I have long since heard a voice that has become as familiar to me as my own face. Others knew of him but they feared him. He was the voice of death. I knew he was always a step behind me. He guarded me and never let others too close. Death was my protector for whatever reason. I never thought to question it.
No one was ever allowed to get too close to me. They coveted me for their own gratifications. However, one look over my shoulder and they turned away. Death that always just barely touched my shadow. Everyone was afraid of this deity behind me. I knew I should have been, but I wasn’t. Why did he always follow so close?
One day I turned and I could see him clearly. He had never appeared so clear to me before. I wasn’t worried though. “Is it time?” Death shook his head.
I didn’t now that what he was going to say was going to be much worse. “Here is a lock. And only one will ever possess the key. I cannot stay hovering in the shadows. I cannot watch the way the others look at you.” He placed the lock on my skin and he vanished within air.
I felt like I was missing something. I had gotten used to the deity that now I was confused by the closeness of others. I felt off balance and out of my comfort. Their attentions never lasted.
The lock became a permanent part of me. Everyday the lock grew tighter on my skin as though it pulled my skin as it pulsed. Every day it moved ever so slowly until the lock moved to the area above my heart. But it was only visible to me.
Only those looking for a challenge sought the key. I was tired of being sought after like a prize. I missed my deity. As I ran to find shelter from people and their hidden intentions, I came upon a maze. People still tried but when they entered the maze, they grew tired or bored, but they never found my hiding place.
This place became my sanctuary, this little solace I built. One day as I sat in the chaos of the maze, a barn owl flew in and sat on a hedge, watching me. The flutter of wings as the owl sat for inordinate amounts of time unlocked something inside of me. “I remember you.” I tell the owl with a smile. He flies away once the last of my words escapes.
I hear gasps and screams as the owl flies away. An omen to some, a messenger to others.
I thought about that feeling. How free its must feel to have the wind in my face and escape this sanctuary that has become my prison. How would this maze appear from high above. What was it like to be the barn owl? They are feared by many cultures and avoided.
There is something more to the owl. He is part of an untouched memory. One I believe I have forgotten, as I have grown older. The lock near my heart pulls tightly now. For I have seen that same owl night after night in the barn behind my old home. He would screech and flap his wings. I do not remember being in the body that I am in now. I was younger and older at the same time.
In my mind I can see an empty clearing above trees. The flutter and the flitter of wings. I feel soft grasses underneath my feet. I hear a long ago conversation that I cannot comprehend.
The reality sets in again. I feel a twitch and slight burn under my shoulders. Now I grow lonely in the sanctuary. How does one leave a prison of their making?
The owl comes day after day and stays past the nightfall. It begins to feel like a taunt. Each time my shoulders twitch and burn a little more at the sight of his flapping wings. The lock pulses even tighter and I feel like my skin is tearing.
One day when the owl comes again, I cannot take it anymore. The bird looks as impatient as I feel. He is waiting for me and I know it has to be now. When he flies away I don’t wait for an invitation.
My shoulders twitch and burn. My bones ache and shrink. I look down and see my sanctuary turned prison. I feel a breeze against and the flutter of my own wings. I follow the owl to the forest clearing, the same one from my distant memory.
He lands in the clearing and I follow behind him. He turns to me with a smile. “You must remember?” He says as he grows before me. His body changes into that of a man. His wings of feathers turn into a cape of skulls and souls. He grows larger and towers over me. “Do you remember?” He asks again.
My smile grows as bits of memories flood me. My lips crack and the mundane task of smiling burns as it has been so long since I’ve done it. Memories that are from this life and the lives past “Hello, Death.”
He smiles back at me. “Took you long enough.”
I shake my head with a chuckle. “Why did you want me to remember? I know it is not my time yet. Did you find a way for us to be together?” He looks at me with admiration. “No. It is not your time.” I look at him and wait. “I grow impatient. I didn’t want you to forget me. To forget all of the things and what it means. I didn’t want you to forget long ago promises.” I snort with annoyance. “How can I forget you when you are locked in my skin? You locked yourself into all of my memories. No matter how many times I am born, you seem to be a part of my soul.”
“Maybe I needed to remember. There will come a time when you find make beautiful memories and have beautiful children. Your memories will be full of them. I just needed to know you still had the lock because during that time I can be with you.” He says with remorse. His vulnerability making his feathers ruffle.
“Will my life be short or long?” I ask him without thinking of what it does to him. He nods at me but I see the way his nostrils flare. “You will live a long and happy mortal life. You will watch your children grow and you in turn will grow old.” I smile happily at this news. “But that is your mortal life. Your immortal life will be even longer. Death is permanent and you are locked to me. One day I will be a man, a mortal man, my debt and curse will be paid.”
I walk close and stroke a finger down one of the skulls on his cape. The skull gasps and sputters. “I cannot wait for that time.” I look into Death’s eyes and smile. “I am your maiden. I have always known it. Until that time of reunion, I will hear the flap of your wings and know you watch me. You are always so close yet so far. My own omen.”
Death looks at me with a cunning grin. He bows once to his maiden and flies away again. I look lovingly at the clearing and fly my own way now that I remember. And now the lock sits even easier and lighter in my skin. The pulse becomes easier to bear. And now I wait.
About the Creator
I have been intrigued with writing since I was twelve years old. At first, it was poetry but then in morphed into a love of fiction, fantasy, and adventure. When I'm not writing stories, I am running wild with my family.
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