“You’re good with them.”
“Chopsticks? Well when I was traveling, I- “
He looked down at the wilting petal in his hand.
“You’re just good with them,” he repeated.
She set down her lunch, realizing the serious turn of their conversation, “Are you disappointed in that?”
“Lying to me has never gone well for you.”
“That is true,” he smiled.
She leaned her brow into his shoulder, “Speak. Tell me what is bothering you.”
He sighed. She was the wiser. It was comforting and annoying at once. He relaxed his hand and let the petals fall into the slow moving stream in front of them.
“Sometimes…” he began, “Sometimes I feel I work so hard for them, and yet they do not know me at all.”
“I can agree with that,” She nodded at his side, her warmth spreading from his shoulder across his neck. “It is hard to appreciate all that you do, when they cannot see all of its effects. Please trust that I do.”
“I know you do,” he turned and kissed the dark crown of her head, feeling a twinge of guilt at the unsaid accusation.
“What would help, my love?” Came her whisper. “Would you like to travel with me? I’ve always thought you too busy to do so, but perhaps if you did, you could see…”
“No, no. I would never interrupt your work.”
They were quiet for moment.
Silence was a frequent state for them. But not a still silence, no.
The silence between Life and Death was quite full.
“You are there for their every achievement. I’m there for only the finale. It is cliche, but there is a reason the standing ovation is at the end, my dear. I cannot control that you are not there for it.”
“I hold no anger towards you. There is only jealousy.”
She chuckled, low but truly, “Well, I appreciate the honesty.”
He smiled, held out his hand, and she took it.
“Tell me,” she commanded, “what has brought these shadows on? Usually, when you mourn your plight, you brighten yourself with lovely creations that send me spinning with their brilliant colors, or ideas that take the others eons to understand! Yet here you are with eyes dark as mine. Tell me.”
He knew he had to tell her. Had always known. There was never a thought or a feeling they had hid from one another. Siblings? Lovers? Two parts of one? He knew, yet never knew. Their togetherness, separation, had never quite been defined by the other. He cared not, as long as she was nearby.
“There is one of mine, that should be one of yours.”
“Oh?” She asked allowed.
He searched endlessly in her one syllable for if she had already known of his sin or not.
“Yes. She desires you far more than me, and yet she has so much to do.”
“That is not unusual.”
“What is unusual is… she has spoken with the others.”
He felt her whole self become still.
“You… allowed her to speak with the others before me?”
“It wasn’t really an ‘allowed.’ They approached her. Or she them. I’m unsure.”
“How long has she been in the knowing?”
“What is a while?”
“It’s… a while.”
She sat up. “THEIR while or our while?!” Darkness gathered around them, and the stream slowed to a halt. He was tempted to engage but did not want to upset her further.
“No! No, I’m saying everything wrong. She’s-“
Lightening now, and the trees drew bare. “She. Is. WHAT.”
“She’s part of the blurred space.”
He watched her purposefully sit back.
Her body relaxed slightly, and she spoke again, “The blurred space…” the stream resumed its flow, yet noticeably slower.
He invited fish and frogs to fill the air with music to ease the tension. Then he took a long, purposefully audible sigh, but he could still feel the stiffness in the shoulder she leaned against his.
“Yes. But I understand.”
“If you understand, they why are you angry?”
“…because pain is part of your business, not mine. But you are ignorant to that.”
“I believe you heard me clearly.”
“I did. I ask for explanation.”
She parted from him slightly, enough to face him. Her swirling hazel eyes caught the light from behind him, and he saw each speck of gold and green and blue that hid beneath the marshy green.
“When the others get involved, the poor dears stand between you and I, where they do not belong! It tears at the very atoms of them, because they are not designed to stand in such an undefined space. You are used to their pain, you see it every morning, noon, and night. But I am shielded from that. I wrap peace around them, I soothe. I gather their loved ones, I sing their praises! You think when one of them enters the blurred space, all is well because all is equal- it is not so! Imagine a dog whipped so long it no longer whines. THAT is the blurred space between us! And you think I would not be angry?!”
“They are my children to raise!” He countered.
“And they are mine to LOVE! You have never dared to do such a thing!” She roared.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. The grass beneath their feet grew and perished a hundred times over. He felt the static on his neck as lightening struck dust in the distance. Fire stretched from its landing and began to feed upon the forest.
“You will not forgive me,” he finally mumbled.
“I have always forgiven you,” she cooed, pulling him into her chest.
She called the fire back, but could not repair its char.
“How do I undo this?” He whispered into her neck.
“I will fix this, my love. Tell me her name, I will go.”
Grief (noun): 1. Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. 2. Trouble or annoyance.
An inspiration admittance: This first line came straight from The Sandman (book Neil Gaimen, show on Netflix, highly recommend). I’ve also always been fascinated by this internet-famous relationship of Life and Death.
I took it hopefully a notch my own, to the idea that Life is actually the more ruthful of the two. I think most Western religious, and several of the large Easter ones, view it as such. Life is the difficult thing to get to peaceful, rewarding Death. And yet, in our secular world, Death is the bad guy- to be portrayed as dark and brooding in movies and nightmares, and to be avoided at all costs, even to the point of painful procedures. It’s an interesting dichotomy that I think artists (many many MANY more talented than I) have attempted to tackle for centuries. This is just my go at it, because today I’m sipping a Bellini, and I wish I could call my Nanna and my Grandma and tell them I pickled a peach and used the juice to mix with Prosecco. And I can’t.
Whaaaaaat it’s Pepper!!! Poor Pepper, hasn’t she been through ENOUGH?! Uninterested kids, a wayward husband, and now Death itself has it out for her?!