"By Any Other Name"
Strange. The old woman thought as she gazed into the antique mirror. When had the crone replaced the maiden? Gone were the sunlight curls and sparking sky blue eyes, for a steel frizz and Dead Sea eyes had replaced them. Odd how time use to be measured in the turning of a calendar, but now it ticked merciless away by the sweeping hands of a clock. She was aware of every passing second for it brought her closer to the inevitable Death. But she had kept the Grim Reaper at bay for ninety-seven years, and she planned to keep right on doing it for at least ninety-seven more. All her family and friends had gone. The loneliness that draped over her life like a death shroud made her all the more determined that she would not be “ripped asunder”.
Her valiant fight went mostly unnoticed by the faceless personnel at the Eternal Peace Rest Home. The new jailer of the prison for the old and wretched had concocted the name as a sick joke. She had forgotten the slew of names it had been called before that. All that she knew was it was Death himself that presided over the premises. Mortimer I. Smith could not hide that terrible fact from her. Everyone else saw him as the “kid with a vision” when it came to rest homes. She, on the other hand, knew the truth. He was Death himself, and his only goal was to collect the soul that had eluded him for almost a century.
Her sole comfort was a young Hispanic woman named Rose. She alone seemed to understand the old woman’s fears concerning Mortimer I. Smith. She even praised the old woman for the logical deduction made regarding Mortimer’s name -
MORTimer I. Smith. She never called the old woman “loony tunes” like the rest of the staff. No, not her Rose. Her Rose had even helped her when MORTIS wanted to enter the cell that passed as her room. For as everyone knew, once Death was invited across the threshold, that person was slated to be his next victim. The others referred to her barricading her room as “nuts”; Rose saw it as the next chapter in her valiant fight against the whims of the Grim Reaper.
“Why do you fear death?” Was Rose’s only comment while she helped the old woman move the old desk in front of the door.
“He takes people young and old and flings them into oblivion. I have born witness to the horrible deaths of my entire family. Many years ago, my sister died in a fire, She was only twelve. The year after that, my parents were killed in a car crash. Only last December, my baby brother was felled by cancer. I promised him to continue the fight he could no longer battle. I would beat death!” The old woman cried, grateful that Rose never called her by name. For that would alert MORTIS to her existence all the more.
On the other side of the barricade Mortimer I. Smith swore under his breath.
“Really!! You shouldn’t take God’s name in vain!” The old woman complained, forgetting that she was a self-proclaimed Atheist since her brother was taken from her.
God’s? Or was it Gods? She couldn’t remember. All she knew was she sorely missed him and his demise led her to be imprisoned here.
She heard the door being chopped. As MORTIS entered the room through the splintered door, she screamed, “I did NOT invite you!” Her heart ached as she realized her Rose did nothing to stop them. The orderlies tied the old woman to the bed.
One of the burly men asked the other, “Who is this Rose she keeps calling for?”
“Her invisible friend”, the other faceless man replied, accompanying his remark with the crazy gesture. They both laughed harshly and left.
The awful truth dawned on the old woman. “They cannot see you.”
“No. They cannot.” Rose managed to sound both sad and relieved.
“But MORTIS…” the old woman complained weakly.
“Just a man whose name served a purpose.” Rose – no DEATH – said.
“Why the charade? Do you like toying with your victims before ripping them from their lives?” The old woman’s fear was momentarily washed away by her rage.
“No. I am not toying with you. It is important that you understand my job.”
“Job? Is that what you call wrecking my life? Making my days so lonely…”
Grief and her deviance stopped her from saying the rest.
“So lonely that you want to die?” Death said, finishing the old woman’s statement.
“Why did you take them from me?” The woman asked through her tears.
“Your sister had a brain tumor. The fire was a far more humane way for her to pass to the next world. Your parents could not live with their grief, plus they really feared a life without the other. I found a way to ease both their heartache and trepidation.
Your brother sorely missed his wife. I let them be together again.”
“And Christine?” It was more of an accusation than question.
“It was just her time.” Death admitted. “I have to answer to a higher authority. We all do.” Death said, lifting the woman up.
The constant pain the old woman felt suddenly ebbed.
“See? There was no “ripping asunder.” Death whispered. The old woman saw her body, still tied to the bed, under her.
The old woman smiled and looked in the mirror. Sky blue eyes looked back at her.
“Ready?” Death asked extending a hand. Sunlight curls shook as Mary, an old woman no longer, nodded. She linked arms with her new friend as they started their journey to the Otherworld.
Last edited by Branbeith
on 24 Oct 2004, 22:19, edited 1 time in total.