1.

The day I met Life,
I was sharpening my scythe

She skipped to me, silver hair streaming
behind her in ribbons
“Who are you?”

Death,” I replied
But you can call me Grim

Blue eyes brightened
raspberry lips, a smile
“Nice to meet you, Grim”
And she placed her hands over my chest

She whispered in places where I was supposed to have a pulse
Somehow, I sensed the days, the years beneath her skin
Felt her blood traveling up the stream of her body
young, coltish energy my heart lacked

She shivered, “You’re cold”

You’re warm

2.

Everyone has a clock
When the hands slow,
I know it’s almost time

When they stop,
that’s when I know
it’s time to take them away

Some men have
grandfather clocks,
or alarm clocks,
or carriage clocks

Life has a pocket watch
Silver and twisted with flowers

I keep it in my breast pocket

Every day,
it goes
tick-tock
next my heart

3.

Our days turned into centuries

I remembered how she painted lavender butterflies on my stomach,
and gave me necklaces made of dewdrops
She braided fuchsia peonies into crowns,
and decorated my scythe with honeysuckle

She said they made me look friendlier

Apparently, that was important

4.

My gifts were never as grand
All I knew was sickness,
and pain,
and war

I made her a bouquet of apples once
I wove around groves and orchards,
picking them myself

I thought they were beautiful
Some streaked with gold,
others yellow or pink,
some scarlet like the cardinals,
that fluttered after Life

But when I gathered them,
they blackened,
and wrinkled,
into mush

Ruined

I’m sorry,” I whispered,
shoulders wilted,
head faced down
I tried to make you a gift,
but it died

Life shook her head
She wiped the tears from my cheeks,
and tucked the apples under her chin
In her tiny hands,
they bloomed,
ruby red,
pale green,
sunset orange

“Grim, don’t cry,” she said
“Grim, don’t you see? They’re so,
so beautiful”

5.

Life loved bunnies,
and teeny birds,
and sneaky, marmalade foxes,
but she especially loved
a stag

He was old,
but strong,
and he bore a heavy crown,
so she named him
King

She fed him grapes from her palm,
and on his birthday,
she tied pink ribbons on his antlers

But it was hunting season
Families needed to eat
And King’s clock –
a tiny wristwatch,
decorated with acorns
whirred slower
and slower

How could I tell her?

6.

When the hunter shot him,
all I could hear was that thunderous crack,
and the sound of Life,
screaming.

She hugged King’s great,
big, neck
and rocked back and forth

“Please, please, please,” she begged
The stag’s heart was a poppy,
crushed and splattered all over her hands
“Let me bring him back”

I shook my head
“Don’t take him!”

He was already gone

On days like these,
she wanted to destroy me
Chop me down,
kill me,
just like I killed everything else

She wasn’t built for death,
only to let others live

And yet,
she was always drawn to me,
and I couldn’t resist how she laughed,
how she lived,
when all I knew was loss

Life was bright, fast and ever-changing
And I was cold, creeping and always the same

7.

Someday, everything would die
I knew this
I knew this by the way the nations warred,
how famines spread,
how earthquakes shook,
oceans roared,
and trees wept

I knew this because I was the End of All Things
I knew this because each millennia
Life’s clock grew

so,
so,
quiet

8.

After many, many centuries
the grasses faded, and the seas went dry
There were no birds above the earth,
no creatures crawling along the ground
No dewdrops. No flowers. No people.

Life’s hair was falling out in patches

She took naps all day,
and I protected her while she slept

She’d pant,
and then she’d stop
Her clock paused
She’d gasp,
And her clock ticked,
and I’d cry,
and then she’d stop
And stop
And stop
And stop

9.

When it was time,
I lifted Life deep into my arms

She was lighter than spun sugar
Lighter than rose petals,
and sunlight
and mist

I carried her
far,
far away

Each step,
her clock gently went
tick-tock
Each step,
I wanted to run

It was selfish
I wanted her to stay with me forever

But I wanted her to sail on moonbeams
I wanted her to dance through lilac fields,
and climb cherry blossom trees,
and cuddle King

“Grim.”
Her voice was softer than marshmallow crème,
“Grim, don’t cry.”

But she was crying too,
gripping my shirt,
knotting the fabric,
snuggling into my chest
as if she wasn’t already curled in there

I loved her

10.

Tick-tock
We were at Heaven’s gate
Tick-tock
It was warm as apple pie,
and smelled like cinnamon cakes
Tick-tock
I nudged it open

Tick-tock
Life cupped my cheek
“Grim,” she whispered
Tick-tock
“Grim, I –”
Tick-tock

Shhh,” I said,
tracing her lips. “I know.”

Tick-tock.
The clock stopped

11.

Mountains shifted
Lightning crackled and sputtered
The sun boiled,
and the moon reeled

My skin shrieked
My skull filled with fire,
And a sound wailed out of me,
but I couldn’t hear it
because my eyes felt like they were bursting

I tore away from her,
and stumbled out of Heaven’s gate
The universe whirred to a stop

Life stared, her mouth open
Her hand still reaching,
chest heaving

I can’t
My voice was tiny,
useless

There was no place for me among the stars

Death was not welcomed there

12.

More time passed,
and I waited

For something to change,
Something to happen
Someone for me to take

But without Life,
there was nothing but darkness
It poured over the land and sky,
and folded over me like paper

What is left?
What is my purpose?

My dewdrop necklace dried out
The honeysuckle shriveled,
and my flower crown crumpled

But I kept them
I hoped.
I remembered.
and traced the lavender butterflies on my stomach

It was all I had left

Darkness had a clock
Tickety-tock
A moldering pocket watch
made of wood

Tick-tock
Darkness had a life
Tickety-tock
And it would run out

What killed darkness?

Darkness could not get sick
Darkness could not drown
Darkness could not be stabbed, strangled or shot

I watched the hands tick
so,
so,
s  l  o  w


I remember sitting under the pear tree
Life’s head on my shoulder
sharing honey cakes

Stars whispered and winked
the moon clothed us in soft-silver
and the buttery sun started to rise

“Grim,” she whispered
“Grim watch.”

But I was staring at her
my fingers drifting over her wrist
tracing the lines across her palms

She giggled
“Grim, stop that
Grim, look”

I groaned
and followed her gaze

The sun lifted
and smeared the sky with electric oranges,
beaming golds
and pomegranate reds

“Bye, bye, darkness,” she said,
snuggling against my ribs

Bye, bye,” I murmured,
stroking her hair

It was so peaceful
Such wonderful
soft
light

Ah,” I said
I clicked open the watch
Tick-tock

I see.”

I couldn’t stop laughing.
I felt giddy.
I felt sick.

Tickety-tock

Time to stop the clock

I walked for miles
Through time,
through shadows,
searching

Until I saw him –
a shape sitting on the dirt,
A shimmering, lump of darkness

Gloom rose off him like smoke,
and stretched over everything

He reeked of time,
and poison,
and corpse flowers

“Who are you?” he barked

I opened my mouth,
but there was no sound
It had been so long,
since I spoke

“Who are you?” he demanded again

Are you Darkness?”
My voice creaked like old bones

“Who wants to know?”

Death.”

A pause
Then,
“What do you want?”

You’ve overtaken everything

“So? Nothing else is here”

I’m here

Wind howled,
filling the space,
between us

“Why are you wearing those flowers? They’re dead”

They were alive once,” I said

“What color were they?”

Fuchsia

“Ain’t that pink?”

It’s my favorite color

Darkness scoffed.

I’m also partial to lavender.”

“Go away! Get!
SHOO!”
His voice wobbled and spat,
like his mouth was full of oil.
“I’m not ready!”

I’m afraid I’ll have to insist.”

“How dare you!
I’m older than time!
Than you!
Than the universe!
You can’t tell me what to do!”

I dangled his pocket watch,
right
in front
of
his
nose

You see?
Your time,
has run out.”

Darkness hissed,
and stretched high over my head

A devil bird
A mountain
A giant,
smoky sea wave

I swung my scythe

And the blade,
filled itself with
bright,
bright,
smiling,
lemon light

Darkness crashed over me

Tick-tock

I had to stop the clock

TICK-TOCK
TICK-TOCK
TICK-TOCK


I chopped Darkness
into
ribbons

I sliced,
and cleaved,
until the tick-tocks stopped,
and his screaming,
stopped,
and the shadows
receded

1.
She ran to me

With each step
flowers bloomed
grasses waved
and trees grew

With each step
her silver hair soared
and painted the skies lazuli blue

We collided

Stars burst in my chest
auroras sang in my bones
the world hummed with a thousand
tick-tocks
and her sunlit palms clasped my cheeks

Her lips tasted of galaxies
and honey sunrises
of laughter
and tears
“Grim, don’t cry
Grim, don’t you see? The sky is so,
so beautiful.”

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Alexandria Baisden
Alexandria Baisden is a Hufflepuff published in Apex Magazine, HelloGiggles, Hair Trigger 38 and elsewhere. She currently co-writes visual novels at PixelFade Studio with Alisia Faust. The latest, Crystalline, is up on Steam. She's interned for Curbside Splendor Publishing, worked as an Associate Editor at the Publishing Lab and slushed for pg70pit. A fan of puns, coffee and Benedict Cumberbatch, she spends most of her time writing her fantasy novel and getting distracted by fluffy animals on the Internet. She can be found on Twitter as @FireShye.