Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dance of Death

Happy two days before Halloween, everyone! As you can see from the picture here, I've already been celebrating this spooky holiday. It was taken at Augie Aleksy's Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore last week during "The Big Read" tribute to Edgar Allan Poe sponsored by the Oak Park/River Forest/Forest Park libraries. That's me on the left standing next to Michael Black (Hostile Takeover), Bob Goldsborough (A President in Peril), and Luisa Buehler (The Innkeeper: A Registered Death) with Augie fronting us dressed as a monk. Thanks to the 30+ people who came out to hear us discuss Poe and all his wonderful works. We had a ball.

I promised to post a Halloween tale here today, so here goes!

by Mary Welk

I never thought it would be so easy to die.

Death stood in the doorway, beckoning with a gnarled finger while I danced what I now knew would be my last tango. I really didn't mind Death's arrival, although I hadn't expected to meet it so soon. I was, after all, only thirty-five.

Still, I'd grown tired of Tom and his endless dance lessons, his striving for perfection with every move, his criticism when I failed to meet his expectations. I felt as if I'd been dancing for years, and now that I thought of it, I had.

I didn't know when I married Tom that his hobby would become an obsession. I even enjoyed it at first, dancing the night away with my handsome husband. But then he discovered that damned televison program where celebrities are matched with professional dancers and don outrageous costumes to compete against each other. That's when Tom decided we needed lessons and I began to fall out of love. Five years later I was sick to death of the endless evenings of cha-chas, waltzes, rumbas, and tonight, the tango.

Funny I should use that phrase, sick to death. I was sick to death of dancing. I was also sick to death of Tom. Death seemed the only way out, and now it had come for me, come to cure my pain. I almost smiled at the tall figure in the black cape as we whirled and tangoed towards him. His skeletal finger summoned me, 'Come closer, closer!' I obeyed and danced unhesitatingly towards my destiny.

Then Death stepped forward and we danced right through it, Tom with a puzzled look on his face, me with a feeling of freedom I'd long forgotten. We danced through Death's cloak like it was nothing more than a whisper of air, through its bones like they were puffs of cold breath only we could feel.

And once through, Tom stopped dancing. He wilted in my arms like a flower hit by frost.

I looked up in wonder as Tom fell to the floor. Death was smiling.