And Death Laughed

And Death Laughed is an uncompleted YA novel written from the perspective of Death. Being a mere thirty pages in, I’ve decided to keep my work private for now. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

Humans were most often stupid. Ignorant, selfish, hateful, prejudiced, obstinate . . . they fell apart easily, much more easily than they were put back together. They had to make the wrong decision, or hear of someone making the wrong decision, in order to select the right one. They were clumsy and, deep inside, very deep inside . . . they were afraid.

Of me, mostly. But others had things much worse than death that sneaked into their dreams at night and strangled their courage.

But, for all their faults, humans were beautiful. I thought the most beautiful emotion of them all was love. Time after time, I had witnessed this thing they called love. I had seen it in many forms.

Love between a mother and her child; a wife and her husband; a grandparent and their grandchild. There were different types of love: the selfless kinds, which were most often found in the senior citizens; but more common was the other kind of love, the one which wasn’t really love at all, and I didn’t like to see or think on that kind of love.

Humans loved passionately, often times without even considering why they were jumping so quickly into such an important decision. They loved doggedly, loyally, many times when their love was not even returned. The love made them cry, just as I made them cry, but these were tears of happiness.

Yes, I wished that, just once, I too could feel love. I figured it were a bit like fire, a warm and frightening feeling that started small but completely took over soon thereafter.

I wanted to feel it. Just once.

Just once I wanted to burn.

That night, I slept in the South Carolina Cancer Ward.

“My name’s Dakota. It means snake, so I’m having it changed.”

That captured Rose’s curiosity. “Wait, changed?”

“Yeah. I was adopted off an Indian reserve.” Dakota grinned as if revealing he were a superhero. “I’m ninety-three and a half percent Cherokee.”

It should’ve been obvious, from his stalwart build, bronzed skin, thick eyebrows, and dark eyes. He soared over Rose, whose dainty stature only now emphasized itself. In his shadow she seemed even whiter and graceful than before.

Dakota’s revelation drew another smile from Rose. “Very neat. I’m half from Great Britain, and equal parts German and Dutch. Not as neat as ninety-one percent Cherokee—”

“Ninety-three. And a half.”

Rose thumped the door to her pick-up truck closed, grinning. “All right then. Ninety-three and a half.”

They stood in silence in the parking lot for a moment. A grocery bag tumbleweed coasted by, having harvested itself from the garden just beyond the way.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you around then, Rose.” Rose didn’t say anything. She just climbed into her pick-up truck and drove away.

I climbed into the passenger seat. She was lucky I couldn’t talk, for I’d give her a lecture she’d never forget . . . starting with a big smack to the forehead.

Rose didn’t like flirty boys. She didn’t like the ones with big noses, or big egos, or light-colored eyes. She didn’t like the ones that used and abused, or the ones that teased without concern.

But oh, most of all, how did she hate the boys that were kind and sweet. For, at least in her opinion, these boys always had the most to hide. They, of all the scoundrels in the world, were the most untrustworthy, the most rotten, the most defiling of them all. They could sweet-talk you into dragging yourself through mud and then blaming it on yourself when things went wrong.

No, I wanted to tell her. You’re wrong! There are good men in the world. Those that won’t hurt you. They’re all a bit messed up, a bit weird, but allow them that, for aren’t you strange yourself?

Too bad, though. I was only Death. I took, I did not give. Did not give advice, did not give love, or hope, or peace.

Once again, I felt like a monster. What was I doing, hanging out with pretty Rose? I needed to leave. I did not belong in her world, and she would not belong in mine for many years to come.

I glanced at her face just one more time. Rounded cheeks, pink in exasperation; brown hair tied up in a helter-skelter ponytail; lip bitten in concentration. Marcie Blane warbled Bobby’s Girl, and the wind whipped angrily at Rose’s hair.

Rose did not sing.

But what good would it do, staying here with her? I had already said before: I could not give, and I could certainly not give happiness. She did not need to worry about Death, on top of everything.

I stopped holding myself to this place in Rose’s truck, and it sped past me, through me, down the road. Rose hugged the center line, afraid of veering off the edge.

As it accelerated up a hill, and then out of sight, I really did feel something. And this time, I remembered it.

It was a sensation unlike any other, but I’d seen it plenty of times. In peoples’ faces, in cords holding too much weight.

I was tearing.

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