Lilt

Lilt

A Story by Esana Bridges
"

Everything ends before it begins.

"

It was the lilt in her voice, I'm sure, that sucked me into her fate.

It was like gold gilding over a tin body, so deceiving that it made me forget what she was.




"...Could you repeat that?"

The messenger, a lithe, pretty girl with green eyes and brown-blond hair down to her shoulders sighed impatiently. Death gritted his teeth - the messengers all tended to be impatient with those who didn't get their message the first time.

In an voice like honey, the girl said, "Your services are no longer required. Universal redemption has been achieved." 

A bit of ice clipped onto Death.

"Universal redemption" - but that would mean that all humans - all life - had been saved, that Heaven would now be expanded from just the elite dead to the entire world. Humans would no longer suffer pain or unhappiness -

Or death, Death realized. I'm...I've just been...fired.

It was a strange thought. Ever since he had been given the power to end lives billions of years ago, at the beginning of everything, he had been sure that, unlike his compatriots, he would last forever.

After all, the highest life on Earth had been humans, and they hadn't changed in thousands upon thousands of years. How had they suddenly managed it?

"I wouldn't think about it too much," The messenger arrived. "You've been set free. You can go live your life now, no more work. Me? They still need messengers." She shook her head.

Another thing they have in common, Death thought dryly. Like I really want advice from a fluttery creature like her. Outwardly, he nodded. "Thank you for the message. You may go."

With a noise very like relief, the messenger waited for a brief moment and then leapt into the air, the miniature white wings on her sandals flaring briefly and then stabilizing her jump.

...So now what do I do?

"Uh...what is going on?"

Death glanced behind him at the sound of the rather confused voice with a slight lilt. Oh. Right. Still have to deal with the girl. He scratched his head. "Did I finish my introduction?"

The girl squinted, the motion intensifying her gray-green eyes. "Uh...no. I think you were at 'I am the one thing assured to all humans' and then that girl came in." She looked him up and down. "Who are you? Who was that? Why was she flying? Why are you here? Am I dreaming?"

...Oh mortals. I'd forgotten how interrogative they could get when you let them talk. Rubbing his forehead, Death said, "I was Death. It was your time to die. That girl was a messenger of God, from whom I get all my orders. Apparently -"

"You're Death?"

"...Yes."

"...And you pick up people personally when they die?"

"...I can appear in many places at once."

The girl thought about it for a moment. "So...how many places are you in right now?"

Death glanced at his hand. It was large, pale, but for once, not see-through. "I was in about two hundred thousand." He flexed the hand, the tendons creeping tightly. "Right now, I'm just here."

"Ah. Okay." She blinked. "...So what's going on?" Her voice tilted up on the word 'what', and Death paused for a moment to appreciate the sound.

After that moment, he said, "Humans have achieved redemption. There will now be Heaven on Earth." Hm. I think there might be a song named that... "So, you were about to die, but now, since you've all been redeemed...I'm not going to kill you." He looked around. "In fact, I think I'm going to leave now."

He was halfway disintegrated when one partially gone ear picked up the soft words, "I was going to die?"

It wasn't an unusual phrase - in fact, he heard variants of it all the time - but there was something about the way she said, something about her tone, meditative, a bit sad, that made him turn around and look at her.

I wonder if she's considered beautiful, Death thought absently as he looked at her short jet black hair, a color that brought out the gray in her cat-like eyes.

"You...were," He said. Strange. I wonder why my voice is so soft. "But you're not going to anymore. You're...going to be fine."

A light silence, a comfortable one, strange though it was, fell between them for just a moment, and then the girl looked up. "Can you fly?"

...What?

Shaking the surprise off, Death shrugged. "I...can -"

"Take me flying," She said immediately. The lilt went up a notch with the sense of urgency in her voice.

...Um...should I take this crazy person flying? Death thought for a moment, trying to ignore the haunting eyes that looked straight at him as if he was like her. Well, I suppose -

There was a clear, rippling sound that made him turn his full attention back to the girl in front of him. She was covering her mouth, but her delicate hand couldn't completely hide the smile on her face.

When she saw him staring at him, she took her hand away and straightened her sleeve. "You're really easy to read." Her eyes danced as she spoke. "I could see everything you were thinking just from the expression on your face." Her smile widened. "It was cute. I've never met a guy like that."

...Should I feel insulted?

The girl walked over to the window and threw it open. She looked back and held out her hand. "Anyways. I think you were about to take me flying?"

A bit amused and a bit offended, Death walked forward and took her hand. It was cold and small and had semi-long bare nails that clicked against each other and against his palm. He took a moment to settle his grip, told the girl, "I'm beginning to rethink that," and slipped through the window.

Almost immediately, the screaming began.

"WHAT IS IT?!" Death spun in midair, accidentally dragging the girl behind her as he did so. "What's wrong?!"

"I - HATE - HEIGHTS!!"

It took Death several moments to comprehend the stupidity of that statement. "WHAT?!"

"I HATE HEIGHTS!"

"THEN WHY DID YOU WANT TO GO FLYING?!"

"I LOVE HEIGHTS!"

I'm really confused. I am so confused. And then, to the girl screaming shrilly about five inches from his ear, "Please shut up!"

There was no effect.

Oh this is great. I should have just left immediately. Death scanned the air around him and then quickly sped towards a nearby rooftop. I wonder if it's possible for my eardrums to burst.

The screaming stopped for a brief intermission as the girl took breath and then permanently as Death tumbled onto the roof. The girl flew out of his grip and rolled over the roof, eventually getting a sleeve caught on rough shingle. Death found himself staring at a half-twilight sky with a semi-moon in the distance.

"So," He said, after a moment. "What was THAT?"

"I hate heights."

Death propped himself up and looked over at the girl. "Then why did you ask to go flying?"

She was breathing hard, her eyes closed, lips curled slightly up, hair thrown everywhere in a black halo. "If you - spend enough time - with things that you hate -" Her voice was breathless and exhilarated. "Then - eventually -" She opened her eyes and looked upside down at Death. "You'll fall in love with it."

Love -

Temporarily, the face in front of him disappeared.

"Death? I'm supposed to die? I can't die yet, I can't! I haven't even fallen in love yet!"

"No - no, please. Don't take him. Don't take him - I love him! I can't live without him."

"There's so much I haven't said yet."

"I hate death."

"It's true, you know."

Death started"What?"

"If you spend enough time around things that you hate, you'll grow to love them."

Some roiled in Death, dark and heavy. "Humans have been around me since they came into existence. Do you think they love me?"

Slowly, the girl tilted her head so that she was looking at the sky again. There were clouds over the moon and everything was covered in shadow.

Just as slowly, Death got to his feet and went through the motions of dusting his pants off. Well. That shut her up. He looked at the dark sky.

"Humans haven't been around you that long at all."

Irritated, Death spun around. "What are you -"

"You're always collecting people to die, right? So that means that you spend only a few moments with each person before you move on to someone else. So, that way, humans, everyone, no one ever has a chance to really get to know you, and that's why -" The girl flipped over and pushed herself to her knees. She looked up at Death, her eyes dark from lack of light. "That's why we don't love you yet."

A roiling feeling started in the pit of Death's stomach, which had never been used for the purpose of digestion. As he tried to speak, tried to open his mouth and say something, he experienced for the first time the feeling of speechlessness.

The girl blinked up at him, fair lashes catching what little light there was. "Do you wanna test it?"




And that was how I met her.

She was 18 at the time, with straight, short hair, cut in a tight bob around her head. It was dyed blue back. Her eyes were gray-green, large, expressive, and framed by brown-blond lashes.

Her birthday was September 19. She loved cats, but she liked dogs too. She was allergic to peanut butter and scared of snakes and heights. Her favorite color was blue and her favorite season, spring.

We were together for three weeks, far away from other people. We had our first kiss at the top of the Empire State Building. And unfortunately, that was as far as we got.

She told me that she loved me every day. She told me that she'd keep telling me that until the day that it was actually true, and on that day, she would say the opposite and know that I'd understand.
"What?"

The fair winged creature blinked its glimmering blue eyes. Its large, feathered wings created a slight breeze that blew leaves all around them and fluttered its long golden hair. "The last message you received pertaining to the salvation of mankind was not true. It was a ploy to stop you from doing your job. My master would like that you immediately begin again."

Ice very slowly crept up Death's arm, making it's way to the part of the body that humans claim is the cause of emotion. "Be-begin?"

Nodding, the creature said, in its light voice, "Yes. Please commence the dying." It closed its great wings and then opened them again, lifting itself several meters into the air. There was a brief sparkling of light, and then it faded from existence.

Oh...oh no. No. No. No -

"I guess that's it." Death looked at the girl whose life he had tried to claim what seemed like years ago. Her voice was very calm, clear, the lilt in it perfectly defined and beautiful despite the situation. "I guess that it's over. You have to go back to work and I..." She looked down and shrugged.

"No." Something broke inside Death. "No - that's not - that's not fair -"

"It's an order. Right?"

"What - WHY?! WHY DOES HE HAVE TO BE SO UNFAIR?! HOW CAN HE DO THIS?!" Somewhere close by, a tree cracked in half, splinters flying everywhere. "I HATE HIM!"

Something clicked in his mind.

A smile - was it sad? A sentence - "I'm sure that if you spend time with him, you could grow to love him."

Defeat.

"I am Death, and it is now your time to die. There is no use resisting. This fate comes to everyone eventually, and now it is your turn."

Gray-green eyes. Blue-black hair. A lilt like dreams and hopes.

"I hate you."

© 2011 Esana Bridges


Author's Note

Esana Bridges
For "Lovely Death" competition. Please tell me what you think.

My Review

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Reviews

I am going to cry! No, this was wonderful! I adore it. Some of the word choice could have used a little help, as could some of the parts use more elaboration. Otherwise, I am astounded and slightly sad at the outcome. It was beautiful nonetheless, and I wouldn't have or want it changed for anything. Great write!

Posted 7 Years Ago


That's a wonderful story. Very well-written.

I have a question. Do you think that, if you had personified Death as female, you would have written the story differently? Or just the same? If differently, in what way? Or would you have found it impossible or undesirable to personify Death as female?

Posted 7 Years Ago


Wow. This is so unique and so creative! I absolutely loved every second of it. Personifying death in a way that is positive and relatable is a huge feat. I found the characters and the world you built absolutely fascinating. I have nothing but positive things to say. Beautiful work!

Posted 7 Years Ago


This is great! I wonder if Death will ever have any remorse or good feelings to grow inside him. Is it just his job that concerns him? I felt pity for the girl to have the creature she had tried to help turn his back towards her. Maybe, it makes sense since the girl told him that quotation in the first place. This story is a very interesting.

Posted 7 Years Ago


ithink im gonna cry ............!!





that was amazing ,

Posted 7 Years Ago


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"I HATE HEIGHTS!"


"THEN WHY DID YOU WANT TO GO FLYING?!"


"I LOVE HEIGHTS!"

(snicker-snicker) my favorite part :D

Posted 7 Years Ago


Ummmm....holy gawd......Wow....this is absurdly good....really held my attention. I definitely didn't want it to end. You have a great imagination, beautiful, impeccable attention to detail. My only criticism would be the 4 lines after the part where you say "Temporarily the face in front of him disappeared". I reread over and over trying to discern who's thoughts they were. I honestly just couldn't tell, But i haven't had any coffee yet either so it might just be that my brain is only working at half capacity right now. :)

Posted 7 Years Ago


Wow, this is really well written. I like how you gave Death human-like qualities, how he has fears, a 'crappy' job and feelings. Also, the way that the girl helped Death in some way Love, is just so ironic and different that it's so awesome. ^w^ It reminds me of this movie called Meet Joe Black, when Death takes over the body of a young man to get to a rich old guy who's time was up, but he falls in love with the man's daughter.

Posted 7 Years Ago


This is story had all kinds of emotions blended up into it. It was like a basket of potpourri. Each one shines on it's own but all come together to make a great combination.

Posted 7 Years Ago


it's very well writen

Posted 7 Years Ago



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Added on October 31, 2011
Last Updated on November 4, 2011
Tags: short story

Author

Esana Bridges
Esana Bridges

About
I love mysterious things that send shivers down my back. I like emotion. I love craziness. Fairy tale rewrites or something to do with Alice in Wonderland will draw me in immediately. Feel free to .. more..

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