TUESDAY: The Dead and the Alone


You are never alone. Copyright is held by the author.

DONN RAN to the house. As usual, he went through a wall and looked for his human. He sighed when he finally found him.

“Hey, Osiris.” His soft voice echoed in the dark reflection of the real world in which he and all the other reapers existed. Of course, the human couldn’t hear him, but Donn never acknowledged that. He’d been with Osiris since his first breath and he wasn’t planning on leaving him in the future, no matter what the others said. Donn would never admit it, but the boy was like a son to him, despite him never knowing what that had meant when he was alive.

He sat down next to the human, who’d just had dinner and was now on the sofa.

“How was your day?” he asked into the void.

Osiris picked up his phone and called someone. It was noisy on the other end — so noisy it seemed like there was someone else in the room.

“Hey!” he excitedly said. His brown eyes were brightest when he spoke to other people. Maybe it was because he lived alone or — most likely — because he’d always been alone . . . to his knowledge.

The conversation went on as usual, catching up on each other’s days. The human laid down on the sofa. Donn got out of the way. He was still sitting when he glanced over the room and the dark figure in it. Frightened, he did a double take and crouched as he realized that behind the nearest door stood a reaper. Donn did not know her.

She was watching Osiris longingly. But what did she long for? Was she sad? No, reapers weren’t sad. Reapers didn’t feel anything. Was she looking for Donn? No, everyone knew to leave him alone at this time.

It finally dawned on him that she might just be doing her job. She might be there to take a soul. But, considering Osiris was the only one in the house, Donn had some difficulty understanding this as just her job.

Donn crawled away slowly, hoping she wouldn’t see him. He had to make a plan.

“Wait, you guys went out? Oh . . . ,” Osiris continued.

Now in the kitchen, Donn took a moment to properly lose it. He tightened the grip on his scythe and tried his best not to let the scream that had lodged in his throat escape. He was not losing Osiris today. Donn checked that the kitchen appliances weren’t going to be the reason she took him and looked into the living room. The reaper was approaching the sofa.

“Hey there,” she spoke. A soft yet deep voice contrasted her tall and austere figure.

Donn was sure she was powerful — way more powerful than him. Still, he had to do whatever he could. He took a few steps behind her until he was close enough to see what she was doing.

“No, seriously, I’m OK, dude,” Osiris shakily said. “Yeah, sure. See you.” He hung up, threw his phone and curled into a ball, burying his face in his arms while he wept. Donn’s heart tightened the way it usually did when he saw the human cry. The difference now was that he couldn’t do anything about it, not even pretend to comfort him with a hug.

“I’m sorry,” the other reaper said, and reached out to him. She was taking him. This was it.

“Hey!” Donn screamed. He had meant it to sound like a threat, but the reaper seemed to take it as a salutation.

“Hello?” She turned around to face him.

“Uh . . . what are you doing here?”

She looked so much more serious — threatening — than before. She glanced behind her at the human before talking.

“What are you doing here?”

Osiris still cried, oblivious to the reaper fighting for his life.

“I’m . . . uh . . . taking care of the boy.”

“You are?”

He was puzzled by her expression. It wasn’t the usual reaper’s confused reaction, much less the usual reaper-who’s-about-to-take-the-human-you’ve-been-looking-after’s reaction. Donn knew he had to take this opportunity — try to appeal to her compassion — so he ignored the tightness in his throat and the sting in his chest.

“Yes, my first job as a reaper was with the boy. I didn’t have to take him, but I did have to take his mother. He had just been born and they were pressuring me and . . . I had to take away his family. It was quite . . . anyway, he grew up in a troubled home and, so, I had to look after him.” He regained his composure and looked directly in her eyes. “I would do anything to protect him.”

To his surprise, she smiled. Was she mocking him?

“What’s his name?”

“Oh . . . Osiris.”

“That’s beautiful.”

She looked back at the human. Was she this sadistic that she had to hear the tragic backstory before she took someone’s soul? Donn was running out of options here.

“So, what’s your name?” he asked in the most threatening tone he could muster.

“I’m Mut.”

“Mut . . .”

He asked away, pressuring her, learning that she was a new reaper and that this was her first job, which she chose, because . . .

“I have some unfinished business here . . . with Osiris.” She said his name in such a way that Donn was certain she was about to attack. He had no choice. He jumped in front of her and gripped his scythe.

“You are not taking him!” His vision was so reddened he didn’t even see her anymore. “Do you understand, Mut? I will remember your name forever! I will not stop tormenting you. Ever! I am here to protect him and I will kill you if I have to!”

He was blinking fast, slowly regaining his vision. Meanwhile, he couldn’t hear much of anything besides Osiris’s sobbing, which scared him. Finally, he saw what the silence was all about. Mut was just staring at him, still smiling. But now she was also . . . crying. Donn thought reapers couldn’t cry. Why was she crying?

For a while, he simply stared at her. He didn’t know what to do. It seemed like there was no chance she was going to hurt Osiris now. Still, Donn wasn’t taking any chances.

“Why are you crying?” It came out a bit softer than he’d like it to.

“I-It’s been so long.”

“Since what?”

She almost spoke, but, instead, she quickly embraced Donn.

His thoughts were now a mixture of questions. Was she taking Osiris? Was she killing him? Should he fight back? He was left with no other option than to ask her.

“What are you doing?”

She let go of him.

“I’m thanking you.”

“Why?” He quickly looked back to check if Osiris was still alive. He was still crying. When he turned back around, she was smiling even more.

“For taking care of him. For taking care of my son.”

Donn froze. Any reaper’s biggest fear — and his personal second, after losing Osiris — had just come true. Meeting someone you had taken was not prohibited, but, in the rare cases in which it happened, the results were usually catastrophic.

“I am . . . so sorry,” was all he managed to say.

“Don’t be sorry! Donn, you have nothing to be sorry about.”

“But —”

“I’m just glad my son is fine.”

Now he was the one crying. Donn couldn’t help but smile back at her. All that guilt he had been piling up for years was now simply unfounded. Still, something bothered him.

“I’m . . . I’m not ready to let go . . . of Osiris.”

She hesitated.

“I won’t ask you to.”

“You won’t?” His eyes watered and his smile widened even more.

“No, Donn. Osiris has been taken away from me before. I don’t want the same to happen to you.”

They turned around. The human was still crying. He didn’t have to explain why — they both knew.

“I’m here. We’re here,” Mut whispered as she reached out once more. This time, Donn let her.

She stroked her son’s hair, calming him even though he probably couldn’t feel her. Donn did the same — he couldn’t not have done it at that moment.

“You’re not alone, Osiris.” The human’s crying ceased. “You never were.”


Image of Rita Marujo

Rita Marujo is a 18-year-old Portuguese writer. They are currently working toward an undergraduate degree in Film in Lisbon and, in the summer of 2022, they participated in the Creative Writing Program at Oxbridge after which they began building a writing career.

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