The soft breeze of the night transformed itself into a gale and rushed ahead to open the windows of the house for her. Mirrors cracked, curtains bellowed, hitting a vase somewhere in the house and crashing it to the floor.
It’s odd that my calm and serene presence should be announced with such violence, she thought.
Inside the house, in his bedroom, he slept on his side of the bed, undisturbed by the violent storm that raged outside. The other side of the bed was empty. A wave of guilt washed over her. She had been here before and she was the reason why he slept alone.
He lay supine, alone and in peace. She stood next to his bed, looking down upon his face, which was more wrinkled, more beaten, more tired, than it was when she had visited them last.
She walked around the bed to its other side, and slowly slid under the covers, her bones suddenly turning weary, her joints feeling stiff, and her face creasing with fine-lines – the signs of an advancing age. Then she touched his cheek, softly caressing it with the back of her hand. She knew that he would see his partner, his lover and companion of fifty years; he would see the woman she had taken away from him. She was adept at effecting this metamorphosis.
He sighed in his sleep and turned his side to face her. Then he opened his eyes. Just a little more than a year had passed since she had visited last, but his skin had lost its suppleness and his eyes their sparkle; but just for a moment there, she saw the sparkle return. His lips spread into a smile and closed his eyes again.
She knew that he was dreaming of her and that this was the happiest he had been since his partner had died. And this was how he would die, with a smile on his face and a dream behind his eyes, because he had loved and was loved.
She slipped her arm under his neck and kissed his forehead. A moment later, his soul appeared, young and vibrant, and a shimmering silvery white. She got out of the bed and beckoned his soul to follow her.
Her task tonight was done. He came along willingly because he saw his dead love’s reflection in her face. Most of her assignments weren’t this simple. Souls indulged in trickery and bribery, even cheating and fraud, to keep her from taking them; they had to be pulled out by force and dragged away in chains!
As they passed a cracked mirror, she caught a glimpse of herself. A skeleton wearing a tattered black cape with an hourglass dangling from the belt; a dark forbidding specter wielding a scythe…this was what she was. The Grim Reaper.
But for the soul that she was transporting tonight, she wasn’t the grim ghost of death. She was his saint of hope.
The Window: By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The Death Reaper: By Jbuzbee (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons