One Word

Blown sand and hot sun. And a dark figure standing at a distance, holding a scythe. Positioned not quite towards me. Face dark under a hood. Deathly still.

I was never sure what to do when I saw him there. He came and went randomly through my life. Well, I think he was random, though I can’t say that I ever saw or noticed or placed a pattern at all. I don’t know. All I know is that he was there. Again and again, he was there.

And when he was there, he was there. I know that sounds stupid, but that’s the way it was. When he wasn’t there, he wasn’t there.

He was a spirit, I think. When he was there, it was a really strong feeling. There was a presence, there was a palpable tenseness in the air. And that’s how you know. And that’s why, when he was there, he was there.

Same way when he wasn’t. It was happy and chipper and free and you could feel like you were one with nature and you could get down and feel the dirt between your toes and you can feel the grass on your skin, hugging it and cutting it all the same, but real. There. When he wasn’t there, he wasn’t there, you know?

Today, he was there.

The electricity in the air made my hair stand on end. The fire in my heart burned endlessly and left me wanting. I needed to have more and I needed to feel more than I had ever felt. And then I could feel him there. Like a shadow looking over your shoulder. Like a demon haunting the edge of your periphery. I could always feel him before I could see him. But I couldn’t always see him. Today, I saw him. And he was clear. A rare treat for me.

Or you can call it a treat if you like. Today, also, he was actually more facing me than facing away from me. And I could always tell even if I couldn’t see him because when he was really close, not just there, but close… When he was close, I could smell him. Stench of body odor and sweat and unwashed death.

I could also hear him when he faced more towards me than away from me. The changing of his angle was always disturbing, because that’s when it happened. Not that there was a pattern when appeared – but, I tell ya, there’s a pattern when he starts to face towards me. There’s a definite pattern when he faces closer and closer to me. There’s a stark reality, and I can smell it and hear it and I can feel it like a blast furnace to the chest.

Today was a particularly bad day for me. I wasn’t really there. I was lost in thought. I was lost in myself, as I am wont to do. I was lost in me. I was lost in him. Thoughts of him pervade my very being when he’s around.

The noise was suddenly louder and I winced at the pain in my head, in my ears, and I looked over and I was in the desert with him. I was standing in the heat and the sun and the sand was blowing over my feet and I looked up and the nose wouldn’t let up. He was looking at me now, no angle – dead-on.

“NO! Not today! You can’t! I won’t let you!” I screamed and knew he couldn’t hear me. Well, couldn’t, wouldn’t, doesn’t make no difference.

He raised an arm and a bony finger pushed out of the end of the black sleeve. The stench was overpowering. He’s never done this before. I squinted my eyes and put my arm up in front of my face to block the sand that was whipping around.

In the midst of the sudden sandstorm, he splayed his fingers out and a sphere of quiet and still opened up around his hand, slowly expanding out until it was a dome around us. Silent and still, the stink grew as the noise muted. He reached up and put his hand on top of his hood. He pulled it down and I dropped to one knee at the sight of his face.

As I dropped, I yelled, “NO! NO! NO! You can’t!” and he stared, straight-faced, MY FACE, looking straight at me, and finished it with one word.