By Yong Takahashi
I asked Death to claim me but she decided to rough me up instead.
She sliced scars upon my body as reminders of the missteps I had taken along my way. As the years eroded, she returned often to place another twist upon my visage, letting me know she was in charge. Each line set deeper into my soul, becoming witness to the roads and bridges already taken and collapsed forever.
When Death finally decided to take me from this world, she said she was proud of what I had accomplished.
“Oh, no, I’m a failure,” I told her. My gaze sunk into the ground before us.
“Look at me, child,” she said. My reflection shone brightly in her face. “On all the winding paths I set before you, you trudged on with bloody feet and broken wings. You never gave up. Look how you’ve grown.”
I stepped back and laughed at how foolish and unforgiving I had been.
“Let me make you pretty again. Let me erase those creases.”
Death cupped my cheeks with her soft, warm hands.
“No, I’d like to keep my badges of honor.” My shoulders lifted up, away from the ill-perceived opinions of myself.
Death smiled, took my hand, and led me to freedom.