Post Reply Death and All Her Friends pt 2
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 6/26/09 , edited 6/30/09

Click Here to go to Part One :DD

Last Update to the Story ::
June 30 {{ Chapter 5 :: Be an Adult. }} WARNING : SAD :[ You might cry. I know I did
June 26 {{ And Later... }}

Chapter 3 ::

Now Arlette was 17 years old. It was autumn again, as in the beginning of the story of her reaping career, and her birthday was coming up in a week.

She’d become a very skilled reaper, and knew the movements like the back of her hand, if not better. She had one every night these days. Though, they were in the afternoon, usually. Henry had long ago adopted a routine of “sleeping” at the foot of Arlette’s bed and was as proficient as any in the rules of being a reaper, and could answer any question Arlette might still have. And that in itself was unlikely in the first place; She’d asked them all.

Her alarm clock blared at her, and a slow hand emerged from underneath the black blanket. She hit the snooze button.

And then seemed to think better of it, and trudged out of bed to her closet to get dressed. She slipped out of her boxer-short and tank top pajamas, and into some jeans and a black sweater.

Now, if you’re thinking that she liked the color black more than anything, you’re wrong. Her favorite color was still orange; she just looked good in black shirts.

She went to her little bathroom, which she’d convinced her mom to add on about five years ago. She brushed her hair and teeth, and put on a simple pair of earrings and a necklace she always wore. She inspected her face in the mirror, and nodded in mild satisfaction. Good enough.

She didn’t consider herself to be pretty. But some would beg to differ. All of her friends, for one, and not only a few boys at school.

She went back into her room, and grabbed her backpack, wondering why the morning routine had been broken so far. She stood and waited for a few seconds, and then Aaron’s familiar and unchanged face popped up outside her window. He smiled and waved crazily. Arlette laughed, and went out of her room to the kitchen, where she grabbed a breakfast bar and called to her mom, “I’m off!”

“Okay, honey. Be safe.”

“You know I will.”

She walked out of the house and to her new car.

New wasn’t the best word for it. It was only new because it hadn’t belonged to her before. It was the old Honda her mom had used to drive her to school in. The paint was still good, and the engine worked fine enough, but it was old, she had to admit.

She unlocked the door, and turned the car on, waiting for the routine to roll on again.

Aaron passed through the passenger door and sat down in the car next to her.

“Hi, Dead. You’re late.” She said coolly. It wasn’t the first time he’d been late. Her “big brother” had not died with a watch on.

“Sorry, won’t happen again.” But they both knew it would, and both laughed, since this is what he said every time.
She drove herself to her high school and got out, while Aaron followed her into the building.

He usually only walked a few paces into the building, then would turn around, because Arlette’s friends would spot her and run squealing toward her.

Senior year at high school had turned out to be very easy so far. AP Physics was hard, but she got it good enough for an A, and all her other classes were a piece of cake.

You’d be surprised by how much she had learned by just talking to dead people. Most of the stuff she’d learned in her history class, she’d already known, from talking with Aaron so much, and other dead people. Some of them had been old and lived through some of this stuff.

She walked with her friends to her first block class. These friends weren’t the same ones she’d had when she was five. Those ones had turned snotty and mean. These friends she had made in middle school, and had stuck with ever since.

“Lettie! What’s up?” It was Sarah, the tall blonde.

“Oh, nothing. This and that.” This was her usual answer.

“Guess what happened last night?” Asked Nikki eagerly on her other side.


Nikki paused for drama, then deflated. “Nothing!” She smiled at the faces Arlette and Sarah made.

Arlette smiled, and said, “What, Ryan didn’t sneak by?” Nikki’s boyfriend, Ryan, had gotten into the habit of sneaking in to see her some nights. They usually just talked, sometimes kissed, but that was all. Nikki was very strong on some points, and she had such complete control over Ryan that she could bend him any way she pleased. It amused Arlette watching them at lunch. He did every single thing she wished.

“Nah, he had to study for your guys’ History test.” Ryan was in Arlette’s AP history class, and she hadn’t had to study for the test, since she knew most of it a few years ago. And she had a great memory, so it was easy.

“Ah, yeah, forgot about that.” Arlette tried to sound worried, but her friends knew she wasn’t.

“Oh, stop pretending. We know that class is like a slice of cheese for you.” This was Sarah, giggling at her side. Arlette looked over and saw Sarah staring at Nick, the guy she sat behind in math class. Even though she was okay at math, since his arrival, her grades had slumped. She’d spent so much time staring at the back of his head.

Arlette silently laughed at her friends, who both seemed to need a guy to survive. She remembered the time in their sophomore year when some guy dumped Sarah, and she wouldn’t eat much for a week. Not me. I have no need for a man in my life. Not now.

She remembered a time last year, when she’d gotten three roses on Valentine’s Day from guys in her math class. They were seniors, and she had turned all three of them down. They’d been pretty disappointed. She hadn’t meant to upset them, she just… didn’t have the need for a boyfriend.

They came up to Arlette’s first class, English, which they didn’t have, and she said, “Later, guys!”

They waved goodbye and walked on to their own classes.

Arlette sat in her seat, somewhere near the middle, and took out her pen and notebook, while everyone else sat talking. She knew she cared more about her grades than most of the people at her school. You could say she was a nerd. But just because she was smart didn’t mean she was nerdy also. She was one of the lucky few that balanced brains and popularity.

And thus class began.

It ended with her slamming her book shut after a nasty encounter with Billy, now called just Bill. Apparently Billy wasn’t manly enough.

Ever since that day at the drive-up pick-up, he’d been avoiding her; afraid of what would happen to him. But not today. She had the unfortunate chance to be in English with him, and they’d had to work in a group today. It had not gone well.

At first he hadn’t talked to her much, only the occasional nod and shake of the head for simple yes/no questions.

But toward the end there, he actually talked. And let’s just say his mouth wasn’t spouting daisies. He mainly suggested that she was a thing that rhymed with witch, and that she was a freak.

“You think I’ve forgotten that day? You did something to me! You did some freaky thing with your mind and I got beat up.” He glared evilly at her as others turned to stare.

“Honestly, Billy. I don’t know what on earth you’re talking about. You must be the one with something wrong in your head, because I think everyone who was there will agree that you just lost control of your bladder and wet yourself. You know, it’s okay. A lot of kids go through that. It happens to lots of five-year-old kids. You really don’t need to make up a story to cover it up, especially if the story you make up is completely unbelievable.”

Ouch. That shut him up, and the class erupted in sniggers.

He turned around and didn’t talk the rest of the hour. But she was still annoyed.

She walked to her locker and got ready for the drive home.

She said goodbye to her friends, and walked to her car, where Aaron sat with his feet on the dashboard.

She glared at him through the window, and he put them down, smiling innocently.

She got in on the driver’s side, and turned on the car. It rumbled to life, and she huffed a tired sigh.

Aaron looked over and saw her forehead on the steering wheel.

“Tired?” He asked, wondering what had happened at school.

“No.” She lied, grumbling a bit, then her head came up, and she said, “It’s Billy. Bill. He brought up that first time you two met today in English. I had to basically embarrass him in front of the whole class to cover for you. And me.” The last bit was added as an afterthought.

Aaron’s face seemed to darken and he frowned. “Him again? I thought I taught him a lesson that day. He hasn’t bothered you since then.” He scowled. “Some people never learn. Want me to haunt his house tonight?”

She laughed tiredly, and said, “No, that won’t be necessary.” She shook her head, laughing at the thought of Billy wetting his bed at the age of 17. She backed out of her parking spot, and since she’d stayed after school a bit to help a teacher today, the lot wasn’t crowded with students wanting to get home. She got out easily.

She pulled into her driveway a few minutes later, and went inside to change into some sweats and a hoodie, her home attire.

Her mom wasn’t home yet, and she went outside to sit on the old swing in her front yard. She did this almost every day. It made her feel like she was closer to her dad. And, it let her speak with Henry and Aaron without her mom interrupting.

“Hey kiddo.” Henry sat in the tree, and peered down at her through the branches. He slowly floated down to sit on her lap, and curled up, eyes closed. He opened one of them lazily, and noticed her face was drawn. The reap last night had been a late one and particularly hard. The middle-aged man had denied being dead, and wouldn’t give her enough leeway to say the words of release and shoot him. He’d spent nearly an hour trying to prove that he was alive. Unsuccessfully, of course. She was happy that people didn’t seem to see her or the soul, and couldn’t here them, because if they could, a very confused police officer would have heard him shouting some things. She’d gotten to bed at two in the morning.

“Hey Henry. What’s the job for tonight?” She swung absentmindedly.

“A missus Anne Pinstem. Odd name, that is. She’s all the way in England. Nice.”

Another good thing about her job, aside from the fact that she learned a lot, was that she got to go around the world. She started out with only reaps in the hometown, but gradually had gone further and further. She could just close her eyes for a moment and open them in another hemisphere. She used to practice by getting around the house that way, when her mom was at work or something.

“Cool.” She stared off into nothing, thinking of her last visit from the hooded man. He came usually four times a year; like dividends from stock, just less… pleasant.

Arlette stood in whiteness, as usual. Henry floated next to her, and waited patiently for the hooded figure. Arlette assumed it was a hooded man, because it sounded like a man.

A soft ‘pop’ and he stood in front of them, his hood covering his face, as always.

“Arlette, Henry.” They nodded in return and waited. “No new rules for you today. But we do have some news for you. It might be good, and might not be. It depends on you.”

She waited a moment, looking expectantly at him.

“First off, we’d like to congratulate you on your jobs well done since you started. You’ve improved greatly and show great promise.” He continued on as if this didn’t matter and he only said it because he was obligated to. “And we need to make sure that you know that you need to do all reaps. If you don’t complete them, the soul of that person will be in constant agony. It will be better to get it over with every time. And the balance will be broken if you stray from this path.”

“I knew that already.” Arlette was a bit insulted by this.

“We know this.” The figure nodded. He continued to give her the news, and bowed in goodbye.

Another soft ‘pop’ and he was gone.

She sat, thinking about why the hooded man had bothered to tell her this. This had been last week.

Aaron sat on the edge of her bed that night, as she read a book. Nightly routine. He usually just sat, but sometimes they whispered a little.

“Whatchya reading?” He whispered from where he sat.

Arlette scooted over so she was on the edge of her twin size bed, and patted the spot next to her so Aaron could read over her shoulder.

“It’s called Pride and Prejudice. By Jane Austen. It’s an old English novel.”

Aaron scooted over to sit next to her and looked at the small font crammed on the paper.

“Mr. Darci,” he read, with a perfect English accent.

“I’ve read this before. Just felt like reading it again.” She smiled as she read the part where Mr. Darci asks Elizabeth how one might show affection, if not with poetry.

Aaron smiled a bit too, as he read something a little before that.

“It’s another chick book. You know, mushy lovey-dovey stuff and things. You might not like it.” Arlette smiled and thought of how nice the ending of this book was.

“Might, might not.” He had in fact read this when he had been alive, in high school. It was required for his junior year English class. He’d liked it fine enough.

As if she’d been reading his mind, she asked, “Do you miss being alive, Aaron?” She’d wanted to ask that question for a long time, but never felt like the time was right.

After a long pause, he said, “yes, I do.” He smiled sadly, remembering his friends and his family. He had watched them all grow up like he would have if he had lived. He would have been around thirty-seven by now. Old man, he thought with a bit of a laugh.

“What about it?”

“Well, mainly I miss the feel of things. You already know I can’t feel things. Sunlight, the touch of a person, the wind. I miss that.”

Experimentally, Arlette poked him in the bicep. He was solid; at least to her, but she knew he wouldn’t be able to feel it. She felt bad for him.

“And I miss my family and friends. My father used to go fishing with me a lot, and my little brother used to play games with me when I was young. Once I went off to college, I didn’t see them much.” He sighed. “My mom and dad are still alive, in this town, the same house I grew up in. My brother now lives in some small town in Iowa with his wife and kid.” He smiled, because he knew his brother was happy. He’d always been protective of him, and was relieved that he’d found his girl and started a family with her.

Arlette smiled sadly, and shut her book. “Well, it’s about time for my reap. I think mom’s asleep now.”

She got up, brushed down her black jeans and sweater, which were her traditional reaping clothes, and said, “See ya in the morning.”

Henry floated in through the window, in response to some unspoken message from Arlette, and they disappeared.

Chapter 4 ::

A week later, Arlette woke up and sat up happily in bead. Today’s the day! 18 years old! She had been waiting for this day for a long time. For some reason, being 18 had always appealed to her. It was the age of independence. She was almost out of the house, and would soon be off to college.

She found Aaron waiting at the foot of her bed, laying on his back crosswise so his head and feet hung over the edges. He had his eyes closed, and was smiling, as if asleep. But Arlette knew he didn’t sleep, and said, “Whoo! I’m going to be eighteen today! Moo-hahaha! I’m catching up on you quickly!” Haha, soon he’ll be Little Brother Aaron!

He opened his eyes and smiled wider, and handed her a little box, watching her upside-down face. She’d come to love her birthdays, because Aaron always made or got her something beautiful. One year it was a pair of pretty little orange earrings, when she first got her ears pierced, and the next year, it was a necklace to match.

She squealed and ripped the shiny paper off the box, and carefully opened the lid.

She gasped as she looked at the beautiful bracelet. It had a silver chain, and orange gems at intervals. They looked like citrine, her birthstone. She smiled and her eyes brightened, and as Aaron sat up, she hugged him tight around the neck. He was glad to be dead at the moment, because if he could breath, she would have been choking him. This way he could let her hug him as long as she liked.

“Ooo! Aaron, I love it! How’d you get it?”

“Oh, I robbed the local jewelry store.” He joked, and she knew it. She never knew how he got her these things, and it didn’t really matter, because she knew it was honestly obtained.

She clasped it on her wrist, and beamed at it.

Since it was a Friday, and she still had to go to school, she then got up and went to her dresser to pick out something to wear. She picked some jeans first, the ones with the cool design in red and orange thread on the butt-pockets, and then a shirt. She picked a dark red sweater that had a really cool collar and bell arms. It was a nice fitting shirt that really showed her figure, and she felt like showing off today.

She left Aaron in her room and changed in the bathroom, brushed her hair, her teeth, and put on some nice earrings and her favorite necklace that she always wore. It was a red square of ruby in a silver frame, with an A in fancy curly lettering on it. It was on a thin black leather band that fit like a choker. When she had been five, it was on a silver chain, but it had broken one day, and she’d fixed it up with some leather. She felt it looked better this way anyway. Her father had given it to her just before he died, her mother had said. She wore it every day.

She came back out into her room, and turned for Aaron, who clapped. This was a bit of a tradition too. She loved having these little things they did on a regular basis. This one was only for special occasions though. She smiled, and they walked into the living room, where her backpack waited, and also her mom.

“Lettie, you look nice today.” She said absentmindedly. “Why?” Arlette could see the twinkle in her mom’s eyes while she pretended to have forgotten her birthday, and could see the gleam of more shiny paper behind her on the couch. Anna had never been good at acting.

She sat down next to her mom, and said, “Oh, I don’t know,” over-exaggerating. “Just felt like it I guess.”

Her mom laughed, and hugged her daughter, smiling and saying, “Happy birthday sweetie.”


Anna pulled out the little package, and handed it over. Arlette took it gingerly, and opened it carefully. Quite different from Aaron’s present. This was different. Aaron didn’t mind if the wrapping paper got messed up, and she knew that. But Anna liked to keep things neat and tidy and might be offended if she ripped it carelessly.

Arlette’s face lit up as she pulled out a silver chain with a citrine pendant on it. The citrine oval had silver laced around it, and looked mischievously like the bracelet Aaron had given her. She hugged her mother tight and clasped the chain around her neck. Anna noticed a gleam of silver and orange around her wrist, and was momentarily puzzled by it. It was the same one she’d seen at the jewelers. She had been trying to decide weather to get it or the necklace.

Arlette got up and said goodbye happily and went to school.

While they were in the car, Arlette said to Aaron, “So, did you know that the bracelet matched the necklace my mom gave me?”

He nodded, a smile wide across hiss face. “I saw it a week ago.”

She giggled and smiled her way to school.

“Mom, I’m home!” Arlette walked through the front door and hung her car keys on the little hook by the door. She took off her jacket and also hung that, and walked into the kitchen, where her mom was cleaning. “So, what’s for dinner?” She leaned with her elbows on the counter, her cheeks in her palms.

“That depends entirely on you!” Anna smiled over at her daughter, and slung the dishtowel she was working with over her shoulder.

Arlette acted like she needed to think about it for a few seconds, and said, “Oh, it’s too hard to decide! But I think we’ll be going out to the Sushi place!” She smiled sweetly, because they always went to a restaurant of her choice for her birthday. “I’ll be outside!”

With that, she headed out the kitchen door, with Aaron following close behind her.

When she got outside, she sat on the swing, and swung absentmindedly again.

Aaron broke her reverie when he said, “Happy birthday, Arlette.” She opened her eyes, which had been closed, and smiled up and him. He was in the tree, with his feet dangling down and swinging this way and that.

Aaron was the only person who was allowed to call her Arlette. She demanded that everyone call her Lettie, because she hated her name. But not when he said it. He was the only person in the world who could make her name sound good to her. She still wondered what her parents had been playing at when they named her something like Arlette. They weren’t even French, for crying out loud! Sometimes she hated whichever of her parents had wanted to name her Arlette when she had a sub or new teacher, and they called, “Are-leet Die-there.”

“It’s pronounced Are-let, like ‘wet’ D-ith-er, like ‘whither’, but call me Lettie please.” It felt like she was talking to a seven year old who needed things repeated slowly sometimes. She was so used to saying that now, and it still got on her nerves.

She sighed happily and swung a bit more, then got up and climbed up in the tree with Aaron. She found Henry there too, sitting absentmindedly on Aaron’s lap. She laughed, and sat next to them, and leaned her head on Aaron’s shoulder, like she used to do when she was five. She’d stopped that when she turned 12, saying she was too old for that kind of thing, but she wanted to feel like a little girl today. Funny, she was entering adulthood, and now she wanted to go back to being a kid.

She just sat for a while and looked through the leaves at her mom doing more dishes, and then said, “Hey Aaron, you died around the same time I was born, didn’t you? What day was it?”

There was a pause, and then Aaron blew a large sigh, if it could be called that, since he didn’t breath, and said, “in a few days. It’s November 16th right now, and I died on November 20th, the year you were born.” He chuckled half-heartedly. “I’ve been dead as long as you’ve been alive. Guess you could say we’re the same age.” But he didn’t feel like an 18 year old, or even a twenty year old, as his spirit-like body technically was. He felt like he was hundreds of years old right now.

Arlette seemed to percept this, and hugged him like she used to when she was five, also. “You’re not that old, don’t worry. Now, c’mon, ‘big brother,’ let’s go to dinner, even if you can’t eat. You can just watch me eat and imagine you are too.”

He smiled, and laughed, and jumped down from the tree, landing neatly on the grass. He brushed down his khaki pants and orange-red vest, and stood with his arms folded, smiling up into the tree.

She smiled down at him and jumped down, landing with a knee on the ground, kneeling. She straitened up and brushed down her jeans. “Oh, crap. Grass stain…”

She shrugged it off, and walked inside.

“Ready, mom?”

“Yup. Just a second.” She wiped her hands on the dishtowel and checked herself in the mirror on the way out. She used the one in the door of the coat closet.

The sushi place wasn’t a fancy place, and it had good food. You could go in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and still get some quality fish.

Arlette sat on the couch after dinner, her stomach full and her head happy. She was watching her favorite TV show, Monk, which was about an OCD detective.

She laughed and accidentally snorted at something that happened, and blushed. She hated when she did that.

Aaron laughed out loud, and said, “Ha, it’s so funny when you do that, Arlette!”

She scowled at him, but laughingly.

When the show was over, she got up and walked outside to sit on her lawn chair and look at the stars. She did this every night before her reaps. Since the night was cool, she wore her jacket, and since the grass was dry, she lay on her back, looking up.

She put her hands behind her head to act as a cushion, and just stared for a while. Aaron lay down next to her, and watched the stars too.

There was a shooting star, and Arlette gasped as she watched it streak across the sky.

“You’re supposed to make a wish,” reminded Aaron.

“I wish…” She thought of a good one for the day, her 18th birthday. “I wish we could stay together for the rest of my life.”

She smiled over at Aaron, who said, “Wish granted, if I have anything to say about it!” She smiled too, and his eyes glazed over for a moment as he stared at the stars, thinking about far away and impossible things. Being dead was hard.

Arlette closed her eyes, and kept them closed for a while.

“Hey, Aaron,” she ventured.


“You’re the best brother anyone could ask for.”

“But I’m not your brother, you know.”

“I know. But I’ve always thought of you as one. Ever since that day you scared Billy when he broke my picture of my dad. Ever since then, you’ve watched over me and made me happy, just like a good brother should.”

After a long pause, Aaron said, “I’m glad you’re happy, Arlette.”

That night, since she didn’t have a reap on her birthday, she went to bed earlier than normal. She slept easily and happily.

And she had a dream about her dad again. She’d had scattered dreams of him throughout the years, and all of them seemed so vivid. She remembered every single one she’d had so far.

This time they sat at the restaurant she and her mom had gone to that day. Odd. This always happened. She’d talk to him in a place she’d been recently. Once it was the bathroom. That one had been weird.

“Hey, little reaper!” He called from another end of the restaurant, as he walked over to sit with her.

“Hey, pops. How’s it going?” She asked it as if he’d only been away for a few days or something.

“It, whatever ‘it’ is, is going good.”

Arlette laughed, and this made her father smile. “Glad to see you’re happy, Arlette. And now you’re an adult! Can you handle it?” He looked her in the eyes. “Being an adult is difficult. There’s a lot you’ll have to get used to. For one thing, you won’t get to see your mother as much. Soon, when you go off to college, she won’t be there to do your laundry or cook your meals.”

“I know that, dad. I already do my own laundry, anyways.” She stuck her tongue out playfully.

He sighed, dropping the subject, and asked, “so, how’s Aaron? Henry?”

“Henry’s the same as he always is, dad. But Aaron seems to get upset a lot. Not exactly upset… more… almost sad.”
Her dad’s face fell, and he said, “Do you know why?”

Arlette looked at her plate, and thought for a long time. “No.” She finally concluded.

And the scene faded, and she stood in an empty whiteness. Nothing was there, except for her. She felt utterly lonely. Aaron faded into view, and said, “I love you, and I’m sorry, Arlette.” He faded and vanished almost as quickly as he’d come, and she stood for a while longer in the empty, silent whiteness. It was almost oppressive. And again she felt so lonely.

She sat up strait in bed, gasping for air for some reason.

Like a flash, Aaron was by her side, and said worriedly, “Arlette? You okay?” He placed the back of his hand on her forehead, checking her temperature. Her forehead was warm. He could not feel it, but could sense it from her.

“Yeah, I’m okay. Just had a bad dream.” She put her own hand to her head, and was surprised to find it burning. “That’s odd. I don’t feel sick at all.” She lay back in bed, and closed her eyes, breathing deep. Her skipping heart returned to normal tempo, and she sat up again.

“You sure you’re okay?” Aaron sounded worried, as he always did when he thought she was sick or hurt. Big brother.

She got up to prove her point, and walked over to her wardrobe to pick an outfit for the day, but her legs gave way, and she was happy that Aaron had been hovering right behind her. He caught her in his arms, and helped her back to her bead. “You shouldn’t be up. Sleep.” He commanded. “It’s Saturday, anyway. You won’t miss anything.”

She sat in bed, and realized her stomach hurt like heck. It churned slowly, seeming to prepare something big and smelly for her. She clutched it ever so lightly, and sank back into bed, closing her eyes.

Gee, dad. Nice birthday present. Or had the fever caused the dream? She gave up pondering it, and sank back into a deep sleep. A deep, dreamless sleep.

As she slept, Aaron sat in her room, on a stool she used to do her homework at her desk. He watched the slow rise and fall of her stomach as she breathed, and was at least happy she was sleeping peacefully.

This was the first time in a while that she’d gotten a fever this bad. He made up a note for her mom, in an almost perfect imitation of her handwriting, and posted it on her door so Anna wouldn’t accidentally wake her up.

Mom, not feeling good. Sleeping at the moment.

He walked through the door and sat back down to wait for her to wake up.

Only a big brother, eh? Nothing more, nothing less. He sighed. It’s probably better that way, anyway.

When Arlette woke up again, the sun was going down; it was about 2:00. She blinked at the sun coming in her window at an angle, and looked over at her stool, where Aaron still sat.

He looked up, and looked relieved that she was okay. “Morning, Sleeping beauty.”

She blinked a few more times groggily, and said, “eh.”

“Not so much nice when tired?” Observed Aaron with a smirk.

“Shadup.” She mumbled, almost laughing.

She got up and went on with her life, a bit slowly at first.

Chapter 5

A few weeks later, and Arlette was already sick of being an adult.

Mainly because people still weren’t treating her like one. That is, everyone but Aaron, who had always treated her like one. Not even her mother treated her with more respect than before.

“But mom, it’s only a movie!” She nearly screamed. Aaron winced from behind her.

“Arlette, I don’t care. You’re not leaving the house tonight, no matter which best friend wants to go to a movie with you. It’s a school night. You know the rules.” Anna folded a pair of pants on the ironing board, and stood her ground.

“Mom, I’m an adult. I think I can make my own decisions. And I’ve had my homework finished since 5:00!” Aaron nodded from behind her.
“Doesn’t matter, sorry. While you live in my house, you follow my rules. You can go to the movies with Sarah and Nikki on Friday.”

Arlette grunted exasperatedly, and flopped onto the couch silently. Aaron sat next to her, and told jokes to her until she was at least not frowning so furiously.

When her mother had gone out of the room to put her clothes away, Arlette got up and walked out the door to sit on the swing.

She pulled out her cell phone, and called up Nikki.

There were two rings, and then Nikki’s voice piped in.

“Hey, Lettie! What did she say?”

“Can’t go. End of story, apparently. I’m an adult, but apparently I can’t even make my own decisions.” She muttered grumpily.

Suddenly Aaron’s face was in front of hers, upside down. He swung from side to side right in front of her face, and she couldn’t help laughing at this.

“What? Something funny?” Nikki’s voice chimed into her ear.

“Oh, no. Just some crazy cat that looks like it’s had too much catnip.”

Aaron made a face at this, and stuck out his tongue.

“Okay, well, then we’ll go later. This weekend good?”

“Yeah. See you then.”

She flipped the phone closed, and glared laughingly at Aaron, who still hung upside down on the branch.

“You are one crazy dead guy.”

“Of course!” He smiled.

Arlette rolled her eyes and smiled, climbing up into the tree also. She sat next to his knees, which he was using to keep himself up and cling to the tree.

“How do you always know what will make me happier?” She asked, leaning with her elbow on his shin.

“Just an inner sense of humor I guess.” He swung a bit more, and then swung himself up, so that he was sitting next to Arlette, facing the apposite direction.

“Sometimes I don’t know what I’d do without you.” She said.

Arlette got home late the next Monday, and called out to her mom. “Home, mom!”

There was no answer. She walked into the kitchen and found a note from her mom on the fridge. “Out buying bread,” she read out loud. “Why bread?” She turned to Aaron, who shrugged, clueless.

“The bread you don’t have?”

She laughed and shrugged and walked outside to sit on the swing.

Her mom got back around 6 o-clock.

“What took you so long? Did you have to go halfway across the state to get bread?” Arlette asked sarcastically from the living room. She smiled over at her mom.

“Yup. Good bread is hard to find these days, you know.” Anna sounded completely serious, but Arlette knew she was joking.

“Had to get other stuff than just bread,” said Anna before disappearing into her room.

Later that day, Anna entered Arlette’s room, and said, “Lettie, I’ll be out late tonight. I have to work an extra shift.”

Arlette nodded, and listened to the sound of her mom’s car drive off.

And when it came time for her reap, around 11:24 PM, Arlette called Henry to her. “What’s the reap today?”

“It’s ’nother hospital one.” Henry floated a few feet off the ground, and Arlette nodded and waved goodbye to Aaron, who sat on her bed reading one of her books.

And they misted away, to end up at the hospital in her town. Good ol’ Bernie Hospital. She had been born at Bernie, but at the old one. This was the new one, spiffy and only about ten years old.

Arlette looked around a little, and said, “What room?” Henry was the only one who could see or hear her, she knew, so she wasn’t worried about people thinking things. Sometimes people even went right through her.

“Room 213. Says here it’s a Mister Adams,” Henry hovered above a nurse’s shoulder, looking at the rooms list.

She made her way to room 213. She knew where it was. Over the years, she’d gotten a lot of reaps at the hospital. She knew where most things were, because sometimes the souls of the people liked to walk around and talk, and as they did that, Arlette made a point of memorizing landmarks for future reference.

She entered the room, and found it ironic to see her mother there. She was a nurse, and worked here, but Arlette had never expected to see her tonight. She smiled ironically that she couldn’t be seen by anyone. She made a few silly faces at her mom, and then got back to business. There would be a few minutes to go still, so she sat in a chair to wait.

Her mom took out a clipboard, and walked to the patient, said a few words, and then the heart-monitor went beeeeeeeeep.

Anna rushed to the patient’s side, and called the doctors on the way.

Arlette got ready.

There was a bustle, and yells, and frantic actions in hope of getting Mr. Adams’ heart beating again.

And then there was a steady beep. beep. beep.

Arlette sat back down, confused. Her mom walked around the bed to the other side of it to check the equipment, then walked out of the room. Arlette sat for a while, and then heard a commotion from out in the halls.

She ran out, and saw her mother lying on the ground, unmoving. People were crowded around her, rushing to call the doctors and to get her off the ground. There was an empty tool cart tipped over at the other end of the hall, and the echo of clanging metal all around, as the tools that had been on the cart toppled to the ground.

Arlette ran to her mom, passing through all others. “Mom!” She screamed. No one looked up. No one heard her.

There was blood coming out of Anna Dyther’s head, and coming quite fast.

And Arlette could see a blurry outline forming around her. She screamed, and wanted to go back in time and warn her not to leave the room. She suddenly didn’t want to be a reaper anymore. Not if she had to do this.

Anna sat up, rubbing her head. She still had on the scrubs she’d been wearing, and her hair was still tied up in the ponytail.

“Mom…” Tears welled in Arlette’s eyes.

Anna looked down at her body, and realization dawned.

“Sweetie.” Anna sounded distressed. “I knew this day would come soon…”

“Mom!” Arlette threw her arms around her mother. Around and through them, doctors slowly got up, knowing that it was too late.

“Shh, it’s okay.”

“No, it’s not Mom!”

Henry floated near Arlette’s shoulder, and tried to help calm her. He landed on her shoulder lightly, letting her know he was there.

“Arlette, listen to me. I’ve known all along, and this is what I’ve always been worried about. That you’d have to go through this. I didn’t want that for you. I knew what it was like to lose someone dear.”

“Mom…” Was all she could say.

“Arlette, be strong. Be strong for me, for your dad. For everyone.” She lifted up her daughter’s chin and hugged her hard.

She pointed to the bow, and said, “are you ready?”

Arlette looked at the bow she was now holding, and shook her head. After a long pause, she sighed and added, “First there is something I need to show you.”

More Later ^^
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