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On the day after ‘morrow
A crow goes out to fly
Not to bring any sorrow
But to meet a passerby –
A Passenger, perhaps a fly,
Willing now a way to die.
Please my crow, be sweet
To the prey upon her bed
And make no mess, be neat;
As she lie down her head.
Alas a maiden old and sick
Will get to sleep,
With just a prick.
In a rural area, a sleek black sedan crushed through the gravel driveway of an aged farmhouse, creating a contrasting vision of two objects from very different generations. Years of unforgiving winds and rain had all but chipped away the once fresh-white paint from the house’s exterior making it look nearly abandoned. It seemed more like a faded picture of what it had once been – the family homestead where children had once grappled over a tire swing, mom made wholesome dinners, and dad woke up early to inspect the vast acreage of farmland.
It was obvious this place was once well loved, but once tragedy strikes, it’s merely impossible to keep up with the immeasurable chores required for such an expansive property. Simply put, nothing lasts forever.
The door of the black sedan swung open and a clean, black leather shoe stepped out, carrying the burden of its overworked master. It was still early, and a low fog hung around the earth wrapping everything in a thick, humid coat. Acres of stiff wheat stood still in the morning calm like frozen soldiers awaiting the tides of war. The air always seemed heavier when Lady Death came calling, even if Lady Death appeared in the form of a cheesy text message from King. He had his own quirky way of delivering job information, but at least it was fairly consistent.
The owner of the black sedan and the black leather shoes approached the front door of the modest farmhouse, twisting the knob to enter the residence. The front door opened into a hallway lined with faded, vintage floral wallpaper and aged family photos framed in a variety of shapes and sizes. Cozy warmth radiated throughout the house, hugging the walls and the stranger.
The wooden floor was covered in various types of decorative rugs making a sort of pathway through the house to the back. It creaked in protest as the stranger walked across the length of the hallway and through the living room to the master bedroom.
“Figured that was you, the house has always been a better watchdog than the actual dog. About three feet in, the floor creaks like n’other,” declared a thin old woman nestled deeply into a weary bed with a worn quilt as she used her wiry arms to raise herself.
“You needn’t stress yourself Mrs. Harris, our meeting does not require such social courtesies. I am merely here to carry out what has already been agreed upon in the contract. That is, unless you have any reservation.”
The old woman looked out of the bedroom window, gazing upon the thick fog covering her withered land. A lone oak tree stood like the hazy silhouette of a giant, carrying an old black tire swing hung by a rusted chain. She did not look hesitant at all, nor melancholy – she seemed instead, rather tired but content.
“No…I don’t have any reservation. I lived a good long life, raised some decent children and have nothin’ else to live for now. My husband passed years ago. The only thing stickin’ around is this cancer. I don’t want it to win,” the old woman smirked looking back at the stranger standing in her bedroom.
“I don’t know how you do it,” she continued, “seems like a nasty business ‘n all. I guess doctors see their fair share of it too though…faces of the dead.”
The stranger nodded at the old woman’s words.
“I just wish the sun would kiss me goodbye, seems a bit typical that the fog would spread on a day like this,” she continued to smirk, stifling a laugh.
“It doesn’t have to happen today you know –“
“No dear, I’ve seen the sun plenty of times.”
The stranger rested a briefcase onto a nearby desk, unlatching it to reveal an assortment of lethal concoctions and devices. Using a gloved hand, the stranger procured a vial and extracted its contents with a syringe.
After a moment’s hesitation, the stranger placed their mask on the desk beside the briefcase and turned to face the old woman.
“I don’t think this is necessary anymore. The mask gets awfully stifling after awhile.”
The old woman smiled as the stranger approached her bedside; only now the stranger was donning a human face. This was her first time seeing it, since they always wore a mask during previous visits. There was something hauntingly charming about the stranger’s face; it was calm but seemingly void of emotion.
“Are you ready? You’ll feel a faint prick from the needle, followed by drowsiness and a deep sleep, from which you will not wake up. If you have any last wishes, please let me know now,” the stranger said while gently rolling back the old woman’s sleeve.
“You’re a hell of a looker y’know. I’ll consider that a parting ‘courtesy,’” the old woman chuckled, “I’m ready.”
The stranger held the old woman’s arm in hand as if it was made of delicate porcelain and pressed the needle of the syringe into her withered skin, emptying its contents. The woman pursed her wrinkled lips for but a moment, reminiscing of times spent on the farm when her family had felt more whole. The little ones were constantly causing a ruckus, and Harold was always sipping whiskey and cracking jokes about the current president.
Sundays were…for fried chicken..and homemade buttermilk biscuits…
The old woman began to fade, her silver hair laying in long wisps around her face, lightly caressing her sunken cheeks. Her eyes started to fog as she began to drift out of consciousness, leaving whatever realm she had been familiar with for the last seventy-five years.
A dog barked in the distance, and the sun started to burn through the waning morning fog.