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Life and Death

Life was beloved by man and beast alike.

More dazzling than the stars and moon, his lips sowed words like silk while his hair was golden wheat set ablaze. None could compare to him.

Least of all his brother, Death.

More a shadow than a face or body, Death wandered amongst moonless skies. He made his dwelling-place within sunken ships and laid his head upon snow-covered stones. Men moaned at the sight of him; women cowered and covered the eyes of their children. “Look not at him!” they’d say. “Look not!”

One day, the brothers sat together, watching the world below.

“See them all and how they love me so!” Life boasted. “See them smile at the mere thought of me!”

Indeed, Life was a god to men. A beautiful god. A pitiless god; and in the world, Death saw only famine and flood. War. Hatred. Bitter loneliness.

How Death longed to save them—those sad, deluded creatures. To embrace and sing them into rest. Still, they shunned him.

Life’s beauty, they reasoned, was a kindness greater than his cruelty.

Death sighed. His brother laughed.

“Can you find a face,” the latter went on, “that loves you more than they do me, brother?”

Death looked into the earth once more.

And amongst the down-turned faces, out of the crowd of steeled-hearts, there appeared the face of a girl. One who was bruised and ailing, and lovelier than any.

And her heart beat for Death alone.

“Her,” Death reached out a hand to the girl. “I see her.”

“But what does she matter? She is not a princess of great wealth, such as the ones who bow at my feet. Nor is she a beauty, such as those who stretch out their hands to me. What does she matter, brother? What does she matter?”

But Death couldn’t tear his eyes from the girl.

“She longs for more than mere illusion. Those tear-stained cheeks desire my kisses, and her lashes are wet with tears for me.”

Life sighed and shook his head, but Death went to the girl and embraced her.

“I have waited,” the girl sighed. “And finally you have come.”

Flash Fiction by Cameron Clausen
Picture: Tears by LMAP under CC BY 2.0
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Published in Summer 2017


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