again, there was Andre, beautiful as ever, still trying to revive what I have already taken. And again, he whispered to me, “Death, get your stinking claws off of this woman.”
His words caused me to wince. I took a closer look at his soul. There really were a lot of holes, and it seemed that I had caused quite a few of them, though I didn’t remember seeing him before. He must not have been around when I came for his loved ones, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t feel my mark. Perhaps that was why he used my name in such a familiar way. Since the dawn of creation, I’ve only felt bad about my work a human handful of times, usually it was when I killed a particularly good soul or that one time that I had to wipe out all of the dinosaurs. I really did miss dinosaurs. But this time, I felt a bit… guilty? I didn’t mean to cause my beloved so much suffering, but didn’t he see that it was necessary? Didn’t he see how gorgeous that overcoming that suffering has made him?
I really wanted to take him early, if only to hold him in my form and show him how good being with me could be. The innumerable amount of souls in my cloak all jiggled happily. And I wished he could hear their song. I wished that I could show him that those he loved weren’t truly gone but were instead all safe and nestled within my folds.
I wished that I could stay and comfort him in some way, but I knew that I had work to do.
The next time I saw him was not in the nursing home. He was a couple decades older this time, but his soul was just as beautiful, even though it had gotten a few more holes. I came for his wife, who was reluctant to leave Andre and their three children. I didn’t blame her, and I also envied her. She got to be with him while he was still alive, while I could only have him after he was dead.
Even though her soul had already been introduced to the rest of the fold, he still clutched her lifeless hand on her hospital bed. Their three children draped themselves onto her body and he whispered so quietly, in a voice that only I could hear, “I hate you, Death. I hate you so much.”
If I could cry, I would have then. Didn’t he see how she would have suffered if she had stayed in that cancer-riddled body? That living that kind of life would have hardly been a life at all? Who he should really be cursing is Plague, who wasn’t nearly as sensitive to humans’ feelings as I was. But still, I knew the hearts that I had left broken in my wake. Even worse, I would not be able to stay and help this family through their grieving process. I would never be able to reassure them until they too had met their end. Instead, I moved on to the next soul.
I left Andre then, but not before caressing his face. He shivered, then glared. He knew who I was, but he did not understand me, and so, he hated me with all of the brightness of his soul. I heard a human saying somewhere that hate was just a few steps away from love, but I think that was just one of the many things that humans were wrong about.
I didn’t see him again for many years after that. But finally, the time came for me to collect his soul. When I came for him, he was a withered man, mostly bald, a little blind, and his mind long gone. His soul had many, many holes in it, some bigger than others, but they all shined with the same golden light that emanated from within. Age had made him more beautiful than ever.
When entered his hospice room, he noticed me right away. His three children, now fully grown and then some, thought that it was his dementia that made him say, “So, we finally meet, you bastard.”
Unfortunately, his last words alive would be a curse to me. Gently, I finally took him in my grasp. He jiggled, not because of me, but because he could already sense his long-lost wife within me. I let him go to her. And although he was now a part of me, I knew that he would never truly be mine.