“Please, Mister, let me call someone,” the nurse pleaded.
"No,” the old patient said determined.
“Don’t you want your children to say goodbye, your grandchildren?” she tried again.
“No, now leave me,” the man felt his strength fading.
“Fine,” the nurse sighed reluctantly, leaving the room. The man turned over to his back, and stared at the ceiling.
Perhaps, this would finally be the night.
“Who goes there?” cracked the old man’s voice. He opened his eyes and saw the first sunbeams crawling into his room.
“It is I, have you already forgotten me, my friend?” a young woman smiled as she appeared from the shadows. Her white hair flowed from her head down her back. Two braids kept her hair from her face and supported the tiara made from twigs, decorated with small lily’s and white violets. Slightly flushed cheeks and rose lips against her floral white skin. While her deep grey eyes stared at the man, he knew she was a queen. Stern yet just.
“Ah,” the man sighed, reminiscing and tired, “You’ve come personally.”
“Of course. It seemed fitting, my friend,” with an air of dignity, the lady made her way through the room and sat beside the bed. Her black gown seemed both a heavy burden as a soft embrace.
“It has been a while, has it not?” her soft voice whispered as her cold fingers touched the man’s arm.
“You could've come earlier,” the man looked up, “It’s been too long since ... Cora.”
“Your wife misses you as well,” the young woman’s eyes shone friendly. The man turned his head and looked at her. Fierce yet young, all men feared her, but why?
“Why…” the man sighed, wondering if he wanted to ask the question. The queen cocked her head, while the rest of her posture remained grand and worthy.
“You have always had many questions, my friend,” she said loving with a soft voice, “Questions and wishes. When I came for your mother, you wanted to stop me. When you saw me in the war, you wanted to control me. When I took your first daughter, you wanted to switch places. Still, I have always liked and admired you, even though you are human.”
“Then, why…” the man opened his eyes, but stopped.
“Please,” the young woman encouraged.
“Well, forgive me,” the man mumbled, “but you’re so different than I’ve imagined.”
The lady laughed, light and cool, “Most people expect a man, since most are taken by my men. But those who are worthy, I gather personally.”
“You are less frightening,” the man repelling horrid memories of war.
“I can be frightening,” the young woman said. For a moment the man looked up and saw she was right. Her grey eyes turned black and empty, her features became sharp, her nails turned to knives, her gown released leathery wings, while hissing minions crawled from her shadow. But not now, not here. Now she was alone, and her grace covered the horrendous side.
“But only for those who have a reason to fear me. Only for those who fear what comes after,” she said as her serenity returned.
“Do I not have to fear the end?” the man nervously played with his sheets, as he wondered if all he had believed had been a fairytale.
“Oh, it does not end here, my friend,” her eyes shone secretly, “And your entrance has already been paid.”
“What does comes after?” the man wondered.
A playful smirk appeared as the young woman’s grey eyes shone, “Why ask when you can find out?”
“Death smiles upon us all,” the man realised and smiled at her.
“All you can do is smile back,” the queen finished.
“I’m ready,” the man nodded.
“Come,” the young woman stood up.
“I’m ready, Cora,” the man mumbled, thinking he could see his wife already.
“Come, my friend,” she reached her hand as a light appeared behind her. Light as a feather, the old man rose and straightened his back. He accepted the hand and found it strong and warm.
“I’m ready,” he said again. The young lady smiled and guided the man, away.