by Error Writes
Wherever Time went, he pushed things forward. He ushered thoughts to wander, urged rain to drop and sounds to fly. Even mountains stirred when Time walked by, albeit with a slow and begrudging grumble. He moved, relentless and unyielding, around the world.
But in a forest close to one of the early human settlements, Time stopped.
A being unlike anything he’d seen stood before him. Hair spilled out and meshed with her cloak, billowing endless and shimmering like the night sky behind. Her face like the moon, far away in thoughts.
A feeling panged against Time’s chest, clutched his throat and froze his feet.
The being noticed him and her eyes were the dark side of the moon, unknown and unreal.
Time shook off his stupor and moved, but not with his usual tempo. His steps lingered with hesitancy and carefulness.
“Hello,” he said, short of breath. “We seem to have met.”
“We have,” she said with a curtsy. “And I’ll be on my way.”
“May I ask for your name?” Time sputtered out.
“Just an unknown worker,” she said. “On my way to see my next customer.”
“May I perhaps be this next customer?” Time could almost reach out to her with his hand.
Her lips curled into a smile like the blade of a scythe. “Rather pushy, aren’t we?”
“I’m known for that,” Time said. “Wherever I go, things move.”
“And yet, when I try to move you ask me to stop.”
“I do want you to move. Just the opposite of ‘away’.”
“My, you’re quite forward.”
“Again, I’m known for that.”
“Two traits I’ve guessed true about you.” Her hands played with her cloak. “Care to guess what traits I have?”
“If I do, will you move the opposite of ‘away’?”
“You’re the pushy and forward one here, not me.” Her scythe-smile sharpened. “But if I fancy your guess, I’ll stay. If not, I’m away.”
Time laid his eyes on the cloak of night wrapped around her and thought about the panging in his chest. “You’re like the end.”
Her brow furrowed. “What makes you say that?”
“I move, unhindered and unfettered,” Time said and took a step closer. “Never stopped, until now. So tell me, isn’t this the signal of the end?
“I’m flattered by your approach,” she said and backed a single step, “but we are something not meant to mix, like the earth and the sky. Your guess struck true at my core. I am Death, the end of all. And you, by your forward nature, must be Time.”
“Death,” Time said and tasted the name. “Death. Such a wonderful name. Delightful, delicious and demure!”
“And also devastating, despicable and demonic.”
“Devastatingly delightful for certain,” Time said. “But I guessed true, why are you backing away?”
“It was never about true or false, it was whether I’d fancy or not.”
“And you don’t fancy the truth?” Time said. “What are your claims that we do not match?”
“You give things a future while I rob them of it.”
“One would perhaps call you a Thief of Time?” he suggested. “Because you’ve stolen my heart and sanity.”
Death laughed. A soft sound with a hard impact, like a body falling to the ground. “Oh, you have such sweet words.”
“Because it’s true,” Time said and closed another step. This time Death stood her ground and Time’s heart urged him forward. “Without you, things wouldn’t have meaning. Like a good story, every beginning has to have an end.”
Time grasped Death’s hand. Smooth like bone yet warm like the last breath of life. He gazed deep into the dark side of the moon.
“I fancy a good story,” Death said. She smelled like an eclipse, celestial and obscuring all his other senses.
“And I wish our encounter to be a one,” Time replied. He leaned in and Death tilted her head closer.
It tasted like forgotten friendship, like relief in sadness. It aroused pleasure tinged with pain and Time’s mind went blank. The leaves froze in the air. Animals stopped in mid-motion chasing prey.
Nothing in the world moved except for Time and Death.
She pulled away and his mind returned. The world and the leaves fell to the ground. The animals continued their chase.
“You kiss like nothing else mattered,” she said with a heavy breath.
“Because nothing else does when the end is near.”
“And now you’ve reached it,” Death said. Her fingers stroked Time’s cheek with a tender touch. “What happens after you’ve come to the end?”
“The beginning,” Time said and reached for another kiss.