I knew I was hated. I knew people didn't want to see me lingering in the back-ground waiting whilst they mourned the loss of a loved one. Actually to be honest most people were oblivious that I lingered but I'm sure if they could see me or even sense I was there then the hatred would seep out of them. I get it, they were scared. I suppose no-one wants to know its the end, the very last time you'll see their face, be able to speak to them again, it's a scary thought. For me, unfortunately, I've been doing this for so long now I think I've desensitized myself. Don't get angry at me, I didn't ask for the job, I didn't ask for this, apparently I was a chosen one, so I had no choice. And besides that, when I was an actual human I'm sure I was loved, I must've felt sorrow, and definitely felt what it's like to be scared. But now I've forgotten these feelings, and there's nothing I can do about it. So just getting on with the job is what I do, with the hope that one day my time will end also. Where I end up I have no idea but I know the end isn't as bad as what you think, believe me I've seen it and been there.
In my existence as this shadow I've only noticed a few humans that have actually seen my dark figure hovering, waiting. I've watched their eyes follow me across the room, I've seen there skin rise with goose-bumps when they realise I'm around, maybe for a split second they've guessed who I am and hoped and prayed that I disappeared. Then I've watched them weep when they know there is nothing they can do or say to change the fact that my presence means it's the end. No-one has ever attempted to make contact with me ever, hence the reason why I say they're scared of me. Of course, with the exception of one, a girl...well a woman now, her name is Grace, she's my beautiful Grace and the whole reason I hang around this place. She's only ever been the one human that has actually handed over bodies to me and looked at me, accepted the reason I'm around and smiled about it. Not a malice smile, a smile to know we've both made the journey just that little bit easier. And when I say look at me, quite honestly I don't think I have distinct features such as a face as such, I'd imagine I look somewhat like a shadow, a blur of dark, like a human in a cloak maybe. I move around like a feather in the wind, and when I'm around humans their ears ring slightly. I only know this because the boss told me to be aware that some humans have an extra sense, and to avoid making contact. But I can't help it with Grace, her eyes draw me in, her aura I can't resist, her presence overwhelms me. Even when she hands the body to me, it's weird, different, there is no unhappiness or regret within her, I feel only peace and tranquility when she makes contact with me. And now I'm obsessed. I almost feel like I'm alive again. I know this isn't normal, but in my world I'm not sure what is these days, so yes I'm going to continue.
And yes I'm going to admit I've been watching Grace for many years now. I've watched her grow from a cute little child to an extraordinary young women. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a stalker, it isn't like that, I feel like I'm more her guardian, even though I haven't been able to protect her from her own destiny I do get to guide her with the gift she's been given. It wasn't like I picked a human girl to follow around. I never seeked her out, I was sent to her when she was very young. Then, the first time I met her I sadly had to guide her parents to the other side. And it was hard. Over my years, being human or even this entity, I hadn't dealt with children very much, so at first I was the scared one. Grace would be the first child I had to face whilst I took her parents from her. It was the first time I'd ever felt true pain of another. But I had to rise above the feelings and omit calmness and braveness contrary to feeling distraught at the sight before me. Try to imagine the scene...a car crushed beyond recognition, a dark and rainy night, no other traffic on the road. Then there was Grace, a trapped little girl, wreckage wrapped all around her, her not able to move from the car seat that probably saved her life. The only thing to hold on to was the hand of her dying mother. She had no words to soothe her frightened little heart, no one to tell her it would be okay. I too suddenly remembered that lonely, helpless feeling, I hated that she had to feel such terror. I had to help her, to let her know she would get thru this. And when I looked into this sweet girl's eyes I knew she believed me.
Then later, in her teenage years unfortunately I re-appeared for her grandparents. I had seen her occasionally over the years but not to take anyone from her until this time. I had hovered in the shadows while she managed to grow from a child to a teenager. Happy and carefree, she enjoyed life. She was sensitive to people's feelings, her special gift spread peacefulness and calmness with everyone around her, she was truly inspirational. And sometimes it was hard when boys noticed the beautiful person she had become inside and out. In times like this I wish I was human again. To replay those boyhood feelings, to feel those tingles for the first time, to have a fast heart-beat whenever some girl was around. Oh how I wish I could feel this again, just one more time. And for this thought after her teenage years I tried so hard to stay away from Grace, but here we are again, tag teaming the dying. Now she is working in this ward it's been total strangers who have needed Grace. She's been there holding their hand and soothing the passing. She has found a job suited to her gift, and this place is lucky to have her. And I have quit trying to stay away from her. I can't help it. She intrigues me, she acknowledges me, she doesn't hate me nor is she scared of me. When she is around the lights brighter and the air sizzles, even I can hear it. She has never spoken to me but I always know how she feels.
Except for today. Today, I couldn't work out what Grace felt. Today the tragedy in front of us block out her thoughts. And for the first time today was the day I watched her lips say words to me. But what they asked for I cannot give her. 'Save him or take me instead' she says. She had asked me to save his life or to exchange hers for his. I couldn't believe she would sacrifice herself for him. I know we're talking about beautiful sweet caring Grace, I'm not surprised but no, just no, I can't. I won't. Besides, she is asking me something I cannot do. And even if I had the power to do so I just wouldn't, couldn't. Not to my Grace. A woman that gives so much and receives so little. She needs to stay here on earth, she needs to know this is his destiny and not hers to swap. But I don't have the words to tell her. I can tell her mind is not open to hear me anyway. She is too engrossed in finding a way to keep him alive and doesn't realise his nearly reached the end. He wants the pain to stop, I can see him drawing closer to me and I have to accept him. I take one more look at Grace's tear stained face, I hang my head in sadness, and I take him from her. And it hurts me to see this.
So, you may have guessed who I am...I am death, a dark angel, a lingering shadow. I do not take lives, I can not kill anyone, I'm simply here to guide their souls. I do not take bodies, those vessel's are left to recycle here on earth. I cannot change one's death, I had never been asked to until today but I'm pretty sure I can't. I just send them off to 'head office' then wait for directions as to where my next soul guiding human ready to leave this world will be. I have very little memory of my life before, but I've been told I myself was one of these dying humans many years ago, luckily the pain of the death I don't remember but sometimes I remember the emotions. I know what it's like to be scared, alone angry at the world. I know when the air grows quiet around a dying body and I too didn't want to leave this earth. I know I was young, strong, brave. I also wanted to fall in love and be a father and watch my children grow. And I wasn't as lucky as some, I didn't have a sweet girl holding my hand or anyone to speak softly to me as I went. Instead, I lay dying on a battle-field, only the beautiful blue sky above me giving me my peace. I slowly felt my body mold itself into the blood stained dirt below me, heard the whimpers of pain and sobs from men dying around me. That was the last thing I heard on earth. Then I cried along with them, my heart felt such pain with the sadness and sorrow...But then there was light.
The question of why I was chosen to do this job I'm not sure either but it's been about a hundred years now. Who's counting, not me, I only know this because my life ended during the first world war back in 1915 and here we are 2015. Most humans would be elated about living this long, a lot would love to see all the changes that have happened, jeez even I was astounded when I first started. I mean how lucky for me. But now I'm tired, I've lost the compassion, I don't want to see this sadness anymore. I don't live the life as a real human, I feel my time is up seeing the world as it is. But god I'll miss Grace when the time comes to say goodbye.
No amount of squeezing a hand is going to keep someone here. If it's their time to go then just holding on tight at least let's them know that I'm here with them. But I can't keep them here, no matter how much I want to. All I can do is try and take away their anguish, ease their frightened thoughts, I'm not sure what I'm thinking but all I know is when the time comes it's not as bad as we think, and I hope they feel the vibes I'm sending them. I look around the room for him, the shadow that always seem to be with me at the final hours giving me an indication that the time to let go is near. And suddenly, there he is. I try not to make eye contact with him, well he doesn't actually have eyes to look at but I generally try not to look in that direction. But lately it's been hard to resist. Lately I'm drawn to him, my dark shadow. I'm not scared of him nor do I hate him, he almost makes me feel secure lately. Why do I call it a him you might ask? Why...Because I just feel like it is a him. Maybe because the shadow is dark, maybe it's the way it makes me feel, maybe it's just the feeling I get. Besides I've been calling him a him since I was a small child, almost like he was a brother to me, he's been there with me in the darkest times of my life, protecting and supporting me.
The first time I felt him around was when I was very young. It was the tragic night, the night my father lost control of the car. I don't remember much except a continual repetitive rolling feeling, and my small body being smashed against the car seat again and again, then when it finally stopped I was unable to see anything, only felt trapped and frightened. I stayed trapped in my car seat what seemed like forever, my fingertips struggling to reach my mothers body that lay in front of me. She must've heard my cries because she managed to stretch her hand out to me, and with it I held on tight. After a little while the clouds parted allowing a small amount of moonlight for break thru allowing me to watch both my parents lives dwindled away. Then he appeared. At first I'll admit I was scared. This dark shadow engulfing the inside of the car, the small amount of moonlight struggling to let me see anything. I remember, I held my mums hand tighter. Then this weird feeling took over, I was totally aware that he was with me in the car and the scared feelings disappeared. I could hardly see anything but I could hear a continuous ringing in my ears. Mostly I remember the overwhelming calmness that took over my small injured body that I will never forget, and that is how I know when he is around.
Even as shocked as I was, not able to registered exactly what was happening he gave me peace and let me know I would be okay. I don't know, maybe I was too young to realise the impact one feels with the loss of parents, or maybe not being alone in the wreck gave me some relief, I'll never really know. What does a six year old think? Did I feel more than a normal child? I can't quite remember my thoughts but can only remember the feeling. The memory of this tragedy was soon forgotten when my grand-parents took over the roll as my parents. And as for my shadow, I didn't see him again until my teen years, when life was so much harder than that little six year old girls.
And the next time I wasn't so forgiving that he was hanging around. I was cranky and probably premenstrual and decided he wasn't taking my Grandma from me. I held her hand desperate to keep her from falling to sleep. I knew she was in pain but I was being a selfish teenager. I felt her pain so deeply, my own body ache along side hers. I chanted to myself, wishing and praying that the cancer would transfer to my stronger body. I wouldn't open my eyes knowing he was in the room but knew because my ears started to buzz. Instead I just grew angrier and angrier. Until my Grandma's hand shook slightly making me open my eyes. She looked deep into my soul and I heard her thoughts. 'Be true to yourself, don't ever change for anyone, keep holding on until the end, never give up doing what you love and open up your heart when you know the right person comes along'. This confused me. She had always told me not to fall in love. I looked at her, she felt my confusion. 'His love is strong for you, I know now it is your destiny to love him back, this will be your sacrifice.' She then squeezed my hand for the last time. When I looked around the room ready to beg one more time he was gone and so was my Grandma's heart beat.
Finally as a young women with only my Grandpa left that fateful day came. I once again tried to shield my Grandpa from his destiny. I was determined that my shadow was not going to take grandpa from me without a fight. My Grandpa sat near the front window of the house in his favourite chair, he was directly in view from the kitchen that was along the hallway. I look around hoping I could make a dash to the kitchen for a glass of water. My Grandpa's breathing was shallow and slow, his eyes were closed but he wasn't giving up. Luckily, he wasn't sick his body was just tired and old. We were both exhausted from a long night, his body was going to give up on him, and I felt my mind was going to let me down. I squeezed Grandpa's hand to let him know I was there then quickly ran to the kitchen to fill a glass of water. I stood gulping down the water, one eye peering over the glass making sure my shadow didn't appear. Suddenly my ears started ringing, I could feel his presence. I threw down the glass smashing it in the sink and bolted up the hallway. But when I get to my Grandpa the dark shadow is hovering over my his body. 'No, get away from him' I yell at the top of my voice. My Grandpa opens his eyes. I run and fall to his side, desperate for him to stay. Then I look up directly at the shadowy figure above my Grandpa, tears running down my face. 'Please don't take him' I beg him 'he's the only person I have left.' My Grandpa looks down at me and smiles but I only manage to smile back at him, I have no words, my mind is jumbled. 'Remember what I told you sweet girl' he whispers to me. 'Be brave' I manage to say desperately trying not to cry. 'I love you' I say before he closes his eyes. I watch the last words whispered with his last breathe. 'I love you too' then he's gone. I look back up at the dark shadow who is still lingering 'I hate you' I growl before I see him fade away.
So, I was then left on my own at the tender age of 18. My Grandma had passed and now my Grandpa, the last remaining relative in all the world. Funny, I had resolved myself to the fact that Grandma's death was an actual blessing because she was in so much pain, it hadn't been easy letting her go but afterwards I felt peace. With my Grandpa it just didn't seem fair. I fought my shadow that day. I didn't want him to take the last person to love me. But all that anger proved it was still not worthy because in the end it didn't make any difference. It had been the first time I had felt hatred towards the dark spirit and it hadn't felt right in the least. I promised myself to apologise next time. Then I suddenly felt completely alone. He had been the only other presence in my life, real or not he had been there with me in the final hour. He had given me peace and assurance that everything would be alright, and I had told him I hate him. I regret my thoughts that day and just hope Grandpa didn't leave this earth feeling them radiate off me.
So, left with a house and a lot of money but with no one to share it with I didn't feel like a free individual ready to live a life. I always felt a lot of feelings and wanted to know where I was needed in the world. It wasn't until I decided to start studying nursing that I really felt on the right track. Then in doing practical duties on the ward during my studies was the first time I felt curiosity towards exactly who the shadow was and his position in the death of human beings. I'd already worked out he represented death, what I couldn't understand was if everyone felt him and saw him like I did. I wished he was still around for me to ask. But this was just stupid, he isn't of this world, he can't speak to me verbally, he doesn't choose to linger just with me, he had only been around when one of my loved-ones had passed. Who else felt this I wondered. Besides I'd sound crazy asking friends this question so I kept it a secret well into my university days. Awkward and shy students who I saw each day became my friends. It was until my practical studies that I met an array of people. This is where I met David.
Life suddenly moved on smoothly for a couple of years and I finally I had a best friend. David was studying to become a doctor while I was studying nursing. I was in awe of David. He was smart, kind, compassionate and just wonderful. He was a true friend, but friendship was all he ever offered. He made me laugh and let me cry without judgement. I ended up telling him about seeing the dark shadow but I never really knew whether he actually believed me or was just humoring me. Eventually he even moved in with me, taking over one of the many spare rooms I had, sharing the expenses and keeping me company. It was also convenient mainly because I lived close to the hospital but he told me it was also because we got on so well. Studying took up a lot of his time but he always seem to find a little spare for me. I tried so hard to keep my obsession with him hidden, blaming being lonely, maybe being in the same work field, anything except that I was in love with my best friend and it was wrong. Especially when he would never love me back.
You see David had a long lasting girl-friend, actually his fiance who was also studying to become a doctor. She was the one he loved, not me. I know heart breaking right? My grandma's words always lingering in my head. 'His love for you is strong' I remember. Obviously David isn't the one so I stayed his room-mate and best-friend, that was all it could ever be. I buried any feeling deep inside, never to reveal these to anyone. But boy did it hurt some days.
'I'm listening to your thoughts Adam' she says as the room becomes a blinding white and 'the boss angel' appears. She's the head Angel, number 1, the kingpin of angels. She has guided me over the years and I think I'm her favourite, well I like to think that anyway. 'I'm sorry, I think too much lately. And I've been asked to do something I know I can't do, which has made me think too hard about life' I answer her honestly. She knows what I think all the time so I might as well not hide any thoughts besides. 'You've always been a kind and sympathetic angel Adam. Always giving the loved ones enough time to say their good-byes. Some are known to rush the procedure along but you always dealt with humans beautifully' she says to me softly. I look at the image in front of me and wonder if she was ever a human. 'Yes, I was a human a long time ago also and we do bring along our human traits with us, it just depends on how much of a good human you were.' I try not to think but it's impossible 'I'm here because I felt your dilemma. You have been asked to give a life back which we cannot do. But you have earned yourself your own life back, as a normal human if you'd like. 'What does that mean?' I ask quickly. 'Only once can you take a soul that will then be put back into your original body, you become human again, to live and die like them. Is this what you want Adam?' she asks me. I hesitate before asking. 'Have you ever been offered this? And why didn't you take it?' I ask her. 'Yes I was many years ago but I felt this position was my destiny, even when I was a human I felt a yearning, I felt like I wasn't in the right place, then when I was placed here, I knew this was where I was always suppose to be. But I feel you wish for other things, you look at Grace with tenderness, I think doing this job for as long as you have, you've fulfilled your quota.' I think about all she has just said.
'Where did my original soul go then?' I'm not sure I want to become some-one else, in another time and era' I ask her feeling a little sad. 'That was recycled 100 years ago. You have to become some-one else. I know you have the strength to make this human strong and special, I've seen it in you. But there will be many obstacles ahead of you.' I lower my head to think about my next question, looking back up a her cautiously. 'Do I get to choose the soul I take?' I ask her hesitantly knowing this means a human life will be taken. 'Yes, and I know your already contemplating solving the problem Grace faces, the one thing she has only ever asked from you. This will mean by taking his soul, her wish will be granted but she will never know the truth, unless of course you tell her, which might mean losing her. But, if this is what you wish then...' 'Wait. Do I get to speak to you ever again?' I ask worried she is all I've ever known in the spiritual world. 'Adam, I will be watching over you, if you need me I will be there for you.' Then before I know it she is gone. I look around slightly confused as to when this will all happen. When will I suddenly appear as a human walking the earth? I'm scared but excited, sad but happy. Then I remember where I was before, and how I didn't know how to answer the question Grace had asked me. I was so surprised when she had looked at me directly and begged for me to save him, to save David. She had even suggested taking her own life instead of his. The grandest of gestures for any human let alone one so special as Grace. I cannot take a life that isn't due for recycling. I look down at this man beside her 'David' is his name, but that is all I know about him. Then everything blacks out.
When I wake the first thing I do is feel the human body I'm in. It's my body, the one I was born in. I feel the spot that took my life, now bandaged and a little tender. I look around finding myself in a dimly lit room. Then I look around to see a person across the room who looks like a nurse. She turns to me to speak.
"Welcome back. You were injured and found without any identification except for some old dog-tags around your neck, so that's why I'm calling you Adam. But the tags were from World war 1, obviously war memorabilia, maybe your grand-dad's? So is your name Adam?" she asks me gently.
"Um, yes. That's right they were my grand-dad's. But I was named after him so Adam is correct. Where am I exactly?"
"Your at South London Hospital. You were found in a park, unconscious. But you seem to be okay so maybe you just blacked out, we cant find anything else wrong with you except for the wound on your side, it's starting to heal already but. Funny, it looks like a bullet wound but there's been no report of a shooting, it's a little weird." I roll over and look out the window at the strange new world I'll have to learn about, but first I need to rest. However I got here has made me feel like I could sleep for a week! When I wake it's dark outside allowing me a little time to work it all out. So, I've come back in my original body, including the scar from what originally killed me but without my soul. What is a soul then I ask myself. I've always felt it was the deeply felt moral and emotional nature of one's self. So if I've taken David's, did he have an emotional connection with Grace? Well yes he must've because he was her best friend, obviously he loved her but was it on the romantic level or what? Maybe his moral believes didn't allow him to venture more into a relationship with her. I need to work this out but because from this day forward this soul I have is going to connect with Grace completely and utterly.