I rushed to the ambulance on the I-90, not bothering to hide my true form from the person I’d considered my one true love, whose life inched closer and closer to Death, just not in the way I’d ever wanted to receive it. His eyes are almost lifeless, the usually bright hazel orbs have resorted to becoming glassy balls showing no other emotion but pain. Matt had only just turned eighteen a couple of months ago and had I known his name was going to join the List I would have done everything in my power to change it.
I watch his features as he lay on the gurney, his tawny locks tinted crimson red from the blood oozing from the gash on his forehead. His teeth were clenched, trying to withstand the pressure of his ribs piercing flesh after breaking at the impact of their team bus colliding with a truck. My eyes, in turn, become glassy, but from tears. Out of all the people I’ve had to collect as Death, none have ever affected me as he is right now. Normally I’m able to prepare the people on the List before their time comes to an abrupt end, but this wasn’t supposed to happen. He shouldn’t have been on the List, this was a mistake. The Creators must have been mad that I had found love and thought it was distracting from my work and decided they would take it into their own hands. Well, fuck him.
I watch as his eyes flitter over my form, non-existent to anyone but him due to my handy trick. If only I had such skills that would stop his soul from leaving his body like I so wish I could. Matt, ignoring the pain, tries to sit up but I hastily urge him back down.
“Lay down,” I coax, but my voice is thick, clouding the words even to my own ears. Matt relents anyway and reaches up a hand, brushing the tears coursing down my flushed cheeks.
“It’s going to be okay,” he says, his voice a soft whisper even as he conjures all the energy to say those words, “I’m not going anywhere.”
In response to his statement, I shake my head softly, causing the tears to flow more freely. “I wish that was the case baby,” I pause, “but you’ll like it up there, I promise.”
His eyes squint in confusion for a second in confusion before they slowly begin to close and I find myself unable to breathe as I realise what is about to happen. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly, but some souls just release themselves from their vessel body easier than others, not resisting the pull of Death.
“No!” I exclaim, trying to push his soul back into his body, but it forms a hand and reaches out to me, ready to be led to its new home, waiting for its next life. He appears once again in front of me, and his wounds are gone and he’s as I remember him, boarding the team’s bus, utterly gorgeous. They were supposed to just be on their way back from a football game, how could it all turn out so wrong.
“What’s the matter Eddie, I’m here. What are you talking about?” He asks and I continue to sob. He didn’t seem to realise yet that his body was just inches away from us, the paramedics trying with all their might to revive him using the defibrillator.
I point to his body which convulses with every shock from the defibrillator and if a soul’s face can drain of colour, his does. “Get back into your body, right now, or I will never forgive you.”
“I didn’t realise it would be this soon, They didn’t specify. I thought we might be able to spend more of our life together,” he sighs, sullen.
“I don’t want you to leave me, I’m not ready to be without you.” I’m devastated that I can’t hold him close, can’t receive one last hug; one last kiss.
“You know he has to go.” Izzy, one of the female transporters interrupts behind me. “I’m here for Alex, he couldn’t do this one.” She tries to smile, but instead, it forms a grimace.
“There has to be a mistake, his name wasn’t on the List until today. You know that shits planned so far in advance, somethings wrong.” I say, my voice just above a whisper.
“You can’t change who you are, Eden, whether you like that fact or not. You are Death and this is what Death does, collects souls meant to pass on waiting for their next chance at life.” It was annoying that she was right and even more annoying that it meant I couldn’t change the outcome, Matt’s soul had already left his body and there was no changing that, even he seemed to have accepted that fact, his hand attempting to grasp mine falling through my empty vessel. The idiot said he knew this was going to happen and with the sudden realisation, I twist the ring on my finger, a promise that we would get married when he turned twenty-one. We’d spent hours the day he’d asked me, planning and talking about our future together, thinking of names we might call our kids and how we would smile while perched on the porch swing, watching them grow and flourish. When you’ve walked through centuries of life collecting souls, you know when to settle down for the right one. All our dreams, just as my body at this moment, no longer existed. How fucking unfair that an innocent person could die as the result of an idiot drunk driver who didn’t know how to stay in the right lane. As soon as we got the news he’d been in an accident, I’d known it was something he was unlikely to come back from, too much internal bleeding and trauma.
“I love you, Eden, I will always love you.” Matt murmurs, his fingers twitching, itching to touch but knowing the feeling won’t come. “I’ll come back to you.”
“You don’t know how much I wish that was possible,” I choke, “Because I love you, too. So much.” That’s all I get to say before Izzy takes him, whisks him out of my life until he is reborn in five years.
I continued to think, weeks later, that it was just a terrible nightmare and that I’d wake up and find that everything was back to normal. But how long can I delude myself into believing it’s a nightmare when I know deep down that I am. I’m the nightmare.