Death’s Paramour – flash fiction
On the second day – our first date – he brought me flowers. Not dead blooms, not shrivelled black roses, but a bright bouquet. Cut flowers are dead or dying anyway, I suppose, and he told me that he harvested them himself with his scythe, as he harvests souls.
He looked so proud and yet so nervous, and I accepted the blooms with a smile.
*The scythe is both a literal and metaphorical tool, able to change and shift into whatever form he requires. One day he put his arms around me, letting me grasp the smooth handle of Death’s weapon, showing me how to wield the scythe in its most primal form.
It was like every trope ridden romance movie where a woman can’t learn archery unless the hero envelops her in his arms.
Still, I loved every moment of it.
*He brought me a picnic, a traditional wicker basket filled with food and wine, and we sat on a blanket under the heat of the noon day sun as if this were the most normal thing in the world, Death and a mortal.
“I love you,” he said.
“Then you will kill me,” I said, not afraid but a little saddened. I had in the past had thoughts of embracing death at my own hands but at this moment I was not ready.
He scoffed. “The kiss of death? A human concept.”
“But each man kills the thing he loves.”
He considered, the sunlight glinting on his shoulder-length brown hair. “Poetry can try to explain the human soul but it does not always succeed.”
“Then you’ll spare me from death?” Immortality had a certain attraction, if one could remain relatively healthy in mind and body and maintain a level of happiness that would not lead to thoughts of suicide.
Could he make me immortal – or perhaps there was only the pseudo immortality of the Greek myths, to be turned into a constellation or some such. If he could make me truly immortal would he stay at my side, or would he make me his only to abandon me, as so many gods did in the old stories?
He sighed. “Humans say that all things must die. That’s not really true. But all things grow and change. The essence remains but the rest adjusts. I cannot spare you that, even if I refuse to end your mortal existence, or show you another way of living.”
“What about Heaven? Hell? The Otherworld? The Elysian Fields?”
He laughed and poured more wine. “We have plenty of time to talk of such things. Trust me, I know that we do.”
*”Why do you love me?” I asked, lost in a deep despair. There were other women, millions of them, younger, thinner, curvier, prettier, nicer.
He ran long, elegant, fingers along my arm, making the tiny hairs stand up against my skin. “I love your soul,” he said. “Isn’t that what every person truly wants? To be loved for their true self, the one beneath their skin?”
“You can see my soul?”
“In all its glorious imperfection and great beauty.” He bent down and kissed me, his lips warm and soft in contrast to what one might have expected from the Pale Rider. “Let me kill your pain, my love. Let me show you ecstasy.”
I surrendered and, in my turn, took charge. It was glorious.
There is a reason the French call orgasms “the little death”.
*He is beautiful, or at least he is to me. There is no grinning skull beneath the cowl of the dark robes he wears when going about his business, though his sharp cheekbones are exceptional.
There is no joy in his work, only, sometimes, a satisfaction that comes with ending suffering, of knowing that death allows for rebirth. He is grim sometimes, for this job demands solemnity on most occasions, but he is more than this vocation. He knows joy and pain, compassion and contrition.
He is Death, and, somehow, I have become Death’s Bride. Day by day I become more entangled in his world, learning more of his secrets, wondering how I can carve out a space for myself in this new sphere.
I do not know what the future holds, but we face it together.
Shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorred monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare