Short Story: A Conversation with Death

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Alyssa’s eyes fluttered closed, she couldn’t take the argument’s anymore she just wanted to sleep, was that so difficult for them to understand?

A warm hand on her shoulder had her eyes opening again.

“It’s you,” she breathed with a smile.

A nod of a dark head, shrouded in darkness his features weren’t easy to distinguish, but she knew this man, trusted him, with her life, which was ironic really, considering who he was.

“You are still decided then.” It was a question but like everything he said it sounded like a statement, an absolute truth.

Alyssa sat up and nodded eagerly, the people around her bed ignorant of her actions, still arguing and reasoning amongst themselves, over her. Her opinion wasn’t sought, it didn’t matter to them what she thought.

“Please,” Alyssa pleaded.

A slow shake of his head, sending his dark hood shifting slightly, even though the room was brightly lit, he stood in darkness, it clung to him like the robes he was wearing.

“Why do you dress like that still? I’m not afraid of you.” Alyssa said tilting her head to the side. She had seen him wear casual clothes, but he was back to his robes again as though he wanted to remind her who he was.

“But you should be,” he said quietly.

“I’m not, I’m ready –”

“You are not, you think you are, but you are not. You are too young to understand that; you will miss out on things, you have not even realised you will miss.” He said.

Alyssa just stared at him her face stubborn.

He held out his hand.

“Come with me,” he said.

Alyssa eagerly complied; stepping out of her body came naturally to her now, like it no longer belonged to her. She looked down at the stranger, hooked up to the life support machines, surrounded by her family and the best Doctors and Nurses she had ever known, but still it was easy to step away and leave them all. It was far easier for her to take his hand.

He took her to a house she knew too well, a bedroom she hadn’t seen for almost a year. It hadn’t changed; a picture that her sister had brought to the hospital was here in her room before she had gotten really sick. Her bed never as neat as her sister’s had her teddy bears assembled on her bed waiting for her return.

“Why have you brought me here?” She asked him a catch in her throat as she slowly touched the light pink walls, she remembered having an argument with her sister over the choice, they had settled on painting two sides of their room yellow and the other two sides pink.

“I want to show you, all you will leave behind.”

Alyssa gasped as her sister stepped into the room. She looked happier than Alyssa had seen her in a long time. At thirteen Penelope was two years older and being tall always looked more mature. Alyssa took a step back as she, or rather a projection of her walked into the room. It was strange seeing herself so vibrant and full of life. Alyssa’s projection and Penelope’s began painting their nails.

Alyssa’s eyes shimmered as she looked away at the scene; so normal and yet something she had been longing for.

The scene shifted, Penelope and Alyssa’s projection were older in their mid-to late teens. They were chatting excitedly as they made their way downstairs. Alyssa followed the duo as the doorbell rang. The house was different, the pictures on the wall depicting the passage of a life she couldn’t know. She stopped short at the sight of her parents, they looked exactly the same, except Dad’s hair was greyer. Mum whispered something in Dad’s ear a smile on her lips as Dad narrowed his eyes at a boy who looked to be sixteen; he was shifting from one foot to the other.

Alyssa glanced at her companion.

“The first boy you ever love.” He explained.

The scene shifted again and she was graduating, she looked so different, the hair she had always struggled to grow, had been cut very short almost pixie, but it suited her older face; she’d even pierced the top of her ear. The older version of her smiled as she went to hug her sister and her parents who were applauding and beaming at her.

Alyssa wiped tears out of her eyes at the image.

“I don’t want to see anymore.” Alyssa said, the tears wouldn’t stop as she kept wiping her face over and over again.

“One more.” He said.

The scene shifted and it was her and her sister’s bedroom again, except everything was different, the walls were painted a dark plum and a deep purple, even as they grew older they would always disagree on the colours. The shelves were empty; boxes lay around everywhere as though they were moving. An older version of both of them lay on separate beds but they had both closed the divide by reaching out their hands to each other.

“Ally?” Penelope said softly.

“Yeah?” Alyssa’s projection said.

“Even if we are miles apart, promise me that we will always find our way to each other?” Penelope asked.

“Always,” Alyssa’s projection responded.

The scene shifted and she was standing in the bedroom again, the one she had left behind.

“Why are you doing this?” She asked.

“You are too young to die.” He responded.

“You have taken younger, why are you hesitating?” She asked.

“Because you have a choice to live, take it.” It was as close to a plea she had ever heard him make.

Alyssa shook her head.

“Let me show you something.” She reached out for his hand, “take me back.”

Suddenly they were back at the hospital again and her broken body was before them, her parents were still arguing with the doctors and Penelope was sat in the corner, doing her homework, but every so often she would look up.

“Listen to them,” Alyssa said softly.

“I know what I said but I can’t bear to give up on her, I want to keep her on life support for as long as possible!” Mum said angrily.

The Doctor sighed.

“That’s fine Marianne, it really is, but Ally will still be in pain, we are talking about multiple organ failure, she’ll be in constant pain until the end, if she doesn’t want to prolong things –”

“She’s eleven for Christ sakes! What does she know about a decision like this?!” Mum said.

“We will not take any action without your consent, but –”

“You’re damn right you won’t!” Mum said and she glared at Dad who hadn’t yet spoken.

“We won’t, but,” Doctor Anthony said slowly, “please re-consider, think about it from her point of view –”

“I am, and she is a child!”

“For a child to even be considering this option, says something about her mind-set, she’s spoken with the therapist –”

“I don’t care whose she’s spoken with, who in their right mind would sign off a child on their decision to die?” Mum said glaring at Wilson, the therapist, in disgust.

“We don’t want to upset you anymore,” Doctor Anthony said placidly and she and the other Doctors left the room.

Mum burst into tears as she turned to Dad, and Alyssa watched them with a lump in her throat and a heavy feeling in her chest. She looked up, but her companion was staring at her parents with a sad look in his eyes.

“See how much pain I cause them, and I’ll only cause them more and more, even after I’m gone I’ll cause them pain, so why should I prolong things any more than I have to. Every day I will be in pain, and they’ll be miserable watching me in pain. I can put an end to this right now, right here, I can choose, I can die and set them free.”

“You are too young, to speak so easily of death.” He said turning to her.

“I wouldn’t speak to death if death didn’t speak back.” She said.

She could already feel the pull of her body again; she had been away from it for too long.

“Think about it,” she asked him, as she slipped once more into her body.

“I will if you will.” He said before he vanished.

The monitors began beeping as soon as Alyssa fully merged with her body. She didn’t know how she could forget this level of pain, she gasped for breath even as the tubes fed her oxygen, was in agony even though the medicine numbed out her body. She felt pressure on both her hands and she slowly opened eyes, it was funny how much such a small movement cost her, when she had walked and talked so easily in spirit form.

“Penny?” She asked softly, her vocal cords raw and rough from abuse and disuse.

“I’m here,” Penelope said from the foot of her bed, she was blinking rapidly and Alyssa felt herself beginning to cry before she stopped herself.

“Mum,”

More pressure on her left hand.

“I’m here baby, I’m here,” Mum said, her voice thick with emotion.

“Dad?” Alyssa tried to turn her head, but the movement was too painful and she stopped as she felt a tear slip down her face.

“Shh, don’t move Ally, I’m here.” Dad said softly kissing her right hand and he pressed something on the machine so it would give her another dose of medication.

“Please, please, I can’t do this anymore,” she paused as she took in a ragged breath, “you have to let me go, please let me go.” She pleaded, and she felt the tears rolling down her face.

“Don’t ask that of us Ally, you don’t know what you are saying.” Mum said crying.

Alyssa looked at Dad, after weeks of asking, they had both agreed with her yesterday.

“How can I let you go?” He asked, tears in his eyes.

“I understand,” Penelope said slowly, “I don’t accept it, but I understand.” She wiped furiously at her face.

Mum began to cry harder.

“You have to fight Ally, you have to fight this.” Dad said squeezing her hand a little harder.

“I have, and I’m tired, so tired. Please, I don’t want to fight anymore, I just want to rest.” Alyssa said slowly, her speech was slurred as she felt the effects of the increased dose.

“We want more time.” Dad said.

Alyssa tried to shake her head but her eyes were closing as the medicine overtook her compulsion to stay awake.

*

Alyssa came awake slowly to the sound of hushed but urgent voices.

“Just let me just hold her in peace.” Mum said.

“I know you do, but I can’t watch her dying before she actually dies.” Dad said sadly.

Alyssa tried to open her eyes to tell them to stop.

“She’s only a child, she…she can survive.” Mum said desperately.

“Stop this, she’s dying and,” Dad cleared his throat, “she wants to die, and as hard as it is for me to even consider, I have to let her go.”

“No, no, I need more time.” Mum said.

“We always knew we were living on borrowed time, eleven years, the Doctors didn’t think we’d even have one. Her sickle cell has ravaged her enough, we were only burrowing her from heaven, but we have to give her back.” Dad said.

Alyssa felt herself drift into unconsciousness.

*

Alyssa woke up again, she felt oddly peaceful as she opened her eyes and she saw the dark figure at the door.

“You’ve come for me?” She asked hopefully.

A slow nod.

“Say goodbye.” He said softly.

“I love you and thank you” she said looking at Mum, Dad, the doctors and nurses then finally at Penelope.

There were tears everywhere.

Alyssa smiled as she felt her eyes flutter close.

 

 

Short Stories: The Secret life: Book of Love: The End

Penny coughed and suddenly she came awake, her pulse racing as she scrambled away from Life and Love, which was ironic if she really thought about it, she had been running away from life and love ever since…

“Look at me” Life said softly.

Penny looked up; that beautiful voice, it was so compelling she couldn’t do anything but not look at life when life asked her to.

“You are not human, not fully anyway. That is why you feel the way you do,” Life explained slowly.

Penny looked at Love, who nodded slowly.

“Is that why I lost my parents? Because that’s how I feel, I feel as though –”

“As though something is missing, as though you could have done something, that you could be something more, that you could be –”

“More than I am” Penny finished her voice filling with a confidence that surprised her.

“Yes, it is why you can see us, and why you found this place it is also why Love is so compelled by you” Life finished with a smile, glancing over at Love, who gazed at Penny.

Penny smiled slightly and looked away from the intensity of Love’s gaze.

“But you are not of age yet to join us.” Life suddenly warned.

“But I am eighteen” Penny complained glancing over at Love again, for some reason she completely believed them, she felt it deep in her core. Her life suddenly filling with a purpose she had never felt. They were right, she had felt somewhat responsible for what had happened to her parents, in fact she had always felt responsible for anything bad that happened, like she should have done something, or stopped it somehow.

“In human terms you are of age but to us you become of age at twenty one, that is when we shall know what exactly you are,”

Penny’s brow furrowed as questions flooded her, if she wasn’t human then?

“Tell me all when I am ready, Vita” Penny murmured.

“You spoke my true name,” Life said softly. “How do you know?”

Penny shrugged, and glanced at Love again, it was like, now Life had mentioned the connection between them she couldn’t help but keep looking at him, she hoped whatever she turned into wasn’t going to be hate.

“Penny, you must go now or the sleep inducement shall not work” Love said softly, his voice catching a little.

“Sleep inducement?” Penny glanced at Life, who was still staring at her in wonder.

“Yes we must make you forget, you will think of this day as only a dream and then when you finally turn of age and your power comes through, you shall remember” Life said carefully.

“But there is so much, I mean –” Penny floundered.

“I will not forget you” Love said and he pressed surprisingly warm lips to hers, her head spun as he deepened the kiss. ‘So this is love,’ was her last thought as she suddenly grabbed hold of Love’s thick hair pulling him closer to her.

*

Penny blinked and suddenly she was awake.

She swung her feet of her to-short-bed, her head felt strange, and she was really dizzy as she rose to her feet.

Chores! Must do chores’ she thought trying to gather her bearings.

“You better be up doing breakfast, Penny, I mean it or it’s the pits for you young lady” The Mistress of the orphanage said sharply.

Penny was about to run and do her chores, when she pressed a finger to her lips, they tingled slightly. Had she drank something poisonous? Maybe something with too much spice?

A great smile broke out across her face, as she touched her lips once more.

“Love”

Short Stories: The Secret Life: Book of Love Part 7

But Love didn’t get a chance to respond, for she heard another sound, two more figures emerged, she guessed they were probably here to protect Love from her, which was within itself crazy, Love was far taller and stronger than she, she didn’t stand a chance. Penny turned to see the two new people, no they certainly weren’t people, when suddenly the clearing grew unnaturally quiet and they all lowered themselves to their knees, as a beautiful woman appeared over the water, she was the most beautiful woman Penny had ever seen, she glowed much like the rest of them, but she was different even if they hadn’t all dropped to their knees Penny would have anyway.

“Life” She heard the others murmur as one.

Life? As in Life itself or self, O geez I’m rambling and I’m in a forest full of emotions

“She is not a human, not fully anyway,” a beautifully rich voice said.

Penny smiled as she looked up, my God she was beautiful, she felt tears in her eyes as life came to stand in front of her.

“Ahh Penelily I remember,” Life placed a hand on Penny’s check and everything went dark.

                                 *  

Everything was very dark, it always took her so long to wake up, but then again the only thing she was looking forward to was cooking and cleaning, as one of the oldest girls at the orphanage she was the only one allowed to use the stove.

She still couldn’t convince her body to rise, she heard voices. ‘O great they’ve come to wake me up!

She would get up, before they beat her up.

“You know better than to touch them, they are so fragile” A soft voice said slowly.

She knew that voice, but from where? No one at the orphanage had such beautifully rich voice, who was he?

“She is not fully human” Another voice said slowly.

Penny struggled to rise, she had to see who that voice belonged to, she had to, if she didn’t…she didn’t know why but if she didn’t see this woman…

“Still, anyway I have things to attend, Love try not to get into altercations” This voice was harsher, but it was still one of the nicest voices she had heard.

“How is it that she can see us?” This was the first voice again, the beautifully rich one that reminded her of…no she couldn’t think about that…

“You need not fear, which reminds me, fear you may leave”

“Why I’m having so much fun, I’ll stay”

Penny felt herself shaking that voice!!!

“No, I need her alert, where is hope and happiness they are always late” The beautiful soft voice said in exasperation or as close to that emotion her beautiful voice allowed.

Short Stories: The Secret Life: Book of Love Part 6

“Really?” Anger said taking a step towards her.

“Yes,” Penny said taking a step back, “I just was walking and I well I just stumbled into this place,” was she rambling? And why did she feel a need to defend Love.

Anger glanced at Love and raised an eyebrow. “Still, I don’t appreciate your attitude towards Love, your too angry –”

“Says the guy named Anger” Penny said angrily, dimly in the back of her mind she yelled at herself for being so easily provoked and realised that Angers presence was probably making her this way.

Anger took a menacing step towards her, “Little human, listen –”

“Don’t call me that!” She snapped, she took an involuntary step back suddenly overcome by an irrational feeling of fear; she shivered as her heart began to pound, she glanced at Love, he step towards her and glanced at Anger than glared at – Penny turned around and saw a little girl. Penny felt herself begin to lose consciousness but Love had moved to her side and placed a cool hand on her forehead.

“Fear you will cease” Anger said.

Penny felt herself falling, but Love quickly lifted her up and slowly put her on the soft grass, pulling her closer to him.

Penny looked over at the little girl, she seemed so innocent maybe only five years old, but here was something incredibly sinister about she smiled up at Anger.

“I only came to protect Love”

Penny felt herself shake and her heart rate spike at the little girls’ terrible voice, and she started shaking again, Love tightened his arms around her.

“Fear stop, she is only a human, turn it off” Anger said, tugging one of fears blond ringlets.

Fear smiled revealing perfectly straight teeth, and then rolled her eyes. “Fine” she said pushing past Anger and looking at Penny, who moved closer to Love.

“You cannot harm Love human, I need him, if people do not love, then they will never fear losing their loved ones, nor will they get angry” she gestured to Anger “when these loved ones do them wrong, am I right?” Fear said her high squeaky voice sounding far older than she looked.

Penny shivered, not looking into her creepy blue eyes, which drew another pearly smile from Fear.

“Fear” Love warned.

“What?” Fear said glancing at Love, “She is so resilient, you know I love a challenge.”

Penny narrowed her eyes at fear, and suddenly she felt too close to Love, his arms all over her, she squirmed and he released her easily.

“So, what is she doing here Love?” Fear said still looking at Penny.

Short Stories: The Secret Life: Book of Love Part 5

“This can’t be happening, this isn’t real!”

He made to take a step towards her, but she backed up alarmed, his presence was messing with her mind, her emotions, everything! This wasn’t real, she was dreaming, love wasn’t real, at least not for her, and it certainly didn’t exist as a person.

“Listen to me Penny, Love is real, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be here.” He paused and she watched him take a step closer. “I’m here to show you what your missing because I know what you’re going throu –”

“No you don’t!” She snapped, stopping his advance.

“But I do –” He began, in that annoyingly beautiful voice of his, that radiated patience and calm serenity she couldn’t imagine and that at this instant she not only resented but hated, it reminded her of all people she had had to deal with ever since she had lost her family, that voice that told her everything was going to be okay, that attitude that patronized, that tone that didn’t understand the extent of her loss.

She exploded; “Don’t tell me that!” She was advancing on him now, the extent of her anger making Love take a step back.

But Love recovered quickly and held his ground; “I do know, I that –”

“Have you ever loved someone?”

“I am Love,”

“So? Answer me! Have you ever loved someone?”

“Well I…” Love faltered as she advanced on him even further, she tip-toed so she could try and look into his eyes as she fumed.

“Then you do not understand! You will never understand what it means to lose your very self!” She was screaming now, her finger pointing accusingly at him, unchecked tears freely running down her face.

“Whoa! What’s going on here?” A soft voice said behind her.

Penny jumped and spun around. A tall dark man leaned casually against a tree, calmly polishing an apply on his robes, they were the same kind of ones Love was wearing, he was handsome in a strange way, but there was a strange look in his eyes that angered her for some reason, she was suddenly consumed with so much anger and she was about to turn back to Love, to continue yelling at him.

“Anger, not the time” Love said.

Penny looked between the two and tried to clear her head.

“Well excuse me, but I felt you in danger, so I came to assist,” the one called Anger glanced at Penny, she felt that unbelievable anger again, she glared at him.

“Anger, stop that,” Love snapped.

Anger laughed, “Well, I’m not the one that brought a human here” he said, showing the first signs of his namesake as he glared at Love.

“He didn’t bring me here” Penny said calmly, now that anger wasn’t effecting her, she wasn’t feeling quite so irrationally angry, she was mildly surprised at how strong her voice sounded, Anger wasn’t as serene looking as Love, he exuded a kind of mysterious power, that told her that even though he appeared calm, he only appeared that way.

Short Stories: The Secret Life: Book of Love Part 4

Penny stepped back, for some reason she almost believed him, the feelings she had felt from the waterfall seemed to confirm his story. She watched him step closer to her, he came forward each step slow and deliberate, his eyes cautious, she thought about running but she decided she didn’t want to. Staring deep into her eyes he placed both of his surprisingly cool hands on her warm cheeks. The moment he touched her, she cried out and almost fell back, but the visions that filled her mind held her, had held her to the spot.

She saw her mother singing as she braided Penny’s hair, her father secretly kissing her mother’s cheek when he thought she wasn’t looking, her father urging her on as she raced into the forest to find whatever treasures he had hidden there, he saw the three of them laughing and joking as they had a picnic in this very woods. She saw her mother’s funeral her father not bothering to hold back his anguish, her father embracing her fiercely each night assuring her that life would get better, her aunt stroking her the way her mother used to at her father’s funeral only a few months later.

The visions stopped, and she stumbled away from Love her heart racing as she tried to supress the feelings he had stirred so easily within her. She looked up at him; Love wiped a tear from his face it happened so quickly she wondered if her eyes had deceived her.

“You used to love so deeply so completely,” he said voice petal soft.

Penny turned away unable to stop the tears that sprang to her eyes, she thought those memories had been successfully repressed. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder and felt an overwhelming since of ease. Is he doing that to me?

“Stop it!” she snapped.

He stepped away his face apologetic, and removed any sense of ease she had begun to feel.

Short Stories: The Secret Life: Book of Love

The Secret life: Book of love

Penny ran. She had to run, what else could she do but run? She couldn’t have stayed even if…even if what? No, running was her only option. She was careful of her footing as she made her way through the thick forest – her father had once taught her exactly how to run in a forest, when they used to go on their adventures. But no, she mustn’t think about that. A brunch scratched her cheek and she paused to take a breath and assure herself that she wasn’t being followed. What was that she heard? The stream? But surely she couldn’t have been running for that long? She slowed and came to a clearing. A waterfall, a real life waterfall! Penny gazed at the cascading water with wide and wild eyes. She crept closer her feet making their own way.

She leaned in and drank. An explosion of flavour so rich and deep it startled her, but not nearly as much as the emotions that accompanied them: a deep sense of loyalty, commitment, gratitude, contentment and bliss. Bliss so deep and so extreme she thought for certain she might pass out from the sheer joy of it, where it not for the unfamiliar flutter in her chest. ‘What is this water’ she thought, ‘Should I be scared?‘ But that couldn’t be felt under all the emotions she was already feeling.

‘Perhaps it’s a dream, or a hallucination, I might have hit my head on the way up here and be unconscious right now, another drink just to confirm’ Penny began to lean in again when a voice as smooth as velvet itself spoke.

“I knew you would wish for another”

She looked around wildly the feelings from the water flared uncontrollably as she set eyes on who the voice belonged to. Dressed in a long bright robe, she couldn’t discern the colour; he seemed to be emitting off some kind of glow, not only from his clothes but from his very self. She stared at him mouth agape; he was far too beautiful for her eyes to fully appreciate. He was too much; he couldn’t and shouldn’t be stared at head on.