I never was afraid of the dark. Not even when my body was young.
Death does not take you. It does not take you on a day you’d hardly expect, and it does not crawl into your bed with you on a quiet and moonless night to tell you that it’s time to go. Go where, you ask him.
Home, he says to you. But I am already home, you tell him. And he shakes his head before he smiles at you, and suddenly you feel your bones inside of you turn soft and he takes your hands and opens up a hole in the parquet floor and jumps in, and naturally, you tumble down behind him.
That isn’t how it is. I know him. He won’t ever do that to you.
What he will do is much worse. In fact, he has already started. He has been doing it all your life.
Death grows upon you and slowly untangles the veins in your arms and empties out the awe inside your mind. No wonder nothing seems as awe-inspiring as it once did, when you were a child. Death picks at your skin from the inside and dries out your bones, one by one. It crawls along inside of you, using your nervous system as a freeway system — whether you are a cat or a pigeon or an architect or a waiter or a Communist. Death is deep inside of you. It grows when you grow.
And even when you are gone, death lives on. It’s kind of funny to think of death as it lives, isn’t it? Death isn’t anything. It’s funny to think of that, too. How could something that is mostly nothing be so tremendously frightening? There isn’t anything that is more frightening than nothing, surely.
Death’s in me. It’s in you. It’s in everyone, and it’s getting bigger and bigger every day, like the things in the windows of our cars when we get closer and closer to our destination. It grows like a baby inside the womb of its pregnant mother, and we feed it our old skin cells and fallen-out hair. We get acquainted on a first name basis. We’re inseparable.
We can’t live forever. Who would want to? Life is horrid. Yes, yes, is Death home? Can he come out to play? No? Well, I can wait until after he eats his dinner. Hopefully it won’t be too dark by then. I’m not afraid of the dark. I just like being able to see the beauty of the trees and the rocks and the fences and the daffodils and the porch swings.
And after dinner, Death appears in the doorway. His hair looks nice. Can you come out to play now, Death? You can? I got a new soccer ball the other day. Want to try it out? We can go to the park. It’s not far.
He stares at me, but he doesn’t say anything.
What is the matter, I ask him, but he says nothing. And then he flies down the steps of the front porch, racing way ahead.
Last one there is a rotten egg.