Carpe Diem WIP

In the dead of night stood Death, awaiting the hour that would end the life of yet another soul. A large, old, regal palace towered before him. Its red rose gardens swirled around on either side as a small fountain trickled a simple rhythm of water out and into the pond below where one or two golden fish wove their way through tiny patches of underwater grass.

Death waited with his hands placed carefully in his coat’s side pockets. The air around him lay still, as dead as the night itself. No breeze welcomed Death’s presence. It did not flutter through his sandy hair nor did it lift the slightly heavy cloth of his black cloak. It did not insist that he run his pale-skinned fingers through his layered hair to fix it from where the breeze would have shifted it from its original position.

The cold, red eyes of Death bore down onto the building before him. He scanned the old marble building and traced its cracks as though they told stories of the building’s long and enchanting history of its ancient kings and queens. He looked for any sign of a tale; perhaps an abandoned swing that swung slowly from the ropes that held it to a sturdy branch of the tree nearby, or a lost, silk shoe that remained half-dug into the soft earth just in front of a gold-trimmed door with royal purple and blue floral patterns.

Death found nothing. No remnants of any kind of history, but as his hollow eyes came back around to the east side of the building, he caught glimpse of a single, flickering light from a window on the second floor. He also saw, then, a balcony directly from the window’s left (or his right). From the dim lighting towards the side of the pale curtains that covered the entrance, or exit, of the balcony, he could tell that the extended piece of decorated marble connected to the room that illustrated occupancy, even if false.

Death took measures to reach the balcony by means of paranormal travel; nothing could stop him from reaching his destination. However, as though Life had rubbed off on him in some fashion, Death found himself curious of the unsteady light source just a few feet away. Even the thin curtain material and the two locked doors hidden behind it did not stop Death from reaching the inside of the room, where he found himself careful of his step—for had he smudged any sort of dirt upon the plush carpet, he might have felt a remnant emotion similar to shame… that is, if he could.

The truth was, though, that Death could feel no such thing by the way he treaded forth through the room without caution. Before, it had been mentioned that Death could not be stopped, and although that would usually be the case, a light, feminine gasp had taken imaginary shackles and placed them around Death’s ankles, providing the fake constraints with enough strength to bring Death to a complete stop.

He looked up.

The source of the gasp came from a petite woman curled tightly within her cotton and silk bed sheets just a few feet or so from Death’s position, so he discovered. She had dark hair that, from what he could tell from his stand point, had a beautiful, luscious, smooth texture that allowed each strand to slide across her pale shoulders as though weighted with a simple beauty that could stun any man. To complement her dark-chocolate hair glowed her pale, vanilla skin that appeared silky to the naked eye—and Death could wager upon closer examination that his suspicions might be true. This small feminine beauty was a dessert, with her milky-white nightgown laced in ruffles, complete with a cherry-red bow atop her head.

Her expression spoke volumes ahead of her appearance by the way her eyes oddly examined Death and his dark nature. And even more peculiar, to him, was how she somehow lacked a signature damsel-in-distress shriek that would have woken the entire building, from the king himself to the mice that found shelter within the secret holes in the kitchen’s wooden cupboards. No, she did not shriek. She only traced his outline and each feature with her night-colored eyes.

Death beckoned for her to inquire about his attendance with a small twinkle of false amusement in his eyes. She had taken the bait.

“…Who are you?” the woman asked. Death delayed his response to bask in the luxury of her soft-spoken voice and the way her long, slender neck twitched from the use of her vocals. He traced the line of her neck down to her displayed collar bone, imagined his fingertips tracing the slender frame there, until his eyes were brought back to catch and lock her gaze with his.

“I am looking for your father,” responded Death. Her look of displease caused his brow to raise.

“Do you have any idea of what time it is, sir?” Her hands subconsciously clutched the material pushed around her body in an attempt to conceal herself from the stranger’s line of sight.

Death humored her with a slender smile. “It is late, but the business I have with your father is very urgent.”

The young lady frowned at his ignorance. “It is two in the morning, sir. My father is asleep and will not be seeing you, and even so, he wouldn’t see you because you need to make an appointment with one of his staff.”

Death pulled his hands behind his back and relaxed his posture. “Two in the morning…” he repeated softly. “Is that so?” With a sigh, he turned around to face away from the woman.

The silence that filled the time between his change in position and the next thing he would say told Death that she felt uncomfortable from his presence, and that he was still present at that hour.

He caved in and asked, “Why is such a young lady up at two in the morning?” He could feel her grim expression pressing into his back.

She shifted in her bed. “Why are you breaking into my room at two in the morning?”


Death swiveled back around to face her, showing her that his wider smile illustrated his amusement with their makeshift conversation. “Why has such an inquisitive young lady not cried out for help from my breach upon her security?”

“What is your name?”

A pause managed to slip between her question and his hesitant response. Death had never pondered such a question before, but surely he couldn’t simply tell her, ‘why, Death is my name.’ No, of course not. The slight shift in his warm-hued eyes signaled his brain searching its depths for some sort of explanation, or even a simple answer to tide her curiosity over.

“What is in a name?”

He inwardly managed to smack himself for such a ridiculous rhetorical remark.

“If you don’t tell me, I will have you found and executed,” she threatened.

Death could laugh if only he allowed himself to do so in such a situation. Instead, he threw the ball back into her court via compromise. “Answer one question for me and I shall tell you my name.”

The woman lifted an eyebrow in curiosity. She studied him, surely suspicious of his true motive, but nevertheless found no harm in what could come of it. She nodded.

“Why is such a young lady up at two in the morning?” asked Death.

She grimaced because somehow she knew that he would repeat an earlier question, and to be truthful, she did not want to answer, and he could tell from when he asked the first time that she did not want to answer. The lady gave a quick twist of the fabric that had found its way into her tight grasp before she managed, softly, to answer: “I attended a party hosted by a friend and…”

Death leaned in slightly. “And…?”

Gulping, the woman continued. “And came home with a man at my side.” She finished the rest of her answer quietly, perhaps afraid of any eavesdroppers outside her bedroom door.

Death pondered for the moment how that could be so bad, but of course, he began shifting through the circumstances of how, quite possibly, this woman could still retain her physical innocence, or how the man could have been from a rival territory, or maybe that she concocted some sort of odd disease or disability from alcohol, smoke, and way too many sweets. Death only knew how often he found himself slipping into situations such as those.

“Now that’s not so bad,” he began politely.

“It’s none of your concern,” she spoke, biting back harshly. “Now it’s your turn. Tell me your name.”

By that time Death had managed to dig up his mortal name from the pile of useless knowledge in his mind. He prolonged his answer to give it somewhat of a dramatic effect.

“…My name is Diem.”

The name echoed in the room like a mysterious chant, and had been repeated softly by the woman sitting before him. “Diem…”

Diem nodded in a polite manner, and then excused himself from the lady’s presence. He seemingly began gliding back towards the balcony when she repeated his name, once again restraining his movement and bringing him to a temporary stop. He acknowledged her with a slight tilt of his head.

“Whatever business you have with my father,” she began hesitantly, “you may want to take care of as soon as possible. I’m… afraid that he has fallen ill and I fear his days are numbered.”

The waver in the tail end of her explanation plucked an invisible string near Diem’s chest, easing him into another relaxed composure; however, the mood in the room shifted and the air became dense and heavy. “I suppose I shall be making an appearance tomorrow, then…”

Diem could hear the woman move behind him. The shift of cloth had him guessing that she was now standing to the side of her bed. The sound of her feet against the polished floor supported his assumption.

“…My name is Lilith,” she said.

Was she looking for some sort of security?

Diem answered her by turning his head to look into her night-filled eyes. “How ironically appropriate that we meet, then, Lilith.”

“How so?”

“We go together like night and day, you and me.”

Lilith did not understand his statement, and when she approached closer, he held out a warning palm to stop her. He then blessed her a good night and exited to the balcony.

“…But,” Lilith began, and then raced after Diem when she remembered that he was heading towards the balcony. “Wait! You can’t! The stairs are—!”

She caught herself against the railing, nearly tumbling over. Lilith looked down to the ground below and found no sight of Diem. “Diem?” She called for him and looked frantically around the balcony in case he had accidentally fallen, but there was no body. Evidence of a fall simply did not exist. Lilith assumed that perhaps he had jumped and landed safely, but the height alone would have injured any mortal man.

As she stood, puzzled by his disappearance, a hollow, cold breeze blew through the air and passed through the individual chocolate-brown strands of her hair. She tucked a few away behind her ear as the wind continued lightly, brushing against her skin and whispering in her ear.

The entire meeting itself was odd, and Lilith decided to simply put it behind her and retire for the night. Whoever this Diem was wouldn’t have a reason to tell anyone of her rendezvous—she knew he held no grudge against her. So she slept, contemplating the events before a sweet slumber stole her away.

The morning brought a deadly dread that the entire household did not expect; except for Lilith, who knew it would come eventually. The news of her father’s death hit her hard like bricks against a newborn, and she remained dead to the sobbing reactions of her servants and her broken mother. Lilith fell against a wall and crumbled down onto the floor, and then took her hands and wrapped them around her shaking knees. For a moment she wondered what his last moments were like—if he were asleep and at peace, or if he were up and suffering from his illness. Perhaps he had made sweet love to his beloved one more time, knowing that his end was near. Did he wish happiness to his precious daughter, or a happy future for his wife who he would want to find another in his place? Did he wish a deadly fortune upon them in hopes that his pain would be shared with the rest of his family?

Lilith pressed her face into her white gown. She refused to cry, but her shoulders shook as though she were. After spending a few quiet moments with herself, she rose from her spot and walked down a long, wide hallway. Her eyes were focused on the ground to keep her expression from being seen by others who would pass her by. Her hands were tucked in front of her, clasped together tightly. “How could he die now?”


The brunette’s gaze rose up toward the dark-cloaked figure from the night before. He somehow looked different in the sunlight. His hair glowed along with his porcelain, pale skin. His eyes held some sort of warmth as the sun reflected through their neutral, auburn color. “…Diem…? I thought…I thought you…”

“I heard about your father. I’m sorry.” Diem bowed his head and rose it in time to see Lilith running at him as crystal-like tears flew from the corners of her eyes. His widened slightly, and his arms quickly caught her form against him. They almost fell from the woman’s impact, but he moved and they landed back against a nearby wall.

Lilith buried into him, hiding her face against his cloak as she sobbed uncontrollably against him. Diem wasn’t one to comfort; or rather, simply, Death could not comfort. But he knew that humanity grew accustomed to it, so he slowly wrapped his arms around her smaller frame and tried to console in the best way he knew—in silence.

“He’s gone,” sobbed Lilith. “He died some time after you left; he’s gone, Diem.” She nuzzled further into his chest, but after a moment or so she began to realize something peculiar; his chest was not warm. Lilith recalled back to when she hugged her father, or any other for that matter, and felt a familiar warmth against her, but it wasn’t the case with Diem.

And then she noticed the lack of something else; a rhythmic beating within that chest.

Confused, she looked up to him and slowly pulled away. “…You—”

By now Diem knew that she had figured it out and an eerie shadow fell over his face. He pushed her further away and slipped his hands into his pockets. “Your father is no longer suffering, and he wishes his best for you and your mother.”

The continuing look of confusion grew more severe on the woman’s face.

“He also told me that he is sorry for not being there for you when you needed him most; you know, the typical ‘forgive me’ speech.”

Lilith could now see a cold, empty expression forming on the man’s face. He was not the same from before…or was he?

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Last night I came to take your father’s soul,” replied Death. “He pleaded for your forgiveness before I took him to the after life.”

Lilith covered her mouth with her hand and trembled.

Carpe Diem WIP

Melissa Somerville

Rochester, United States

  • Artist
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Artist's Description

Unfinished. Takes place in some older time – think Marie Antoinette, only less flashy. It depicts a personification of death in the form of a young man named Diem, who visits a young woman, Lilith, whose father is on his death bed.

Artwork Comments

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