This was written a year ago in response to a timed prompt: what if you could see the angel and demon sides of those around you?

What happens when we die?

The question repeated itself in my head as I searched for an answer, the sound of a broken record bouncing through my skull.

What happens when we die?

I held on to those tiny little fingers and looked into nickel-sized pools of fear, hurt and love. Pools of red and orange and blue, both beautiful and horrifying.

The clock on the wall ticked persistently, as objective and proper as ever. Time stopped for no one - especially not for the likes of her.

What happens when we die?

I closed my eyes, trying to keep my face calm and still. When I opened them again her deformed face was still staring up at mine pitifully. I had never seen such a face as hers - as if someone had taken a fist full of light and smashed it together with a fist full of rock and shadows. Her eyes constantly changed colors, rotted teeth lay next to pearly ones and some parts of her glowed while others burned and twisted. It made me nauseous, and it made me sad. So very sad.

Her family stood in the corner. To everyone else they were normal people. The father was a middle-aged man with thinning hair and a slight potbelly, the mother an average-sized woman with a suburban look and that fading sort of beauty mothers get. The boy was the youngest, waist-high and the spitting image of his father. The girl next to me, smallest of all, looked like her mother.

To me, however, they were much different.

The mother still had some light left. She glowed from within, her skin was a smooth slate of white, and feathery wings flickered from her back occasionally when she moved. The tears that dripped down her face shone and shimmered. Darkness was spreading, however. Already there was a shadowy tint in her eyes and hands. It started there and slowly snaked into the rest of the body - I guessed she had a year left, maybe two, before it reached the heart.

The father was a monster. His hands were claws. His wings were tiny shriveled things. He was all darkness inside, a stone colored in wavering reds and blacks. Everything about him was hard and fiery, and his eyes were empty, never-ending pits that saw and cared for nothing. The darkness had taken him long, long ago, and I knew without a doubt he was the fuel for this fire.

The boy cowered behind his parents and was harder to see. I glimpsed tiny white legs and an occasional flash of bright blue eyes. His head popped out every now and then as he started to approach the bed, but fear would take over and he would retreat back to the combined light and shadows of his parents. Every time he did so I could briefly see the little claws that had once been hands. His face was on its way to looking like his sister's.

"Mister? What happens?"

The pained whisper jolted me out of my musings. I felt her hands on mine again, cold and hot, soft and hard. I rubbed them with my thumb. "I'm not sure I know, sweetheart. What do you want to happen?"

Her eyes changed from orange to green. "I don't know. Will it hurt?"

I shook my head. "No, it won't hurt. You'll be safe and warm and as happy as can be."

Her eyes flickered to her parents and back. "Will my mommy and daddy be there?"

The mother's tears shone more brightly. The father did not seem to hear. "No, I'm sorry dear, but your mommy and daddy won't be there. They're going to stay here with me and your brother."

Half of her face seem to fall and the other half seemed to relax. "Okay. Will Skippy be there? My dog?"

"Yes, he'll be there. You guys can play fetch and roll around in the grass and go swimming together."

She giggled at that. It was a weak giggle, painful, but it made me smile a little. Her breathing was getting more and more labored. "You promise it won't hurt anymore?"

"I promise." I couldn't stop the tear from falling this time.

It took ten more minutes for her strange eyes to close and her twisted little chest to stop moving. Then she was gone.

Her pale hand lay in mine, her scaly claw on her stomach. Her hair - some of it a beautiful red, some a nasty twisted black - lay spread behind her, beneath that ugly yet innocent little face. I cried, and the tears evaporated into black smoke where they hit her body.

I barely noticed her family leave. The mother sobbed and the boy yelled and tried to reach the bed as the father ushered them out. I cried for them as well.

I cried uninterrupted for an hour. I had known the girl for maybe a day, and it seemed like I was the only one who cared.

When they came to get her body, those beautiful white people, I realized I hated them. They were supposed to love and care for the world. They were supposed to fix things like this. They were supposed to save twisted little girls, and cry over their dead little bodies. Not me.

When they were gone I went back to my room and stood in front of the mirror, staring at myself and what I was becoming. Already two new threads of black were beginning to twist their way up my arms, and I felt my heart change just a little bit more.

What happens when we die?

Maybe the girl could use a friend wherever the dead went.

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Short Story
writing Moonrose
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Just posting an old response to a prompt I did. Never really shared it.
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