“Hello,” she said.
“I’m The Reaper and I’m on vacation. What can I do that’s fun?”
“Uh,” he said. “You’re the Reaper? The Grim Reaper?”
“That’s a giant misconception,” she sighed. It’s just Reaper. I’m rarely grim. In fact…I can’t remember the last time I was grim.”
“Wait. If you’re on vacation, what will all the people who want to die do, while you’re gone?”
“Stay alive. But no worries. I asked a friend to keep an eye on things. Not literally, of course. I mean, she’s going to watch over things for me.”
“Can your friend reap?”
She shook her head. “No. Only I can do that.”
“Are you here for me?”
“What? No,” she laughed. “I’m not here for you.”
“Then what about the people who are suffering and want to die?”
“I’ve never had a vacation. Not once. Do you know what that’s LIKE?”
“No. But still…”
“I never stop working…EVER. I’m not asking for much. Just a day or two off, so I can do something different for a change.”
“Don’t you like your job?”
“Sure I like my job. It’s a great job. I help all living things. I stop suffering. I also know that when people die they have more fun on the other side than they could ever have here.”
“Think about it,” she said. “How much fun can anyone have here. The gravity alone is killing you.”
“It’s also keeping us on the planet,” he said.
“Is that a good thing?”
“If you don’t want to float around in space, then yes, it’s a good thing.”
“You guys depend on sooooooo many details to keep you alive. You need just the right amount of oxygen, gravity, sunlight, food, medicine, contact lenses…”
“We don’t all need contact lenses,” he said defensively.
“…clothing, warmth, places to live…and then you die anyway.”
“Did we evolve?”
“If you had evolved, you’d be in better shape than you are now, that’s for sure.”
“So did god make us?”
“Seriously? God? Oh, please. Some Gamers were drunk out of their minds on a mixture of space dust and something they found on NP47-543. It was late, and they came up with a design for a planet and put all of you on it. Did they follow up on what they had done? Nooooo, they did not. And here you are, still left on your own, trying t kill everything. Believe me, evolution would have made you a lot stronger and better equipped to survive.”
“You’re making me tired,” he said, yawing.
“That’s another thing,” she said, pointing at him. “You need to SLEEP. You all have to be unconscious for a huge chunk of your short lives, or die.”
“You’re not what I expected,” he sighed.
“You thought I’d wear a hooded robe and carry a scythe?”
“Kind of. And be male.”
“Why would I be male?”
“I don’t know. I just thought you would be.”
“Look. I don’t have much time, so just tell me what bowling is all about.”
“Bowling? Really? That’s what you want to know about?”
“What is it?”
“You throw a heavy ball down a wooden floor, called an alley, and try and knock down all the pins at the other end.”
“They’re about this big,” he said, using his hands, “and shaped like this. There are ten of them.”
“That can’t be right” she said. “Who would want to do that?”
“A lot of people. There are teams and they play against each other.”
“To knock down pins?”
He nodded. “It’s fun. Kind of.”
“Okay. This place is a lot more boring than I expected. I’ve been here a day and a half and I’m ready to go back to reaping. Since I’m here, do you want to come with me? I’ll show you some cool stuff, like the moons of Saturn and…”
“No thanks. Nice of you to offer, but I’m going to stay here.”
“Up to you, as long as you know I’m coming back for you…eventually.”
“I do know that.”
“You guys don’t have long life spans. It’s funny how you celebrate those who make it to a hundred. Think about it…things have been here forever, in spite of what your scientists say. FOREVER! Do you know how many years FOREVER is?”
“Yes, a LOT,” she laughed. “And you live a few years and think that’s great. See, that’s what I mean. You’re flawed.”
“I get that,” he said. “But we don’t know anything else, so it’s okay. And you haven’t walked in our shoes, so there is that.”
“Why would I walk in your shoes?” she asked, obviously confused. “I have my own shoes.” She held out her foot and showed him her sandal.
“They look comfortable.”
“They are,” she said, smiling.
“So what are you going to do now?”
“I want ice cream,” she said.
“I can take you to a place down the street, if you like.”
“I’d like that very much, Scott Anderson.”
“You know my name?”
“I know everyone’s name. It’s part of my job.”
“So you work with dead people every single day?” he asked, as they started walking.
“They aren’t really dead, they’re just different than they were when they were here.”
“Is everyone who dies okay?”
“Better than okay.”
He nodded. “Have you ever had ice cream?”
“No, but I know it comes in colors and it’s cold,” she said, excitedly.
“You should probably try a chocolate and strawberry mix.”
“I will. And if it ever gets to be too much, and you want to leave earth early…just whisper my name. There’s no need to suffer,” she said. “I’m always here.”
“Thank you,” he said, sincerely. “I’ll remember that.”