Death is an odd being. Most expect Death to be an intimidating skeletal creature with a midnight cloak draped across their bony shoulders. To be cruel and precise. But this is not necessarily true. Death is a young girl, her piercing blue eyes full of curiosity and recklessness. Her soft blonde hair reaching past her waist, she walks with a sort of grace and innocence. Humans may as well be her playthings, toying with their precious lives. Coming unexpectedly, about to snatch their life away, then deciding against it at the last second. Death doesn't know what she is doing. She is simply curiously prodding, messing with us, not aware of or even caring about the consequences.
Oakley is a small old town. The roads are dirt, and the buildings a dull gray stone. The only ornate structure is an exquisite fountain lying in the center of the buildings, though it hasn't worked in years. The little water that still rests at the bottom is frozen over. A fifteen year old boy, Breslin, stands in the middle of the street. There is laughter surrounding him, joy warming the ice ridden town. There are children knocking on one door, then another, their cheerful caroling filling the frosted air. The streets are crowded that day. Breslin thinks it is strange, as people should be inside in the midst of the deadly of winter, but deep down he knows why all the families are flooding out into the snowy streets; it is Christmas Eve. Christmas means friends and family, laughter and generosity, lights and smiles.
Oddly, this doesn't seem to apply to Breslin as Christmas holds painful memories. While trudging through the mobs of rosy cheeked children and smiling parents, they automatically cringe away as if he was the Black Plague. He tries to not let it bother him.
Breslin knows he is so hated because of this exact day last year when some of the boys he went to school with were childishly taunting him. His younger sister, Freya, had passed away unexpectedly the night before.
Breslin remembers it clearly; she was not ill, nor was she cursed with some injury. She was sleeping in her bed like any typical night; the fire was going, making her chamber comfortably warm. No one knew the reason for her death, there was no reason. He remembers the next morning; a morning he would do anything to forget. Breslin was putting on his coat when he heard his mother's cry piercing the silence of the stone house. He leapt up the stairs, his thunderous footsteps echoing in the frigid hallway. When he reached Freya's room, his sister was being cradled in his mother's shaking arms. Freya looked as if she were sleeping. Her mousy brown hair was tangled and she had on a thin, white nightgown. She looked peaceful, too peaceful to belong to this world of cruelty and destruction, but now she belongs to another world. He remembers pain;oh so much pain. He remembers hollow sadness. He remembers helplessness. He also remembers rage. A burning, uncontrollable, reckless madness. When he walked the white powdered streets the next day he remembers glaring at every passerby. Throughout the day the townspeople seemed stunned. Breslin was known for being a meek intelligent boy, a teacher favorite, a gentleman. When walking back home, a group of boys had the nerve to taunt him. Breslin wheeled around and punched the leader of the group, Desmond, in the nose. He remembers punching and kicking and wrestling. He remembers blood and foul words being spit in each other's faces. It took three large men to pry Breslin off of Desmond.
Now, the whole town is wary of him. Breslin glares at the ground while recalling the memory. He takes in his surroundings, too happy, too cheerful. His innocent six year old sister died on this day, happiness should not be present, but it is. Breslin stalks off, away from the smiling crowds. He starts to run, as if he can run away from this town, from his memories, from reality. He doesn't know how long he runs but his muscles burn and his limbs are numb from cold, he can no longer recognize his surroundings, but he doesn't stop. He doesn't even halt when the stone town fades behind him and he finds himself in a ice coated forest. He sprints deeper into the unknown tangle of trees. He finally stops. His heavy breaths produce white clouds against the chill. A tear rolls down his face as he gazes at the landscape of the winter forest. Freya would have loved it here. The sky is darkening and logic is screaming for Breslin to go back, but his heart tells him to stay. He lays down on the cold ground, gazing at the black sky. All he wants is to be with his sister again. A thin layer of snowflakes now coat his entire body and the cold feels like a million needles plunging deep into his flesh. Logic starts to scream even louder but he doesn't listen. He couldn't even if he wanted to, it's like he is frozen to the forest floor. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye Breslin spots a little girl peering at him from behind a tree. When she approaches him with cautious, yet purposeful steps, he sees her eyes. They are wide and curious, their color a captivating bright blue.
"What are you doing?" she giggles
Breslin does not answer.
She starts to approach him and offers him a hand. Automatically, Breslin reaches up to take it. He seems to float up from the ground, standing with inhuman ease. He peers behind him to find his body still lying on the frozen earth, motionless. He stares at the innocent looking child in horror.
"Who are you?" He whispers, stunned.
"Death" she responds with a mischievous smile.
It would normally be difficult to believe that this small child clutching his hand is Death, but under his circumstances it is quite convincing. His body is lying behind him and he feels lighter, as if in a dream. This girl seems to be the only thing holding him in this trance. Breslin then remembers the reason why he was lying on the cold ground: Freya.
"Please take me" he begs, "I need to, I need to see her"
"See who?" Death questions, tilting her head.
"Freya! My sister, Freya! Please please please take me!" Breslin's eyes are full of insanity and he is shaking with anticipation. He will see his sister again, he will.
"Hmm" Death pretends to be thinking.
"No" she responds coldly as she lets go of his hand. Breslin falls. He hurtles back into his frozen body. The pain of the cold pierces him once more.
"Please" he whispers with the last of his energy, "take me"
He sees the little girl again. She is smiling, "Why should I take you? I think I should just go find someone else." she declares while skipping away from him.
"Wait" he calls in a strained voice.
Death turns around and smirks. She's playing with him, they both know that.
"I need to, please. Please take me." he pleads in a strained whisper. It is hard to speak, as it seems the cold had transformed him into a block of ice.
Death strides towards him again, "Maybe I will, maybe I won't" she taunts, reaching out her hand once more, "but do you really want to leave now?"
Breslin was about to screech 'yes' as loudly as he could, but a sudden thought stops him. Did he really want to leave now? Abandon his widow mother? Give up his future, his life? Or did he want to join his young sister so badly that he would give up all of that? He opens his mouth to answer. Death smiles and nods along to his words, and does as he wishes. Though she knows that he will come to regret his choice.
Then she skips away to find another soul to play with.