Thursday, January 28, 2010

02 Getting to know death

So my girlfriend and I are sharing an ice cream and coffee. One ice cream, one coffee. We share everything. Yes, it is totally pathetic. I love it.

We’re not sharing because she’s worried about calories and just wants a bite. Unlike a lot of women she never worries about her weight, figure, complexion, clothes or hair, or those in any combination.

Ever. I mean like the subject has never come up. Not once.

Now, I’m not slamming girls who worry about things like that. Women like to think they are doing the right thing for themselves and staying on top of their game, and when they do it with a passion it can become an art form. I do think that media and culture tend to make this harder than it needs to be but for the most part I’ll hazard that the girls manage to strike the right balance, and most seem to actually enjoy the challenge.

But my girl. No. She just does what she wants as much as she likes and this includes food, drink and sex. She wears what she can find on the discount rack or else nothing, as suits her. She’s really smart, funny in a dark sort of way, drop-dead gorgeous and can do it for five hours straight.

How does she manage it?

She’s death.


I’m still getting to know death.

There were some rules she established right off. For example, she does not have a name she is willing to share and does not like pet names.

She is death. Lowercase. Period. As she explained it she is death as a force, not as a thing. I only get to see her and hang out with her because I somehow forced her into the wrapper of a girl, and because she accepted that. Otherwise, she's not anyone or anything.

She never talks about herself. Likewise she has never asked me anything about myself and as far as I am aware knows nothing about me as a person. She does not know my name and has never asked, and never refers to me in any personal way.

The few times I tried to introduce that kind of small talk she would silently reach over and place a finger lightly on my lips.

That was all. It was enough.

Her touch kills. Her normal way of killing someone is to walk up to them and touch them lightly with a finger, and down they go. She can also kiss — that legendary kiss of death that Judas made famous is backed by literal fact — but she almost never does.

She kisses me, all the time. Death is the world's greatest kisser. Her lips are like sweet, soft, delicious little sticks of dynamite; she kisses me and my head explodes. Of course, one of these days she'll kiss me and I'll die. I figure that's just an occupational hazard of being death's consort. Definitely worth it.

The thing with names is actually important. Death and I are completely alone. We’re in the world, but not part of it. It took me a while to get the hang of that. As such, we always know who we are talking to. She is always talking to me. I am always talking to her. You don’t actually call someone by their name when the two of you are the only ones in earshot. Bet you never even thought about that.

Sometimes I wonder what it must have been like for her to be alone before. I mean, really alone. Or maybe I’m not her first, nor even her only. I hope there were others because I don’t see how even death could cope in a universe where nobody knows you exist except the moment when you kill them. That might start to suck after a few thousand years.

Maybe I'm just projecting, and she prefers being alone. Though I'm pretty sure she's enjoying our sex.

There is something else about being invisible. We are in public constantly. She has to kill people, implies being around people where people are. Since her touch is always lethal all the time this might become a problem. For example on a crowded sidewalk or in a dim lit restaurant. Here’s where things get spooky.

She and I are invisible, but we are not gone. In fact invisible might not be the right word, although it explains a lot. It’s like we’re visible but perfectly ignored. The way a lamp pole on the sidewalk isn’t technically invisible, but nobody sees it. Nobody consciously goes down the sidewalk seeing lamp poles in the way and saying to themselves, there is a lamp pole, ignore that.

But they go around lamp poles.

Death is like that. When we are walking people go around us. They go way around, just in case. I’ve seen people step into moving traffic to go around us, and when they do the cars stop for them without any honking or shouting or anything. Nobody notices any part of this. It’s like the entire surface of the planet moves four feet to either side just to give us plenty of room. People don’t look at us, they don’t comment on us, and they don’t notice they are not noticing.

They just avoid us like — well like death.

There are a very few exceptions to this. They are noteworthy when they happen, and I am always taken by surprise though death never is. The only time she was surprised was the time when I saw her.

Lucky me.


Back to ice cream and coffee.

“All those flavors, and you chose vanilla,” I say. “So what does that tell us about death?”

Quiet please. The great detective is at work.

Death looks up at me over the rim of the coffee cup. She takes a sip and says:

“Nothing whatsoever. I should hope.”

Not so fast, death.

“I think it means death does not take risks,” I reply with confidence.

Death is helpless in the grip of my mad inductive skillz.

Her eyes narrow ever so slightly and she puts the cup down. Taking the spoon from my hand she loads it up with vanilla ice cream, turns in her seat, looks around a moment and flipping the spoon launches the ice cream in an arc across the parlor. It lands with a splat square in the center of the table of a guy I would not want to cross swords with.

This is funny, until he closes the book he was reading and looks up directly at us.

Crap. What happened to invisible?

Too late now. I give him the don’t look at me pal helpless shrug. He angrily rips a bunch of towelettes out of the dispenser and cleans up the table and the front of his jacket.

Okay, we just learned two really important things here. The first is that invisibility is at best an imperfect defense, and the second is that death doesn’t flinch from making a point.

Whatever her point was. Because that was not death taking a risk, it was her tossing little me to the lions. Maybe the point was that she doesn’t like being shallowly evaluated by mortal punks.

Yes. That does sound just like death.

She puts more ice cream on the spoon and while eyeing me seductively lifts it to her lips and licks it with the tip of her tongue. Then she turns the spoon around and slips it into my mouth.

Note to self: Death is hot.

I will never be able to look at vanilla ice cream the same way.

Across the room the other guy has returned to reading his book as if nothing had happened.

There it is. That spooky.

I’m liking it so far but I’m not sure yet what it’s about, this living with death.

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