Chapter 1: Alfred Pottinger
I stare into the old man’s eyes; they look tired. He feels content with the long life he lived. Alfred Pottinger, this information pops into my head like it has always been there. I read the information that has now popped into my head out loud, but I am the only one to hear it.
Alfred Pottinger, seventy-nine years old.
Alfred had lived a splendid life. He had been a hard worker in an oil factory for most of his life, working hard for his wife Belinda and their two adoring children, Mark and Lily Pottinger. Alfred has six grandchildren, but I will not list their names to bore you.
With his long-term job at the oil factory, Alfred brought a lovely home a few streets from the ocean. At night, if he listened closely enough, he would hear the waves of the ocean crashing. A sound that would calm him enough to sleep ever so deeply and peacefully.
The sounds of waves are crashing in my ears, a calm yet peaceful feeling washes over me. Alfred’s memories are flashing through my mind and I feel as though I am now living his wonderful life.
There is yelling in the factory as metal clangs and I can hear trucks driving in and out. Someone is yelling at me to get moving. A boss perhaps?
“Get moving, old sod!” The voice yells.
I kiss my sleeping newborn on his tiny head, whispering to him good-night. I also ask him to let his mother sleep longer tonight. My daughter Lily is now five, a birthday cake made of edible violet roses is in front of her, her eyes gleam as her friends chime in to sing happy birthday. She pecks a kiss on my on the cheek.
“Thank you, daddy!” She squeals with delight.
Lily rips open her pink barbie doll set and starts changing their outfits. The day fast-forwards and I am shutting my children’s doors. They sleep soundly. I am content with my life. My wife is cleaning the kitchen, and I slide my hands around her waist and whisper how much I care for her.
“You are all the good things in life.” I whisper in her ear.
Her long auburn hair is hanging just below her shoulder, a baby blue dress has sleeves to her shoulders and goes to just above her knees. Her pink apron covered in powder. She truly is a wonderful woman.
I fade back as myself, finally out of the millions of loving memories of Alfred. His family is here, tears streaming down their rose coloured cheeks. Poor Belinda holds a tissue over her nose and lips, her daisy-pink lipstick is smudging. I want to comfort her, for the lifetime we had together.
But I remind myself who I am.
“I am Charon the ferryman” I whisper.
Sometimes the memories are powerful and it is hard to understand these are not my memories. I see the beautiful side, for example, such as Alfred.
I need not lead a life of my own. I live through the memories of the souls I am taking. I have been doing so since the dawn of time. Because yes, I also take once beloved pets to their ultimate resting place.
I hold my scythe tight, getting ready to catch Alfred’s soul. Each member of his family has a hand on his bed, sobs are echoing in the room, a black-haired man with bright blue eyes is holding a cord. He is preparing the family for the silence to come. The constant beeping is stable now.
“Wake up Alf!” His lovely wife sobs.
I have seen this moment millions of times and each time I want to put my hand on the shoulder of the loved ones and assure them I will be there for every step until the soul is in the safe hands of their destined eternity.
“He will be safe Belinda.” I whisper.
Unfortunately and to my dismay, I am never heard and I am never seen. I am whispered as a myth, simply known as The Reaper. I keep their souls safe for the journey. I comfort them past their heart-stopping final moments. I love almost every moment, I love seeing all their family and their memories.
I comfort children who do not understand what has happened to them. I lead them to the only place they ever go. A place of light, harmony, and laughter. I wrap them in my black cloak, its soft material giving them a sense of comfort and time to comprehend what is happening.
“Shhh, little one.” I will whisper.
As the monitors in Alfred’s room start to flat-line, his family weeps louder. I feel as if I could cry with them, the cry’s of those who truly and deeply loved this hearty family man. As Alfred’s old soul lifts gently, slowly and peacefully into the air. I catch his hospital robe with my scythe ever so gently. I pull him beside me and he stares up at me, confused. I put one of my robed arms around his shoulders and give him the speech. I then give him time to understand after.
“When you are ready.” I smile warmly at Alfred.
Alfred walks around to his wife. He tries to wipe her tears. She cannot see him, she keeps her hand firmly wrapped over the hand of his now empty body. He cries when she cannot feel him or see his efforts to comfort her. This is when I step in, I edge him away into the hallway. Nurses dart through us and visitors just wander through us as I stand and comfort him.
“You are okay.” I say as I put a hand on Alfred's shoulder.
In this moment, I locked eyes with the strawberry blonde-haired women. I felt almost self-conscious as she didn’t seem to stare through me as others did. My conversation with Alfred trailed off, as I turned my head to capture her face with my eyes.
“Who is she?” I ask myself.