It is a dreary afternoon as Lucy walks through the town. The light rain patters on the roofs in a synchronized pattern. She lifts her green hood over her head of gray hair. A factory on her right bellows out a thick haze a smoke. Making her way towards the outskirts of town, she shuffles along a worn road. The dark and smoky clouds hover above, watching her determined struggle.

As she pushes through the murkiness, she turns to her left facing a vast field appearing almost golden amidst the darkness. The sky, which is a bright and vivid blue has many white clouds. They’re so fluffy, they don’t feel real. The light beckons Lucy. Within the center of this field stands a grand structure – both mysterious and foreboding.

She meanders her way up the cobblestone steps and approaches the imposing door. Reaching out, she clasps the ornate handle and pulls the door open. A surge of heat engulfs her as she steps inside. The big oak door slams shut triggering a small brass bell to ring. Not once, but twice.

“Welcome back, Lucy,” he says in a chilling and reassuring voice.

“Good afternoon, Death,” Lucy replies sharply.

Death, a man of the past and present. A librarian to most, and a grim reaper to all. This is Death, the actual being who takes one’s life when their time has come to an end. He owns this very library. Not just an ordinary one, an extraordinary one at that. Every book contains a reaped souls’ life story; every detail and every page filled with magnificence. Death’s library is open always, and anyone can come and read someone’s life story. Lucy has been coming here for years and has always loved to read at Death’s library.

The library smells musty and old. But its appearance is so very sincere; with the walls a bright auburn, and the shelves, a cornucopia of books which tower above her, creating a tremendous sight. And not a speck of dust is in view. Everything is polished with much care and almost seems to gleam. She stares in awe like it was her first time visiting this library.

“What book do you have in mind for me today?” Lucy asks.

“I have a very new book for you today,” Death replies, resting his hand on her shoulder. “Let me see here,” he says as he picks up the fresh book from his cluttered desk. Already clocked in dark green leather, yet lacking a title, the book is incomplete.

“Thank you very much!” Lucy says as she takes the book into her shaky hands with reverence.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Death says as he points to an upholstered chair in the far back, next to a glowing fire.

She makes her way over with the book in her hand as if on a mission. Time almost seems to stop as she sits down and begins to read.

Feeling like hours have passed, it has truly only been minutes. Within the confines of this mystic library, the reading process is accelerated. Lucy begins to read each page enthusiastically; she starts to laugh hysterically with so much joy and delight. Death looks at her and smiles with sad eyes. His dark grey suit pressed tight against his wiry waist, yet he still seems to look charming, and at most, approachable.

She continues to read the book. This time, she starts to cry; there is so much grief in hurt within her heart. Death hands her a handkerchief for her cascading tears.

“This story is so amazing; it weaves such a blend of emotions,” Lucy says through glassy eyes as she looks at Death. For only a moment, Death becomes distant and looks back at her.

“What page are you on?” Death inquires. 

“I'm on the very last page, and boy, this life of hers has been truly memorable. A very lucky one she was. Her life was magnificent,” Lucy says.  “I just need to read this last sentence.” Lucy begins to read out loud, “this life of hers has been truly memorable. A very lucky one she was, her life was magnificent."

After Lucy finishes the last sentence, Death says, “Indeed it was.”

“Wait, this book is...” a single tear falls down her soft cheek as she stands up. “... my life,” Lucy finishes.

Death exhales and touches her shoulder once again as she fades away into an abyss of light. The fire dies out, and the room grows cold. The book falls to the ground in the cover shuts. Death bends down, hesitant at first, and picks it up. He walks across the now deathly silent library, the book clutch firmly in his arms. He finds an empty place on the shelf among all the other books.

Despite what most people think, death feels genuine sorrow when reaping a soul. In fact, this time, even more so. Usually he reaps a soul with a book being made almost instantly as the soul moves on to the next life without ever reading their own story. But he felt sympathy for this poor woman, who suffered from Alzheimer's. She had forgotten her own life. Before he reaped her soul, he gave her extra time to remember her memories, and every rich detail found within her own story. Lucy was special.

Before he places this book on the shelf, he reads the title that slowly appears before him.

"Lucy Rosewenn," he announces. Death smiles at the thought of Lucy's memories and her life well-lived. He places the book in the space reserved - much like a grave. Closing his eyes, he inhales the musty smell of time. A single tear falls on to the cold marble floor with a muffled plop.

 

                                                                                      The End

“Death’s Library”

                   by Owen Clark

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