Gustav Klimt’s “Life and Death” by Anna Selle

Being death is a lonely occupation, but I’m sure that’s something you’ve already assumed. Countless stories have been written to include human notions of death, but has anyone ever taken the time to get to know me? To sit down at a coffee shop for a mid-day chat, to discover that contrary to what one might expect, I don’t like my coffee black. In fact, I’d take it with cream and a little bit of sugar. The raw sugar that comes in the little brown packets, not any of that saccharine superficial nonsense. Or on occasion I’ll have a latte. I mean, does anyone ever me over to watch football with the gang on Sunday afternoon or to stop by book club? No. Well, not intentionally at least. Holidays are particularly uncomfortable for me. Sure, I have plenty of people to visit. But when I knock, I can hear them say inside, “Shit, death is here. And during the holidays, that fucker.” Unwelcome, mostly. Honestly, I can put up with the negativity most of the year, rarely being welcome with open arms or greeted like an old friend, sometimes tolerated, but mostly met with disgust and anger. Isolation is not ideal, but then again it’s all that I’ve known in my existence. But this period of time in western culture between Thanksgiving and the New Year celebrations is more difficult than the other months of the human calendar. My co-workers in other parts of the world don’t seem to feel the same seasonal bleakness, and I’ve often wondered why. I’ve been keeping notes, actually, at our all-staff meetings in January and throughout the month, like a human diary, I suppose. Chronicling each visit I have, what people say when they think I’m not still within earshot. I’ve gathered a little information from the innocuous small talk I can make with the souls I guide to whatever after life they signed themselves up for, or back into life again somewhere else in the world, if they so choose. And what I’ve gathered is this: for some, and that’s not to say everyone I serve, there’s this implied majestic property of this time of their year. Blame the popular media and depictions of winter cheer, but it’s meant to be a sacred and protected time, or at least that’s how so many humans see it. I’ve speculated as to whether or not this is something that my predecessors have noticed as well, but unfortunately I can’t exactly contact them. So instead, I just continue to observe these patterns in human behavior.

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