Truth be told, DEATH has an unfairly bad reputation.
Contrary to popular belief, meeting DEATH does not mean you will soon die, or that the end of days is nigh. He can mean those things, but there are so many things in the universe capable of ending – why focus on those two?
Some other things that could end: a long day, a strand of beads, a winding staircase, a headache, a wedding toast, a mysterious tape cassette found at the bottom of an old chest, a dark and foreboding alleyway, a commercial for testosterone pills. A daunting and perilous quest, a string of bad luck, a heated argument, a listless summer, a dead-end career, a loveless marriage, an extended estrangement, a crippling fear of failure. A drought, a typhoon, a generation. A nation-state (borders of), a nation-state (existence of), a ruling class, an era. Male dominance, sexual harassment, a trend towards religiously-motivated violence, police brutality (though unlikely). A dry lecture, a moist handshake, a student film, a painful lie. A long silence. A three-day weekend.
If you were to enter the cave of DEATH and manage to find your way through his Seven Halls of Immediately Regretted Decisions,
the Hall of Lying About Your Knowledge of That Current News Event,
the Hall of Screenshotting a Text Exchange and Sending It to That Person by Mistake,
the Hall of Getting a Song Lyric Tattoo,
the Hall of Staying Up Until 5AM Reading About Serial Killers on Wikipedia Instead of Preparing for Your Big Presentation,
the Hall of Going Home with a Guy in a Fedora (this one magically transforms to suit a visitor’s sexual preferences),
the Hall of Saying You Would Go to the Party When Really You Just Wanted to Stay Home in Bed, and
the Hall of Sending That Third Unanswered Text,
make it past the souls of the Sleepless Weepers and the Wall of the Wrathful Cyberbullies and the Rapids of Resentment, paddle quietly by the gargantuan Infant-Without-Eyes before he begins churning the sea into bloody froth, and survive the Trial by Passive Aggression, you would come to a tall, thin black door cut into the rock wall, about one foot wide and twelve feet tall. And were you to open this door and squeeze through into DEATH’s inner sanctum, you would find yourself standing before the face of DEATH, scored into a thick golden disc suspended from the crystalline ceiling (he’s actually really cute, chiseled jaw, ethnically ambiguous); and below this, a large wooden sign. And the sign would read, in big letters:
and if you looked closely, underneath in smaller letters:
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’VE WON AN ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP TO HEAVEN. SEE REVERSE SIDE FOR FULL DETAILS
and on the back of the sign, seemingly hand carved, more text than you would have imagined it could hold:
I’M SORRY FOR DECEIVING YOU BUT THERE IS NO CONTEST & YOU ARE NOT A WINNER. I’M NOT SURE WHY I DO THESE THINGS BUT MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE I HAVE A CHRONIC NEED TO PLEASE OTHERS. IF YOU’LL LET ME MAKE IT UP TO YOU, I CAN GET US INTO ANY MOVIE FOR FREE (DON’T WORRY, THEATRE USHERS TEND TO PREFER BEING DEAD) JUST SEND ME AN EMAIL AT DEATH@GMAIL.COM IF YOU’RE INTERESTED. SAY IN THE EMAIL WHAT YOUR FAVORITE KIND OF BEER IS. ONLY IF YOU WANT TO OF COURSE.
OH & I SHOULD WARN YOU THAT IF YOU SIGN ME UP FOR A SPAM LIST YOU’LL END UP IN HELL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. HA HA JUST MY LITTLE JOKE. (BUT ACTUALLY, YOU WILL GO TO HELL.) DON’T LET THAT SCARE YOU OUT OF HITTING ME UP THOUGH. CAN’T WAIT TO HANG. LOVE, DEATH
and beyond both disc and sign, another door: this one cut to your exact size and shape, knob hot to the touch; if you were to open it, step through, end the journey, you would find yourself back in your apartment. Confronting your spotty Wi-Fi and houseplants, the decision of whether or not to make a new friend, the fresh inevitability of your life, the immediate complexity of objects.
Yvonne Springlives in Providence, RI and makes handmade holiday cards. Her work has been published in Counterexample Poetics, Bedfellows Magazine and Jersey Devil Press, among others. Find her at www.yvonnespring.net.