The reaper came the second day as well. Five more days. It was late and Denise was still asleep. A dog walked into the room and it growled immediately. It walked towards him and bared it’s teeth at the reaper. The reaper frowned.
The reaper made a flicking motion and the dog ran away, as quickly as possible while crying too.
Denise jumped out of bed and looked around confused.
“Munchy?” The reaper frowned at the horrid name. Denise sighed when she realised that her dog was nowhere in sight. She swung her legs over the bed and started with her daily routine.
The reaper still watched.
Munchy, the dog, was apparently sick, and old by the looks of it. Denise tended to the dog. Gave it food, hugged it. The reaper noticed just how much love the human had for the dog. He could not understand it, though. They couldn’t understand each other, so why did they share a mutual love?
The reaper disappeared at exactly 11:55 and reappeared at the Six o’ Clock cafe. He wore khaki shorts and a red checkered shirt, with white flip flops. The reaper liked the freedom of flip flops.
He walked in with the book that he had bought the previous day in his left hand. He ordered coffee and found a space on the outside section of the cafe.
The cafe was a ten minute walk from the mall. It was in a more secluded part of town, near a river. It was made of wood and had a mystical theme.
The reaper, just by sitting there could feel the calmness radiating from the people. He liked that feeling. Calm, serenity.
His coffee arrived and he took it gratefully. The waitress smiled extra chummily at him. He smiled back and then went back to his coffee and book.
With the book in his hand he took only two seconds to flip through it. He took in a deep breath and opened a random page and started reading.
He had memorised the book in only that one movement. It was one of the many things reapers could do. They had many talents, but were limited according to circumstances.
A minute or two later he felt her presence as she entered the shop. He looked up and their eyes met. He could feel her nervousness and so he smiled and gave her a small wave. She walked towards him.
The reaper took in her outfit. A blue floral dress, with different coloured flowers and flip flops. They were pink, and the reaper’s favourite part about the outfit.
“I thought that you weren’t gonna show up.” Denise was only seven minutes late. The reaper did not mind in the slightest. He was just glad that she had come. She had just made his mission easier.
“I thought that I wouldn’t come.” Denise chuckled when the reaper stood up before she sat. “What a gentleman.”
“My mother would be proud.” Denise laughed. She glanced at the book on the table and she seemed to get happier. The reaper could feel her excitement bubbling up. She was excited about a book. That amused the reaper.
And also her smile. That made him happy as well.
“You’ve started with the book?” The reaper nodded as he also stared at it. “How do you like it so far?”
“I’m not sure how I like it. I’m still at the beginning chapters. Everything is still confusing.”
“It is? How?”
“The Joshua guy. What’s his deal with Emily? And Emily, what is she?” Denise laughed at the reaper being dramatic.
“I can’t tell you that. Then I’ll ruin the book.” Denise said with a smile. Something that the reaper never saw when she was at home.
“The suspense is killing me.” That just caused Denise to laugh even more. The reaper watched her laugh.
Why did he find her laugh so fascinating? Why was he happy, only after he saw her laugh? What was it that he was feeling?
The waitress came back and she seemed disappointed when she saw Denise and the reaper. She asked what Denise would like and she ordered.
“Chocolate cheese cake?” The reaper asked when Denise said the order. Denise looked at him, her eyes wide in surprise..
“Have you never had it?” The reaper shook his head. Denise smiled and looked at the waitress again. “Make the chocolate cheese cake a large.” The waitress smiled and then left. The feeling of disappointment seeming to leave as well.
Denise smiled as she looked at the reaper. The reaper, confused just blinked at the girl.
‘”You know,” Denise’s smile stayed on her face. She seemed amused. “I noticed you watching me yesterday at the book shop.” The reaper chuckled and scratched the back of his head. A nervous gesture.
“What? I did not.” Denise laughed at the reaper’s terrible lying skills. She smiled as she crossed her legs under the table.
“Is that how guys from where you’re from hit on girls?”
“From where I’m from?” Denise shook her head.
“You’re not from Nelspruit.”
“How’d you know?”
“No, I am not.” The reaper said. He sipped his coffee. He’d always thought that when he went to a place he was able to imitate their accents as well as their looks. No one had ever asked about his accent before.
Denise’s coffee and cake came with two desert spoons. Denise smiled happily at the cake. The reaper felt her happiness for the cake, but also a hint of sadness.
“Thank you.” She said looking at the cake in anticipation. The reaper watched her as she handed him a spoon.
“We’re sharing?” Denise nodded. She put the cake in the middle of the wooden table.
“I hope you don’t mind?” The reaper shook his head, a bit confused. He was certain on the previous day that Denise was nervous, and that she was shy. Yet on that day, she seemed to be the one insinuating everything.
The cake eating went well. The reaper loved the cake. It tasted to him like heaven covered in chocolate. He wouldn’t have minded going to a chocolate heaven. Denise laughed even more every time that he spoke. He was not even trying to be funny. Which led him to one conclusion.
Denise was faking happiness.
“Mark,” Mark, the reaper hmmed at his name being called. He looked at Denise inquisitively. “Why me? Out of all the girls that you could have asked out, you asked me. What’s so special? I’m not skinny, or pretty. I’m just common.”
The reaper sat quietly and looked at Denise’s sad eyes. She had been faking all the time and finally that showed her true feelings. The reaper could feel them. Her sorrow. Her doubts. Her unhappiness. Her feelings made his heart ache. He sometimes wished that he couldn’t feel humans’ feelings, but he dealt with death. Not feeling was impossible. He looked into Denise’s eyes.
“Who told you that you were not beautiful?” Denise laughed, yet the wave of sadness coming from her was unbearable.
“I know. My weight, that’s noticeable too.” She sighed. “I’m depressing, aren’t I?” The reaper clenched his fists as another wave of sadness hit him.
How could one human being bare so much pain? If even a reaper couldn’t take it, how were they supposed to do it? How was she able to do it all alone?
“You’re not.” As calmly as he could, the reaper said. “You’re beautiful, Denise. Don’t think otherwise. The first time that I saw you…” The reaper went back to his first memory of seeing Denise. It wasn’t like any of his other marks. What he was about to say to Denise, was the truth. “…I was speechless. I felt a pull towards you that I never felt with any other human being. I…”
“Stop.” Denise dug into her small bag and took out money. She stood up and the reaper followed her movements. “I can’t. I thought that going out with you, would help me. It did not.” She put the money on the table. “It only made me feel worse about myself. I am only destined for bad things. I’m sorry.” A tear rolled down Denise’s cheek, but she quickly turned around and started walking out.
The reaper made the money on the table double before he stood up and followed behind her. He couldn’t let her go. She was his mark. She was supposed to be dying in less than five days. She was supposed to die happy.
She was dying.
The reaper did not want Denise to die. If she died, he would never see her again. That was how it was. The reaper only saw the mark once, when they were taking their souls. After that the reaper never sees them again. The reaper does not even know where the person goes, specifically.
He couldn’t bare knowing that he would never be able to see Denise again.
He could not understand why he felt that way. Marks were just his next job. Denise was supposed to be his next mark, his next job.
The reaper without even thinking wrapped his arms around Denise from behind.
They were outside and the reaper had finally caught up to her. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, and when the reaper held her close to his heart her crying worsened.
“Don”t cry, please.” The reaper begged. He did not know what else to say. All that he knew was that she needed to stop crying because her sadness made his heart hurt. “I’m here now. You won’t have to feel bad again.”
Denise was calm, but only for a second then she pulled herself away.
“W—what are you doing?” She asked, shocked at the reaper’s doings. The reaper also stood in shock. He also couldn’t understand.
“I’m sorry.” The reaper’s heartbeat quickened as he thought of a way not to lose her. “It was the only way that I could think of. I was honest with what I said. I can’t find you, just to lose you.”
Denise’s tears had ceased. She looked at the reaper, dumbfounded.
“You don’t know me.”
“I’d like to know you.” Denise shrugged and turned around.
“Because I’m pitiful. Don’t worry, I’m not suicidal or anything. You can go.” She said the last sentence softly. The reaper took a step closer to her.
“…” The reaper was silent as he stood behind her. He could feel the warmth radiating from her. He wanted that warmth to keep on being there after five days.
Denise turned around.
“You’re stubborn.” She stated, looking up at the stranger.
“I don’t want you to feel lonely. Even though we just met, I want you to know that you are not alone anymore.”
“You’re weird, and creepy.”