A Ride in the Park

by Shelagh Smith © 2002

I like riding in the morning, just before the sun comes up. It gives a sense of peace to the land, as if the life has halted and time has stopped just for me. entire world has been stopped just for me. Others, I know would laugh at such fanciful thoughts but I feel that I can be pardoned for having them- when one has been around for as I have , such thoughts often occur to me. Mortals, I believe, call it mealoncolnly. An odd name. This morning it hits me only for a brief moment before life and time go on I their accustomed orbit.

And so do I.

Rounding a corner, I startle an elderly woman out for a morning walk. He eyes widen as she sees me, shock, I’d like to believe, not fear. This thought is quickly supported by the swift nod she gives me before continuing on her way. If only everyone could accept seeing me with such grace, the though flits though my head as I pedal on, knowing that I will be seeing her soon.

Ahead of me a road crosses my path, carrying with it the early morning traffic so common in this age. I sigh inwardly remembering an older road that once stood here, a dirt road where horses ambled patiently along and the potential for my being there was not so high. But if mortals wish create and use these fast, automobiles they must be willing to pay the price.

A screech of brakes returns me to the present and my duties. I drop my bike at the side of the road and walk without haste to the scene of the accident. If the dying wishes a few more minutes to speak his last words, I will not rob him of that. But he cannot speak, I realise when I reach him and see the blood slowly dripping from his mouth as he gasps for breath. All that I have done in moving slowly is prolonged his agony.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper as I extend my fingers and lightly brush the man’s arm. His thin frame shudders at my touch and his head lolls backward. Beside me, a woman, perhaps his girlfriend, begins a high-pitched screaming: “Charlie say something, Charlie!”

Her fingers search blindly for a pulse in his neck. She is inches away from me and I consider touching her but refrain. Life beats too strongly her blood for me to take her as I have taken the man. She will live for a while yet, time will dim the pain of losing Charlie and when I come for her she will be an old, old woman.

Or so I hope.

But then, in this era, it is rare for others to follow their loved ones into death. It was different in the past: sacrifice were made, men and woman died in the thousands for causes sprung from love. Justice was one name mortals gave to that death. Revenge was another. Either way it provided me with souls.

Shaking of my remembrance of the past, I recross the road and pick up my bike where I left it. Mounting it, I ride off into the morning sunshine, feeling a pang of sorrow for the man whose soul I have just reaped.

But life must go on, time must unfurl and Death, Death must ride.

Even if it is on a bike.

x x x

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