Lazy Moment

Sun sets upon the wild,

Casting golden hues mild.

Pines dance peaceful, tall,

Oaks sadly watch leaves fall.

Autumn graces wind with chill

Winter’s teeth soon eat their fill.

Creatures both small and great,

Store their feasts ere too late.

Contentedly I sit and smile,

Happy to waste away the while.

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Eggs, Death, and Scotch: Part 5

Part 5: Acceptance

I awoke to the sun, peeking it’s head through the clouds after the storm. I still felt alone, sad and exhausted from the week, but a feeling of peace had settled into my heart. I didn’t like it, to be honest. It bothered me, feeling smug and contented, without my consent. I walked back to the house through the muddy grass, hair still dripping from the night before.

Omega was in the kitchen, whistling a jaunty tune while he cooked in the kitchen. A large pot of boiling water signalled he was making more hard boiled eggs for himself. I sat down at the table and leaned back exhaustedly, my head resting against the chair’s headrest.

“So, is Heaven just Death’s Duffle bag?” I asked in a introspective way as I watched him cook.

“Haha, yeah in a way I guess it is. I mean, not forever but for a while at least. Also, sorry about yesterday Jon, I just really don’t like it when people touch my stuff. The begging part, I totally get. Happens all the time when people see me. Egg?” He picked up another egg from the carton and held it over the pot indicating he’d cook it if I wanted.

“Nah, I’m ok.” I waved my hand dismissively and he put the egg back with a shrug. “Do you only eat hard boiled eggs? Your gas must be terrible.”

“Yeah, smells like Death.” He let out a little snicker as he turned back to his pot of eggs boiling. “Heh, Death. I kill myself sometimes… oh man, another one.”

“You’re in a cheery mood today.” I commented as I started going through the mail that had piled up on the table, separating bills from other mail, tossing the junk into one pile. “Something special happening today?”

“You’re really just out of touch lately aren’t you? Today’s the funeral.” Without turning to see my reaction, he continued, “the service is at the Polinski Graveyard. Starts at 3:00pm today. I’ll be leaving after that, you’ll be on your own”

“Seriously? You’ll be gone, just like that?” It surprised me, but I felt a twinge of sadness at the thought of him leaving me.

“Yeah, on to the next person, help them cope a little bit. Honestly though, I won’t forget this week. No one’s actually stolen a soul from me, much less that of a serial killer.” He gathered up his eggs and started walking to his room. “You should get ready, get your suit on.”

My suit was a little tight once I had pulled it out of the closet and put it on. The buttons for the suit jacket were snug, and the pants were only able to be done up with me sucking in my girth. I doubted that my week of incessant drinking and eating food in an intoxicated state helped my weight any. My eyes had bags upon bags and looked exhausted as I examined myself in the mirror. A week without any self care had really impacted my face physically. Nicks and cuts, along with an unkempt beard had given me a near homeless look.

After shaving my beard and styling my hair, I looked almost human again. My eyes still looked half vacant and haunted, but there was nothing I could do about that. I quickly ate a piece of bread with honey on it before heading out the door. Omega met me outside, his bag and scythe beside him once more. We drove in silence for the duration of the car ride, me lost in reverie thinking about her, and him, surprisingly respectful enough to let me have my moment in thought.

The parking was backed up for blocks, assorted vehicles parked from either a previous funeral or for hers. Omega and I walked six blocks together, still in silence. A large crowd had gathered around her plot, and I was immediately submerged back into reality. Her mother came up, tears in her eyes, barely visible through the black veil she wore.

“How are you Jon?” Her tone was warm and caring, hiding the sorrow her body was obviously stating. “Thank you for picking out the casket, it’s beautiful.”

“I’m…” I started off, pausing when I realized I didn’t know at all how I felt. “I don’t know, it’s been a terrible week. I can’t even imagine asking you the same.” I reached out and gave her as big a hug as I could manage. She broke a little in my arms, a single sob escaping from her before she regained her composure. Wordlessly, she broke away from me, nodded her thank you and moved to the rest of the crowd, talking to anyone she came to, a sad smile upon her lips.

My wife lay in the casket, the first time I remember seeing her since hearing the news. She lay perfectly still within the box, wearing an eyeliner colour I knew she would hate. The dress she wore however, looked amazing on her. I reached down and gently kissed her forehead, but her skin was so cold, I almost recoiled. I felt a pit of unease and sorrow begin to grow in my stomach. She looked wrong, as she had been so full of life and energy when she was alive. Seeing her like this, unmoving, was causing me nausea.

I stepped away, blinking tears from my eyes as I looked for a seat. One had been saved for me up front, near her family as well as mine. My mother and father turned to talk to me, give me their pity and sadness to try and make me feel better, however the pastor began his sermon.

I want to say that I remember his sermon, how crystal clear his message was. That it gave me hope, lifted me above my troubles and brought the world into a new light. But he merely spoke some caring words, lamented that she had been taken too soon, and read some words from his large book. It probably produced peace in some people, helped others move forward, but it was simply words to me.

They wanted me to give the eulogy but I refused. That’s something I regret to this day, not being brave enough to stand up and tell them how amazing she truly was. How she filled my heart with warmth, and tempered me when I was too sharp with others. She completed me, and I couldn’t choke out a single word for her. The pit of unease and sorrow just caused me to spiral to a point of silence for the rest of the funeral. People extended their hands and condolences to me, and I nodded with a small word of thanks, but I refused to engage in real conversations with people. I wanted the event to be done. I hated seeing her in this state.

Finally the last of the people left the soggy plot she now called home. I sat alone, my dress pants getting soaked from the still damp earth. The sun began to set, casting long cold shadows across the headstones. Wind danced through the plots, whipping leaves in an intricate dance across my vision. Omega, drawing close for the first time since we arrived, placed his hand on my shoulder gently.

“It’s time for me to go.” He hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and nodded his head farewell. “I’ve got to move onto the next moron, help them through their time of mourning.”

“I haven’t even hit acceptance yet though,” I insisted, reaching out and grabbing his sleeve. “Aren’t you supposed to get me through all the stages of grief?” Stopping, Omega turned back to me with a little chuckle.

“That’s the easy part, and honestly, it probably won’t happen for months. You’ll go through these stages so many times before then, in order, out of order. Fuck, you’ll know them inside out.” He put down his duffel bag and started rifling through his pockets. “You don’t need me around now that you’ve made it through the initial wave. Go back to your friends, don’t lock yourself away, all that basic helpful crap. Ah here it is!” Pulling a small, folded piece of paper from his pocket, he handed it to me gingerly. “She asked me to let her write this before she passed on. Said to give it to you once she had been buried.”

Wordlessly I took the paper, holding it with reverence. I nodded a thank you to Omega as he turned and hoisted the bag upon his shoulder. I watched him walking away as I clung to the paper, as if it could keep me from blowing away. Turning back to the grave, I held up the note and examined it. I felt a stillness settle over me, and a small smile stretched across my lips.

“Still giving me the best surprises hey?” I hesitated in opening it. This would be the last thing I ever received from her. I was scared to the point where I didn’t want to read it. Not because I wasn’t longing for whatever was written, but because I still didn’t want it to be over. I wanted to have something more to look forward to with her. My greed got the better of me and I rapidly opened the letter.

I stood in silence reading the letter. My trembling stopped, but the tears started to fall upon the paper I held. Not wanting to ruin the letter, I held it away from my face. When I had finished reading it, I folded it back up the way I got it, putting it carefully in my pocket. Looking back at her plot, I smiled sadly.

“I’ll be back tomorrow.” I whispered through the wind. “I love you Susan.” I turned, feeling the full weight of the week upon my shoulders, knowing that she was giving me the strength to take each step forward. Her letter, nestled in my chest pocket, kept me warm against the growing autumn chill. It was mine and mine alone, no one would ever know the contents of what she wrote but me. I wasn’t at acceptance yet, but with a few hard boiled eggs and some scotch, I think I would be ready for the next stage.

 

The End.

Eggs, Death, and Scotch: Part 4

Part 4: Despair

I sat there the entire night, cold but unwilling to move. I felt like I had witnessed her perfection unfiltered for a moment and moving would tarnish that moment, make it less than it was. A pounding headache set in after the first hour, but the bleeding stopped and my vision slowly became clear. I knew that I should get up, clean the drywall from my skin and try to get more rest. This time with no murderer in bed with me. However, knowing something stopped meaning that I should logically do it. I fell into a half stupor, playing any memory I could summon upon the screen of my mind.

The first date we went on, the way she laughed at me trying to be a gentleman and kissing her hand instead of her lips. How she looked at me as we laid on the hood of her car, staring at the stars. The way her eyes danced with laughter as I attempted to be funny, my failure funnier than my intent. Her exaggerated groans whenever I would make a pun joke. The way she smelled, the way she felt, our bodies interlocked in passion. I remember the tears of joy I cried on our wedding day, the way she radiated joy and contentment as she walked down the aisle. Laying in the hammock in the backyard of our own house, watching the leaves change colours. Walking hand in hand down the beach on our vacations, knowing that we were in a bubble of momentary perfection.

My vision blurred as I began to sob, hot salty tears falling from my eyes onto my arms as I hugged my knees to my chest. I’d never again be able to look into her sweet, gentle brown eyes. I’d never be able to kiss her goodbye in the morning as I left for my early morning shift. I’d never be able to see her look of amusement and disgust combined as I presented a new dish I had attempted to cook. Never be able to walk the block with her on cool nights, talking about our plans for the future. Her gentle mocking tone as she bugged me for my moments of air headedness.

The morning sun’s rays began to caress me and still I sat motionless. I was locked in reverie, never wanting to leave. I knew things weren’t perfect, but the imperfections made it all the more painful, knowing that we could never grow together again. That struck me the most, that blazingly painful moment. There would never be another moment where we learned something about each other, through the pain of a miscommunication or fight. A moment where we put things back together and realized we were better for it.

Numbness crawled in and the memories stopped. It will never be like that again, it’s small voice in my head whispered, so why spend time mourning it. Cut it off at the source and move on. Deaden yourself inside and grow what’s left. Numbness made sense honestly, cut off the part that caused the pain, leave that behind and try not to think about it. It would make me strong, allow me to rise easily on the stormy emotions I fought through, fly above the bad weather.

I gave in, feeling the Numbness spread throughout my body. Nothing mattered, so my feelings fled. Happiness was an issue, it was too linked to her and her smile. It ran, with the sorrow. Numbness feasted upon my memories, devouring them to stop their painful shards from piercing my heart. I watched the screen upon my mind fall blank, like the end of an old film.

Hours passed in Numbness, the sunshine outside slowly dimming as rain clouds came. How cliche, Numbness whispered, weather matching how you feel inside. Luckily you’ll be far from the pain, just sit here. Let the despair go and be empty. Soon I was nearly a hollow shell, the anger and denial running from the feasting Numbness, knowing they would be next. Despair alone stood against the beast, a lonely emotion wavering against an overwhelming assault.

Rain poured outside, as the branches from a nearby tree lashed against the bedroom window. The room grew dark, shadows stretching across the room. The diamond soul lighthouse inside grew dim, extinguished by my new lack of emotion. The only one I needed, Numbness. It sat upon the throne of my heart, looking upon its empty nation with contempt, having devoured it all, claiming it in the name of apathy.

With a thunderclap shaking the windows, I knew I had been reborn. Despair had been thrown down, Numbness completed the coup without a smile. There wasn’t any reason to feel anything, there really wasn’t a reason to continue on. I knew what Omega had been trying to teach me and I knew somewhere that she wouldn’t want me to stay here, but it didn’t matter. I sat in my wall indent, with blood still on my face, drywall in my hair, and I completed turning myself into a hollow vessel.

Hours passed, the rain continued to pour down. I heard Omega moving through the house, making food and probably drinking more. At one point, he popped his head in the room and offered me a hard boiled egg, but I didn’t respond to him at all, staring vacuously ahead. I had turned to cement, my joints stiffened by apathy.

Hello? A small still voice inside of me spoke, like the wavering flame reborn after a storm had crushed the fire. Can you hear me? I need you to listen. Carefully. I did nothing in response, wary of this challenger to Numbness. You deserve better than this, you deserve despair. Numbness stood from it’s throne, ready to face the fallen king.

The truth is that feeling like this is exactly what you need. You need to face the horrific truth that she’s not coming back, she isn’t here anymore. Removing any emotion from the equation leads to you hiding from reality. You need to face the storm, take it in and understand its nature. Despair prepared for the final showdown, to take on Numbness in its lair, a fight for my heart. I stood up, dusted myself off and walked out of my room. The house was dim, there were no lights on, and the weather had turned the world into a dark and dangerous place. I stepped outside, without shoes, into the rain.

Immediately I was soaked to the bone. Rain poured down in sheets, as heavily as if a bucket was being dumped upon my head. I could barely breathe. Lightning flirted across the sky, uncaring for the scene below. I walked slowly to the hammock, climbing into and reclining in the soggy fabric as I continued to struggle to grasp what was happening inside me.

“Why?!” I screamed at the skies. Thunder shook the air in response and the rain continued its assault on me. “You didn’t have to. I needed her! So much, I can’t even begin to explain how broken and destroyed my heart is.” The sky didn’t answer, but Despair did.

Of course you needed her. Of course it’s senseless. If there was logic to this world, the full sense of human emotions would be moot. Suffering completes us, makes us more than smiles, more than mere mammals. I’m not welcome, but I am needed. Experience this moment in the dark, completely alone, at your lowest point. Eventually, it will give you strength. Help you realize your ability to pick yourself up. Give your soul a depth of love and appreciation for all you currently have. Being numb will only lead to you hardening your heart and becoming a person who doesn’t appreciate the world and its splendor.

I closed my eyes, let myself be hounded by the relentless rain and Despair. Numbness left my body, and everything began to ache anew. None more than my heart, broken and bleeding within my chest. It beat alone, without the pulse of my love responding to its call any more. My tears joined the pool in the grass and mud, my sorrow joining the rivulets of water rejuvenating the earth. I fell asleep in the middle of the storm, Despair rocking me to sleep.

Eggs, Death, and Scotch: Part 3

Part 3: Bargaining
Omega and I left the funeral parlour, squinting at the bright fall afternoon sun. I had a sinking sense of guilt, like signing that paper had meant that I agreed with her not being alive anymore. The anger was still there, broiling away at my stomach, causing a large amount of nausea. Denial had retreated deep into the recesses of my brain, timid of the reality that had so soundly beaten it. A new feeling was dawning on me, that of a loss of direction. She had been my north star, my reason for moving forward. My life had been built around the routine with her, and without it I had no real concept of what forward was.

“So what now?” My question didn’t even know what it was doing once it escaped my mouth, hanging in the air awkwardly.

“Now you do what everyone else is doing… well most of them anyway. You live. Wake up each morning, fill your time with events that bring you some modicum of joy or money, possibly both at the same time if possible. Go to sleep at night feeling like the day was used in a worthy way.” Omega shrugged the bag off his shoulder and tossed it with the scythe into the back seat as we climbed into the car. He seemed tense, despite the off hand way he was talking. “Eventually, I come for you, we have a chat and then I take you from this place into the next. Cycle of life, stuff like that. C’mon, let’s start with going back to your house.”

I pulled onto the road, the afternoon traffic heavier than it had been on the way to the funeral parlour. Checking my car’s clock, I realized it was rush hour. We had spent nearly 4 hours inside, between choosing the coffin and sorting out payments. Omega began tapping his foot rapidly, still giving off a strangely tense vibe. Trying to ignore him, I put on some music and turned it up. Rolling down the windows and letting fresh air wash over me was nearly rejuvenating and a small smile danced over my lips. I felt human for a moment again. Until I heard the scream.

Down the street, about a half a block away, someone had been struck by a pipe that fell from a construction site. There was already a sizeable crowd growing as we approached and it was hard to see what was happening. With the size of the group, I figured there wasn’t any need for me to stop and help, so I didn’t make any more to pull over. Omega had other idea’s however, grabbing my steering wheel and pushing me into the side lane. I was forced to slam on the brakes to stop myself from hitting other vehicles.

“What the fuck Omega?” He wasn’t listening to me, already out of the vehicle as soon as we stopped. He took the bag and the scythe from the back of the car, started at a jog towards the crowd. I put the car in park before getting out and following him. Somehow, he flowed through the crowd effortlessly. Well not ‘somehow’, he was probably still a delusion I was having, not real at all. 

I pushed my way through the crowd, coming upon a young boy, maybe six at the oldest. His mother was beside him, the heart of a hurricane. Her face was as calm as possible, though her eyes betrayed the panic she felt, wide and moving rapidly around the scene for options. He was laying face down in a rapidly growing pool of blood, a large eight or nine in diameter pipe embedded through the back of his chest. He was trying to get up feebly, crying as loud as he could. He couldn’t stand due to the pipe also being driven into the cement below him.

Omega leaned over him with his scythe, his bag on the ground behind him. Like a hot knife through butter, he sunk the scythe into the child’s body on the flank near the abdomen. Once the scythe was firmly embedded into the boy, Omega leaned close and whispered something in his ear. The boy stopped crying, and became entirely still. He turned his head, looking for his mother. She sat beside him, terror washing over her face as he stopped fighting and relaxed. Omega pulled the scythe from his back, a blue luminous orb, awash with stars, came out with it. As he did, the kid went entirely limp. Her scream began anew, this time it was that of absolute loss. As Omega stood, he gently pulled the orb from the tip of his scythe.

He opened the duffel bag he carried everywhere with him one handed, whispering to the starry orb as he placed it into the bag with the other hand. Before he zipped the bag back up, I noticed that there were dozens and dozens of others of orbs in the bag, different sizes and color. It was a bag of souls. Omega kept his head hung low as he walked back through the crowd, bag in one hand and scythe in the other.

“Let’s go.” His voice was heavy with emotion. Without a word, I turned and followed. Silence sat between us on the way back. I didn’t want to break it, but my mind was churning with questions. One rose to the top consistently, demanding to be asked. Was she still in there? I needed to know. However, Omega sat turned away from me, his face out the window the entire drive. His tapping foot had ceased and he remained almost entirely motionless. If it wasn’t for the occasional deep breath, I wouldn’t be able to tell at all if he had become a statue.

Upon reaching the house, Omega retreated to his room with a bottle of scotch. I started the routine of cleaning the house, putting away the copious amounts of trash that littered the house from my three day binge. It was well past a normal time to eat when I had finished, but my stomach was finally feeling trustworthy, so I started a chicken breast and some quinoa. Without thinking, I made enough for two people, prepping one just the way she liked it.

“Well well, made something for me? Delightful! I’m fucking starving.” Omega appeared from his room, vapours of strong alcohol pouring forth from him with every word he spoke. I still didn’t know what to say to him after what I had seen, so I wordlessly offered him the second dish and poured myself a drink. “Hey, sorry about having to stop for work back there. You know how it is, eternal position, always have to work at the most inopportune times. Such a bummer.” I nodded my understanding.

He flopped onto the couch, obviously trying to act happier than he felt. Producing a forty of scotch, he proceeded to chug from the bottle as he ate. The bottle was emptied as soon as his bowl of food was finished and he sat in silence for a few minutes, staring at the ceiling. It wasn’t until he began to snore, that I realized he had completely passed out. I knew that I had an opportunity to see if she was still in the bag.

Stealing down the hall to where he had been sleeping, I nervously kept peeking over my shoulder to ensure that he wasn’t going to be waking up. His door opened with a creak, causing him to move slightly in his sleep but he didn’t stop snoring. Taking a deep breath I prepared to take a look at a soul Death had already taken from it’s body.

His room was extremely dark, the blackout curtains that we had hung were drawn and made shadows drape the room in unfamiliar angles. It turned a room I knew well in one of uncertainty and chance. The bag was at the other end of the room, laying on the floor beside a pile of black robes. I crossed the room quickly, realizing that I didn’t know when he would wake and I needed every second possible.

Surprisingly, the bag was extremely light, almost seeming to spring to my hand as I lifted it onto the bed. Slowly I pulled the zipper open and a soft glow emanated from the bag, causing a rainbow of colours to be cast dancing across the wall. A soft whispering also filled the room, dozens of voices, so faint that you might have been imagining them.

Carefully, I pulled the first soul out. It was that of the little boy from earlier today. Light as a feather and pulsing a blue glow, the stars in it twinkled as I placed it on the bed. The next one was small, and felt heavier for its size. Jet black, it pulsed in my hand and I quickly placed it on the bed. Definitely wasn’t that one. I turned back to the bag, putting my hands deeper into the bag, sorting through the souls as quickly and gently as possible. There was a rainbow one that was constantly changing color, smelling like strawberries. Another was as tiny as a ball bearing and had the same consistency as overcooked pasta. So many souls, numbering in the fifties as a conservative guess. Then I saw her. I knew it had to be hers. Golden, it emanated a dull yellow light. Light as a feather in my hand, it put out a gentle warmth. It represented exactly how I pictured her in my mind.

Quickly I placed the rest back into the bag, grimacing when one emitted a foul odour as it came back to its resting place. The bag went back to where I found it and I snuck across the hall to my room. Before I closed the door to my room, I snuck a peek down the hall, confirming that Omega was still out on the couch. Satisfied I climbed into bed, hugging the soul close as I cried myself to sleep.

I was jolted awake by a hand lifting me by my throat. Omega was the owner of the hand, easily removed me from my bed, pinning me against the wall.The other hand held the soul, still glowing a dull yellow. His presence was thunderously angry, to the point where it was almost a physical manifestation in itself. 

“WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!” Omega’s voice was deeper than it had been before, carrying the weight of crashing waves, slamming me verbally further into the wall. “TO GO THROUGH MY PROPERTY, AND TAKE SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU AT ALL.” He paused and tilted his head aggressively, and I realized that it was an indication to speak.

“I just thought…” I stopped as the hand squeezed tighter, rendering me unable to talk.

“THAT YOU WOULD HOLD HER FOR ONE MORE NIGHT, THAT DOING IT COULD GIVE YOU SOME FORM OF CLOSURE? YOU FUCKING PUNY MORTAL SACK OF SHIT AND FUTILE DREAMS.” He threw me across the room, bouncing me off the bed into the opposite wall. It was hard enough that the wall gave beneath my momentum and I began to bleed from somewhere above my eye. I was too stunned to do anything but watch half my vision turn to red. 

“Look, I just need to be able to say a real goodbye. What life gave me wasn’t enough. Even if it’s just her soul, I need this. Please, I will give you anything you want. My life, my money, my soul. Whatever you want. I know you can do this, I know that’s her.” Weakly, I pointed at the soul he held in his hand. He looked at the soul, as if for the first time and cocked his head in confusion. He took a deep breath and held a robed hand up towards me in a ‘wait a moment’ motion. After a moment of contemplative silence he shook his head in disappointment.

“You’re a fucking moron. Do you think that the rules of the afterlife follow some random association that a mortal could piece together? This isn’t even her soul.” A low chuckle escaped his hood and he shook his head in resignation. “I don’t believe this. You went to sleep with the soul of a serial killer. God, I’m starting to think humans are a step back on the evolutionary chain. At least the Neanderthals could reason, none of that abstract thought.”

“What? That’s not her? But… she was… golden, light. I thought…” I tried to get up, but the ground decided to turn into a roller coaster and I collapsed back onto the ground.

“This,” he tossed the soul into the air and caught it in the other hand, “belongs to a killer I picked up a few towns over. It’s golden because he was so self delusional that he thought he was God’s golden boy, light because he thought he was absolving himself and those he killed of all sins. It glows because he saw himself as a light in the darkness. A soul’s exterior is heavily influenced by how a person sees themselves, it’s not until you open them up that you get to see who they really are.”

Gently, he took the soul in two hands and began to pull it apart. It was as if the soul was two interlocking pieces and he had unclasped them. As the soul came apart, a rotten stench filled the room. Inside was swarming with worms and what appeared to be rotting flesh. Deftly, he put the pieces back together, hiding them beneath his robe. Without a word, he left the room, coming back with the smaller black soul.

“This is her. You can’t touch it, but trust me.”

“But, it’s so unremarkable. She was my world, did she really think she was that plain? She was amazing. And it was heavy, why was that?” I stared dumbfounded at the small black orb he held. Omega moved his head in what I assumed was an exaggerated eye roll, the hood obscuring his face.

“Again, stop thinking in some simple symbolism. Remember, the outside is merely a reflection of how a person sees themselves. It’s black because she saw the bad things in the world that hurt the people around her she loved. She took that in, and refused to let it go, so it wouldn’t hurt them anymore. Wanting so badly to not let bad things out there hurt you, she felt she had to keep it inside, keep you safe. The weight, well that’s because her soul is concentrated. She knew exactly why she was here, she cared about the people she helped. Her passion was her work, her soul didn’t hold a lot of fluff, didn’t fill up with simple unnecessary things. It vibrated with her passion for life, I’m sure you felt it pulse when you touched it.” He kneeled in front of me and began to twist open my wife’s soul.

Brilliant streaks of light began to escape the black soul as he opened it. It lit the room completely once he had separated the two parts. At the heart of the orb lay a diamond set on a golden base. The diamond was rough, uncut, but the sheer beauty of it shone through still. I couldn’t say anything, tears filling my eyes at her inner beauty. Sitting in silence, I realized the true depth of the wonder that I had lost.

“Fuck, she’s a good one. Sorry, was.” Omega stumbled over his words for a moment as he put the pieces back together. “Look, this isn’t something people get to see. It’s going to make it harder, knowing the true extent of what you lost. Better than a heart of gold, a soul of diamond. You were a lucky man.”

“Yeah, ‘were’.” I snorted sarcastically, “I’m such a fucking moron. I knew she was amazing, I saw her as my world… but damn I was lucky. I wish I could’ve given her better. I still want to.” My voice strengthened and I looked Omega in the eyes as best I could. “Please, let me hold her for one more night. I’m begging. Anything. I’ll boil you hundreds of hard boiled eggs if that’s what it takes.” He didn’t respond to me for a moment, then shook his head slowly, sadly.

“No, look, this isn’t how any of this works. No mortal’s ever seen the souls once they’re harvested from the body, let alone touch them. I have a duty, and there are rules that accompany it. The bag is getting locked up, you won’t see me working anymore. I’m glad you’ve gotten to bargaining, but you have nothing now but your memories. Honor them the best you can with the life you live. Don’t live amongst them, that’s obviously not what she would want. Treasure what you just saw.”

With that, he rose and left the room. I sat in my indent in the wall, small pieces of drywall falling whenever I took too deep of a breath. I rolled my thoughts around what felt like a massive ocean of sorrow inside my head. It swelled and ebbed, threatening to drown me like the intoxication on the first night. The light of the diamond was a lighthouse, keeping me afloat, clinging to the joy that I had touched her once more, even if I hadn’t realized it at the time.

Eggs, Death, and Scotch: Part 2

Part 2: Anger

The pounding on the door resounded with the pounding in my head, amplifying the pain I felt threefold. I groaned loudly as I tried to push myself into an upright position. I was in bed, the lights filtering in dimly through the curtains. Under a tangled ball of sheets and pillows, I fought to free myself as the knocking continued.

“What?!” My voice came out harsh and raspy and my throat felt raw just from speaking the single word. I managed to stand up, nearly falling over from the sudden vertigo that struck me, and opened the door, attempting to glower at the most unwelcome intruder assaulting my rest. Omega was on the other side, his hand hidden beneath the long sleeves of his cloak and pulled back, halfway between a knock.

“It’s been a while, figured you could use a wake up.” He cocked his head to one side, assessing me. “You look really rough.” The statement was pretty obvious, if I even looked half as bad as I felt, I was a mess.

“I feel really rough. How much did I drink last night?” I sagged against the door frame, letting my head rest on the cool wood. My eyes drifted shut and I almost drifted off again in the few moments as I relaxed.

“Last night? Well not nearly as much as the first two nights. Maybe only half of a forty?” Omega turned and walked down the hallway, his robes swishing way too loudly against the floor.

“Wait, what?” I staggered after him, my knees seemingly replaced with those of a newborn calf. “How many days have I been drinking?”

“Drinking? You pretty much filled a pool and swam in it my friend.” He reached out and felt my neck near my ears. “You didn’t grow gills, so you’ve got that going for you I guess. But it’s only been 3 days. I moved in on Sunday right? It’s Wednesday today.”

“Why did you stop me from drinking today then?” I stumbled back to my room and pulled on jeans, the rough fabric against my skin making me flinch. Struggling with a shirt, I limped back to the kitchen, just as Omega was opening the blinds. Blinding mid-morning light assaulted me through the window, causing me to let out another moan of discomfort.

“You have to go pick out a coffin. I’m guessing you don’t remember, but her mother called and you agreed to do that. Here’s the information, you wrote it when you were pretty hammered.” He slid a piece of paper across the table to me and it contained a very messily scrawled note. I recognized my drunken writing, though it took me a few moments to decipher the message scrawled there. I looked at my wall clock to confirm the time.

“Shit, the appointment is in an hour. I have to get moving.” I quickly rushed through my morning routine, the shower really clearing the cobwebs from my head. I still felt like my body was built from crudely shaped clay, stiff and unyielding. I didn’t trust my stomach whatsoever, so I didn’t grab anything to eat on my way out the door. Omega joined me at the door, his converse’s laced up firmly with his bag and scythe thrown over both shoulders.

“I’m coming with, I want to see what kind of incinerator this place has!” He followed me to my car, throwing in his scythe and bag in the back seat. I paused as I was about to get in, trying to think of the best way to get him not to come with.

“I really don’t want you to come with. Can I just do this alone?” I felt a spark of frustration in me, that this weird embodiment of a concept had chosen to harass me. Omega threw back his head and laughed heartily at my comment

“Listen, unfortunately, now that you’ve met me, I’m going to be everywhere. You’ll see me wherever you go, no matter if I’m actually there with you. Your life will be lived looking for me and feeling almost a sick sense of satisfaction when you see me occur, as if knowing that everything ends is almost an accomplishment.” He ducked into the car and adjusted the seat, making it as far back and reclined as possible. Pulling out a pack of cigarettes, he lit one for himself before offering one to me. I still didn’t see a single exposed limb from him.

As detached as that observation was, I realized that I was being held hostage in this situation. That knowledge was the catalyst my inner spark of frustration needed, causing it to roar into a full fire. I slammed my door, started the car and shifted into gear aggressively. The car leapt into action, tires squealing in protest as they left streaks of themselves behind us.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?! Acting like I’ll take some kind of perverse pleasure in seeing others suffer, acting like you’re filling some kind of void left by her. Are you seriously kidding me Omega? Saying shit like ‘I’m the last thing most people see’? You’re probably not even real. Just some figment in my fucked up head from alcohol and grief!” A silence filled the car, uncomfortably stretching longer and longer as Omega sucked on a cigarette. Finally with a overly dramatic sigh, he turned to me.

“Don’t regress on me man, don’t go back to denial. Anger is good, it helps you to work out all the unresolved feelings. Creates logic to work in your own favor. It propels you forward, stops you from wallowing.” I could hear the smug smirk he wore without needing to see it.

“Fuck you, asshole. You’re wallowing.” Glowering, I drove in silence for the rest of the trip, cigarette smoke filling the car. We pulled up in front of  a plain brick building, with low growing, well trimmed plants lining the walk up to a solid wooden door. It seemed as if the building was forced to be plain to the point of painfulness. In order to be non-offensive, it was as boring as possible. I understood the reasoning behind it, but the absolute banality of it kept the rage burning in the pit of my stomach.

As Omega got out of the car, he put his cigarette out on the pavement and stretched his back with a loud crack. After he had collected his scythe and bag from the back seat, he brought out a hard boiled egg from his pocket and began peeling it, leaving shards of shell on the clean neat cement that led to the door. Upon reaching the entrance, I knocked loudly, creating a loud echo on the other side. As silence fell, the door opened to a smaller, thin man.

His narrow, solemn face opened into a sorrowful and understanding smile. It was an extremely practiced motion, almost forced with its immediate timing. Bowing, he fully opened the door, exposing an entryway that was clean and homey. As he led me through the halls towards the room with the show caskets, I noticed that Omega seemed more solid here, more vibrant. As vibrant as person clad entirely in black could be. He followed me down the hall, quietly admiring the paintings. The man leading us paid him no attention, leading me to further certainty of my decreasing mental state.

Pulling open two doors at the end of the main hallway, he revealed a room full of coffins, softly lit with easy to read plaques adorning each one. Stepping out of the room once I had entered, he quietly stated he would give me time to think. Once we were alone, Omega spoke up softly.

“You know why you’re angry? Why I seem like an intrusion when I’m part of everything? You’re mad at yourself, but you don’t want to admit it. You can’t change the past and normally, we live our lives knowing that the future can change our regrets about the past. But nothing’s guaranteed and when someone close to you is suddenly gone, you’re unable to process your inability to change anything regarding them anymore.” He leaned back against a coffin, folded his arms and shrugged. “Humans don’t like blaming themselves, it’s a blind spot. Kind of adorable really. So you blame the inevitable. Me.”

“Inevitable?” I threw my arms in the air exasperatedly and began to look over the different coffins, figuring out which one to lay her to rest for eternity in. “You’re telling me that she was supposed to be taken on this day? It was unavoidable, fate? That’s a load of fucking trash. All this is goddamn, fucking happenstance. You, or some dickhole up there,” I pointed to the roof, “decided some cruel game needed to be played over my hollowed out form.” Tears began to run heatedly down my cheeks, and I stopped my short lived inspections of the coffins.

“Passing on is inevitable, it’s part of the beauty of life. The fragility that you refuse to acknowledge, is a part of the wonderfulness of your experience. She wasn’t guaranteed any number of days, there wasn’t some magic total on the wall we let her get to before crossing it out. Things happen.” He closed one coffin every few sentences he spoke, making his way around the room. “Now I’m not saying that living each day as if it were your last is the answer. That’s the conclusion too many people draw. Doing that is much too short sighted and really only leads to ruin. Living life to the fullest is about soaking in every single ounce of joy from the mundane everyday experiences, letting go of little hurts and angers that hold you back. Sharing all our hearts with those we love is essential to that.” He talked with his hands as he moved throughout the room. The speech seemed heartfelt, calming my anger to the point where I lost all strength and collapsed to the floor. I felt weak without the anger, disorienting to a degree.

“It just doesn’t make sense that she has to go.” My voice fell to the floor from my lips, crawling across the open space pathetically.

“It doesn’t have to. Life isn’t about making sense. It is what it is, and you survive what you get from it.” Omega’s voice was tender in response, filled with compassion. “It’s about learning and growing, not stopping in defeat from the blows that you receive. That’s where anger’s place is right now. So embrace it, yell ‘Fuck’ at me, or anyone really. Preferably them.” One coffin was left open from his walk around the room, and he pointed to it. “What about this one?”

The coffin was stunning, a glowing finish with beautiful detail work along the handles. I reached out and ran my hand along it almost reverently. I’ve never experienced a moment similar to that in my entire life. Two beasts were fighting within my chest. One of satisfaction of finding the right way to pay homage to the love of my life, the other a snarling creature demanding that nothing was good enough, as she should still be with us. The collided in an ocean of tears deep in my chest and forced some to fall involuntarily from my eyes.

“It’s perfect.” The words came out barely audible. However, the narrow faced man managed to hear them from outside the room. He came in with paperwork, a pen and his overly calm, relaxed attitude.