The snow floated down lazily with each flake giving way to those that fell beneath them until coming to rest on the white blanket that spread out across the city. The late morning sun ricocheted brightly off the monochromatic landscape. Winds whipped through the yard of the small brick house where death lived. In the midst of the cold a single flower stood in defiance of winter’s invasion. Red petals clung to the stem that gave them life. Winter had come in the night and stolen the color from the city.
He hated the winter. The vibrant hues of life were the only thing that made it worth going on. Staring out his window he was mesmerized by the flower. It had stood up against the onslaught of white that had destroyed his beautiful world and for that it would never die. He would protect it against…well himself. His name was Bob and he was death.
The neighbors had liked Bob the minute he moved in. He was so polite and always kept his yard looking beautiful. No one ever suspected that death would be named Bob. Or that he would make such delicious peanut butter cookies.
Bob liked his new home. It was simple and clean. He had moved in last February and by early April a quilt of flowers began popping up throughout his yard. A quick trip to the nearest Home Depot and a few minutes on the internet armed him to make the flowers grow strong and beautiful. Each morning Bob would wake up and water his new friends and each night before bed he would say a little prayer for them. In June Bob erected a small white picket fence around the yard. Cold winds from the north swept in starting in November and slowly Bob had to begin letting the flowers return to the earth from which they came.
Bob did not mind his job. His attention to detail and lack of emotion seemed to be the perfect qualities to accomplish his tasks without flaw. His instincts were always right. He could tell within a microsecond the exact time any living thing on this earth was supposed to die. And he always made sure the schedule was never altered.
Frost had begun filling in the lower corners of his living room window as he stared at his lady in red. If asked why he had let this single life in all of creation live past the time meant for it he probably would have just looked past the one asking in silence until they left. Then again, he might have just killed them. He did not know why. Out of the countless beauties in life all over this world this singular flower had solved the labyrinth of his heart. Amputees say that when they lose an arm they can still feel the tingle in their fingers for years after. Death felt a warm tingle in a place he never knew he had, much less lost.
The faint crunch of boots on the snow brought Bob’s attention back to the yard. The scene unfolded in slow motion as he watch Billy, the neighbor’s oldest boy, dive over the fence in an attempt to retreat from rain of snowballs being hurled at him by his friend from down the street. Bob dropped the “I’m The Boss” mug of coffee he was holding just as Billy began running across the yard to find shelter. The mug shattered into a million pieces that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could never have put back together. Billy’s retreat had almost reached full speed as his boot lost its grip on a patch of ice concealed beneath the snow. With the practiced ease of a veteran snowball warrior he tucked and rolled to land on his side and back throwing up a tuft of snow in the air. From the window all that could be seen was a single red petal like a drop of blood on the cotton sheet of snow.
Bob did not know how to cry. All he knew how to do or be was death. His first instinct was to kill this foolish boy. But he knew it would change nothing. He had the power to take the life from any living thing with just a thought and yet he could not protect the only thing he had ever loved. He could destroy nations in the blink of an eye, but he could not breathe life back into a single flower. He was death. He had seen kingdoms come and go. He had seen discoveries that changed the course of mankind forever. He was witness to the greatest sunsets eyes had ever seen. But for thousands of years he had wondered if he was truly alive. In that single moment he knew he had been. For that was the moment death died.
Copyright © 2011 Adam Drake