This is a short story about a tea party with Mother Nature and Death.
They have this meeting every once in a while. This however will be their final gathering.
Tea for Two
The Angel of Death was not his usual self today.
Throughout the aeons of his existence, he had always gone about his business with a cold and somewhat ruthless efficiency.
But today he felt strange. He would always despise the meetings with the Angel, that was commonly known as Mother Nature. Today however was different. Strangely; Death was actually looking forward to their meeting. The same meeting they would have every once in a while.
The table was already set for him as he approached the always exquisite looking visage that was Mother Nature. She always did pick beautiful spots to meet with him he conceded, as he looked past her briefly in wonder at all of her creation.
That was the problem, he mused. He should not find the sweeping meadow and sparkling river that trickled gently past their table pleasing.
Yes; something had most definitely changed in the heart of the taker of souls.
He sat at the table and smiled at his host. The surprise showed on her sanguine face. He was not known for his smiles, and had not done so before her until now.
‘In all of our meetings I have never seen you so happy. It pleases me never the less.’
She liked surprises and poured the tea for her guest. They did not need to eat or drink for sustenance, but even angels could taste and appreciate the fine food and drink of humanity.
‘I must confess my Lady I do not feel myself. I am pleased to see you.’
Her eyebrows rose but not one wrinkle creased her ageless brow.
‘Truly you are different my Lord; never have you been pleased to leave your work and meet with me. I know you would not if the rules did not say we should do so every cycle. Will you take food this time; or has this change only affected your humour.’
He eyed up the many cakes stacked neatly on a serving plate. He had always denied himself food and drink and did not need it to sustain him. He did not see the point in the indulgence of pleasure for pleasure's sake. But then again, today was a day of firsts.
‘A small piece of cake would be nice my Lady.’
She cut him his slice of cake and watched him eat the first mouthful. It was like watching a child eat their first taste of chocolate, and Death ate the rest, clearly enjoying every heavenly mouthful. His smile widened, showing bits of cake stuck between his perfectly white teeth.
‘I take it you have enjoyed your first taste of cake my Lord. Would you like more my old friend?’
The cake had been delicious. What was happening to him? Had he finally given in to actually enjoy himself?
He nodded graciously to her, as she piled on another slice of mouth-watering cake.
‘I have a message for you my Lord, which might explain the changes you are experiencing.’
His curiosity was sparked. Who would have a message for him that they could not give to him themselves.
‘Oh? And I thought we were the only bearers of news. Who is this herald who thinks themselves mighty enough to presume to give me a message?’
They both chuckled at that. There were many Angles tasked with different roles to play. But the two sat at the table were notably ranked the highest in their order.
‘The message does not come from any of our fellow brothers and sisters.’
Then it could only have come from two others, thought Death.
‘Then who does it come from my Lady? Is it from the Master above or the Master below?’
She had been looking forward to telling him this news. He had been a loyal servant for a long time. They had both been there at the beginning. She was the creator and he was the destroyer.
He had accepted his role without question when the masters created him. But recently he had lost the taste for his grim work. He was beginning to feel compassion for humanity. After all the long years of his existence, he had finally begun to marvel at the beauty of all creation.
‘The news comes from both masters actually. They have told me your services are no longer required.’
Curiosity turned to horror as he tried to digest what she had just said. He was told shortly after his creation that one day his services would not always be needed. He thought he would have been told personally by his masters if this was ever likely.
‘Is this the end of days my lady? Why was I not told this news personally?’
She did not keep the anguished looking Death waiting.
‘They both came to me not so long ago, and told me that I was to bring you this news. It is not the end of days my Lord; No one knows if that day will ever come, not even them.’
She paused to pour him some tea that steamed as it filled the intricately made china cup. She then stirred in two cubes of sugar.
‘My Lord your burden has been great; you were made to endure that burden with a cold heart. But you were also made to one day change. You are released from your terrible duty.’
Death looked at her for a full ten seconds before speaking. A single tear rolled down his pale chiselled cheek.
‘It is true my Lady that I have felt… different. But I thought I was just becoming weary of my task.
I never knew there would one day be a change in me. I am afraid of it, and thrilled at the same time.’
Mother Earth smiled; she had not envied him his role of taking back the souls to the masters.
Sometime she would have to create chaos to breed new life and creation. Inevitably life would die during this necessary process. Deaths job in comparison was no way near as rewarding. Finally he was to be released from service.
‘What will I do now if I am not to take the souls? Who will guide them to the kingdoms?’
She had been expecting that question, and fortunately they had given her that knowledge to share.
‘They have created another Angel of Death to take up your mantle. You are to be rewarded my Lord for the work you have done. You may choose to do what you wish. You may wander amongst humanity, or you may ascend or descend to one of the kingdoms.’
‘Is my decision final, or can I go where I please.’ He sipped at the cooling tea, enjoying the bitter sweet beverage for the first time.
‘Your decision will be final my Lord, and it must be at this meeting. You have time of course. But I would counsel that you choose wisely, and perhaps not take the most obvious choice.’
The obvious choice was clearly to go to the kingdom above. He would find peace there he thought.
When the Masters made a soul, they also gave it a choice. Be wicked and cruel and Death would guide them to the kingdom below. Most went there willingly. They would confuse that place, as a heaven that was similar to the way they had lived in life. The rest; although not perfect, were taken to the kingdom above, and to peace.
He had made his choice.
‘It is strange that I do not yearn to return to my work. I have seen them suffer for so long my Lady. I have never taken pleasure in it like the Master below.
He stood and removed his cloak, to reveal polished black armour and a sheathed sword. He removed the blade, exposing its black steel and kissed it tenderly for the last time. He then pushed the tip into the ground hard. Finally his armour was removed, with reverence befitting this ceremony.
‘I choose to dwell with humanity my Lady, and experience all the pain and joy that comes with it.’
She had hoped he would choose thus. The masters would have to wait for their first son to return to them. One day she would also be released, and given the same choice. She was glad she could watch her brother angel enjoy all that humanity has to offer.
She stood to join him, and took his hands into hers.
‘You have chosen well my brother. Even though this has been the only meeting you have enjoyed attending. I have always loved seeing you. It pains me that we will not meet for a while.’
He leaned over to kiss her hand.
‘Thank you for the tea and cake my sister. I go now to ease the suffering of humanity, where I can… Oh and to eat as much cake as my stomach can carry.
They both laughed and embraced in farewell. If only he had always been like this. But then again; he would not have been able to be Death.
He would need a new name now.
‘What will you call yourself now my Lord?’
Death looked into Mother Nature’s eyes and winked at her.
‘Humanity may call me what they wish. But you can know me now as Life.’
© John. K Martin 2015