Death was a lifeguard. In the most ironic sense, Death sat atop a raised wooden bench. Their tortoiseshell sunglasses perched on the bridge of their nose obscuring the scanning path of their eyes. Their box braids were swept back in a ponytail that rested on their shoulders.

Sauriel sat beside the lifeguard tower with her legs drifting in the pool currents. She watched Parish and Beckette, her niece and nephew, splash in the pool. To the humans sharing the space, they appeared as two normal, albeit rambunctious, children. From Death’s perspective, their chaotic energy manifested in their demonic horns as clear as Sauriel’s angelic halo.

  “Who are you wearing?” Sauriel asked.

“Jadah Jamison,” Death said. “She had a seizure unexpectedly and no one caught her fall on this day three years ago. She was seventeen.”


“They all are,” Death didn’t flinch as a seagull swooped down to sit on the armrest of their chair. Sauriel recognized the bird as one of Death’s reapers; however, she frowned at the hamburger the reaper was choking down.

“The seagull died of a ruptured stomach. Old hubris dies hard,” Death said.

“Why are you here?” Sauriel asked.

“Someone here is about to die,” Death replied in the same, even tone.

  “Would you tell me if it was Parish or Beckette?” Sauriel balled her fist on her thigh. It would be pointless to fight Death if something were to happen, but Sauriel couldn’t help herself.

“It wouldn’t change anything regardless of if I told you or not.” Death said, “but if it will ease your mind, no. I’m not here for the demon-children.”

Sauriel relaxed her shoulders and turned back to watch the children play. She chose this spot for its seclusion. The country club was located in the middle of the mountainous wilderness of upstate New York. The birds in the surrounding woods spoke to her. They promised their mother a warning if any other cosmic forces approached.

A shift in air pressure alerted her to the cloud formation off in the distance. In a panic, she reached out with her mind to the birds; however, her fears of demonic foes were assuaged as the birds assured her it was a simple storm approaching.

A sharp whistle sounded behind her, “storm alert! Please exit the water!” Death yelled behind her. The lifeguard working on the other side of the pool yelled a similar warning.

Most of the patrons heeded the warning, and Sauriel slipped into the water to herd Parish and Beckette out of the pool to maintain anonymity. Just as Sauriel was bundling the pair up in their own towels, she heard a commotion over her shoulder.

“I’m not leaving! It’s just a little storm!” One woman complained from her pool float as she waved her fruity cocktail in the air. “I will not be bossed around by some teenager!”

“Ma’am, I must insist,” Death tried to usher her towards the steps, but it was too late. Sauriel pulled the towels over the children’s eyes just as a bolt of lightning arced from the sky to the outstretched arm of the woman in the water. Sauriel watched as the shock vaporized her drink umbrella first, then made its way through her body.

Death hadn’t moved from their spot, and once the strike had dissipated, they pulled the woman from the water as the other lifeguards attempted CPR. Death offered their arm to the confused, ghostly figure that emerged from the woman’s body.

“Until next time,” Death tipped their head to Sauriel, and walked into the locker room. When Sauriel led the children into the same room, Death and the figure were gone.