Don’t Fear the Reaper

This was a short piece I did for class, under very strict parameters in terms of how the story had to develop and how much detail to add… but I thought I’d still share it.

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Rain pelted the surface of the lake and battered the earth, turning dirt into mud, and mud into brown water. It so drenched the ground that even the trees could feel their feet sinking into the thick sludge. And under the willow tree, whose branches hung over and danced across the bouncing surface of the lake, stood a girl. All around her, the woods were silent, save for the constant patter of the rain. No chirps came from the trees. No animals wandered the perimeter of the lake. It was as if the very greenery around her held its breath.

All was still, until finally there was a single breath in the woods. A man rounded the corner, his black suit several shades darker and heavy, his pants and sharp-toed shoes caked with mud, and in his blue but bloodshot eyes there was frantic fear. His hair stuck to his face, matted down by the lake, until he slicked it back and away. He stopped in front of the girl, and found himself short of breath. Though he panted and heaved, it was as though his airways had clamped shut.

“I won’t go. I don’t want to,” the suited man said.

The little girl lifted her chin from her chest, her dirty, wiry hair hanging in front of her face. She held a somber expression, and the man was unable to tell if her wet face was from rain or tears. “And I wish you didn’t have to. But you do.”

A hum came from the distance. At first, it sounded like music, but when it grew closer they could clearly hear the sirens. After some time of the sirens song growing louder, they became constant. Still distant, but constant.

The man looked from the girl, to the direction of the sirens, to the lake, and back to the girl. “You see? There is a chance.”

“A chance ruined by a tire stuck in the mud,” the girl replied.

“But there is still a chance…”

The girl stepped towards the man and took his hand in hers, and in that instead he could feel the weight of the water crushing him. He could feel his skin being pricked by needles and going numb from the cold. He could taste the slightly bitter water in his mouth and feel it burn in his nostrils. And separate from the cold of the lake water against his skin, he felt a chill in his bones, and he knew what it was. The man and the girl found themselves at the edge of the lake, out of the protection of the willow tree. As the rain battered their heads, they stood there hand in hand and stared at the submerged car in the dark, churning water.

He knew what that feeling was: the pressure in his head, the ache of his chest, the numbness of his limbs. And he said nothing.

The girl glanced behind her and saw EMTs jogging through the trees. “Will you come with me now?”

The man shook his head.

“Choosing life will only make your death more painful. I don’t want that for you,” she said as she turned towards the man.

“I have to try.” The man let go of the girl’s hand. “I’ll probably see you later…”

Like the falling rain, the man broke through the water’s surface and dove towards his car, towards his unconscious body within it. When the EMTs finally arrived, the moved as quick as they could to pull the car from the lake, but were too late.

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