For Book Tuesday this week, I thought I’d share a little story I wrote over 18 years ago. It’s different to my other books and stories, but I still like it. Tell me what you think of this excerpt. One Month To Live is available from Amazon, Lulu and Barnes & Noble.
ONE MONTH TO LIVE
It was Tuesday, 3.00am. The first scare came. I sat next to her watching her breathe so peacefully. Her greying hair lay across her pillow like a wave of golden brown sand mixed with streaks of silver. Her face melted into a younger version of the mother I knew as a child, soft lips and a hint of a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.
How beautiful she was without a mask of pain and life’s facial expressions twisting her face. Day dreaming, I played with the edge of her duvet, waking the cat and scaring it out of the room. I did not notice him sneak up to the bed.
Suddenly, I looked up and saw him reach out, his long white fingers with a bluish tint stroking her face. Mum stirred only slightly.
He took out the sickle from his long, dark cloak and held it high above his head. His eyes shone with excitement, pain, mercy and love all mixed up. So much emotion in those beady little eyes! The sickle glinted in the moonlight as he shifted his weight to make the perfect stroke.
I screamed, my mouth distorting into a sickly wide shape. My teeth nearly fell out and my eyes bulged. I could feel the wave of anger before he turned to look at me in surprise. His grip on the sickle loosened and dropped, falling hopelessly towards Mum’s chest. Her breath made her chest rise to meet the point as though two dancers were meeting from across a stage.
I moved quickly, catching the sharp end of the blade before it could enter her human body. Pain seared through my palm as the blade sliced downwards with juicy swiftness. He backed away, eyes widening at the sight of me.
“Boo!” I whispered and threw back my head, laughing at the sight of his wispy body slowly melting into the shadows. The sickle dragged along the carpet as I moved towards what was left of his shrouded figure.
“She’s mine!” I said. Blood might have dropped onto the carpet from my torn hand, but alas, ghosts don’t bleed! Well, most don’t.
“I was sent to collect her. You know I would not come out of mischief,” he cried, shadows replacing his uncertain form. Fear showed in those beady little eyes, staring at me with uncontrolled hatred. “I swear I came to collect her. She is due!”
His back shifted and disappeared into the wall behind him and he stopped before he fell through the building to the outside.
“I know she is due, but not today,” I said calmly, trying not to frighten him any more than I had to. The Reaper could be mean if you got his back too far up a corner. I pulled the sickle out of my hand with a sickening sucking noise. My skin healed almost instantly, leaving a tingly human feeling. I handed it back to him with a smile.
“Thank you!” he said, attempting a smile too. He gave a ghastly toothless grin instead.
“So, tell me, who sent you?” I asked, turning back to the bed and climbed to a perched position on my mother’s hip, like a gargoyle on a church tower. My teeth clicked as I pushed them back into place.
“Oh well, it was Gabriel, of course!” he said, choosing to lean on the far window, furthest away from me. Was he still afraid, I thought, laughing inside?
A gleam must have appeared in my eyes because he decided to stand guard, his sickle held ready.
“Don’t worry,” I said, “I will not take your place. You are safe with me. You have my word.”
Reapers were afraid of the stratosphere people as they could be replaced so easily and sent to Purgatory.
“Well, either you take her in soon or I shall return,” he said, turning to go.
“May time be kind on you!” He left through the same window.
I sighed with relief. The first try was over. Mum had to live the full week, or Purgatory would be her destination. That was closer to hell than I wanted her and she would not have the same freedom I enjoyed. (Like sitting on her hip whilst she slept!)