For years I’ve wished for sweet release from this dreadful world and yet, when the time came for me to take my final breath I was dragged into another plane of existence. Absolutely fantastic. Now I am to be immortal and collect the souls of the dead for dear Mrs. Grim Reaper. She has to be the bane of my existence.
The only upside is I never have to see my family feel any pain over my death. I never told them. I know they will have to know eventually when they age and I don’t. Though I knew I would have to see my mom die I never imagined having to see my baby sister perish. She is only 12. I can’t imagine her growing old. I only hope they don’t begin to hate or resent me.
Mrs. Grim has allowed me to remain living my life until I can no longer go unnoticed. Apparently it is some kind of right of passage and blah blah blah. While I’m here I have to reap all the dead in my town, some of which I know. It’s painful to have to be the one to take them away from their lives but it is a price I am willing to pay to stay with my family just a little bit longer.
Although dead I have to pretend to be living which means I have to suffer the hell of going to school. Being dead doesn’t make it any better, it only makes the situation worse. I work during the night shift, which wears a reaper out. I end up asleep in most of my classes but it’s not like the teacher’s can complain too much. I get all the work done and I receive good grades. So the classes aren’t too much of an issue, it's the people. I’ve never been too popular among my peers and since I’ve died that hasn’t changed. They are all too loud and dramatic for my taste and it’s not like I can stick around long enough to have real friends anyway.
The only person I have developed a tolerance to is Lanya. She, like me, is dead, we died around the same time and learned everything together but she is 21 and works evenings because it works better for our schedules. So we can’t talk face to face very often but we text all the time. There’s another reaper that works mornings while Lanya and I are in school. We don’t talk to them much though. Because they are older and take no interest in getting to know the less experienced reapers. However, I do wake them up and they wake Lanya up so I guess that counts as talking.
Back to the subject at hand: why I hate school and the people at school. It’s not like I disappear, they see me, they just choose to stay away, all except for Calum Williams. Whenever I’m slacking off he comes and nags me like he‘s worried about me. Wouldn’t that be nice? No, of course not, he no doubtably hates me. I can see through that obnoxiously fake facade of his. Whenever he tries to act all buddy buddy he doesn’t do a very good job of hiding his sarcasm. He loves to rub it in that I’m no longer top of the class and he is. He’s Mr. Perfect and he is on the swim, track, and basketball teams. Actually, speaking of him, he is being overly obnoxious right now.
“Léo, you really shouldn’t be sleeping in class.” He whispers in my ear, from the seat behind me. In response, I shoo him away from my ear. “Come one don’t be like that.”
Honestly I would have probably fallen for Calum if he wasn’t such a dick. I mean he definitely has the looks and smarts down just not the personality. I mean come on he has the potential to be everything you could ever want, to be everyone’s dream guy. What am I even saying? To all the girls in the wretched place he already is. But let’s all be honest, they don’t want him for his personality and he could never be ‘end game’ material.
“Hey, are you even listening, Mr. Macíel?” Mr. Lim asks me.
“Mhm” I humm back to him.
“Really cause last time I checked your grades are slipping,” he shoots back with a smirk on his chapped lips. How do I know he is smirking? I could hear it in his old crackly voice. I have a 87% B, my grades are fine in this class. But of course, everyone snickers at that, Calum being the loudest among them. Did he really have to announce that to everyone? Cause that’s professional, not cool dude.
I don’t feel like answering him, I don’t have the energy to even think right now let alone shoot him a witty comeback. So instead I let myself continue to doze off.
After who knows how long the bell rings and I hear quite a lot of talking. I decide that I ultimately need to go to my final class and I get up from my desk and grab my things. When I get out of the class I see Calum talking obnoxiously loud with his dumb jock friends. I mean their not really dumb they get average scores they just act dumb. Well except for Tim, he is a complete moron.
Me and Calum lock eyes for a moment. His eyes are the deepest brown you could imagine without them being black. He has the most clear, dark brown skin even though I know he sweats a lot doing all the sports he does. It’s ridiculous how someone can be so utterly handsome but such an asshole. Once I realize I have been looking for a second too long I quickly walk away.
My last class is art with my favorite teacher Mrs. Lannel. She was absolutely amazing. I wish I could always be in her class. Call me lame but me and her have quite a good relationship. If she weren’t my teacher I would call her my friend. I respect her and she respects me. And her room is filled with color, which I would normally hate but it just works here. Ew I feel like that one emo kid in middle school that hates color, I just don’t like really bright colors. Anyway, the sun around this time always streamed into the room with its soft beautiful rays. She also had some pride flags around the room which always makes me feel so seen and cared for.
“How are you Léo,” she asked in her soft, honey voice.
“Good as I could ever be,” I answer then ask, “How are you today,”
“Oh, ya’ know, annoyed with kids and scared about their grades,” she jokes.
She is wearing a fluffy, loose pale purple skirt that goes down to her knees with a pastel blue shirt tucked into her skirt. Over top her pastel outfit she is wearing her signature apron smeared in paint. She has her light brown curls slightly falling out of her messy bun. I always love her outfits. My outfits are usually more ‘dark academia’ or dark colored comfort clothes.
“How’s your project going hun,” she asks.
“It’s almost done but It’s nothing too special so don’t be expecting too much out of me. Haven’t been able to spend the time I wanted to on it cause I got a new job,” I explain.
“That’s ok. We can’t always put everything we have into a project. I know you have other things to worry about,” she said reassuringly. If any other teacher had said that I probably would have taken it as sarcasm but I know she is genuine.
“Well I will leave you to your project,” she said as she walked away from my easel to hers.
Our project is about ‘where we live’ either physically or mentally. I went to grab my canvas and I set it down on the easel. It was a painting of an angel with tattered wings and a scythe, you can’t quite see his face but you can guess who it is. Overlapping that image is an image of a realistic skull in shades of gray. All I need to finish is a touch of red blood dripping from the wings and down the figure’s face.
At the end of the class I have finished.
“Damn, the fag is good at painting,” I hear someone comment.
“Didn’t you know queers are supposed to be good at artsy things,” someone else snickers. High schoolers you gotta hate ‘em. They aren’t even creative about it either.
“Jonathan and Rachel, if you continue to be little biches I will get you expelled.” Mrs. Lannel said in a low voice. To that they scampered off to their little cave somewhere. I honestly don’t think she could do that but it worked anyway.
“Thanks,” I say quietly, with my head down when everyone left.
“No need to be shy around me,” she says whilst ruffling my dark loose curls. Off topic but I’m not gonna lie I got most of my hair stuff cause Mrs. Lannel recommended it to me. “And don’t thank me I was just dishing out what needed to be served,” she adds.
When I stay quiet, not knowing how to respond, she says, “They were right about one thing though. Your painting is magnificent,”
“It’s not my best work,” I say, again, quietly.
“Poppycock,” she replied, “I’ve had enough with your modesty. Go home,” she laughs.
Sighing, I leave the room.