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‘Til Tomorrow

A date with death.

By SC WellsPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 9 min read
Photo by S C Wells

Death once told me that, in theory, the turritopsis dohrnii could live forever.

“More commonly known as the immortal jellyfish,” he read out the information at the side of the tank, “They revert back to a juvenile stage known as a polyp. This is brought on by factors such as threats to their environment or old age, and allows them to repair damaged cells.”

“That sucks,” I said, stepping up to the tank. My eyes fell on dancing little jellies, distorted by the magnified glass, held in a spotlight.

“Thought you mortals might like that sort of thing. Immortality, I mean.”

“No, I’d hate it. Least of all having to go back to school every time something goes awry in my environment.”

“Doesn’t sound so bad to me.”

“Easy for you to say. You didn’t have to suffer winters in a physics classroom so cold that even with the heating full on, icicles would hang from your nose and you’d have the other girls call you icicle-snot-face-better-blow-your-nose-whoops-no-you-can’t-cos-your-nose-just-fell-off.”

“Nope, can’t say that ever happened to me,” Death scratched his skull, ”I’ve never gone to school come to think of it. Actually, I’ve never felt the cold either. Benefits to having no nerve endings I s’pose.”


Death glanced at me and appeared to smile in a c’mon chin up way. It was always difficult to know when his expression changed seeing how his skull was held in a permanent death grimace, and his eyes were chasms of nothing. But the impression was there, as if there were a suggestion of an emote. Despite the uselessness of it all, I appreciated Death cheering me on.

We shuffled to the next tank with larger and more colourful jellyfish. These twisted, twirled and undulated in murky waters.

We met here in the aquarium everyday; Always on his lunch breaks. Today we had watched the lady with the bucket feed the sea lions, passed by the penguins, spent a while in the jellyfish and seahorse section, and now we plodded to the deep sea section.

Blump… Blump… Blump…

I turned to the sound— like something thumping on thick glass. It came from the anglerfish tank but there was only darkness inside.

“Did you hear that?” I asked.

“Hmm? What’s that?”

“Never mind.”

I looked back to the tank. A lightbulb-on-the-end-of-a-fishing-rod appendage flashed, illuminating the spiny scowl of an anglerfish, its eyes fixed on mine. I averted my gaze.

An old aged pensioner with a handbag so large it could give a mugger a brain haemorrhage blew a kiss and toodle-ooed in my direction. Confused —I’d never seen her before and surely she couldn’t see the hooded skeleton behind me— I turned to Death who waved his bony fingers back at her.

“You,” I struggled to find the words and remain sanguine at the same time, “you know that old woman?”



“That’s just Deidre.”


“Yes, Deidre.”


“At the zoo. The old dear had a heart attack after a gorilla winked at her; She thought it was coming onto her. Anyway, she’s been fitted with a pace maker since then so sometimes I go round to hers for tea and biscuits.”

“F-for tea and biscuits?”

“Not just that. Sometimes I give the ol’ heart a tickle to see if the pace maker’s holding up. She’s a right laugh that Deidre.”

I clamped my mouth shut and swallowed, trying my best to hold in my horror. I’d hate it if Death saw through my forced calm.

“So,” my voice struggled to find nonchalance, “I thought you were too busy to take any time off aside from these lunch breaks.”

“I need my tea breaks, too. ‘specially ever since I kicked smoking. Right dirty habit that. Good thing I don’t have lungs.”

I didn’t want to come out with it. I didn’t want to give him any hints but at the same time, I had to know, “Do you see anyone else aside from me and what’s-her-face?”



Death tapped his chin, “I can’t only focus on you and your —ahem— call to the abyss tendencies now, can I?”

That wasn’t a good enough answer but I thought it best to drop it.

We moved on to the tunnel bit. It looked great as usual. Everyone else thought so too as it was crowded with people taking selfies or photos of their children pointing at sharks.

Blump. Blump. Blump.

There it was again. From above this time and closer. A manta ray soared over me, distorted by the curved glass. Pilot fish flitted below it. But there was nothing that could have made those rhythmic thumps.

I didn’t say anything to Death this time. I hadn’t spoken to him since the deep sea section. He hadn’t cottoned on yet which both bothered and eased me. I mean, for goodness sake, how could he not have known anything was up? How could he not have read my mind? But, at the same time, at least he hadn’t noticed that I was such a baby that I, at twenty-four, would regress so far as to give someone the silent treatment.

“Let’s break from tradition and go back to the penguins. How ‘bout it then?” Death’s voice was irritatingly cheerful.

I grunted and carried on through the tunnel.

“Hang on a sec. The penguins are the other way.”

I shoved my hands into my coat pockets.

“Who knew you were such a stickler for tradition,” he chuckled from behind.

Who knew Death could be so dense. Even a single celled organism would have figured it out by now.

I huffed.

“I guess we’ll see the penguins again next time. Something to look forward to I ‘spose.”

I huffed again.

“Hmm? What’s up?”


“Oh, ok. Great whites are next, they’re great fun, aren’t they?”

I waited for that thick skull of his to work.

“Then the octopuses.”

We stepped into the room with the big tanks.

“…Or is it octopi? I always forget. Silly that, isn’t it?”

“Oh for goodness sake,” I turned to face him.

Death’s face contorted into confusion. Again, it was more of a suggestion of confusion owing to it being a skinless, muscleless skull.

“Everything alright?” He finally asked.

“No, as a matter of fact, everything is not alright.”


“I’ve been giving you the silent treatment for the best part of half an hour and you could at least have the decency to realise that I’m pissed off with you.”

“You’re annoyed with me?”

“Bloody right I am,” at this point I’d received a few wary glances from the young couple by the sharks. To anyone not knocking on death’s door, it would appear that I was shouting at empty space.

I was met with an expression more dumb than a blob fish.

“What have I done?”

“Y-you,” I started, suddenly ashamed that I couldn’t put my thoughts into words. How useless language was when nuanced emotion was pushed through its filter. My profound brooding would seem frivolous and I would come out sounding like a spoilt brat. So I gave up like a coward, “you wouldn’t get it even if I told you.”

Death chuckled. His voice was soft, “Try me.”

“No, seriously. Just drop it, ok?”

“I’ll keep badgering you ‘til you tell me.”

“Fine,” I took a breath in, looking up at the great white swerving before me, “What’s she doing at the aquarium then?”

“Who’s that?”

“That old biddy, what’s-her-face.”


“Deidre or something slutty like that.”


“Yeah, slutty.”

“Um,” Death began, clogs in that empty skull of his chugging away, “Dunno. Maybe to see some fish?”

“She really gets around, doesn’t she? Sounds like she goes all over town. First the zoo, now here? What else does she get up to? Hmm?”

“She’s just trying to lead an active life and make the most of what time she’s got left. I wouldn’t call her —ahemslutty. Seems an unfair thing to call a stranger, don’t you think?”

I hmphed.

“She lives in the moment despite her dodgy heart. I’d say that’s a good outlook on life if you asked me. Reckon you could learn something from dear ol’ Deidre.”

“Oh of course you’d see it that way. You’re just as bad as each other— going around seeing all sorts of people. In fact, you were made for each other.”

“Stop that. She’s just a nice lady who invites me over for tea and biscuits. That’s all,” Death said, “besides, she’s a bit young for me.”

I looked up at Death.

“I’m still here for you as long as you need me. Every lunchtime. Promise,” he said.

I nodded, pushing my ugliness away. Ashamed.

The octopuses were next. Death got stuck on the squid, delighting in how they puffed themselves backwards while I studied the giant pacific octopus. I imagined a tentacle around my throat, my vision becoming cloudy and then sweet oblivion. I considered the sea outside this aquarium and went through my plan again: I would start at the beach and walk. I’d keep walking, never looking back.

“Stop it,” Death stepped beside me.

“Stop what?”

“Those thoughts. They lead nowhere.”

“So you can read my mind,” I laughed.

“I can’t. But I know you and I reckon it’s best to give that sort of thinking a rest.”

“Oh, come on. Who’d give half a toss whether I’m here or not?“

“Deirdre’s got no one but she carries on.”


“I told you you could learn a thing from her and I think you should. Her life is fleeting but she takes pleasure in the small things even if it is in the pages of gorilla erotica. Her time here is beautiful and so’s yours.”

I swallowed down, hard. I pushed everything deep.

“Come over here. These squid are hilarious how they move. What a laugh,” Death dragged me over. I let him and a smile forced its way onto my lips as the squad of squid shot themselves backwards before us. They fluttered like muddled ghosts.

We watched them together. I even allowed myself to lean against Death’s bony form and we chuckled and pointed and joked. We did that until—


My heart flipped as I snapped my focus to the octopus’ tank. I headed to the last room, ignoring the knocking.

“Don’t you think it’s time to answer that?” Death’s black holes bored into the back of my head.

“I don’t know,” I said as we entered the gift shop.

I didn’t want to go just yet. He was always there and I could rely on that so I carried on just so I could see him each day. Just knowing he’d be there—

“So you’d like to stay on this side?”

“I think so,” I managed.

Cold daylight poured through the exit.

“That’s good,” he smiled, “I’ll see you here tomorrow.”

“Okay, see you.”

I left the aquarium to pass another day under the grey sky. But at least Death would wait for me.

Death was patient.

Death was the only thing keeping me alive.

FantasyHumorShort StoryYoung Adult

About the Creator

SC Wells

Thank you so much for reading my stuff!

I love travel, photography, and writing speculative fiction.

I’m also on a never-ending quest to improve my storytelling so any feedback is massively appreciated.

Instagram * Ockelwog * Other Links

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (5)

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  • J. S. Wadeabout a year ago

    Wow. This creative work is fascinating and masterful. I love your voice. Your story is publishable far beyond vocal. 🥰

  • Claire Guérinabout a year ago

    Flirting with Death, literally. This is a beautiful metaphor, packed with both humor and emotion. What a roller-coaster! You've written a better Death than Terry Pratchett! :o

  • Hannah Mooreabout a year ago

    Loved this, I was intrigued by their relationship, and despite the light tone, it packed an emotional punch. I like your reflection on language too.

  • Lark Hanshanabout a year ago

    Wow, this is fantastic! I relate to the palpable sense of inward grief, it made me feel sad but appreciate the story so much. The injected humor was great, loved Diedre's character. Her, Death, and the main character were very well established. Thank you for sharing!

  • J. Scott Tannerabout a year ago

    I love your Death. It's that slutty Diedre, I'm not so sure about. Best keep an eye on her.

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