Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. Grim reaper. Evil forces. Your name on a list. Coming to get you in the dark of the night, rip you away because it’s your time to go. But it doesn’t really work like that. Nobody has a time. It just happens.
Frankly, being Death is the one job I ever managed to land and keep. And I didn’t even ask for it. All through life (and yes, sweetheart, I was alive once, don’t raise your eyebrows at me) I couldn’t so much keep a shift at some greasy diner for five minutes. I got fired from McDonalds once. Apparently, it’s not employee protocol to change the music to The Cheeky Song on repeat. Let’s face it. I was a deadbeat, down-and-out who couldn’t so much as pass a single A Level.
So imagine my surprise when, at seventeen, I was hit by a car.
People talk about a light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ve got a theory that’s the way in, and that’s why nobody who really dies sees it.
After you die, the area you see is whatever you want to see. You get one last walk through wherever you want, then you cross over to the door.
I saw my childhood garden. Then nearly puked on it.
A kind-looking old woman took me by the hand and walked me through it until we got to the door. She said it was my time to go through to the next chapter. I’m not ashamed to say I cried. That I was too scared to open that door.
“Seventeen years, and I haven’t done one worthwhile thing.”
“I’m sure that’s not true, dear.”
“It is. I dropped out of school. I relied on my family for every penny whilst failing my way through a series of minimum wage jobs. Barely ever said one nice goddamn thing to anyone. And now I’m supposed to end it, right here and now, never having done anything?”
“Who’s to say it’s the end?”
“Do you know what’s on the other side?”
She bit her lip. “No. Not me. I never get to know.” There’s bitterness in her voice, but after a moment she smiles kindly at me. “But you do. It’s gonna be okay, sweetie.”
“How do you know?”
“Just got a feeling about that door.”
I nod. It’s as good as any reason. Taking a deep breath, I put my hand on the doorknob of the white door. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it. It’s my job.”
“Can’t be much fun.”
“It has its ups and downs.”
“This an up or a down?”
“Bit of both. Go on, sweetheart.”
Nodding, I turn the doorknob.
And it won’t budge.
Confused, I look at the woman, who gasps briefly. “It’s you. Oh my. My God.” She stutters for a moment, and gently presses her hand on the doorknob. “This isn’t your door. It’s... mine.”
Suddenly the space around us changes. It’s the view from somewhere tall, and one look beneath me tells me it’s the Eiffel Tower, Paris – even though I’ve never been.
“He told me. He told me someone would come and it would be my turn. But after a while I stopped believing.” She wraps her arms around me. She smells like soap and too-strong perfume.
“Darling. It’s going to be rough. But trust me. You’re cut out for it.”
She opens the door. She’s gone. I’ve never seen a smile so big my entire life.
Needless to say, my door hasn’t shown up yet.