I roll over onto my stomach. It is three-a.m. it is light outside, curtains closed, not enough. My cigarette slips from my fingers. I open my eyes.
“You know smoking in bed is dangerous,” DEATH says, taking a drag. I sigh and sit up.
I reach for the half drunk beer on the floor beside my bed. It is flat, it was always flat, it isn’t a nice beer. DEATH watches, a sardonic look.
“Don’t you have anything better to do?” I ask.
DEATH shrugs. “I was in the neighborhood.”
She motions to the window. Blue and red flashes cut through the white night, someone is crying.
“What have you been up to?”
I shrug, brushing some ash off my arm, “dying.”
She rolls her eyes. “Drama queen.”
“Walking, mostly,” she says, passing my cigarette back. It is mostly filter. I snub it out. I light a new one.
“And you thought you’d drop in to bother me?”
She shrugs. “I bother a lot of people. Mostly in the mornings.”
“Oh nothing, just some fairy tales I’ve been reading. They always say something about the mornings being wiser than the nights.”
“Well, getting all worked up over death doesn’t seem terribly wise.”
DEATH gives me a sarcastically hurt look. “Are you saying I’m not worth thinking about?”
“No, but not because you understand anything. Because you don’t.”
Ash from my cigarette falls onto my leg, still a spark of life in it.
“Oh–great, helpful. So, why bother coming around if you’re always just going to tell my how little I understand things?”
DEATH takes a moment.
“Do you like fishing?” she asks.
I shake my head.
“Fine, well, have you gone fishing?”
“When you were a kid?”
“Well,” she takes my cigarette, “you ever see what happens when a child catches a fish for the first time?”
I roll back onto my stomach and close my eyes.
“I don’t make a habit out of watching children.”
I can feel her eyes roll.
“Well, when a kid catches a fish, they are all excited. They give it to their uncle, or father or grandfather and what do they do?”
“Mhm,” I mumble.
“The grandfather, or father, or uncle; they take it off the hook and slam it down on the deck. Sometimes, it sits still, slowly, paralyzed with fear–fading. But, sometimes, it flops around and you have to catch it and slam it down again, and sometimes, again. Until finally, it gives up. Now, the father, or uncle, or grandfather, they don’t think twice. But, what does the child do?”
I put a pillow over my face. DEATH waits.
I sigh, removing the pillow. “What?”
“It watches, and occasionally, pokes.” DEATH reaches over me, snuffing out the cigarette in a mounded plate.
“That is until some indifferent voice tells them to pick it up and toss it in the cooler.”
She sighs, “and, of course, they do.”