"death is a lady (11th Chronicle of Death Revisited)"

by C. Ikpoh

It was her cold lips which awoke me last night. They chafed my neck as I slept, abruptly forcing me from my slumber. Instantly, the icicles inching across my bed sheets chilled my flesh. A slight crackling noise permeated from underneath the blankets as the linen froze over. Her exhales became amplified as they beat over my eardrums. Subconsciously, I noticed my knees creep up towards my chest. Assuming the role of victim, I hoped the fetal position would bring heat back to my body and comfort me away from her visit, allowing me to forget my uninvited mistress. My efforts were for naught, however, as her nails caressed down my side, straightening my legs with no coercion. She mastered every fiber of my being and I hate her for it. I love her for it as well though. Each night she does not come, I secretly wish she were at my side. Conversely, each night she silently storms my chambers, I curse the fate which has brought us together. I am constantly pondering why. Why is the one who knows me best her? Why must it be I who she has chosen to love above all others? Why must my destiny be to know Death is a lady?

"Come, my love," she whispered softly in my ear. Her voice was that of the most soothing water leisurely coursing over miles of smooth rock. The sound it made was fluidity by definition. My mind could not resist but flow in its direction. As I rolled over, my vision betrayed me. It failed to perform in such darkness. Death knew this, and as we faced one another, her frigid lips connected to mine, breathing into me all the supernatural energy one mortal spirit can withstand. Instantly, the darkest night became a sight of the ages. Deep shadows of purple were painted over everything. The whitest light glowed with lavender hues. Gently, my eyes adjusted to the morbid beauty before me. I had Death's vision. Alas, I began falling in love with my lady all over again.

She slipped her hands against mine. Hardened by the task of handling infinite souls, their touch was like that of a raven's claw. Yet, she held me with care. Her loving touch could not be stifled by the genocide residing in them. I am reminded of this fact each night she requests my company. Last night was no different. And as I contemplated this, we instinctively interlocked fingers and began flight.
Over the world we flew, relieving the unsuspecting of their companions. Death inhaled their souls effortlessly; they entered her nostrils as streams of ice cold air. Mist trailed off the souls as they entered our atmosphere. It was a majestic sight to behold. Nevertheless, as the night progressed with the arc of the moon, my resolve set on the horizon of my limits. Tears crept from my eyes as I witnessed the last bits of sand pass through millions of hour glasses. The polar air surrounding us solidified them to my face. As they cracked and fell from my cheeks, my tears traveled down towards the earth as sparkling diamonds while reflecting the light of the moon. Death reveled in this occurrence. The torment of my mortal soul was tragic beauty to her. My empathy for  the fallen livened her like nothing else in her murderous existence. She yearned to feel my grasp weaken as I collapsed inside while she consumed souls indiscriminately. It was then she would tighten her grip, filling herself with more purpose. I needed her to survive our flight since I was not strong enough to make it on my own. She held me for what seemed like an eternity, flying me through wintry velvet skies over lands which have no name. The spirits of men from distant corners of the world were consumed that night. No area was left uncharted. Then, when Death had her fill, I was returned to my chambers.
She slid me over the frozen lake that was my bed upon our arrival. I shivered in discomfort as Death's supernatural energy began dissolving within me. Noticeably shaken, pain began settling in. My heart died a thousand deaths that night with each soul taken by her, and the brutal cold of her presence was only exasperating my agony. Before I crumbled and broke though, Death retreated one inch at a time. Her black wings began to expand as she cackled her devilish laugh underneath her breath. Her final freeze of the night was complete at that moment, as the sound of her wicked chuckling sent a bone rattling chill down my spine. Her raven claws released my hands, and as they did, the layer of ice over my bed retreated as well. However, before she was too far away, Death leaned over and gave me a kiss. My love began giving way to my hate. Her spirit bathed in my terror and feeble humanity. Alas, with her kiss branded upon my lips, she knew her job was finally complete.

While Death exited, warmth was restored to my chambers. As black mist, she began dissipating through the wall, and as she did, Death parted with her signature farewell. She spoke passionately to remind me once more of the truth we eternally share. "Death is a lady. Love me." And love her I shall, so much I will loathe her for it.