Free Fiction: Dear Zoe

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Dear Zoe,

I received my orders, and I set out to do my job. Being Death, you know, you do as you’re supposed to do.

I stood at the foot of your bed and I watched you sleep. I watched your light breath make the strands of hair that lay across your face dance in the moonlight. I listened to you whimper at whatever story your dreams held and the dog that snored by your feet.

In that moment, I hated myself. I hated everything about who I was and what I did, because I knew that meant I had to steal perfect beauty from this Earth. I had to rip you from the comforting embrace of the Sandman (he’s a nice guy, though don’t ever drink with him, he gets mean—you ever wonder where nightmares come from?) and jerk you into my callous arms.

As I watched you sleep, your breaths coming in a perfect rhythm that matched my own, I realized that, for the first time, I couldn’t do my job.

I’ve seen beauty, I’ve carried it across the threshold between life and death. Marilyn Monroe? That was me. Hell, every famous person gone too soon, that was me. Not a surprise. The name Death kind of gives it away, doesn’t it? Each one of them, I went in and did my job. Sure, I might have hesitated a couple times, giving them a few more minutes than I probably should have, but each time I did what I was supposed to do. I’ve always done my job.

Until now.

You are different. I can’t do it.

You are too beautiful. Too kind to everyone you meet. Too perfect. You deserve better than to be taken so soon.

So I let you live. I ignored my orders, and instead I watched you sleep.

The next night, I came in and watched you sleep.

Your nose crinkles while you dream. Your hair splays around your head like a halo. You, my dear, are an angel and deserve so much more than Death. You deserve Life.

I may be the bearer of the end, and I’m a morbid creature. I admit it, I am. You, however, have shown me that I can do the complete opposite, and give life. I’ve given it to you.

I’ve come in and watched you sleep every night for five years. There are other forces out there, determined to take you from the Earth, and each night I come and I defend your right to live. Then I just stop and stare, take in your beauty.

You are beautiful, in everything you do, but especially when you sleep.

I love you.

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