“You knew I was coming.”

Charles felt his wrinkled head. His face sagged from his cheekbones, there was a time he could not feel his flesh hanging from his cheeks, but now he could make them jiggle. Charles’ world had slowly been going darker as his eyesight began to fail to the point where daylight and darkness were indistinguishable. At times Charles was not even sure he was awake. How had his life retreated so quickly? Yet, he could see his familiar friend.

Not so long ago, he was a respected forensic doctor. People counted on him to help solve the mysteries of the dead and bring justice to their mourning families, but now, now he was about to take that walk off this planet and be released from his mortal coil. However, he did not want to go yet.

The young girl stood there in front of him. She was not more than twelve years of age. The girl said, “You can’t stand there forever. You have to leave, Charles.”

Charles scowled and said, “Don’t rush me. I want to say goodbye to Denise.”

The little girl put her arms around Charles’ waist, “I’m sorry, she doesn’t remember you, but she will, very soon. Wouldn’t you rather wait and talk to her then?”

Charles grunted and gently removed the small girl’s arms. Charles began to grope around the room. He knew the love of his life was in a hospital bed nearby. The young girl’s fingers slid across the palm of his right hand and squeezed. She led the blind doctor over to his wife. “Denise, ” said Charles, “Denise, wake up.” Charles reached over and clumsily found her shoulder and pushed on it, but Denise would not stir.

“They have her heavily medicated,” said his young friend, “I don’t think you can wake her up.”

Charles snorted and then said, “What good does it do to keep her here after me? Why can’t she come with us?”

“I promise,” said the little girl, “She does not have long to suffer. I will come back and watch over her.”

“You mean hover over her like a vulture. You’re just waiting to snatch your prey from this earth.” Charles swung his hand around at his side until the little girl grabbed it and led him back to his bed. Charles sat down. “You know, I’m not afraid of you.”

The little girl’s hands gently rubbed the top of Charles right palm, and he could feel his old loose skin fold and release beneath her gentle touch. “I know you don’t fear me, Charles. We’ve been together for many years. You know I guided these hands across many victims of violence from this world. I take my job very seriously. I am the messenger of death, and it is a heavy burden to bear. I hate what happens here on earth to separate you all from your loved ones. Disease, murder, greed, sadly I have seen it all several times over. Many leave looking forward to what is waiting for them. Others scream in terror when they see me walking towards them.”

Charles smiled and placed his left hand over the top of the little girls and said, “Yes, but you and I are old friends. There is no mystery for me. Although, I do have a question, will I ever see the sun rise again?”

The young girl giggled, “Oh, you will see things far more wonderful than a sunrise or sunset. You will see the colors and the glories of the created universe.”

Charles smiled, “That sounds beautiful, but still, I’d love to see one last sunrise.”

The little girl hugged Charles and then released him. “Maybe I can help. Are you ready to go?”

Charles looked over and tried to see Denise. He loved her more than life itself, and the idea of being without her for a moment tore at his heart. Still, the small angel promised she would be along soon. The pain pulsing through Charles cancer-ridden body caused him to wince and double over.

“Please, Charles, we must hurry. Lie down.”

Charles nodded and fell on the musty smelling sheets and hard mattress. “Will it hurt worse than this?” he gasped.

The angel of death walked around to the left side of the bed where Charles was now looking. Through his tearing eyes, he could barely make out her small blurry form.

“Be healed and enter into your rest.” The small girl reached over and touched Charles’ shoulder. All his pain immediately subsided. He stood up and found himself a young man once more. He reached up and felt the glasses that he wore during the early years of his career. “Do I need these?” asked Charles.

“Not really,” said the girl. “I thought it might make you more comfortable with your new body. Feel free to remove them at any time.”

Charles felt a bit nostalgic, and he smiled, shrugged and said, “Why not?” He and the girl walked through the outer walls of the hospital and into the parking lot. “What about that sunrise?” asked Charles.

The girl giggled, “You are a persistent one. Okay, but hang on.” Her grip tightened around his hand, and his skin felt taut once more. He looked down and noticed his complexion was as flawless as the angel. The world blurred around them and Charles sucked in the air, but the atmosphere was different. He no longer had to breathe. His response had been an old habit. In fact, he was not breathing at all now that he thought about it. They rose high into the sky, well above what any human could accomplish without the aid of specialized equipment. The heavens began to darken around them, and then they landed next to the shores of the Caribbean. The sun was starting to rise over the crest of a small island key. Charles soaked in every moment.

The time felt far too short when a woman’s voice said, “It’s time to go,”

Charles looked to his left, “Well, you’ve grown up.”

The angel smiled and pointed skyward. The atmosphere seemed to roll back, and before they stood the mysteries of the universe and at the other end, a light so bright that it chased away every dark element of the cosmos. Charles nodded, grabbed her hand and left terra firma for the beautiful mysteries of eternal creation.

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