My lower lip quivered as the steam rolled over the warm bath water. A drop of water, perhaps a tear, evaporated down my cheek.
I saw in the shadow no less than two feet away a shape begin to form in the fog. I could only make out two eyes and a pale complexion.
The room was silent. The heat from the bath water kept me warm despite the chill surrounding the room.
My gaze was drawn and focused. The figure became more clear. I felt paralyzed.
“You are not what I expected,” I managed to utter.
“I never am” was the cold and hollow reply.
I gently but confidently spoke “I should have known.”
“That’s what they all say” echoed off the tiled walls.
I stared resolutely. I wasn’t surprised. The faucet dripped as I steadied myself against the rim of the white porcelain tub ready to accept my fate.
“Is it really you?” I questioned.
And the figure replied, “Yes, it is really me.”
I blinked. The fog dissipated. I saw my own reflection begin to appear and it was then realized I was seeing what we all see in our last moments. We see ourselves, our own reflection; we see Death.
I stared back and felt the chill pass through me. As I attempted to interpret what was happening, the energy coming off of Death was intense. I could feel the power.
“What do you want with me?” I asked of Death.
“That’s not usually the first question I get” was the response. “Usually I am asked why I look just like my victim.”
“So I am your victim; this isn’t just a conversation?”
“Well that depends…”
“On what?” I questioned. I felt a sudden sense of strength. I had spent so much of my life in fear that it seemed odd I had an ability to ask Death to treat me any differently.
Death remained a few feet away. I remained sitting in the bath tub.The jets pulsed in the background causing the porcelain to ominously vibrate. Bubbles continued to form around me. I pulled myself up a few inches grasping the side bar to remain steady.
“It depends on why you called on me.”
I didn’t know how to respond. The steam tickled my face.
Death continued, “I didn’t come of my own accord.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You called for me. You asked for me to help. Don’t you remember?”
I didn’t remember. But I couldn’t bring those words to my lips.
“You called for me many times recently.”
“Let’s not play games, Jonah.”
Death knew my name. Death was accusing me of things I didn’t know. I must be dreaming. I don’t understand what is happening. The beads of sweat on my face became too moist and dripped down my cheeks. I could taste the salt in the corner of my lips.
“But you are me. Or I am you. Am I death?”
“That is the question I first expect” Death replied. “Yes, you and I are the same. When you call for Death, you call for yourself in the end.”
I reached for the face cloth sitting on my right side.
“Jonah, this isn’t a dream. I am here because you called for me and asked for an end to what you were dealing with in your life. Watch.”
And Death waved his hand through the fog around him. The hand that looked like my hand. It had the same small scar on his thumb where the window sliced open a one inch gap when I was trying to shut the old attic window. It was so stuck that when I applied pressure to try to close it in the rain storm several years, my hand slipped and broke the glass causing the remaining window panes to crack and drop. The large piece landed on my hand and I as pulled back, it tore through my skin. The blood was everywhere. Glass shavings embedded in my wound for days. Anna was so good at healing me.
Before me, I saw a scene almost as if Death started a movie playing on magical TV in the air. “Watch” he repeated.
I wiped the sweat off my face and watched the images appear on the magical TV.