I remember the scratch of the wall at my back and my cheek when I woke up. The cool soft of its solid made me smile.
Sky bits decorated my warm paper cloak, melding faces and words, facts and lies, all into one soft shell that hugged me tight.
The sky fell and fell and fell, a tympani of pain in jungle green and neon blue. I looked for her, and the grin crawled onto my face with spider toes.
She crouched over the pond that feet had made on the step, squeezing tiny fish from the colors in her hair.
Each little brightness grew as it fell toward the pond, and landed with a splish of color and sound, before sprouting teeny fragile wings and flying away into the falling sky.
She wasn’t smiling. She never smiled. But her two-tone blue and green eyes twinkled like jewels as she followed each of her creations up and up and up.
She glanced at me, and nodded, as her dirty fingers worked another once-bright neon rainbow plait of hair, releasing another spark of color to its journey.
“They’re only going back…” She said. “Soon you will too.” She looked away, but a crooked smile twitched her lips, for just a moment.
Her voice knife rasped through my brain, and I shivered, and coughed. “Oh.” I said, and watched until the last scrap of color faded into sky.
In one of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” comics, I believe it was in Brief Lives, featuring his creations, the Endless, there is a story that I think of right now. It talks about people, normal people, who live longer lives than other people, but they just don’t tell anyone. They just live their lives, glad to have them. One of these, I think his name is Bernie, lives as a “normal” accountant or something…even though he can remember the smell of wet mammoth fur, and hear the sound of the hunt.
In this world, Death is one of the Endless, a family of brothers and sisters who represent/are the basic elements of life. In no particular order: Dream, Destiny, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Death, and the youngest and my personal favorite, Delirium. Death, in Gaimans world, is a beautiful young girl with a taste for gothic clothing (or are the goths dressing as her?) and a gentle and kind of quirky attitude and behavior.
In the story, when Bernie-the-accountant finally dies, from a wall falling on him, Death comes for him, and he looks at her, confused and frustrated. “Is that it? Is that all I get?” Death looks at him and smiles. “You got what everyone gets…you got a lifetime.” For some reason, that comforts me, right now. Not sure why, but it keeps coming up, and I always smile, which right now is rare…so thank you, Mr. Gaiman.