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Death by gelato.

By L.C. SchäferPublished 10 days ago Updated 7 days ago 4 min read
Photo by Elza Kurbanova on Unsplash

I am not fond of my job. I get to meet lots of different people, but not for very long, and never at their best. I've been doing it a long time. You could say I've got tenure. I've been thinking of retiring, but I'm pretty sure things would collapse without me. More importantly, I've seen inside those retirement homes. No thank you.

I am like your mother, in a way. A mother - a good one anyway - is Home personified. A base of operations. You - if you are fortunate - return to her welcoming bosom to recalibrate when the world is too large, or too scary, or too confusing. One hopes you do this less as you get older, but you do still do it. When she passes out of your life, one way or another, you find a replacement. (It's Queen, for me, personally.)

You can think of me as the Ultimate Bosom. I don't mean an especially nice set of mammary glands (what is your obsession with those, anyway?) I mean Ultimate as in "final". At the end of things, I will enfold you in my cold comfort; the last thing you will ever experience. In this life, at any rate.

You may think of me as an empty robe with an hourglass and an agricultural implement. I reap what I never sowed. I see everyone, and I see most of them at their worst. I know you better than your mother. I know you better than your friends, better than your lovers.

After a millenia or two, it can get a mite depressing. So I've been doing what so many do these days: I've learned to hustle.

I tried my hand at ambulance driving for a while, but it wasn't for me. I don't think my skillset was suited to the role, and frankly, it was a bit of a busman's holiday.

With a fresh license under my belt, I bought an ice cream van. I've had a go at some other trades - barman, chef, retail, Avon lady, Hermes delivery person (chucking the parcels into random places was quite fun, I won't lie) but this one is my favourite job so far.

Get this: people are pleased to see me. I'm not going to say that's a first, but it's certainly different. I even like the grating little tune. I like putting my own words to it and humming it as I trundle around bringing joy, and death, and frozen dairy products to the masses. The children are the best part. The looks on their little faces when they see me! I give them their screwball or their knickerbocker glory and I grin right back. It's wonderful.

Ice cream manning is seasonal though - summer leaves, the days turn cold and gloomy and the nights get long. Nobody eats ice cream anymore. It's no wonder people get depressed in winter. This keeps me busy, of course, but I still need something for me. It's called self-care. I've been reading articles about it.

In keeping with the driving theme, I tried being an Uber driver. This is my second favourite. I love it because I get to meet lots of people, and they actually walk away afterwards. Smiling! I also like it because it's normal for a driver to fade into the background and not be noticed. It's part of the job spec. The work slots very easily around my - excuse the expression - life.

It has fitted so seamlessly around my primary job that I now drive full-time. It is so much more convenient than horses. Instead of a scythe, I have an app. You are chauffered away from this life in economy and style. Sit back, relax. I have seat warmers.

Should you be fortunate enough to pass away in summertime, I will be there to greet you in my giant pink Mr Whippy van. The curved blade was always a bit off-putting for people. Understandable really. But greet them holding out a (free) 99 cone? It changes the whole game.

I used to get a lot of shock, followed by denial. No, not me, I'm not ready! I'm too young! There's been a mistake! I need to do this, or say that, or tell so and so I love... People never say this kind of thing with a chocolate dipped waffle cone in their hand, I guarantee it.

If they put up any resistance (pointless by the way) I just give them free rein with the bottle of fake strawberry coulis. (It looks a bit like blood, which tickles me. Or it would if I had any nerves.) Their protests melt away, their eyes perk up and whatever they were going to say comes out as, "Can I have a chocolate flake?" I say, "You can have two old son," and they depart this life beaming, leaving all pain and distress behind, usually with a blob of sauce on their shirt.

It's a good life.


Hope you enjoyed this sojourn into silliness and reflection on the importance of a work-death balance.

A Challenge to the Death!

Here's my challenge to you: write about Death as a character. What's s/he like, how does he cope with the stresses of the job, what's his favourite bit of it?

Thank you for reading! Please comment so I can easily reciprocate. Tell me how you stumbled across this piece, and what stood out to you.

If you enjoyed this one, try:

Short StoryHumorFantasy

About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Flexing the writing muscle.

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for "nudes".

I'm also Twitter if you'd like to connect elsewhere.

I value feedback, and reciprocate reads and comments.

Also writing under the name S.E. Holz

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (34)

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  • Addison Ma day ago

    Thought I'd get in on this one. Here's one of my takes on Death.

  • Hannah Moore2 days ago

    There's not much for my amateur eye to pick on here, (oh, iron maiden wise, not just random meanness wise), so my points are a bit trifling. I would have liked something other than a retirement home as an alternative to work. I mean, he'snot going to die or need care, whether he is death or ice cream - but he could cause havoc in a reitrement community, I think there was an opportunity for his sense of mischeif to come out there. Or hers. I note she becomes and avon lady at one point and i dont know if I was being gender normative assuming death was male, or whether this was a deliberate non-gendering of death, but it could have been Avon seller or something. Because I had assumed maleness, it paused me in my rhythm as my brain recalibrated. Sometimes that is a desired effect, but I dont think so here. Finally, I found the bit about his death's hussles fitting so well around the primary job that he(or she) now drives full time - that sentence at first made me think he had quit deathing. I would consider rephrasing that to make it clearer that it had lead to innovations in deathing rather than an abandonment.

  • Poppy the Poet6 days ago

    This is so clever and humourful L.C. I love it!

  • Caroline Jane6 days ago

    Of course... Death would develop character in the style of a riddle. Love how clever this is. Nicely done!

  • Chloe Fitzwater7 days ago

    Holy… cow… I’ve been thinking about this for days, actually! (Does it have to be first-person, by the way?) I’ll get to it once I find out!! Can’t wait!

  • Sara 7 days ago

    I love your lighthearted take on such a heavily introspective matter! Brilliant

  • Mackenzie Davis7 days ago

    Ooh, I really want to do the challenge! I will be back, eventually. Maybe in a month, maybe 2, or maybe tomorrow! Lol. You requested critique for this story, so here is my attempt. Truly, though, there is nothing big here to suggest; everything is working, and it's funny, clever, and heartwarming. I really love what you did with this character. 1. Did I make any grammatical or spelling mistakes? Could be a typo, or an obscure grammatical error, I don't care - hit me! "Fitted" is an adjective, and your use of it is meant to be a verb; "fit" would best, I think. ("It has fitted so seamlessly around my primary job…") "If they put up any resistance (pointless by the way) I just give them free rein with the bottle of fake strawberry coulis." 'Free rein' here — did you mean 'reign'? 2. Did anything else pull you out of the story? What was it? No matter how big or small a detail. "It looks a bit like blood, which tickles me. Or it would if I had any nerves." For some reason (and I could be dumb), I didn't understand the 'nerves' thing. I'm not sure we get enough description of Death's physiology, so it forced me to pause and think about it more creatively. I just think it could be set-up better is all. :D 3. Did anything else stand out to you? The only thing I’d recommend you give attention to would be to craft at least one complete scene, as the whole story is very descriptive not not very illustrative, if that makes sense? It’s a monologue (NOT bad, I love monologues), so I think showing one instance of pure scenic interaction between Death and a customer would add a bit more depth. Perhaps end it that way? You could simply expand the final 3 big paragraphs into a full scene and keep the last line, if it works. Just a thought. It's also fine to keep it this way; I sometimes like to see monologues transition into scenes; to me, they can feel incomplete if they don't. 4. When someone gives you feedback, what are you hoping for? I am hoping for someone to give me feedback that obviously comes from a place of care and the desire for my work to succeed. I don’t want it to fill their ego. The pursuit of support and having humility are key. I try to take every bit of feedback with optimistic humility, even if it’s clear that I’m wrong. Plus, there’s never room for wrong assumptions, imo. It’s bad form to assume passive aggression, or destructive intent from the person giving feedback. I don’t care if the feedback is on a personal story or a completely fictionalized one. Don’t think the worst of people, it burns bridges and makes you look like a really insecure person who should probably not be sharing their work with others. (Sorry, that was a long answer.)

  • Dana Crandell7 days ago

    I hate to be redundant, but brilliant is exactly what this piece is! I can't promise I'll have time for the challenge, but I definitely enjoyed your humanization of "The Big D." I'm going to have my order ready when he shows up!

  • Paul Stewart7 days ago

    Oh why did I wait so long to read this beauty? Loved it. Loved all the details...the ice cream details...the way you gave Death a more fully fledged personality. Brilliant work! I will definitely concoct something for this challenge. I'm working on something for Mother Combs, Matthew Fromm, Jazzy G and I am sure there is another...I can't remember lol! Anyway, this is going on the list!

  • Brilliant! Really enjoyed this. Maybe we'll try the challenge!! 💙Anneliese

  • Brilliantly funny! And a fantastic idea. I will try to have a go! 🤍

  • Hannah Moore7 days ago

    I have answered your challenge story wise - hopefully I will come back later critique wise.

  • Rachel Deeming8 days ago

    So, I'd said I'd critique and here I am! Firstly, I liked the tone of it throughout. Death is quite the conversationalist. Humour too and that sort of witty repartee makes it lively and entertaining. I like the asides especially - we get to see the being behind the skull. Or not being. I don't know. I loved the irony of your last line. One thing I will mention is that you talk about the ice-cream van being a side hustle which makes it seem like it is something extra to his day job. This is also mentioned in the busman's holiday comment about the ambulance driver. But he kills people while they are getting an ice-cream from him so isn't that a busman's holiday too? Couldn't spot any typos and it read fluidly so I am going to give it a heart and say a fully appreciative "Great stuff" in response. I enjoyed it all in all and thought it was a good piece. How's that for a critique?

  • I can see the appeal!

  • Oh, I loved this! Loved the style of humor you weaved through here, the blending of old world and new world. Genius and expertly written! What a fun read.

  • Mohammed Darasi9 days ago

    First of all, it was definitely a fun story to read. Second of all I'm posting this comment because you specifically asked for critique (#IronMaiden). Third of all, I'm honestly not well read, so there will be things that I will miss, and this is from my perspective as a reader and novice writer. Fourth of all... now I'm just stalling for time :). Anyways, here it is: - “When she passes out of your life”: had to read it a second time to make sure I got the meaning, because the first thing to my mind was fainting, but I’m pretty sure you meant “leave” or “die” (end of para 2) - Never used “mite” in that context before. Thanks for the new word hahaha - “role, and frankly,” should there be a comma before and? (end of para 6) - “No, not me, I’m not ready” might be more impactful with periods instead of commas (para 13) - “you - if you are fortunate-“. Maybe use commas instead? Just because the pervious dashes are so close (para 2) - “… hour glass and an agricultural implement” – I like this description hahaha. We’re not sure yet who this is at this point, but this give us another clue without really being explicit. Nice (para 4) - Had to search “busman’s holiday” because I haven’t heard the phrase. Perfect description hahaha (para 6) - I like the favourite job for him that you chose. This job is definitely getting him some customers - “The look on their faces… I grin right back”. I’m not sure if you needed the little reveal there, I think if you were straight forward and said that they were happy and that he returned the smile, it would’ve been good (para 8) - “self-care”. Smart and hilarious to add that in. really adds to the character and how he feels about his ‘life’ (para 9) - I don’t understand how the uber driving was a hustle for him. When the paragraph started, I thought I had an idea of what was coming, but you mentioned “and they actually walk away afterwards” so I wasn’t sure what his hustle there was (para 10) - “free 99 cone” is that a name of the cone or is it 99p/99c? this might just be my ignorance (in case people actually just say 99 cone) but just wanted to mention it in case you missed something there. (para 12)

  • I wannnnaaaaa be Death! Someone please write me as Death! Please. Thank you. Lol! Loved your story!

  • Sid Aaron Hirji10 days ago

    Ode to ice cream man. Honestly great way to shed light on a job like this

  • Cathy holmes10 days ago

    That was fun.

  • That was an enjoyable romp

  • J. S. Wade10 days ago

    Excellent portrayal of Mr. D. 🥰

  • What a delightful treatment of a morbid subject. I loved every bit of this, L.C.

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