Josie is being constantly saved from Death . . . . by Death.
"If you squirm
At the Conqueror Worm,
This is no place for thee,
Or if you fright
At the mere sight
Of the corpse of my Annabel Lee.
If you fear
There's something you hear:
A heart beating under the floor,
Still your heart,
There's no need to start,
It's just me having tea with Lenore."
My first memory is of fire. My parents had had a fight, and my dad walked out, knocking over a candle on his way out. Soon, the whole house was ablaze. I was 5. The flames had cut off my door, and my room was on the second story. I was trapped.
I was curled in a ball, sitting in a corner and crying. There was no way I could've gotten out, and I knew it. I was waiting to die.
A figure approached me. He had blood-red hair and eyes, and deathly pale skin. He wore a long, black cloak, and carried a tall, dark scythe.
Even children recognize Death.
He walked to where I was sitting. I cowered. Just because I knew I'd die didn't mean I wanted to.
"Come with me if you want to live," he told me. He began to walk away-through the fire.
I found my voice. "W-wait!"
He turned. "What? Don't you want to live?"
"I can't go through that!" I said. "It's fire!" Made since to me.
"Look," he sighed. He passed his hand through the flames. "See? It didn't burn me, so why would it burn you?"
"You're Death!" I reasoned. "You're already dead!"
"You're not moving, are you?" he asked. I sat down on the floor and crossed my arms. "Fine. I'll have to do this the hard way." He walked over and picked me up.
"Let me go!" I shouted. I continued kicking and screaming for quite some time, and when I stopped I saw we were outside. Fire engines and police cars were everywhere, and almost everyone in the neighborhood was standing around watching the blaze. No one seemed to notice us.
He placed me on the sidewalk.
"Listen," he said," stay out of the way. And don't go into the street, you might get hit by a car. Your neighbors drive like maniacs." He walked off in the direction of the street, and faded away.
I was confused and lost. The whole place was in a panic. I didn't know where to go, so I tried to follow him.
I heard the loud blaring of a car horn, and looked up to see I was in the street, looking into the headlights of a car.
"You were hit by a car." The psychiatrist's voice sounded unbelieving as she read the paper Josie had written, describing the event as she remembered it, 13 years ago.
"It's true," Josie told her. "There's medical records of it. While in the hospital I told them what happened and they put me in here."
"I'm aware," the psychiatrist told her. "You claim that Death saved you?" Josie nodded. "Why?"
"I don't know why. I just know that he saved me, and otherwise I would've died in that fire."
"Have you seen him? Since then?"
She shook her head. "No, I haven't." She looked out the office door and into the hall of the asylum. Then she gasped and started backing away from the door.
"What is it?"
"You need to get out of the building. Something bad is about to happen."
"How can you tell?"
"Because he's in the hallway."
The psychiatrist stood and walked to the door. She glanced out into the hallway.
"I don't see anything."
Josie ran to the door and looked out. The hall was empty. She turned and walked back into the office . . . .
. . . . and almost walked right into him. She began to back away. The psychiatrist was confused. She obviously didn't see him.
Josie ran into the hall to see it was ablaze. She heard a laugh from behind her, and turned to see him standing in the hall.
"Funny, isn't it?" he asked. "Every time we meet something's on fire."
"I don't see anything funny," she replied.
"Well, of course," he said, "it's not funny to you, but to me it's hilarious. Well, come on." He began to walk off.
"Where're you going?" she asked.
"You wanna get out of here, right? The doors will get blocked off in a little. You should probably get out before that."
"Why are you helping me?"
He turned and looked at her. "Why does it matter?" He began to walk off. She followed.
The street was in turmoil. People ran back and forth, trying to put out the fire. Patients wandered around, confused. He brought her over to one of the firemen.
"Take care of her," he said. "Make sure she's okay."
The fireman was confused. He nodded, and Death walked away, towards the building.
"Was that. . . . . Death?" The fireman stuttered.
"What was he doing?"
"Umm . . ." Josie thought about it. "I think he was saving me again."
"He was -- saving you?"
"Uh-huh. Don't ask me why, though."
She walked away down the street, away from the panic and the flames.
Years have passed. Josie has grown older, and is very sick. She hasn't seen Death since the time when she was 18. At the age of 27, she began to try to convince people that she was not crazy. She tried death defying stunts that almost killed her. Almost . . . . . but not close enough. At the age of 37, she was convicted of arson for setting her house on fire, and put back in the asylum when she explained that he always seemed to appear when her residence was flaming.
She was currently in a hospital bed. She had been diagnosed with incurable cancer, and the doctor said it was a miracle she was still alive. She had told him "Death is stalling."
She stared at the ceiling. A figure approached out of thin air.
She smiled, and looked at the figure. "Took your time, didn't you?"
Death smiled back at her, still as young looking as he had been when she was young. "I guess I did. But I can't stall forever."
"Do I die, tonight?" she asked.
"You know, you never told me why you were protecting me."
"Do you want to know, before you die?" he asked. She nodded.
He leaned over her face, and softly kissed her.
"I love you," he whispered.
And then she was gone. He walked solemnly out of the dark room, and faded into the darkness.