Chills run along my spine whenever it senses his presence. He’s infatuated with me. And I, too, with him.
He follows behind me at home when I’m pouring tea, school when I’m scuffing in the hallways with those who accompany me every day, and even when I go to concerts to listen to the fabled genre of jazz. Death follows me. And I let him.
He’s, what I like to think, a bodyguard. Protecting me from the fears of the world, making sure I don’t end up on the wrong path. Knowing there is someone who cares puts a kind of reassurance in my heart.
My thoughts were interrupted by a girl who was running down the hallway, pushing past all the blurred faces.
“Hey!” she called out.
I tightened my grip on the textbooks resting on my arms.
Formulating a careful answer, I said, “Hey, what’s up?”
Her tall figure overlooked me and came closer as I backed up to my locker. “Are you...” she faltered. “Visiting him? Today is the day you know.”
Her voice came out aggressively soft.
I nodded. “Yes.”
“Do you want me to come with you? I would be willing to,” she asked, her voice raising a little.
Shaking my head, I said softly, “No, it’s okay. Thanks.”
She sent a small smiled before waving farewell. I forced my arm to raise, bidding her farewell.
Death appears behind me, shaking his head in disapproval before disappearing again. His disappointment makes my heart curl into itself.
Taking one last glance at the faded picture taped on my locker with tape that was about to give out, I closed it and trudged to class.
It was the same routine every day, every hour. It’s funny how robots are programmed to continuously do a routine until they get it right or are thrown away to the Pit of Who Knows What.
School felt like an ever screeching tire that could pierce someone’s ears eventually. Another day of blurred faces. I always wondered, was my face blurred to others as well?
Death appears again, shaking his head and trying to reach for my hand. Again, I shake him off and force his disappearance.
On my way out, I noticed dark clouds appearing across the gray sky. It appeared that the people about knew what today was. I smiled, grateful they knew what today was.
My single mother was waiting in the parking lot, busy taking a call.
We silently acknowledged each other when I got in. She knew where to go and I knew to not bother her when she’s talking business.
The car ride consisted of smooth jazz softly playing in the background as I stared out the window and up at the sky. A very cliche scene.
Cars drove past and I wondered where the people within those vehicles knew what day it was. They wouldn’t care. Everyone has their own problems to deal with. Perhaps one is off to the hospital to see their father who is deathly ill, or picking up their depressed child from school, oblivious to what goes behind their daughter’s facade, or driving to or from work, tired of the same endless cycle.
Death appears behind me and lets out a frustrated sigh. He kicks my chair repeatedly. My reply was simply ignoring his existence.
My mom stopped at the destination and waved farewell before speeding off to her next errand.I put my arm down as it was too late to acknowledge her wave.
The area was fairly dim with trees waving at me and the clouds starting to weep. The ground had a gravel pathway with cracks that were the homes to numerous weeds. There were never bees or butterflies in this area. However, anxiety always filled me when walking down the path as I anticipated seeing the living further down. Trees aligned the path, making sure I arrive at the right destination.
The birds started chirping their falsetto tunes and wind was whispering in my ear. Their insistence to comfort me slightly succeeded as the serene silence slightly lifted up my cheeks. The clouds tears wet my cheeks along with the wind’s coldness, tinting them red.
I fidgeted with my numerous bracelets, trying to ease the anxiety. Sensing Death’s appearance, I quickened my pace. He was not going to take me.
Your hands are trembling.
“Stop!” I shouted behind me and gripping my hands together. “I’m fine. Just, go away... please. Not right now.”
I could imagine a solemn obedience on his blurred face. His essence dissipated into the air with the wind carrying it over to the trees alongside the cracked road.
The journey was short but sweet as I wished there was time to admire nature's beauty with its ever-blooming tulips and peonies.
I arrived at a field full of stones and flowers. The green tickled my ankles as I walked by. There was an invisible path that guided me to one of the numerous stones laid out.
The clouds started to weep harder, and wind grew harsher. States like these were the ones I so yearned for to last forever. It was a bliss.
I gracefully toed the path, slightly crouching and staying silent. There appeared a white mirage with an unamused face, but its full lips held a smile. Its eyes gave away a sense of nostalgia and comfort. Its high cheekbones were extremely kissable. Giving into temptation, I jumped into its arms, only to find the mirage fading. My embrace was met with air.
And there I stood, in front of a stone. The engravings were prominent as tears pelted on it. There were wilted tulips that lay in front if it.
I stood there, staring mindlessly at it. It used to be the one who would miss me, but for the past two years, the roles have switched. It used to embrace me so much, I would feel like there was a fireplace near us with its kisses that were a butterflies touch.
There was a silent anticipation as I waited for Death to appear once again, shaking his head and offering his hand to my trembling ones. He’s waiting for me to let go, but I cling on harder and stubbornly refuse to allow It to disappear. It will not disappear.
My quivering lips didn’t dare say the name carved on a rock. The world was nothing but a ringing that was constantly drumming into my ear.
We were going to graduate together, celebrate each others successes, have a family. But, now, all of our memories will be embodied into a piece of earth.
No. It’s still alive. It hasn’t left me. It wasn’t permitted to leave my side.
So... why is It not beside me right now?
I crouched down to caress the rock. Within, there was a soul I loved so dearly, it became painful whenever out of sight.
But now, the soul was now out of my sight forever.
I realized, a long time ago, that Death was the only one who would ever be with me for eternity until, well, death.
Perhaps, I've been too fearful of accepting his hand.
Was his hand warm enough to embrace a selfish person like me? Was his hand big enough so I could clasp it when I’m falling?
Perhaps, the universe is telling me to face him, to embrace him, to accept his hand.
“Death!” I called out. “Death!”
A lonely silence echoed through the crestfallen sky.
My heartbeat was running as I started to panic at the thought of him leaving me. Eyes widening, I stumbled backward, trying to prevent myself from collapsing onto the Earth.
“Death! Please, I don't fear you anymore. Please, I need you now!” I screamed to the lifeless stone.
The silence was unbearable.
Tears started to erupt from my tired eyes.
“Damien, I need you!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, letting my legs give in.
And I broke.
The sobbing, the quivering, the mess was who I really was. I truly was alone.
“Hey, don’t be like that,” a voice interrupted.
I froze, not daring to look back. Time stopped my heart as well as the rest of my body from functioning properly. There was an instinct to brush him off again. However, I wasn’t going to lose him again. I will not let go again, not without a fight.
Death was waiting for me to take his hand and to look at his, perhaps, handsome face. And I was waiting for myself to comply with his wishes.
Clenching my fist, I closed my eyes and turned back, never looking forward again.
I faced my fears one last time.