The Meeting in the Garden

The Meeting in the Garden

By Jamie Burns

“Who are you?” Her voice was steady and her tone didn’t really seem to be asking a question.

They stood facing each other several yards apart in the open space of the garden. Cherry blossoms surrounding them, and the light of the sunrise filling the garden.

“You know.” The tall man said back to her. His eyes were soft and kind, they seemed to be filled with sympathy. He only looks a few years older than her and his short, slightly messy, sandy brown hair brought a boyish quality to his face. He wore a light brown sweater that reminded her of her grandfather. He had a relaxed posture that put her at ease. The hairs that had been standing on the back of her neck lay back down.

“You’re not as scary as I would have expected.” She told him.

He smiled at her.

“I get that pretty often.”

“I’m glad you’re not, scary.” She had wrapped her arms around herself and looked around the garden. Almost like she was looking for someone else, or maybe even an exit. Then her eyes were back on him, waiting. He took a step towards her and she instinctively stepped back. He stopped, and for a split second he looked hurt, then the kindness returned.

“I’m sorry.” She said.

“You don’t have to be sorry. It’s a natural tendency for people to want to keep their distance.”

“Why are you here?” She said.

“You know the answer to that too.”

“I mean, what happened?”

“It was a blood clot.” He looked down at his hands that were laced together.

A long silence stretched between them. Her face now blank, she held herself more tightly.

“We don’t have to leave right now. I mean you can have a few minutes, if you want.” He offered.

She slowly walked over to a nearby bench, sat down and folded her hands in her lap. After a moment, once he thought she seemed settled he walked over and sat beside her. She was a very slight girl. Her smallness accentuated by her oversize gray knit sweater. Even with her thick brown hair swept into it’s high bun it only hit him at the shoulder.

“Why do you look familiar?” She asked without looking at him.

“Because, you’ve seen me once before. Right before your great grandmother passed away.”

She looked over now, trying to recall the distant memory, but it was far out of reach.

“Are you always… not scary?”

He smiled again “No, I’m not always, not scary.”

“But to me?”

“You don’t deserve scary. I’m only scary to those who I feel deserve it. Really I’m usually not.”

“I’m not sure if that makes me relieved, or terrified.” Now even a tiny hint of a smile peeked at her lips. “Is there any way you would let me stay?”

“I don’t really choose the who and when. I’m more like a messenger.”

“Is there someone else I can talk to?” She asked timidly.

This made him chuckle. “You want to talk to my boss?”

“Do people not do that? They don’t ask for, more time?”

He slowly reached out and placed his hand on top of hers. As he did, something that felt like acceptance came over her. “The decision has been made.” he said.

She was feeling more and more accepting of this fact as they sat in silence. Till she was feeling almost like herself again.

“How long have you been doing this?” She asked.

He was surprised she was still asking about him. Most people by this point, or way before were reduced to a sad, blubbering heap of sorrow.

“I have only ever done this. Thousands of years.”

“How? I mean… it must be awful. Is it lonely? Do you have anyone?” Her questions tumbled out. And she looked over at him wondering if he would answer. He wouldn’t.

“We should go. Are you ready?” He asked as he stood.

She looked around the garden one last time. “I suppose.” She stood. Then she surprised him by taking his hand and lacing her fingers with his. And she and Death departed the world of man together.