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Labored breaths. Her neck ached. Heavy. Her head was…She strained to lift it. Panting.

“Why did you do this to yourself?” he whispered. Someone approached. Footsteps in the hall. Troubling the water.

Tova groaned, “Hunh—”

“Shh, shh, shhhhh…” It came closer. “Save your strength.”

Her eyes skittered left to right as her shallow respirations sped up. She couldn’t lift her head, and all she could see from her position on the floor were bare feet wading through the murky flood. Perfect feet treading lightly. Silent as the night.

“Unhhh,” she sobbed. Her black hair shivered around her face. Tears added to the babbling trickle of water pouring over the lip of the tub, the blood dribbling from the slits in her wrists, splashed to the rippling surface where his reflection shimmered. She could see him now. Pale skin. Black wings. The tall scythe.

“…Th-Thanatos…Lord of the Dead” Tova whispered. It took everything in her to form the syllables, and she swam in and out of consciousness after naming him.

“I’m called by many names. That is one of them.”

Death knelt down beside the dying girl and gingerly picked her up in his arms. He splayed his fingers across the side of her face as he stared down at her. He had come to take her.  It just…wasn’t her time.

“Young and foolish,” he tisked. “What ailed you that you would give up the fight?” Slender black brows knitted together over his sharp nose and his pale lips parted in wonder. Closing his eyes, Than delved into her soul. Her life played out like a movie in as little as a blink.

He had eyes the color of lost souls, she thought. There was such promise in their depths. She wanted more than anything to go with him

“So much pain,” he whispered, his gaze drifting over her delicate features—the softly rounded cheeks, the plush mouth now blue with lost vitality. She was weightless in his arms, her body pillowy and pliant.  She drew him as surely as any magic ever had, perhaps because her life tragically puddled around his feet made him feel alive where her essence touched him.

His mouth moved slowly over hers, and he kissed her lips the span of an eternity. Tova felt blissful darkness descend. She sank into it with gratitude, reveled in the feel of it eating away at her being until there was almost nothing left.

But, Thanatos abruptly ended the kiss. “No,” he whispered, squeezing his eyes shut. For a brief moment she had been his…forgetting herself as one millennia after another flew by in the After Life until at last she had almost faded from existence. It was almost too late when he had realized that he didn’t want her to disappear, didn’t want her to forget him. This was a soul he craved to keep instead of take away.

So, against every rule ever created, Thanatos brought her back.

“I’ll come back for you,” he whispered.

She heard. Help. Crashing through the trailer and. Blackness. Buoyant as foam, she floated into. Unconsciousness. Help! And out. Bright lights flashing, emergency personnel, being lifted and taken…

Tova’s fingertips twitched restlessly but the man who had kissed her lips was long gone. She was still alive. Laying in an unfamiliar bedroom, the Decant House. There was. Someone knocking at the door. She heard. His face pressed against the door. Black fingernails raking at the wood. Whispers “Tova…”

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