Mention of death, suicide, and mental health.
To say my job is hard, it’s an understatement.
I am one of the thousands of workers allotted to take people away after they pass. People call us Death. We don’t look the way people describe us in the media, there isn’t a dress code. We don’t wear long black cloaks and carry a menacing scythe. How we look varies on each one of us. I am light, I am scary, and I am inevitable. That’s the only way to describe me.
The unfortunate part of my job starts when I arrive at the scene. Millions die every day, and I am responsible for thousands of them. Today, it’s a routine hit-and-run accident. A truck driver on his phone did not see where he was going and hit a car. The truck driver is fine, and for the other, he is at his last minute.
It’s always best to arrive a few minutes before they die, when you’re late, their souls wander around aimlessly searching for answers. If that happens and one of us does not arrive even for a few minutes, the soul wanders for eternity.
I hover over the man, Trevor Jones. Such a shame, he is so young. Then there comes, the worst part of my job. Nearing his last breath, he sees me. Eyes widen with fear, and his soul struggles vigorously as I pry him away from the body.
As I carry Trevor’s soul, I look over to the truck driver, Edgar Tze. He is on the ground just a few feet away with the police officers. I can feel his energy. The pure guilt he is radiating is nauseating even for me. The haunted look on his face. The accidental killer, a guilt he will carry for the rest of his life.
Trevor is still scared, rightfully so. When people find out they don’t just disappear into nothingness after death, they begin to panic. Hell or Heaven? That is all they can think about. They ask me every question they can, but I can’t answer as I don’t know the answers as well. I am just the chariot they ride to their destination.
I take a long hard look at Edgar before I head off. There is a dooming feeling that I am going to see him very soon. I try to soothe Trevor as much as I can. But he is cursing me. Telling me he still has a long life to live, his daughters need him.
“There is nothing that can be changed now.” My voice is monotone, unlike the constant running emotions in me.
“They will suffer! I need to provide for them!” He yells at me. “I need to go back!”
“What is done, is done. We need to go now.” The whole way Trevor begs for another chance. The destination we are heading to is called The Inbetween. It’s a void where we leave the souls collected. And what happens to them after? I am not sure. The knowledge is above my authority. Trevor is in my mind as I head right back to work.
This one is heartbreaking. Ryan Patel. 15 years old, suicide.
He is on his bed, heaving, and vomiting. He didn’t know it was going to be this hard to kill yourself. He stumbles onto the floor, trying so hard to get to the door, but he is too weak. The medications he is overdosing on are strong, he does not have much time.
Ryan had the life of many children of immigrant parents. Parents worked very hard to provide him with a good life, but that meant his social life, and mental health was restricted. Even with all the knowledge and the brilliance in his brain, he couldn’t understand the chemical imbalance in it. And as expected, how could his family understand it? With everyone dismissing his pleas to help his mind, into a spiral he went.
He finally sees me right in front of him. And he is so scared. Haunting wails come out of his mouth, sounds of fear and pain. His legs try their best to move away from me. But he is so weak. Soon I have his soul with me. He is less angry and more scared. No matter what people say, no one really wants to die. They always seem to realize that only when it’s too late.
“Please.” He pleads, “Take me back. I changed my mind.”
I tell him what I told Trevor. “Nothing can be changed now.”
“My parents will find my body, they’ll be in so much pain.” His soul trembles. “I beg you. Please.” I feel a pang of guilt. If I could give them a second chance, I would give it to so many of them. It pains me to see many not live to see all the good this ugly world has to give.
“I am just here to take you. Everything else is out of my control son.” I try my best to ignore his pleas on the journey to The Inbetween.
The next job is in a place calmer than the two. Scarlett Moore is on her hospital bed with a machine monitoring her heart and an IV running through her. Late-stage breast cancer, it runs in her family.
As soon as I arrive, I notice that I am very early, there is 15 minutes left for her. I hover over her, looking over her life, seeing all the happy moments and the bad moments. And it was a good change of pace for today, she led a good life, and she was fully content.
“Am I going to die now?” She asks, cutting the peek I was taking into her life, short. I am taken aback. Normally people can only see us when they are seconds away from death. But there was a good 10 minutes left in her. “Yes.” I never lie to people.
Scarlett doesn’t panic as I expected, instead, she smiles. “Are you not scared?” I ask. I don't know about my coworkers, but I’ve only met people who are afraid to pass over. The aura she had was soft and peaceful. Nothing like the usual ones I encounter.
The smile still lingers on her face, still going strong. “It’s what I’ve been waiting for.”
“They all say that, but in the end, fear takes hold of them,” I tell her.
“I am 78 years old.” She looks at me directly now. “I’ve had good days, bad days, and the best days.” The machine beeps loudly in the background. “My children have their own kids, and I have seen my grandchildren grow up to be the best people they can be. I am happy to leave now. I wouldn’t want to go if things weren’t going well.”
“That’s a very different way of thinking than most people.”
“Well, I’ve been blessed with certain privileges.” She looks at the hospital room. It was not just a regular public hospital room, it was a private room with all the high-tech machinery. An ordinary person in this life couldn’t even dream to afford it. “Also, I think I’d like to meet Kim soon.”
Kim was her wife. Married in their 40s after their divorces, they fell in love hard and strong. Each had never felt love in that strength before, so there was no choice but to marry each other. Kim died 5 years ago from the same cancer Scarlett is dying of. Scarlett was filled with grief but the support of her family helped her get back up faster than any regular person.
I don’t tell her that I don’t know if she can meet Kim or not. I am still not sure of the process of what happens after I bring them to the void. I want to lie to her, and tell her she’ll meet her, 100% guaranteed. But that’s just not who I am.
I let her talk about her children and grandchildren. I listen with all my heart because it’s so rare for people to be this content to die. And I like to hear the good parts of human life. The world is so ugly, but there are so many people still living in it. And I think it’s because of people. They make each other want to live. It’s people. It’s love.
“It’s time to go,” I tell her. She closes her eyes and the machine lets out a loud beep. All the nurses come rushing into the room in a full-blown panic. The chaos the room is in is such a contradiction to what Scarlett is feeling.
Scarlett’s soul beams bright and feels warm and light, it makes me feel more alive. She then says the two words that I have never heard in my life. “Thank you.”
The light I emit burns brighter and my voice finally has some emotion in them, one of gratefulness. “You’re welcome, Scarlett.”
Maybe my job isn’t too bad.