People often think of the Grim Reaper as a thin man in a black cloak with his hood drawn up, hiding his skeletal face. I suppose it makes a lot of sense, since that’s what people see when the Grim Reaper is bored enough to show himself to them. But I know better.
Even before my mother fell ill, she was haunted by the Reaper. She didn’t seem to mind though. They would sometimes sit for hours in the tea garden, talking to each other like old friends. And maybe they were.
My father never saw him, but I couldn’t help but see him. One of my earliest memories is running up to my mother while she was talking to the Reaper. I must have been eying him curiously.
“Your youngest?” the Reaper asked.
My mother shook her head. “My only,” she said. Her face, smiling a second ago, was sombre.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is there is a misconception about the Reaper. He is always in a tattered black cloak, yes. He’s thin and tall(ish), and somewhat intimidating (to a child), and always keeps his hood up. But under the hood, his hair is bright auburn.
I was woken by water dripping through the boards of the ceiling onto my face. My haphazardly cobbled together shed I called my house was barely withstanding the wind and the rain from the rainy season that had started two weeks early.
I was in no state to fix it. For one thing, I caught a cold on day one of the rain and now every little draft had me shivering uncontrollably. Also, I didn’t think I had the skill to make it any better even if I tried. So I did what I always did. I avoided it.
A few minutes later, I was dripping wet as I ascended the steps to a coffeehouse. It was pleasantly warm inside, and I could almost feel the water droplets forming a haze around me as they evaporated. The reception I got from the house was… not so warm. Or rather, everyone was far too occupied with an anomaly that had occurred.
On the far side of the coffeehouse there were half a dozen businessmen, each muttering under their breath and casting uncomfortable glances across the room. It was obvious what they were looking at. By the window was a lady who had bright blue hair. She sat, seemingly oblivious to her surroundings, reading a book.
A lot of thoughts flew around my head in the space of what could be no longer than a few moments. Were women not banned from this coffeehouse? (Must not be, but there was a good chance they would be after today.) How did she dye her hair? It sure wasn’t natural. How was she so calmly reading in a tense atmosphere like this? And most importantly, where did I sit?
I decided to pretend she wasn’t there. I took a seat not too far from the window, but not too close to the businessmen either. The seat I would have taken if the lady had not been there.
After a few minutes of sipping my coffee, the businessmen began to get up. They caused a quiet ruckus, juggling umbrellas and suitcases and coats in their arms as one by one, they headed out of the coffeehouse. None of them forgot to shoot a glare at the lady as they left.
“It’s a shame. They made good company.”
I looked at the lady. She had not looked up from her book, but it had to be her that had spoken. There was no one here except her and me.
“Yes, I quite liked the friendly way they smiled,” I replied. It was probably a mistake to answer, but I couldn’t help it when I saw the grin playing on her face. Also, I was stranded here, so why not be nice?
“Are you here because it’s raining?” she inquired.
“I suppose I am,” I said, and I realised I was glad for the company, and that I hadn’t been so relaxed in weeks. We sat, sipping our coffee and gazing out the window, as the rain eased and the sky cleared, as I wished for the rain to fall forever.