We end our own, in hopes that we would escape from this wretched life. I always pictured death, not as a tragedy, but as a gift from peace, that life failed to offer. My reason for death was simple, unlike many has assumed. You see, I wasn't depressed or pressured by life. I lived a normal life, and by all means, there was nothing abnormal about it.
So what is my reason for committing the act, you ask? Again, it was simple; I was sorely tired of living.
I stepped forward and flew straight. The darkness consumed my cold body and swallowed me completely by the void it offered. I wasn't suffering, in fact, it was beautiful. So blue it was, but soon turned dark. And there where it really began appearing to me. A gate, so enormous I couldn't see the top. It stretched to the skies as I was standing before its steel doors. The floor I stepped on was glass; I could see the world below my feet. So small, it seemed, but it was beautiful. Things do really seem gorgeous from afar, but it gets uglier with every step closer.
"William of Holland," a voice echoed from behind the gates. "An unspeakable act you have committed, to neglect the gift of your own life. As punishment, and on behalf of the Reaper's committee, I name you a grim reaper for the rest of eternity."
I couldn't explain the feelings that emerged within me. Should I be furious?
That I hoped for a peaceful death, but instead, I had eternity to witness. Soon, and in a spark of light, my feelings of rage, regret, disappointment, were all erased. I no longer have my memories. All I had left was my first name: William.
Still, I don't think I could ever forget the beauty I observed as I sank deep into the vast seas.
7th of November, 1880
It's been a century since I was forced to witness death. I'll admit, it was hard at the beginning, but as years went by, it became easier to watch people who are neither good nor bad die in vain. You see, we do not cause plaques; we merely collect souls after the death of the human's body.
Grim Reapers appear to be no different than of a human. We look the exact same since we were last alive. We don't age, and we wear the same death cloths.
"You have your death scythe for which you would use to stab the dying human in order to collect their souls before they have escaped." The echoed voice continued to instruct. I couldn't figure the source of the voice even after being let in through the gates. The voice seemed so far, yet so near to my ears. All that was in my view was the white sky that seemed beautiful no more, and the small town of Holland beneath my feet.
"Along with the scythe, a reaper must have his death book. A book where names of the dead would appear with their perspective time of death. The book refills with names each day. Your job is to make sure that you are on time when a soul is ready to leave the body."
"But what would I do then? And how could I be on time? Holland is a big town to be traveling through." I said.
"When a name appears on your death book, wait, wait until the perfect time has passed then read the named of that human out loud. A portal will then send you to the human's location. And just after their heart stops beating, you'll be responsible to collect the soul. We the Reaper's committee would receive the soul, and through their cinematic records, they'll be judged if they deserve hell or heaven."
"Cinematic records?" I questioned.
"These are the past memories and emotions the human has experienced before death. Their work good or bad, will be all displayed in the cinematic records."
14th of November 1880
I had crossed out every name on my death book. When that was done, names stopped appearing again. It has been like this for six days, until one evening, just before the sun could finally rest, a name has appeared. Elizabeth Clairvera. Nevertheless, one thing was still missing. The time of death.
I cut the air around me with my death scythe to open up a portal to the Reaper's committee. I reached out for the echoed voice in hopes to get answers. However, their silence did not help much. I was not given an answer and so, I fled to Elizabeth's.
I was sent to a small village just outside Holland town. Elizabeth seemed to be a young lady in her mid-twenties. Her eyes, they seemed familiar somehow... it had the same colors... the colors of the sea. She had the midnight painted on her long hair. And her fingers, they seemed so gentle as she watered the lilies just outside her shop. I had no choice but to observe her until her death hour arrives. She looked genuinely happy.
I wonder... why built a flower shop in such a place.
I stood before her, leaning on a tree that shaded her little shop. Suddenly, she stopped watering her plants. She bowed mildly towards my direction, "wish you a good evening, sir." She said.
The fact that she could see me was puzzling because humans can never interact with grim reapers. It's only that few seconds before their last breath, a human could see grim reapers and other spiritual beings. However, Elizabeth was different. That I was sure of.
I suspected that she would at least pass away after wishing me a good evening. But I was wrong. She was perfectly healthy. "Uhm... could I help you, sir?" She wondered.
I stood straight, still clouded about the whole situation. "Lilies would do," I replied. I ordered anything that appeared to mind so I wouldn't look suspicious. The lilies she just watered were the only flowers that shone brightly to my eyes.
She kindly cut down the stem and wrapped the lilies in a white piece of cloth. As she handed me the lilies, I had to search for a reason to stay to observe her. And so, I saw a poster on the shop's window.
"I would like to work here," I said.
"Excuse me?" she replied.
"As I understand, the poster, requests for additional hands. Am I correct?"
"Oh yes, but to be honest, I can't offer much in terms of payments."
"That does not concern me; all I ask is for a place to stay and food to eat." Grim reapers usually don't need to eat or to sleep. Although some still continue eating to enjoy the taste of food but only.
"Are you sure this would be enough?"
"Yes, surely. So how could I make myself useful for today?"
"Today?" she giggled gently. "You could come back tomorrow in the morning to start working. For now, you must leave and delivery those flowers to that certain someone."
I brought the lilies just to not look suspicious, but then, I always wanted to buy something for my grave. Although my body was not found, someone has made me a stone.
Since my soul was made a reaper, I could not recall anyone from my past life, but I have searched for my tombstone all over Holland. I found four Williams in the cemeteries of Holland, but one, and only one had no body buried underneath. The last name was destroyed, it wasn't clear, but I know, and I have a feeling that this tombstone belonged to me. I saw an old woman visit my grave every two weeks, perhaps I meant something to her.
Nevertheless, I cannot remember her nor I will, maybe that is why I never felt remorse when extracting her soul.
15th of November 1880
It was the early morning that I decided to come out of hiding, and start my first-day work at Elizabeth's shop. I was in the woods all night watching over her. I really thought she would die in her sleep, but nothing of that has occurred.
"You are early," she said surprisingly.
"Good morning to you too," I replied.
"Ah, sorry, good morning, sir."
"You could call me William if you would like."
"Oh.. alright, Sir William it is." She smiled like an innocent child who had a new toy for Christmas. She left to the counter table saying, "I'll be preparing tea now."
"And what do I do?" I inquired.
"Ah, mhm... you could start by watering the plants and please look out for any plant that needs a bigger pot. Replacing their pots could be a bit hard, try to be careful."
I did as she instructed, then drank the tea that was still warm.
Early in the evening, an old woman has visited the shop, she began looking around at the lovely flowers Elizabeth planted. She glanced at the cherry roses, the bright sunny tulips, the pure daisies and at the deep bloody hibiscuses.
"Evening young lady," the woman has said.
"Good evening Ms. Hughes," Elizabeth replied. "How could I hope to serve you?"
"I need something for my son, he has fallen ill and I just hope that flowers from your shop could help him heal."
"Oh my, that is very terrible. I do hope for Christopher to get well soon." Elizabeth replied.
She then prepared a bouquet of white roses for the ill man, Christopher. After the night has risen, Elizabeth and I sat just after we have concluded the day.
We gazed at the lonely stars that swam in the vast sky. It's been so long since they glimmered so vividly. The silence grew stronger as we sat just outside the shop until Elizabeth has spoken, "What do you think would happen if a soul has escaped the human body?"
"The soul would be judged for heaven or hell eventually," I said.
"And what if the soul has ended up somewhere else, not heaven nor hell."
"What do you mean?"
She chuckled a bit and then paused to look at a star that seemed falling down. She collected her hands together, close to her chest. She closed her eyes, and just then, I could see her soul, so lively. She seemed so innocent. She was the definition of purity. I would not imagine her soul escaping her body any time soon. At least that what I hoped.
"Why do human view a falling star as something... beautiful?" I asked.
She paused again after our eyes met. "Well, we humans don't view ideals to be beautiful things. Because the word ideal is the same as saying impossible. Beautiful things were always something that has been broken. Something like a fallen angel or a human's smile."
16th of December 1880
The days with Elizabeth were quiet. Every day was a blessing and things have never been so peaceful. Winter was warm and the trees were immortal. Flowers were so alive and snow never appeared to be so pure. The snow I'm used to seeing were stained by crimson blood; a result of the continuous battles I've witnessed.
I came to know Elizabeth a bit by bit. But after spending a month in her cozy shelter, I got to see why humans fight to live. I got to see and have hope once again in the goodness of people. Life was not cruel to me at that time. Or so I thought.
Like pain can't last, so does happiness.
17th of December 1880
I have sensed something odd; Elizabeth was not there as I arrived at her shop this morning. She always welcomed me with a kind cup of tea each day. I grew closer to her that I have forgotten my purpose of being here.
But that morning, I remembered my purpose. My purpose of being here, my reason to spend days at heaven.
Elizabeth was falling sick at her deathbed, and here I thought it was a mistake, a mistake that her name appeared on my death book. How was I miserable, depressed to see her without her colors. I thought that her soul loved those colors of hers as much as I did, but it seemed that was not the case. So her soul decided to leave her body; leaving her to die.
At first, I thought that I'll get my rest. I'll collect Elizabeth's soul and return back to Reaper's realm and rest. However, little did I know, my actual rest was with Elizabeth. Though we have spent little time, my heart grew hungrier. Hungry to feel more of her warmth. Hungry to spend more time with her. Hungry to see more of her colors. But sadly, her soul isn't immortal, and so, she must die.
But how could I collect her kind soul? She does not deserve death. Death is so cruel to such a fragile soul. It almost seems like a waste to have the most selfless person die just like so.
Every human is a selfish person, even as they claim that they would protect their beloveds, they just doing so because they cannot bear the pain of being alone. Such a selfish act. But Elizabeth was not of that kind. She was different. She was my light.
A fist was up against my throat, and my heart was soon a drum. Breathes were racing in and out, and my whole body felt weak yet so heavy. I stood like a mere stone beside Elizabeth. She was not conscious of my presence, and so I wandered around the village for a doctor. I reached out for every doctor I could encounter, but all came to the same conclusion. "She may not have long to live."
I knew that Elizabeth had hours to live and there was no time to go look for a cure. My only option was to reach out for the Reaper's committee. I flew above the skies requesting the echoed voice to answer my callings. "I know it well, the taboo that must not be broken. The sin of life and death and the only rule reapers must follow. However, you must listen to my crying; Elizabeth is the only human I came across with a pure heart and an angelic soul. You must give her a second chance in living; she does not deserve death. Her soul is not destined to demise."
"You are not to come here wishing to revive a dying human without offering something in return. We reapers are simply not that generous. Bring us something that is worthy, and your request would be negotiable, to say the least." The voice answered.
"Will my..." I paused looking down to Holland from high up. Then I just said it unwarily, "Will my soul be a worthy replacement for Elizabeth's?"
I had no one to reply for the few minutes that followed. Though I stood in patience, I was calmly nervous. "Only on one condition," the voice replied. "Her memories of you would be erased as she cannot have any knowledge of the existence of reapers."
Impulsively, I accepted the condition the voice implied. Before fading from my afterlife, I visited Elizabeth for the last time... She was conscious this time; she reached out her hand to me and so I held them tight. I sat beside her bed as I watched her suffering slowly from this brutal illness.
Couldn't this sickness rest upon another soul? Why does it have to be her? Life is so cruel once more...
"Hey, you look like you have seen a ghost. Am I that frightening?" she said, painting a smile on her lips. "I don't want you to do something irrational, alright?"
"Elizabeth... it may be too late but-"
"Now, now..." She cut through my sentence. "I know, and you need not to bother yourself with explaining things for me."
"You know? You know what?" I said, astounded.
"The day you arrived, it felt like I could smell death upon your presences. But that did not give you up, it's that day when Mrs. Hughes visited. She greeted me but not you, although you were there the whole time. She looked around the shop for flowers, but it looked so suspicious not to notice you there. Therefore, I thought, maybe I was the only one who's able to see you. And just now, you called me by my name. Though I never said it to you." She paused for seconds, trying her hardest to inhale the thick air. "That nice, the night of your first-day work, you were addressing humans like you... Like you weren't a human yourself." She then chuckled a bit with her same painful smile. "I must be someone with one foot under grave to be able to see you. So I waited silently for death to... appear... I–I just wish... that I could have met you... sooner." Her hands gave up and so her body fell...
Traumatized, I screamed in terror for the Reaper's committee to take what is left of my afterlife...
And so, it was a matter of seconds before the Reaper's committee answered my callings.
Beautiful it was, ah so charming the dark appeared to be while engulfing me whole. I almost forgot how death tasted like, so plain, yet so stunning. I shall now leave this world, hoping that Elizabeth would live a bit more... more and happily.
12th of April 1882
It's been two years since Elizabeth found love again in someone else. She fell in love with Christopher Hughes, the man who has taken care of her well-being after my leave. It wasn't long when she was soon wed by Christopher.
When Christopher found work again after being ill for months, he made all the arrangements to rebuilt Elizabeth's shop. They soon built themselves a house and a new flower shop in the heart of Holland. Elizabeth was truly happy with Christopher. Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth soon bore a child and named that child,
Author Notes: Please comment and rate Q.Q I need to hear your voices so I could improve in future.