When Death Meets Tinder

jan 2018 prompt

Author’s Note:

I started out writing a cutesy love story about the immortal Death going on her very first blind date with a mortal. But then I got halfway through and realised it wasn’t working.

For one thing, who finds romance right on their very first try? Also, have you tried modern dating? It’s hard. And for another, this human would have to be really special for someone who has lived for ages and met so many people to fall for him. So, this is me trying to keep it real and drawing from some real-life experience.

(But I do still want to write a cutesy love story. Next prompt, perhaps?)

 

*

 

In the corner booth of the café, Penelope straightened her white sundress for the eighteenth time.

Yes, she had decided she would call herself that today.

And yes, she counted. It gave her something else to think about other than the fact that she was about to go on a blind date. With a complete stranger. A mortal, no less.

This is ridiculous, she thought yet again. She wasn’t the sort to wear a dress and go on a blind date. She wasn’t the sort to go on a date, period. Because who would ever go on a date with Death? Her sisters, Fate and Love and Life, were the ones who constantly went on dates and came home giddy and convinced every single time that they had found The One.

But of course, none of them were. That was the thing about being immortal – there was no point in holding on to anything because nothing ever lasted. It was both an immense relief and a cosmic tragedy. (It was also against the rules to date a mortal, but her sisters never seemed to care about that.)

Death wondered again how she had managed to let her sisters convince her this time. Maybe she secretly wanted to be as hopeful as them. Or maybe she was just tired of being lonely. Either way, she watched as they set up her Tinder profile and squawked over the candidates, debating which way to swipe.

And then, at last, they all agreed on Drew the “graphic designer by day, writer by night”.

“He’s twenty-eight, likes kayaking, dogs, and Death Cab for Cutie. Definitely your type,” Love said. Fate and Life nodded in agreement.

“Except he’s centuries too young for me,” Death pointed out.

“Just once,” Love said, “let go of all your inhibitions and just live in the moment.”

“What is the point when the moment does not last?” Death countered.

“It doesn’t have to last,” Time said. “It just needs to be real.”

“At the very least, you’ll have an entertaining story to tell at family dinner, sourpuss,” Fate quipped, “instead of all those depressing ones where everyone dies.”

Everyone but Death found that funny.

A blind date seemed like a whole lot of trouble for nothing, really. Death rolled her eyes when her sisters told her not to be too hostile and snorted when they told her to rein in her inner cynic on the date. But she let them pick out her outfit and do her hair and makeup anyway.

Now, she smoothed her dress again and checked her watch. Seventeen minutes past three. Death wasn’t too bothered – when you had existed for centuries, seventeen minutes was merely a grain of sand.

“Hello.”

She glanced up to find a young man silhouetted in sunlight. Only when he shifted did Death manage to take in the details. He wore black-rimmed glasses, a pressed sky-blue shirt and dark wash jeans. His tousled dark-brown hair fell over his mahogany eyes and a dimple flashed on his right cheek when he smiled.

Her sisters definitely knew her type, appearance-wise. She could already hear them congratulating themselves from where they sat two booths away.

“Penelope, right?” her date said, extending a hand.

She shook it. “It’s nice to meet you, Drew.”

After ordering an espresso for him and a latte for her, Drew got down to business.  “So,” he began, leaning back in his seat and shooting her a lopsided smile. “Why’d you pick me?”

“I didn’t. My sisters did.”

“Glad to know it was a unanimous vote, at least.” Something about him rankled. “I saw your deep dark eyes brimming with life, and I knew I had to get to know you.”

Death snorted, almost choking on her latte. Be nice, Life hissed in her head.

“The coffee here is good, but the music’s terrible,” Drew said after taking a swig of his coffee.

“I thought you said you liked Death Cab.”

“Sure, if I was in the mood for one guitar and a whole lot of complaining.” He chuckled. “No, EDM’s my jam. You look like you’d be up for a good time too,” he added, sizing her up.

Death briefly considered striking him dead on the spot, but that would be flouting the rules.

Now, Death. Don’t make it personal, Fate warned telepathically. Next to her, Time shook her head. Don’t be rash. He’s just a mortal.

Death turned back to the conversation. “My idea of a good time is browsing a bookstore and going on a literary scavenger hunt.”

He made a face. “Fiction’s not really my thing. I find it a complete waste of time to read made-up stories.”

“But you’re a writer. At least, your profile said so.”

He gave another sheepish shrug. “That might have been a little off the mark as well. But girls like the sensitive poet type, no?”

“So, may I ask which part of your profile was true?”

“This face is a hundred percent real,” he said, circling said real face with a finger.

“Good to know.”

Rein in the snark, Death, Love hissed.

Can he rein in the narcissism then? she hissed back. This was why she never bothered with mortals. As far as she was concerned, she was just here to do her job – maintain the natural order. Their obsessions were far too shallow and frivolous in their limited time on earth to matter.

“I’m curious, what do you live for?” Death asked.

“Whoa, let’s save the heavy talk for after we’ve had a few drinks, Penny.”

“It’s Penelope.”

“Too much of a mouthful. Penny’s cuter, anyway.”

I can’t believe I’m Death and I’m not allowed to decide whom to kill, she thought, staring at Drew and trying not to throw up in her mouth. Drew with his stupid dimples and aw-shucks nice guy smile and nerd glasses. She should have known better by now than to be fooled by appearances like a common mortal.

“I feel like we’re connecting on so many levels, it’s crazy,” Drew said, inching closer to her.

“We’re connecting?” she asked dryly. “In which universe?”

He ran a hand through his hair. “In this very one we were fated to meet.”

Kill me, she thought to her sisters. Oh wait, you can’t. Well, then. Death gulped her latte as fast as she could. “I just remembered I have a friend visiting today. Must run.”

“Okay, so … second date?” Drew proposed.

Death laughed for twenty seconds straight, until his smile slipped and he backed out of the café with his espresso.

“Maybe if she behaved more human than disillusioned immortal, she might have a better shot,” Love was saying when Death went to join her sisters.

“At least she didn’t kill him,” Time pointed out. “I consider that a success.”

Everyone but Death agreed.


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