The Angel of Death

by Aere Greenway

Copyright © 2012

The Angel of Death, is not a sinister figure, hooded in black,

with bony fingers and a terrible scythe.

I met her, unknowingly, on the trail days ago,

on a long, lonely climb.

She was sitting by the trail ahead, enjoying the view of steep slopes,

dropping away below us at the trail edge.

In hopes of conversation, I paused as I passed,

not having seen anyone for a long time.

Sit awhile,” she said, motioning toward the rock beside her,

the view is wonderful.”

She spoke with a lilting voice, in a foreign accent I could not place,

though it seemed strangely familiar.

I paused for a moment, considering. I could use a rest,

and conversation would be a pleasant change on this lonely way.

I sat down, impressed at how expertly she pointed out the way-points of the trail below,

still visible from the heights.

More surprisingly, she seemed to know the way-points of my life as well,

using the trail as a metaphor.

I sat mesmerized, listening to her talk. The chance to rest was wonderful,

and my pulse-rate was dropping quickly.

She talked of my accomplishments making it to these heights,

both on the trail, and in life.

It was good to look back on the journey here – so good to rest,

as lethargy began to settle over me.

No need to always keep struggling.

A long rest would be fine.

Perhaps a nap, I thought,

my pulse-rate dropping precipitously.

Only then did I begin to realize who I was talking to,

but it was hard to wake from the lethargy.

I blinked my eyes to open them. She was still smiling, sensing the struggle within me,

but allowing me the choice.

I really must be going,” I said, standing,

taking a step to catch my balance,

My goal is still far away, and I have many sights yet to see.”

She nodded, still smiling.

It's been nice to meet you,” I said as I turned to go.

Now I know not to fear you, when the time finally comes.”

It's been good to see you again, child,” she said,

her gaze fixed upon me, still smiling.

I started trudging up the trail, the first few steps painful, but quickly settling into the usual rhythm,

putting one foot in front of the other.

Not wanting to be rude, I turned back, waving. Until we meet again,” I called,

but she was gone.

Yet I seemed to hear her reply in the wind whistling in the crags,

Until we meet again...”

A strange vision, born of the thin air,

high above tree-line.