The Emotional Burden

“I’m free,” she whispered, her eyes closing and the tear rolling down her cheek. As it reached her mouth, she smiled at me. She was rubbing the bruises and cuts on her body as she felt the weight being lifted from her. I felt the weight of her burden and tightened my grip. This girl had suffered in life, and clearly, I was a welcome relief.

“Thank you,” she whispered. 

It’s time, Scythe whispered to me. I swung the blade and sliced into the next world, and showed her the way. She was grinning now, skipping through the dimension and never looking back. Her body may have been battered and bruised, but her soul was intact and she was filled with childlike wonder. The difference between the two was so immense, I had a hard time imagining that they were once one and the same.

I peered at the conditions of her life. It was a shell, a hollowed out version of what her soul had been, excited to face the next life. The footsteps coming towards the room made me pause. With Scythe in my hands, we weren’t visible, except to those who would be touched by the blade. 

The man came in and leered at the body before kicking the still form. I tensed, gripping Scythe hard. 

“Get up.” He said, gruffly. Grabbing her wrists, he shook her. Her head limply moved with the shaking as he grew more and more aggressive. My rage was rising, as I got a clear view of the violence in her life, and why this broken girl was so relieved to see me. 

Calm down, Riley. It is not his time. 

Calm? I was anything but calm. This man was a monster, an abusive son of a- and I had the instrument of death in my hands. I could reap justice for this poor excuse of a soul. I tightened my grip and lifted the Scythe. 

Riley, no. Even if you swing me, he will remain alive, although he will be able to see us.

“But- He doesn’t deserve to live. She Did. How the hell do I standby and let him live? That’s not right at all!” I squeezed the Scythe’s handle firmly, trying to decide if I should put the emotionless Scythe down. If I put it down, I could strangle the man where he stood, still slapping the empty vessel of that broken girl. I could beat him down, like he beat her. There should be justice!

It’s not your place to decide, Riley. There is somewhere else we have to be. But, you can call in the death to the authorities if you choose. 

I stared at the man, still trying to get the girl to forcibly wake up, and shook the rage out of my own hands, picked up the Scythe and heaved it over my shoulder. I freed her from his grasp, but she had to die to be free. Scum like this didnt’t deserve a life. 

“Why are you getting heavier?” I asked Scythe, feeling the additional weight in my arms. 

You are carrying a heavy burden today. The emotional toil is reflected in my physical weight. You don’t simply guide the departed to their new world; you pick up their burdens and carry them with you. With time, the weight of each individual burden will lessen, but some of the heaviest moments will stay with you.

“So, will l carry this amount of weight forever?” I asked, shifting it around, trying to adjust to the extra weight. 

You will carry the weight forever, yes. But you will adjust to the change. Much like humans handle a growing child, or grief. There are some days where the burden won’t be as heavy, and some days the weight will be overbearing. This is the difficulty in being the instrument of death.

And suddenly I understood why Walter was so run down. Years of carrying the heavy weights, mentally and physically. He was strong. Stronger than I was. I trudged out of the offending house with the man, still shaking the dead body, picked up my cell phone and called the authorities. 

“I think there’s been an altercation at this address,” I told the lady on the other side.

Walking with the unfamiliar weight, feeling the difference, we left the house behind. I could hear the sirens by the time I hit the end of the street with Scythe. When I saw the flashing flights arrive at the house, I sighed, and felt the Scythe’s weight change again–lighter now. I had done the only thing I could. 

I could see her smile as she crossed through the door. I had freed her from this world and got the justice she deserved. As the tear fell down my face, I smiled back. 

You are strong. 

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