He stood on the roof in the rain, the black tiles slippery beneath his feet. Not that he cared if he fell. He just stood and watched the people walk by beneath him, bustling in large groups to and fro underneath their umbrellas. Taking a long drag from his cigarette he silently watched the crowd. Not one looked up and saw him. Not one of them would have seen him if they had looked up. He pulled his trench coat tightly around himself against the chill wind, turning up the collar. Looking down at his watch he sighed and stepped forward, allowing his weight to take him sliding down the wet rooftop as if he had done so a thousand times before. Perhaps he had. On reaching the edge he jumped fluidly, landing gently on the ground as if he had just stepped off a kerb. The crash was sudden, merely inches in front of him. But still he did not even flinch as the two cars hit each other head-on in a loud chorus of smashing glass and twisting metal. As the crowds around him ran in a panic and screamed he calmly stubbed out his cigarette and waited.
The two drivers groaned as they lifted their heads up from the airbags. People ran from the crowd to help, opening doors and making sure everyone was ok. The first car was just the driver, the second was a group of four women. All were apparently fine. He watched as they started bickering about who had caused what when finally his waiting paid off. One of the people who had come to assist the women, a teenaged girl dressed in deep green, look straight into his eyes. And then that moment, that millisecond of complete understanding, was gone. He doubted she even knew what happened. He ignored the screams of the people around him and stepped forward, offering her his hand. She dusted herself off and stood with his assistance.
“I probably don’t want to turn around huh?” She asked with a slightly southern accent. He peered over her shoulder at the chaos, at her lifeless body pinned between the women’s car and a third car.
“I would imagine not ma’am.” He replied calmly “Not unless you really want to see what your insides look like.”
“Ugh. Well it’s not something you see everyday I guess, so….” She looked back and shuddered “Who would’ve thought it would be quite so messy?”
“Trust me, I have seen much worse.” He replied quietly, taking a seat on the kerb and lighting another cigarette. She sat down beside him.
“I’m Dinah by the way. What do I call you?” She asked after a moment of silence. He looked at her thoughtfully for a while before replying.
“I don’t know.” He stated simply.
“How can you not know your own name?” Dinah looked into his deep grey eyes. He shrugged and offered her the cigarette. She thanked him and took a drag.
“No one has ever asked me if I have a name. Most people just call me Death. So I suppose that must be my name. Even if it isn’t exactly accurate.” She returned his cigarette and watched at the police and ambulances arrived.
“How do you mean it’s not accurate?” Dinah enquired as the police did whatever it is police do.
“I do not kill people. Nor do I cause their deaths. I just happen to be around to help them….readjust.” He turned to look at her. Her shoulder-length black hair was wet from the rain and her make-up had run but she didn’t seem to care. “I was there when you were born.”
“I know.” She said quietly. “I recognised you.”
“I am sorry about your sister, but it was her time.” He turned to watch the scene unfold before them with her.
“Time wasn’t something she had much of really.” Dinah said more to herself than to Death. “But that’s the way it goes isn’t it?” He nodded and they sat in silence sharing the cigarette and watching her body getting shipped away to the morgue.
“She’s waiting for you.” He said as he stood and once again offered her his hand.
“Yeah, I know.” She smiled as she stood beside him. Behind them all evidence of her exit from the physical world was being washed away by the steady rain.
There was joy in the delivery room that night as two baby girls were born to a young mother. As the first twin took her first breath she let out a loud wailing cry. As the second took her first breath a faulty valve in her heart ruptured and her life faded quietly. Death took the infant in his arms as the mother began to panic at her lack of wailing. He cradled her as she lay quietly in his arms staring up at him. As he passed by the other girl she too turned her head and watched him pass her by.
Time passed as time does. Both twins grew up, aware of each other but always separated from one another by the barrier between the realms of existence. He waited as he always had and always will.
He stood on the roof in the rain, the black tiles slippery beneath his feet. Taking a long drag from his cigarette he silently watched the crowd. Not one looked up and saw him. Not one of them would have seen him if they had looked up. Looking down at his watch he sighed and stepped forward, allowing his weight to take him sliding down the wet rooftop as if he had done so a thousand times before. Perhaps he had.
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