The Lonely Death + The Tunnel

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Summary

In The Lonely Death, a man with no memories appears on the road and gets picked up by a kind stranger but this hitchhiking stranger is not what he seems. He's on a job and it quickly becomes apparent what his job is. He's there for the driver that picked him up. In The Tunnel, a woman suddenly finds herself in a long tunnel. She's not sure how she got there and did not know why she was there. The only thing she can do is continue forward, so with nothing else to do but press on, she does. As she walks, she starts to remember what happened to her. She died.

Genre:
Fantasy / Action
Author:
Rustin Petrae
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
2
Rating:
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:
16+

The Lonely Death

I don’t know who I am, where I came from, or where I’m going. I can’t even give you a rough estimation of how old I am. Very old is about as close as I can come to it.

All I know is my job. Actually, it’s more like a calling (or, to be perfectly honest, an unrelenting compulsion).

Let me explain.

Most people, in their eyes, would probably think me evil, or some version of it anyway. I don’t believe that, however. It’s about perspective, I guess. Other people, looking at what I do through a view outside of what’s really going on, say or think that about me. They can never understand, though. Not really. The only one that does is myself and not even I do very well.

Throughout time I have been called many things by many different people.

The Harbinger of Death.

The Angel of Death.

The Reaper.

The Shadow that Stalks us All.

It’s ridiculous. Really it is. I don’t bring or cause death. Point of fact, it’s the other way around. Death summons me.

It’s hard to explain and even harder to believe, but it’s the truth. Like I said before, I don’t really understand how it works myself. All I know is that it just is. I wish I could elaborate; it might make my tale a little more believable, but sadly, I can’t.

When I say I do not bring death, death brings me, I am completely serious. Bear with me, please, because it will make more sense in the end. Just remember that Death brings me. It calls to me like a beacon.

It all comes back to that.

I have walked this earth for a long time. I might not have my memories but of that I’m fairly sure. Walked, perhaps, is a loose term. It’s more like I’ve showed up at certain places and times. Seemingly out of nowhere. I don’t know how long I have been doing this, but to me, it seems an eternity. Maybe it is. The places I go to are different. The times I go to are different too. But one thing is always the same no matter what.

Death.

It’s what calls me, you see. Like a voice I hear deep inside my head. I hear that voice and then I’m off to a new place to do what I was made to do. The problem that I have is my memory. Shortly after each session (I guess that would be the best way to describe it) I wake up in a new place with no recollection of how I got there. I remember bits and pieces of what came before, but even those slowly fade away. The only thing I know for sure is the job. I always remember my job. It’s like a burr that sticks to your clothes and refuses to come off, only the feeling is in my mind.

That’s why I’ve decided to write my story down.

The darkness is terrible and the darkness I’m talking about is not knowing who I am, of not knowing where I was before, or how I got here. I don’t want to forget anymore. I want to remember. Maybe then the curse my life has become will break. I doubt it but one can hope.

This is my attempt to remember and it involves my most recent session.

I remember coming to (again, my best attempt at describing the moment I enter a new place and time). I appeared suddenly on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. I was disoriented and confused for a second.

“Hey!” a man called out from the window of his large SUV.

My memory was already degrading from the previous job.

In the back, buckled into a child’s safety seat, was a beautiful, smiling little boy. He had the most wondrous eyes. A dazzling green so bright they were nearly jewel-like. I could see his face through the window. There was a look of pure curiosity on his cherubic features. He was studying me, a strange man just standing there and looking weird and confused. By that time, my memory was nearly gone and for a moment the confusion of a new place and setting was enough to keep me speechless. I peered around owlishly, the light of the day suddenly seeming too bright and intense for my eyes.

“You okay?” the man asked me with what seemed like genuine concern. I knew enough then to know that genuine concern from a stranger was a rare thing indeed. “You need a lift?”

I wanted to tell him no. I suddenly wanted that more than anything. The boy with the dazzling green eyes was still looking at me with his infinite curiosity. They seemed to pierce me. They seemed to know exactly why I’d come.

In the end, however, I couldn’t refuse the kind stranger’s offer. It was the voice of Death whispering to me to get in the car. It was insistent. Never-ending. It went on and on, always telling me where to go and what to do.

“That would be great.” I told him, defeated. The voice or compulsion in my head won again like it always does. I don’t have my memories, but I did know that. I was allowed to remember that much, I guess.

The man leaned over the passenger seat and unlocked the door. I opened it, climbed in, and glanced back at the boy in his seat as I did. His dazzling eyes never seemed to leave me.

“Where to?” the man asked.

“Not far,” I answered.

It wasn’t far. Not far at all.

“Okay.” He looked at me curiously. “Name’s Wendell Shoals. That’s my son, Owen. He’s just past fifteen months. Ain’tcha big guy?”

In answer, the little boy let out a peal of laughter and the thought of what I had to do broke what passed for my heart.

“What’s yer name?” Wendell asked.

“I don’t know. As far as I can tell, I don’t have one.” There was a questioning, almost disbelieving, look on Wendell’s face.

“Well, that don’t seem right. You don’t know yer own name?”

“Nope.”

“Where ya from?” Wendell asked again and was rewarded with the same vague “I don’t know” from me. “So lemme git this straight. You’ve got no name and ya don’t know where yer from?”

“Yes.”

“That’s pretty strange,” he said.

“Yes, I suppose it is,” I replied.

He looked at me again and I could see that his eyes were hazel, not the brilliant green his son had.

“How’d ya get on the side of that road?” he asked, and I merely shrugged my shoulders. “Ah well. I guess it don’t much matter, so long as you know where yer goin’.”

I didn’t respond to him. All I could do was try and keep my gaze away from Owen’s eyes. I could see them in the side mirror. They took on an almost accusatory look that I didn’t much like. It was like the little boy already knew the same thing I did. That I was already where I was going. That Wendell’s car was where I was supposed to be and in a very short time, too short I kept thinking, my business in that car would be over and I could leave again.

“So what do you do?” Wendell asked him, his voice rich and polite.

“Mostly, I think I’m a guide.” I told him as honestly as I could.

“Like a tour guide?” he asked, curious.

“Something like that,” was all I could think of to say.

“Sorry if the conversation bugs you but I’m sort of a chatty fella. Ask my wife. She says I’ll talk a person’s ear off if given half the chance. Ain’t that right, big guy?” He looked quickly over his shoulder and met his son’s gaze. He threw him a large grin, the smile wide and pleasant. That smile showed a lot about the man. Above all, it showed that he loved his family to death.

Now you have to understand something at this point. I wanted to scream at him, but my throat locked up. I wanted to do it badly because of Owen’s green, accusatory eyes. Because of that adorable little face which seemed to know right then was the instant his father would be gone forever.

That little half-glance Wendell gave over his shoulder was part of the reason. The exhausted office worker driving home on the other side of the road was the other. She started getting drowsy and dozed off at the exact wrong moment. She didn’t realize that her car swerved into the other lane.

And it was too late for Wendell to swerve out of the way. When he saw the car coming, his eyes widened, and he gasped in shock.

The next second, the woman hit the SUV.

The impact was loud and horrifying. There was a deafening, squealing sound as the tires’ forward momentum was ground to an abrupt halt.

It’s hard to say for sure what really happened, even though I was along for the ride. Things flew by in a blur and even if I’d had a working memory, I don’t think I would’ve been able to say what really happened. One second we were driving on the road with no trouble and the next, everything was a chaotic nightmare. When I finally came back to myself, I heard Owen crying in the backseat with bits of glass covering his lap. His eyes, however, were locked on his father. Tears slid down his chubby cheeks.

I turned to look at Wendell, the man that had been kind enough to offer a ride to a stranger. He looked back at me with wide, terrified eyes. A piece of jagged shrapnel had buried itself in his chest. Blood was seeping out of the wound and his breathing was rapidly growing labored. It had punctured his lung and cut a stripe across the left side of his heart. I knew the injuries like they were my own, but I didn’t know the pain that came with them.

Wendell looked over at me. His hand was reaching out for mine. I clenched it without hesitation. I did it because that was my true purpose in life. As I said earlier, I do not bring death.

Death summons me.

I stared at Wendell and held his hand as we waited. The voice inside my head, Death’s voice, whispered urgently. I listened. That’s what I do. I listen and then I do what I am told. Sometimes, however, there is a price and I paid mine that day.

For the next few moments, the price was my sanity and my mind as I was forced to forfeit both when a sudden flood of Wendell’s emotions broke over me. I gasped sharply. As far as I knew that never happened before or since. It was not wholly unpleasant but during that time, I was not my own person. I was both myself and at the same time, Wendell.

Images came next. His family, mostly. His wife, who was very pretty. She tended a couple of rose bushes in their back yard each spring and summer. Then there was Owen. I saw the day he was born like I’d been there myself. I felt the insurmountable joy that Wendell had felt when he laid eyes on his son for the first time. I felt the love he had for him when he first cradled that little life in his large arms, rocking him gently back and forth. I saw more than I ever wanted to. Owen’s first words. His first steps. The first time he gave his mother a hug and a kiss.

All of it ran through my mind.

“Wendell,” I said. My voice was soothing and calm. “I’m here. I’m here. It’s okay.”

“My b-boy?” Wendell asked, not even caring about the spike of shrapnel sticking out of his chest or the fact that his life’s blood was spilling from that wound. “Gg-get...O-owen...out of th-the car. M-make s-sure he’s s-safe.”

“Owen is fine,” I assured him, taking his hand and squeezing.

Wendell’s eyes found mine again and I could see them clouding. That voice inside my head was telling me it was time. But I couldn’t leave it the way it was. He loved that boy so much. All I could think about was all the things he was going to miss and how he wasn’t going to be there to see his boy grow into a man.

I saw Wendell slipping away and with it my chance to help. I reached out my hand and gently forced him to look at me. When his eyes latched onto mine, I let him see.

Whatever power I have, part of it flowed out of me that day and into Wendell Shoals. I watched him jerk, his body going rigid. Then, a second later, he seemed to sink and go boneless. The pain that once twisted his features was gone now. It was replaced by a dreamy sort of happiness.

I was sucked into wherever my power had put his mind a moment later. When I got there, I knew what was going on instantly. My power allowed us both to travel through Owen’s entire life together as unseen observers. It went by so quick, but it was enough.

You see to Wendell it felt like he was there with his son in all ways but physical as the boy grew up. He watched Owen turn two. His birthday party was done up with characters from the cartoon he loved. He watched Owen at three, then four, then five, then the start of kindergarten. He traveled with his son as he went through elementary school. He was always one of the brightest. His brilliant green eyes would always be filled with that infinite curiosity I saw in him before.

He watched as his son went on his first date. Then Owen was in high school and Wendell saw his son start to date a girl that he’d been in love with for quite some time. He watched his son graduate from high school and then college. He watched Owen as he stood in an expensive tux at the foot of a church’s alter. His best friends were right there alongside him. He saw his own wife in the pews, crying and grasping her new husband’s hand. When all the people turned and watched the bride walk up the aisle (who was a real beauty inside and out) Wendell turned and watched also.

He was there for the birth of his first grandson, then his second. He was there for all of it, and I saw the pride in his eyes.

Wendell watched it all with tears streaming down his cheeks. He turned to me once again, looking at me with undisguised gratitude.

“Why’d ya do that for me?” he asked, and I just looked at him.

“I honestly don’t know,” I responded. “I didn’t know I was going to do that until I did. It just happens. There’s a lot that I don’t understand.”

“What do ya understand?” he asked.

“That I am a guide,” I told him. “Death brings me and those he takes are given to me. I guide them to where they’re going next. I make sure they’re not alone.”

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for doing this for me and for being with me. I don’t want to be alone.”

“You aren’t.” I said and grasped his hand again. “I’ll be here with you. It’s what I was made to do.”

“Where am I goin?” he asked, and I could feel that he was afraid.

“To a place where you’ll be happy. To a place where you’ll see your wife and Owen again someday.”

“Will you make sure they get there too?” Wendell asked.

“Yes,” I said, a sad smile on my face. “It’s what I was made for.”

“I’m ready to go now,” he said. He was still scared but there was a sense of acceptance in his bearing as well.

A bright light suddenly appeared, white and pure. I ushered him toward it and he went with dignity.

A tear rolled down my cheek as we stepped into its comforting embrace. All I could see in my mind were his son’s green eyes. Curious at first and then accusatory. It was like he knew all along why I’d come. I wish it would’ve been different. I wish I could’ve spared his father but, in the end,, I had to do what I was made to do. I had to guide and protect the dying from a lonely death. I had to make sure that they had someone there with them, always.

******

I look back on this entry I am trying to write, and I realize that the words I’ve written have disappeared right off the page. Whatever force I work for absolutely did not want my memory kept intact. Maybe it’s for the best.

Writing this tale was a mistake, I think. In some ways, though, I don’t think that at all. I’ve gained, at least as far as my memory will allow, a better understanding of why I don’t remember who I am or where I’ve been. If I was allowed to keep the memories of everyone’s pain, all of their suffering and their dying hopes that they will live, then I don’t know if I could stand it. The crushing weight of it all would most likely end me.

I can barely stand to remember all the anguish and grief from when Wendell died. Or those jewel-like and accusatory green eyes of a boy not even two who (I was sure) knew that his father was about to die.

I don’t know why I was created to protect the dying from their own tortured fears or the threat of a lonely death. All I know is that I was.

It’s what I was made to do.

I don’t know who I am, where I came from, or where I’m going. I can’t even give you a rough estimation of how old I am. Very old is about as close as I can come to it.

All I know is my job. Actually, it’s more like a calling (or, to be perfectly honest, an unrelenting compulsion).

Let me explain.

Most people, in their eyes, would probably think me evil, or some version of it anyway. I don’t believe that, however. It’s about perspective, I guess. Other people, looking at what I do through a view outside of what’s really going on, say or think that about me. They can never understand, though. Not really. The only one that does is myself and not even I do very well.

Throughout time I have been called many things by many different people.

The Harbinger of Death.

The Angel of Death.

The Reaper.

The Shadow that Stalks us All.

It’s ridiculous. Really it is. I don’t bring or cause death. Point of fact, it’s the other way around. Death summons me.

It’s hard to explain and even harder to believe, but it’s the truth. Like I said before, I don’t really understand how it works myself. All I know is that it just is. I wish I could elaborate; it might make my tale a little more believable, but sadly, I can’t.

When I say I do not bring death, death brings me, I am completely serious. Bear with me, please, because it will make more sense in the end. Just remember that Death brings me. It calls to me like a beacon.

It all comes back to that.

I have walked this earth for a long time. I might not have my memories but of that I’m fairly sure. Walked, perhaps, is a loose term. It’s more like I’ve showed up at certain places and times. Seemingly out of nowhere. I don’t know how long I have been doing this, but to me, it seems an eternity. Maybe it is. The places I go to are different. The times I go to are different too. But one thing is always the same no matter what.

Death.

It’s what calls me, you see. Like a voice I hear deep inside my head. I hear that voice and then I’m off to a new place to do what I was made to do. The problem that I have is my memory. Shortly after each session (I guess that would be the best way to describe it) I wake up in a new place with no recollection of how I got there. I remember bits and pieces of what came before, but even those slowly fade away. The only thing I know for sure is the job. I always remember my job. It’s like a burr that sticks to your clothes and refuses to come off, only the feeling is in my mind.

That’s why I’ve decided to write my story down.

The darkness is terrible and the darkness I’m talking about is not knowing who I am, of not knowing where I was before, or how I got here. I don’t want to forget anymore. I want to remember. Maybe then the curse my life has become will break. I doubt it but one can hope.

This is my attempt to remember and it involves my most recent session.

I remember coming to (again, my best attempt at describing the moment I enter a new place and time). I appeared suddenly on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. I was disoriented and confused for a second.

“Hey!” a man called out from the window of his large SUV.

My memory was already degrading from the previous job.

In the back, buckled into a child’s safety seat, was a beautiful, smiling little boy. He had the most wondrous eyes. A dazzling green so bright they were nearly jewel-like. I could see his face through the window. There was a look of pure curiosity on his cherubic features. He was studying me, a strange man just standing there and looking weird and confused. By that time, my memory was nearly gone and for a moment the confusion of a new place and setting was enough to keep me speechless. I peered around owlishly, the light of the day suddenly seeming too bright and intense for my eyes.

“You okay?” the man asked me with what seemed like genuine concern. I knew enough then to know that genuine concern from a stranger was a rare thing indeed. “You need a lift?”

I wanted to tell him no. I suddenly wanted that more than anything. The boy with the dazzling green eyes was still looking at me with his infinite curiosity. They seemed to pierce me. They seemed to know exactly why I’d come.

In the end, however, I couldn’t refuse the kind stranger’s offer. It was the voice of Death whispering to me to get in the car. It was insistent. Never-ending. It went on and on, always telling me where to go and what to do.

“That would be great.” I told him, defeated. The voice or compulsion in my head won again like it always does. I don’t have my memories, but I did know that. I was allowed to remember that much, I guess.

The man leaned over the passenger seat and unlocked the door. I opened it, climbed in, and glanced back at the boy in his seat as I did. His dazzling eyes never seemed to leave me.

“Where to?” the man asked.

“Not far,” I answered.

It wasn’t far. Not far at all.

“Okay.” He looked at me curiously. “Name’s Wendell Shoals. That’s my son, Owen. He’s just past fifteen months. Ain’tcha big guy?”

In answer, the little boy let out a peal of laughter and the thought of what I had to do broke what passed for my heart.

“What’s yer name?” Wendell asked.

“I don’t know. As far as I can tell, I don’t have one.” There was a questioning, almost disbelieving, look on Wendell’s face.

“Well, that don’t seem right. You don’t know yer own name?”

“Nope.”

“Where ya from?” Wendell asked again and was rewarded with the same vague “I don’t know” from me. “So lemme git this straight. You’ve got no name and ya don’t know where yer from?”

“Yes.”

“That’s pretty strange,” he said.

“Yes, I suppose it is,” I replied.

He looked at me again and I could see that his eyes were hazel, not the brilliant green his son had.

“How’d ya get on the side of that road?” he asked, and I merely shrugged my shoulders. “Ah well. I guess it don’t much matter, so long as you know where yer goin’.”

I didn’t respond to him. All I could do was try and keep my gaze away from Owen’s eyes. I could see them in the side mirror. They took on an almost accusatory look that I didn’t much like. It was like the little boy already knew the same thing I did. That I was already where I was going. That Wendell’s car was where I was supposed to be and in a very short time, too short I kept thinking, my business in that car would be over and I could leave again.

“So what do you do?” Wendell asked him, his voice rich and polite.

“Mostly, I think I’m a guide.” I told him as honestly as I could.

“Like a tour guide?” he asked, curious.

“Something like that,” was all I could think of to say.

“Sorry if the conversation bugs you but I’m sort of a chatty fella. Ask my wife. She says I’ll talk a person’s ear off if given half the chance. Ain’t that right, big guy?” He looked quickly over his shoulder and met his son’s gaze. He threw him a large grin, the smile wide and pleasant. That smile showed a lot about the man. Above all, it showed that he loved his family to death.

Now you have to understand something at this point. I wanted to scream at him, but my throat locked up. I wanted to do it badly because of Owen’s green, accusatory eyes. Because of that adorable little face which seemed to know right then was the instant his father would be gone forever.

That little half-glance Wendell gave over his shoulder was part of the reason. The exhausted office worker driving home on the other side of the road was the other. She started getting drowsy and dozed off at the exact wrong moment. She didn’t realize that her car swerved into the other lane.

And it was too late for Wendell to swerve out of the way. When he saw the car coming, his eyes widened, and he gasped in shock.

The next second, the woman hit the SUV.

The impact was loud and horrifying. There was a deafening, squealing sound as the tires’ forward momentum was ground to an abrupt halt.

It’s hard to say for sure what really happened, even though I was along for the ride. Things flew by in a blur and even if I’d had a working memory, I don’t think I would’ve been able to say what really happened. One second we were driving on the road with no trouble and the next, everything was a chaotic nightmare. When I finally came back to myself, I heard Owen crying in the backseat with bits of glass covering his lap. His eyes, however, were locked on his father. Tears slid down his chubby cheeks.

I turned to look at Wendell, the man that had been kind enough to offer a ride to a stranger. He looked back at me with wide, terrified eyes. A piece of jagged shrapnel had buried itself in his chest. Blood was seeping out of the wound and his breathing was rapidly growing labored. It had punctured his lung and cut a stripe across the left side of his heart. I knew the injuries like they were my own, but I didn’t know the pain that came with them.

Wendell looked over at me. His hand was reaching out for mine. I clenched it without hesitation. I did it because that was my true purpose in life. As I said earlier, I do not bring death.

Death summons me.

I stared at Wendell and held his hand as we waited. The voice inside my head, Death’s voice, whispered urgently. I listened. That’s what I do. I listen and then I do what I am told. Sometimes, however, there is a price and I paid mine that day.

For the next few moments, the price was my sanity and my mind as I was forced to forfeit both when a sudden flood of Wendell’s emotions broke over me. I gasped sharply. As far as I knew that never happened before or since. It was not wholly unpleasant but during that time, I was not my own person. I was both myself and at the same time, Wendell.

Images came next. His family, mostly. His wife, who was very pretty. She tended a couple of rose bushes in their back yard each spring and summer. Then there was Owen. I saw the day he was born like I’d been there myself. I felt the insurmountable joy that Wendell had felt when he laid eyes on his son for the first time. I felt the love he had for him when he first cradled that little life in his large arms, rocking him gently back and forth. I saw more than I ever wanted to. Owen’s first words. His first steps. The first time he gave his mother a hug and a kiss.

All of it ran through my mind.

“Wendell,” I said. My voice was soothing and calm. “I’m here. I’m here. It’s okay.”

“My b-boy?” Wendell asked, not even caring about the spike of shrapnel sticking out of his chest or the fact that his life’s blood was spilling from that wound. “Gg-get...O-owen...out of th-the car. M-make s-sure he’s s-safe.”

“Owen is fine,” I assured him, taking his hand and squeezing.

Wendell’s eyes found mine again and I could see them clouding. That voice inside my head was telling me it was time. But I couldn’t leave it the way it was. He loved that boy so much. All I could think about was all the things he was going to miss and how he wasn’t going to be there to see his boy grow into a man.

I saw Wendell slipping away and with it my chance to help. I reached out my hand and gently forced him to look at me. When his eyes latched onto mine, I let him see.

Whatever power I have, part of it flowed out of me that day and into Wendell Shoals. I watched him jerk, his body going rigid. Then, a second later, he seemed to sink and go boneless. The pain that once twisted his features was gone now. It was replaced by a dreamy sort of happiness.

I was sucked into wherever my power had put his mind a moment later. When I got there, I knew what was going on instantly. My power allowed us both to travel through Owen’s entire life together as unseen observers. It went by so quick, but it was enough.

You see to Wendell it felt like he was there with his son in all ways but physical as the boy grew up. He watched Owen turn two. His birthday party was done up with characters from the cartoon he loved. He watched Owen at three, then four, then five, then the start of kindergarten. He traveled with his son as he went through elementary school. He was always one of the brightest. His brilliant green eyes would always be filled with that infinite curiosity I saw in him before.

He watched as his son went on his first date. Then Owen was in high school and Wendell saw his son start to date a girl that he’d been in love with for quite some time. He watched his son graduate from high school and then college. He watched Owen as he stood in an expensive tux at the foot of a church’s alter. His best friends were right there alongside him. He saw his own wife in the pews, crying and grasping her new husband’s hand. When all the people turned and watched the bride walk up the aisle (who was a real beauty inside and out) Wendell turned and watched also.

He was there for the birth of his first grandson, then his second. He was there for all of it, and I saw the pride in his eyes.

Wendell watched it all with tears streaming down his cheeks. He turned to me once again, looking at me with undisguised gratitude.

“Why’d ya do that for me?” he asked, and I just looked at him.

“I honestly don’t know,” I responded. “I didn’t know I was going to do that until I did. It just happens. There’s a lot that I don’t understand.”

“What do ya understand?” he asked.

“That I am a guide,” I told him. “Death brings me and those he takes are given to me. I guide them to where they’re going next. I make sure they’re not alone.”

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for doing this for me and for being with me. I don’t want to be alone.”

“You aren’t.” I said and grasped his hand again. “I’ll be here with you. It’s what I was made to do.”

“Where am I goin?” he asked, and I could feel that he was afraid.

“To a place where you’ll be happy. To a place where you’ll see your wife and Owen again someday.”

“Will you make sure they get there too?” Wendell asked.

“Yes,” I said, a sad smile on my face. “It’s what I was made for.”

“I’m ready to go now,” he said. He was still scared but there was a sense of acceptance in his bearing as well.

A bright light suddenly appeared, white and pure. I ushered him toward it and he went with dignity.

A tear rolled down my cheek as we stepped into its comforting embrace. All I could see in my mind were his son’s green eyes. Curious at first and then accusatory. It was like he knew all along why I’d come. I wish it would’ve been different. I wish I could’ve spared his father but, in the end,, I had to do what I was made to do. I had to guide and protect the dying from a lonely death. I had to make sure that they had someone there with them, always.

******

I look back on this entry I am trying to write, and I realize that the words I’ve written have disappeared right off the page. Whatever force I work for absolutely did not want my memory kept intact. Maybe it’s for the best.

Writing this tale was a mistake, I think. In some ways, though, I don’t think that at all. I’ve gained, at least as far as my memory will allow, a better understanding of why I don’t remember who I am or where I’ve been. If I was allowed to keep the memories of everyone’s pain, all of their suffering and their dying hopes that they will live, then I don’t know if I could stand it. The crushing weight of it all would most likely end me.

I can barely stand to remember all the anguish and grief from when Wendell died. Or those jewel-like and accusatory green eyes of a boy not even two who (I was sure) knew that his father was about to die.

I don’t know why I was created to protect the dying from their own tortured fears or the threat of a lonely death. All I know is that I was.

It’s what I was made to do.

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