Assisting Death

Turning over in bed, I stare at the stream of light peeking through my blinds. Specks of dust floating in the air, never managing to make a landing. Just there. Floating.

“…Happy Birthday to you!” My parents held a small pink cake that could possibly only feed one person but it looked huge to me.

“Happy Birthday, Sweetie. I can’t believe you’re already five!” My mom bent down to hug me and coaxed me to blow out the candles. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

For the past few days now, I have been daydreaming about that day. Dreaming how my fifth birthday would have been different if I didn’t find out when I would die. Everyone finds out the day they die when they turn five and that’s just how things were. Why would our world ever want to know that information at such a young age? Kind of sadistic if you ask me.

Perhaps it was a way to get everyone to live their lives out fully. To do the things they would probably never do if they didn’t know when they would die. Counting down to make sure they achieved a well lived life before their last breath.

Me on the other hand, I could care less. Why would I push myself to do things I would never do, be spontaneous, live out a life that was clearly going to end eventually. And shortly, for me at least. 

My parents kept their death day away from my knowledge. They weren’t like other parents. They wanted me to not have to think of a world where their only daughter didn’t have parents in it. Sometimes I wish they told me though. It would be better to prepare to lose someone you were close to, I guess.

The day after I turned eighteen, I lost my mom. At the funeral, I saw a black cat walk by. Apparently there’s an omen that if that happens, a family member of the deceased would die soon. I should have known it then, but I just thought it was a cute cat and followed it over to a bush, trying to pet it. My dad died a month later. 

Maybe that’s why they didn’t want to tell me. They didn’t have the heart to tell their only daughter that she would be thrusted into the world alone as a newly made adult. They should have had another kid… or not have me at all. 

I glance over at my alarm clock that used to belong to my parents on my nightstand. The red lines formed together to make numbers. Numbers that don’t matter to me.

12:00pm

Today is the day I’m going to die. At least I made it 12 hours so far. I’m not sure at what time I was going to die within the next 12.

I always thought of ways I would die. A car accident? Being hit by a car? Two cars hitting each other and then the bumper flying off and hitting me? You see some insane stories of how people died and it’s crazy how all of them just saw it coming.

My plan today was to stay home in my bed. Maybe something would fly through my window and just end it. Hopefully, quick.

2:00pm

I wash my hands and stare at myself in the mirror. My blonde hair brushes against my shoulders and sticks out in random places. I don’t bother to fix it. I guess I’m not going to die in the bathroom.

7:00pm

I wake up from my nap. Nice. Didn’t die in my sleep. What now?

10:00pm

I glance at the clock once more. I should do something other than lay here for the last two hours of my life. Maybe? Wait, am I going to die from choking on my dinner? That’s a sucky way to end it.

11:40pm

I enjoy a slice of leftover pizza for dinner and manage to get it all down without a scratch. I slip on the tile when putting my plate in the sink, but catch myself on the counter. I decide to take my socks off and leave them next to the fridge. I look up and point at my ceiling, “You almost had me there.”

I slowly walk back to my bedroom and plop myself onto the black comforter. What if I just close my eyes for the last few minutes? I don’t want to see it coming. I look one last time at the alarm clock on my nightstand. The red lines blinked showing a minute has passed again.

11:59pm

I close my eyes. Leave it to me to die literally at the last minute of my death day. Just sixty seconds to go…

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!

I don’t open my eyes. I heard the three knocks. Nothing more, nothing less. The “knocks of doom.” There’s this old superstition or something that if you hear three knocks at your door, and open it to find that no one is there, death is coming. Why do I need to open the door for death? Can’t he just come in if he wanted to?

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!

Again? Seriously? Doesn’t whoever is knocking know I’m supposed to be dying right now? Dead? I’m supposed to be dead.

I frantically sit up and look at the alarm clock. I graze my eyes over each red line. 

12:13am

Why am I not dead? There must be a mistake.

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!

I stand up and rush to the door. I don’t bother to look through the peephole and swiftly pull the door open. Standing right in front of me is a young man. He looks close to my own age. I look him up and down.

He’s in all black, wearing black shoes, skinny jeans, a sweatshirt. His eyes are so dark that I can see my own reflection in them. The only thing that stood out in contrast is his skin, pale white to almost match his hair.

My eyebrows furrow as I take a step back, “Who are you?”

He breathes out a short laugh, the right side of his lips up-turning into a smirk, “I’m the Grim Reaper.”

I take another step back and he takes a step forward, placing himself into the foyer of my small apartment. I’m frozen in place. I’m supposed to be dead. Is he here to kill me?

He shuts the door behind him and pulls out what looks like a tablet. He lifts it towards his face, rolls his eyes, and uses his pointer finger to tap on the screen, “This dang thing. It never recognizes my face.”

I’m still standing there frozen as he taps on the tablet. I force myself to say something, “What are you doing here?”

He rubs the back of his head, “This has never happened to me before. You’re supposed to be dead, right? Here,” he turns his tablet to show me, “you were supposed to die at 11:55pm from slipping and hitting your head.” 

I think back to myself in the kitchen when I caught myself. There’s no way I was supposed to die then. My breath comes out shaky, “Are you here to kill me?”

He scrunches his eyebrows together, “Kill you? Why does everyone assume that the Grim Reaper is always the bad guy? I’m just here to do my job and help you guys get where you need to go. I have never killed anyone!”

“So you’re not a hitman with the government?”

He blinks, “No?”

“You’re actually Death?”

He looks side to side before looking back at me, “Yes?”

I rub the palms of my hands over my eyes. This can’t be real. When I open my eyes, he’s still standing there in front of me. Am I dead and just hallucinating this or? They never really tell you what happens when you die. I close my eyes and breathe in. 

He taps my shoulder, “Listen, I don’t know what’s going on and how you’re able to see me, but you’re supposed to be dead. Why aren’t you dead?”

“How am I supposed to know?!” I turn and walk towards my kitchen. Starting to pace, “You can’t be Death. Death isn’t a human. You just die and that’s it.”

Death follows me into the kitchen and hoists himself up onto the counter, “Well, I’m not human if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m Death.” He says this matter-of-factly like it’s supposed to answer all my questions.

A laugh escapes my mouth, “I don’t believe this. Just get out of my house and let me continue living in peace.”

“How are you supposed to continue living when the government knows you’re supposed to be dead?”

I jab my pointer finger into his chest, “So you do work with the government.”

“No? I have my own agenda. I’m just stating the obvious,” he grabs my finger and places it back at my side. 

I lean back against the counter next to him and bring a hand to my forehead, “You’re right. What am I going to do? I’ll really be dead if someone finds out I’m still alive.”

Death pulls himself off the counter, landing with a thud, “Hmm… I have a business proposal.”

“A proposal? What could I possibly have to even offer you?”

“So you’re supposed to be dead, right? I need help with some stuff, and you need help to get out of this mess you somehow managed to put yourself in.” 

“Okay? So you want me to be your assistant? ‘Death’s Assistant’?” I put my fingers up to make air quotes.

“Yeah! And obviously, you have no one around like family or friends that will actually care that you died. You could just disappear no problem. The government would just need records that you died somehow and that’s that.”

“Ouch!” I press a hand to my heart, “I know I’m a literal loser with no one but you didn’t have to put it like that.” 

Death shrugs, “Just stating the obvious. I already saw you were going to be lonely once I took your parents. It’s sad really.”

I feel my heart lurch when he mentions my parents, “I doubt that you understand.”

“Does it matter now?” He rubs the back of his head again. I guess this is a habit of his. This time it leaves some of his hair sticking up. “You know this job is hard too. I’m lonely. I take people to the afterlife and I’m just here cleaning up the pieces. With you, I could have someone on my side for once. Do you want the offer or not?” 

He placed both his hands on my shoulders. I could tell he was starting to get desperate. Just how lonely was Death?

He pleads, “Please, just be my assistant. I know you’re just a human… are you though? You should have died?… Either way, I might have to pull some strings. I really could use a friend.”

I stare right back into his black eyes. His white eyelashes are just long enough to be visible. What am I doing? I’ve wasted my life on Earth doing nothing and lost the only two people I cared about. I didn’t let myself have a chance to let anyone else in because I thought it was pointless. But with Death, things could be different…

Maybe there could be more to me after Death. I should just do it. I’m supposed to be dead anyway. This is possibly the craziest thing I have ever done. 

“Okay, I’ll help.” I half smile.

He smiles back and puts out his right hand for me to shake. I hesitate for a second, but then firmly grip it, moving my hand up and down. 

Relieved, he says, “Alright! We have an agreement. Get changed and let’s go then. People are going to think it’s weird if you greet them while in your pajamas. We can figure out the rest later.”

I look down at my fluffy pajama pants and run to my room to quickly change. I pat my hair down and rush back out to the kitchen.

Yeah, Death is still here. His head pokes out from over the fridge door. What is he doing?

“Let’s do this,” he holds out his arm. I link my arm with his and follow him out of my front door. I’m not sure how long I will follow him for, but I hope it will be worth a lifetime. 

It feels like I’m floating. I’m no longer grounded with the weight of my death and all those around me. I’ll make sure I never manage to make a landing. I am here. Floating.

xoxo kristal

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2022 xoxokristal.com || Kat

Six Year Olds Don’t Know A Thing About Death

It was September. 2001. I was glad I was missing a day of first grade, but I wasn’t glad that it was for a funeral. Six year olds don’t know a thing about death. It was just, “Great Grandpop is sleeping.”

“Forever?”

“Yes.”

I didn’t feel good the next morning. It was close to a tummy ache that even pop star Barbie had trouble fixing. Six year olds can’t comprehend.

“Why is Daddy yelling on the phone?”

“It’s nothing, Pumpkin.”

The overhead speaker is loud but calm. “We’re sorry, folks. We don’t know who is controlling our airspace. We have to evacuate the plane.”

“What’s going on, Mommy?”

“Stay close to me.”

Everyone was gathered around the TVs in the waiting area. One really tall building. On fire. People crying. Panicked.

Six year olds don’t know a thing about death, but we understood.

 

xoxo kristal

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2019 xoxokristal.com || Kat

Practice Makes Perfect

“I’m not giving up! I’m going to get a platinum award at competition tomorrow!” The girl cried at her dance teacher. She marched away with tears streaming down her face, headed straight to the dance room.

The girl stood in the middle of the big square room. She pressed her hands to her face, rubbing and shaking her head. Trying to rub away the tears and pressure to be perfect. She walked closer to the mirror and stared straight into her owns eyes. A mental pep talk between herself and the girl in the mirror. She tightened her brunette ponytail until it had no chance of falling out when dancing. Then she fixed her black sports bra, untwisting the straps and then tugged at her nylon shorts that were starting to ride up.

She walked backward on the marley floor to the corner of the room where a large black speaker sat. She picked up her iPod and tapped on it forcefully to start the music. From there she quickly ran to the middle of the room and took a deep breath before getting into her starting pose.

The soft lyrical music started, and she began to move gracefully. Her right arm flowed up and then she turned around herself. She danced beautifully but suddenly stopped every movement to stand there and shake her head back and forth. Her eyebrows scrunched together, frustrated.

She sat down where she was and laid back onto the floor, staring at the ceiling. The music continued playing as she sprawled out. Her shoulders started to jerk. She was crying again.

As the music went on, her breathing got deeper. She stayed there until the song finished then slowly got up again. She dusted herself off and wiped away her tears as she ran over to start the music again. She did just as she did before, taking a deep breath and getting into her starting pose. Her right arm lifted and she turned around herself with the music. She kicked, leaped, and pirouetted all across the floor. Everything was perfect from head to toe. Her legs were straight, feet pointed, and arms graceful.

She went through the whole dance and finished with her final pose on the floor. She wasn’t even there for a second before she got up to start the music again, a cycle that happened nine more times.

“Blair, we’re waiting on you to lock up the studio,” her dance teacher popped her head in the room. She stared with tear stained cheeks and puffy eyes.

She put her hands to the sides of her head squeezing as if she were trying to get her head to stop overthinking. A single tear fell from her left eye, “I can’t leave. I need to be perfect.”

 

xoxo kristal

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2019 xoxokristal.com || Kat

The Language of a Strict Ballet Teacher

Hair up. Spray the flyaways. Chin up. Don’t pout. Suck in your stomach. Tuck your butt under. Lengthen your legs and tighten your knees. Turn out your foot. From the ankle. Pull your heel forward. Point your toes. Water? No. Hands are dead. Lengthen through the tips of your fingers. Shoulders down. Don’t look down. Chin up. Come on. Horrible. Butt in. Use your stomach. You need to eat more salad. I don’t know how you’re doing that with no coordination. Spot! Spot! Tighten the supporting leg. Tabletop Tutus? Your legs are too big for those. A romantic tutu will cover those better. No smiling. No laughing! Sit in froggy. You need to stretch your hips. No flexibility. Tighten your back. Chin up. This needs to be perfect. Wrists are broken. Lengthen. Lengthen. Fix your hair. Shoulders down. Do you even want to be here? Many other girls would love to have this spot. Point your feet. Land more gracefully. Quiet! No laughing! Tighten your knees. Turn out from your heels. Chest up. Where is your coordination? Get out! Out of my class!

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xoxo kristal

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2019 xoxokristal.com || Kat

Routine

It’s the middle of the night and I have to run around the house. It’s routine. I don’t care if people are sleeping. It’s routine. I stretch my legs and back ready to dash. It doesn’t matter if I run into the wall or knock over a photo. That will be taken care of tomorrow. Should I jump on the bed? No! The counter is better. That’s where the food is kept. I run, picking up speed too fast. The scratching is loud against the floor. My ears pick up shifting in the other room. Uh oh. I quickly slide into the kitchen, careful not to be caught. The lights are off so I’ll blend in. Jumping on the counter I accidentally knock over a cereal box. Thud. It’s tempting to knock down the cup left in front of me. I stretch my arm. Should I? Maybe I’ll slowly push it off. Slow. Slow. I watch as the cup falls off the counter. Thud. The footsteps are quick. The lights flick on.

“Meow!” I face my servant. She caught me.

“What are you doing, Salem?” My weirdly hairless servant walks toward me and picks me up. Just wait. As soon as I’m put down, I’ll bite her ankle. How dare she disrupt my routine!

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xoxo kristal

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2019 xoxokristal.com || Kat

Always Halloween

Blaire Donovan adjusted the black pointy witch hat on her head in the body mirror in front of her. With her green eyes, she examined her pale skin and her long black straight hair that curled at the ends. She wore a black baby doll dress with poufy sleeves, black tights, and black combat boots. It looked no different than her everyday wear, just today she included the hat. Blaire started singing along to a Blink 182 song that was playing on her vintage record player when something caught her attention in the mirror. Her black cat, Salem, was knocking bobby pins off her dresser. There was a ping every time one hit the floor. She watched through the mirror as he moved towards a glass of water. His tiny black paw was raised… ready to push it off.

“Salem!” she quickly turned to shoo him off the dresser, but he jumped and dodged. Knocking over mini ceramic candy corns and scattering polaroid pictures of Blaire and her friends everywhere. She chased Salem around the room, her boots scuffing against the dark hardwood floor. Salem jumped onto her bed and so did Blaire, crumpling the black comforter. Salem jumped off skidding against the black and white striped wall, making his way out of Blaire’s room.

“Salem! Get back here!” Blaire ran towards her door and jumped back when she saw her little brother standing there with a creepy clown mask. He didn’t move. He just stood there. Blaire was used to this.

Blaire put her hands on her hips, “Seriously, Dex. You got to do more than that to scare me.”

Blaire walked out of her room, pushing on her little brother’s shoulder, getting a ‘Hey!’ out of him. She walked down the stairs, holding onto the black stairwell. She could feel her brother creeping behind her but she didn’t have the patience to mess with him.

“Kids! Dinner’s ready!” Blaire heard her mom’s voice chime through the house. The Donovan’s had dinner as a family every night. It was a tradition.

“Coming!” Blaire yelled just as the doorbell rang. She was confused because no one ever comes over at 7 o’clock. All of Blaire’s friends knew she would be having dinner.

Blaire walks to the door. It was red in contrast to the house that was fully black and white. She turns the knob, opening it to a boy around her age, probably 17 or 18.

“Hi, is Blaire here?”

Blaire looked at him, head to toe. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. His eyes were darting back and forth. A light blue polo shirt covered what could be a muscular body and then dark blue jeans that didn’t match his red Converse. His feet kept moving, he couldn’t stand still.

“I’m Blaire. What do you want?” Blaire crossed her arms and raised her right eyebrow. She started tapping her foot when he didn’t answer right away.

The boy’s eyebrows scrunched together and he looked out into the street and then back at Blaire. “Uhh, are you a witch? I mean, it’s cool if you are? I… it’s February? Well, that’s not why I came here but…”

“It’s always Halloween in the Donovan house.” Blaire laughed at his nervousness. She shut the door before he could say anymore and headed to the dining room.

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xoxo kristal

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2017 xoxokristal.com || Kat

Roadtrip with Baby J

“Roadtrippppp!” Emily’s husband bellows out.

Emily rolls her eyes, “Stop, Cam. We’re only going to the grocery store. Please just help me.”

She continues shoving extra packs of baby wipes into the diaper bag while trying to balance the baby on her hip. The stroller is already by the door. The trunk is open with the car running, waiting to be packed.

“Oh, come on. It’s just like the road trips we had before Baby J.” Cam starts tickling the baby’s feet and she starts kicking, laughing. The baby starts wiggling in Emily’s arm.

“The store is only ten minutes away. I need your help, Cam, please,” she huffs out.

Emily hands the baby over to Cam and picks up the bottles of milk, adding it to the diaper bag. She looks over to the other three bags on the island that are already full to the brim. She then glances over to the sink full of dishes and sighs.

“I think we have everything.” Emily places her hands on her hips and watches her husband make silly faces at the baby.

The last time they were on a roadtrip was over a year ago. Emily was 5 months pregnant when she returned home from their trip across the States. They saw the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Passed through the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Went white water rafting in Colorado. Saw caves in Georgia. And watched the waves on the coast of Maine. Emily remembers listening to 90s music the whole trip before she found out that she was pregnant. She remembers how much fun she had and could understand why Cam got excited whenever they packed up to leave the house. Even if they were going five minutes away to the park, she would hear the familiar, “roadtrippppp.”

She smiles at Cam now, “maybe instead of the grocery store, we could visit my mom in California?”

Cam’s eyebrows scrunch together and then he smiles too, “I mean, we look like we’re packed to travel all the way across the states again.”

“I think Baby J will have as much fun as we did.” She gives her husband a quick kiss before walking into another room and coming back with a suitcase.

“Roadtrippppp!” Emily yells this time instead of Cam. He smiles and starts hopping around with Baby J.

Baby J is giggling when Cam repeats, “Roadtrippppp!”

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xoxo kristal

All Rights Reserved Copyright © 2017 xoxokristal.com || Kat