When Death came for me, I was looking through old pictures. Old pictures from when people actually printed their photos and pasted them into unwieldy books where they turned yellow from being under plastic and stuck to the paper when you tried to move them.
Of course, I knew Him. It. She. I’d been expecting Them. That didn’t mean I was ready to go, though.
He just appeared in my apartment living room. Well, like a locked door would keep Him out, anyway. I was still in my pajamas, but if that didn’t bother Him (Her, It, They), it didn’t bother me.
Death was like static. Like you hadn’t tuned in right to the radio frequency or like one of those channels on the TV that didn’t work – in the olden days, I mean, when people watched a cathode ray tube.
There wasn’t any noise – just whatever-it-was on top of the body couldn’t settle; it cycled through appearances. If I had to guess, I’d say they were all the different ways all the different cultures saw Finality. Different genders, even different species. Yama, angels, a death bat, the requisite skeleton. There were others I didn’t recognize, including some that might not have been from an Earth culture.
That was interesting but looking at Them was making my eyes hurt. I went back to staring at photos and turning the pages.
“How do you do that?” I asked, keeping my eyes on the photos. Funny to be worried about getting a headache when Death was waiting for you. Patiently, I hoped.
“Do what? The aspects?” Her voice was like a mishmash of a lot of voices, and I could hear under-voices speaking in other languages. Had to concentrate a bit to hear the voice speaking to me.
“No. I mean, you must have to get around a lot,” I said. “How do you manage that?”
“Obviously, there’s more than one bit of me,” It replied. “Though some of me haven’t been used in centuries. Some Death incarnations and Deities don’t have living believers anymore, but they did, so what they believed in still exists. To an extent.”
I grunted and turned another page.
“So,” They said. “Ready to go?”
I snorted. “Is anybody?”
I heard the rustle of fabric as He shrugged. “Some, but it’s not a big deal.”
My eyebrows went up. “How’s that?”
They moved over to one of the chairs and sat down. Not sure if They walked or glided. Hard to tell when my eyes stayed on the photos.
I heard the chair cushion sighing under Death’s weight and more rustling as though He was making Himself comfortable. Weird.
“The process,” It informed me, “takes as long as it needs.”
I risked a quick glance up. The head was still cycling through aspects. I looked away again. “What does that mean?”
“We are between moments, I guess you’d say. In one moment you are alive, in another you are not. We can stay here for as long as it takes you to accept the next moment.”
I leaned back on the sofa and crossed my arms, thinking that over.
“Okay,” I finally said. I patted the cushion next to me. “Would you like to see my photo albums?”
As They got up to move closer, I remembered my manners. “I have tea. Or coffee. Which would you like?”