Heavy Lifting by Susmita Ramani

In the 1200s, a beautiful queen named Inez who’d fought valiantly in a war was rewarded with immortality by Death herself. 

Death said, “I don’t give these passes out like candy, so enjoy. You saved my son’s life. He would’ve gotten hit by an arrow, but you got between him and...my having to come for him.” 

When Inez became old enough that those around her might notice she wasn’t aging, she faked her death and traveled the world. 

In those days, Death came for people in a black carriage, drawn by black horses. Most people couldn’t see Death when she was shepherding folks’ spirits into the carriage, but Inez always saw her. 

Inez studied medicine; during the Black Death, she treated the sickest patients in the hospital, especially the children. More than once, she begged Death to take her, and transfer her immortality to some poor child who’d barely begun to live. 

Death said, “It’s not transferable. But I can take you anytime you’d like.” “I’ll stay,” said Inez. 

Inez lived in many countries, sailing, flying planes, and fighting in wars. She experienced love and heartbreak in equal measures, if a prolonged version of it. Loss was always sharp and bitter. But flowers kept blooming; the sun and moon kept up their endless chase; insects and birds chirped; shadows lengthened in late-summer meadows, and snow banked houses like frosting on cakes. 

Finally, Inez stood on a cliff, watching waves crash on the rocks below. 

A sleek black sports car with tinted windows pulled up beside her. The driver’s side window rolled down. 

Inez laughed. “Nice ride.” 

“How’s it been?” asked Death. 

Inez shrugged. “Pretty good. But I think I’m all done.” 

“Can I offer you a lift?” Death tilted her head. 

Inez looked at the sea again, smiled, and nodded. 

Published in Issue #17

No comments:

Post a Comment