Every morning when I wake up, I find the Death Angel sitting on the edge of my bed. She’s always beautiful in the light of dawn. Brushing aside her long, auburn hair, she peers at me with languid eyes then pulls the warm covers up over my shoulders. Her full lips part, exhuming moist breath perfumed with poppies.

She whispers, “Why don’t you sleep? What else is there, but sleep?

My eyelids grow heavy. Shuddering, I force myself awake. If I don’t get up immediately, I might never wake up again.

The Death Angel draws back, recoiling with serpentine elasticity. Her eyes grow hollow and her teeth sharpen. “It’s not going to be a good day,” she hisses.

Cold floorboards shock my feet as I stagger out of bed. I stumble down the hall and the Death Angel glides after me on soundless, shadow feet. Bleary-eyed, I punch the ‘start’ button on the coffee maker as the Death Angel hovers in the doorway. Her smooth, bronze skin is melting, revealing a translucent skull. By the time the coffee is ready, she is a skeleton. The bones of her feet grind against the linoleum as she stalks me.

Gulping my coffee, I turn away from her empty, staring eyes. She twists in front of me, leering her death’s head into my face. “It would be ever so simple to let everything slip away like so much dust.”

When I ignore her, she plants a sharp elbow on the table and flexes the intricate bones laced into her hands. We arm wrestle every morning. My well-flesh arm grapples her skeletal one. Bone rubs against bone. They creak as her joints tighten, forcing my hand toward the tabletop.

Terror grips me in its maw, shakes me like a straw. I dare not let her win. Fresh urgency infuses my arm with strength.

Crack! The bone shatter as I slam the skeleton to the tabletop.

I don’t look back as I dash to my bedroom and dress for work. The stark bones will knit together. Come tomorrow morning, the Death Angel will be back.

Someday I will have to let her win. But not just yet, I tell myself, not today.

Published in Stories