Bane of DeathA woman whose presence prevents Death from taking a person. She also can pass on the ability to see Death to others if she touches another while in the presence of Death.
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About the Story
(This part is dedicated to the nameless unknowns, and hearingvoices.com where the inspiration for this scene came from.)
Tracy and Alicia rode along the river on their bicycles. They traveled fast enough to make it worth their while, exercise wise, but still slow enough that they could talk to each other. They chatted about things that had happened since they had last seen each other: how work had been, their families, recent weather and news, the lack of men in their lives, the drama amongst their common friends - all the usual topics.
Today was the second day they rode together for exercise. It had been Tracy's idea. "Thanks so much for doing this with me," she said to Alicia for the umpteenth time.
Alicia smiled at her friend's repetitiveness. "It's no problem, really," she reassured Tracy. "And it's not like I can't use the exercise!"
"Yeah maybe," Tracy replied with only a touch of agreement in her voice. "I'm so bad at exercising. I mean, I can start doing it alright, but I just can't seem to keep it up! A friend at work said she works out with a partner, and that really helps keep her doing it 'cause they are each others motivation. She says it's a lot harder to bail on exercising when it means bailing on someone else and not just yourself."
"So if one of us doesn't want to come out bicycling, we shouldn't tell the other in case both of us don't want to go?" Alicia asked with humor.
Tracy chuckled. "I suppose if we're both lazy this plan isn't going to work well."
They turned at a corner and started up one of the pedestrian bridges that crossed the river. It was made of cement but paved with bricks and lined with carvings. There weren't nearly as many people along the river nor on the bridges as on the weekends, but there were still enough this evening to force Tracy and Alicia to slow down as the crossed the river so as not to hit any of the people standing around looking at the view.
Right after they passed the high point of the bridge, Alicia could have sworn she had just passed D. She looked back to be sure, and much to her dismay it was D. Frowning, she stopped, put her kick stand down, and got off her bicycle.
"Alicia?" Tracy called from up ahead as soon as she noticed her friend was no longer with her. She turned around and started pedaling back.
"Hang on," Alicia answered without looking back. As she approached D she scanned the bridge for any clues of what might be about to happen. At first she didn't see anything unusual. Couples holding hands. Bicyclists, joggers, and power walkers. A group of teens hanging out next to one side of the bridge joking around with each other. For a moment Alicia thought perhaps one of them was going to do something stupid and take a joke too far. But she felt D was on the wrong side of the bridge for that.
She looked opposite the teens, and saw someone standing alone staring out over the river. Nothing usual there either.
"Something wrong?" Tracy asked from beside Alicia, causing Alicia to jump slightly in surprise.
Alicia glanced at Tracy as her nerves calmed, then she looked back at D, who suddenly disappeared. "Uh, I'm not sure," Alicia replied honestly. She glanced around the bridge again, to see if D had moved or was indeed gone. The only thing that had changed was the person who had been gazing across the river was now talking to a lady. The lady held up a camera to the person and smiled her thanks. As she turned to get into position, Alicia saw the other person, a young man, wipe his eyes as he turned away from the river to take the lady's picture. The lady didn't appear to notice. After the picture was taken, and the camera returned to its owner, the man moved back to the side of the bridge. And D reappeared.
As Alicia started to run over, the young man looked down at the river and cursed.
"No! Wait!" Alicia yelled out to him.
The young man made no sign of realizing she was calling to him. He quickly climbed up onto the thick cement wall. "No one cares," Alicia heard him say to himself as he stood up, not seeming like he was going to pause in his attempt.
She managed to touch his leg before he stepped off. "I do," she said quickly. "Please don't jump."
The young man looked down at her, quite surprised. "Please?" Alicia repeated.
Tracy caught up with Alicia, coming to a stop on the other side of the young man. She looked from one to the other, completely unsure of what to say. "Don't do it," was the first thing that popped into her head.
"We can talk," Alicia offered. "What you're about to do is permanent. Do you realize that? You can't be that bad off."
"At least tell us what's wrong, maybe we can help," Tracy added.
He nodded, and bent down. He put his hands on the wall and slide his feet out from under him, on the side where there was a bridge beneath them. He sat down, ran one hand through his hair, and started to cry as he poured his heart out.
They found out his name was Daniel, and that he hadn't really wanted to kill himself but he hadn't felt like he had a reason not to. Things in all parts of his life had gone very bad over the last year or two. He told them he had come here for a last shot. That if anyone had have asked him if he was okay, he wouldn't jump. He said that for a moment he thought the woman with the camera was going to be that person, that he would tell her everything and she would call someone and it all would be okay. But she simply wanted her picture taken, and he was a nice guy so he did that for her.
"We will call someone," Tracy assured him. "Things will be okay."
He nodded. "Thank you," he replied gratefully. Then he looked up at Alicia. "I didn't even see you. How did you know?"
Alicia shrugged a bit sheepishly. "Uh...," instinctively she looked around for D, but did not see her. "Just a feeling I had." Alicia put her hand on his arm. "Come on, let us take you somewhere. You shouldn't be here anymore."
Daniel nodded. Tracy got the bicycles and followed as Alicia led Daniel off the bridge. Once they were away, they called 911 to find out who they could call to come for Daniel. Then they found a bench to sit on and talk while they waited for help to arrive.
Once Daniel was safely in the hands of professionals, Tracy looked over to Alicia with the same question on her face that Daniel had asked on the bridge.
"What?" Alicia asked in response to the look.
"How DID you know?" Tracy asked. "His back was to us and we were moving too fast for you to have seen what was on his face," she pointed out. "He looked like anyone else standing on the bridge watching the waters. And even if we had have been walking by and noticed he was crying..." she fell quiet for a moment, then looked down at her hands. "We probably would have acted like everyone else and just minded our own business," she admitted softly. "When did that become a rule of society?"
Alicia nodded slowly. "If I hadn't have seen what told me he was about to kill himself, yeah, you're right, we would have just gone by without a thought."
Tracy looked back to Alicia curiously. "What did you see?"
Alicia bit her lower lip and rolled her eyes away from Tracy. Finally she thought of something to tell Tracy. "I suppose you could say I had a premonition."
Tracy gave Alicia a dubious look. "Does this go back to that thing you don't want to tell me because you don't want things to change between us?"
Alicia's face scrunched up and she nodded.
Tracy smiled broadly. "The important thing is you saved a man's life," she said to change the subject. "Someone who needed saving from himself." She moved over to Alicia and put her arm around Alicia's shoulders. "You're a hero! You know what that means, right?"
Alicia thought a moment. "Ice cream?"
"You bet!" Tracy replied. "Whatever kind you want."