Love

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This is an old one I wrote for a writing challenge. The theme was "Love".

"Do you believe in Love, Mr. Mortality?"

The Grim Reaper was mildly surprised by this question, though not enough to break his gait.
Turning his head slightly, he regarded the muddy spring pony who trotted cheerfully at his side with an expression of suspicion.
The young Miss Archer did not seem to heed her employer's sharp gaze; taking his silence as an opportunity to clamor up the side of the wooden fence that covered the right side of the road and take to balancing as they walked.

Unseemly, wild thing that she was, she turned her uncovered face to the sky and let the spring-time sun tickle her already freckled cheeks; never minding the way the wind also tickled up the hem of her skirt to reveal her muddy ankles.

Pursing his lips, the reaper turned his gaze from such blatant impropriety, and considered.
"I believe in Love," he replied carefully, "although I doubt we share the same definition."
"Mmm?" the girl tilted her head. "And what's your definition?"
Oh, this was an easy one.

"Well," Mortality said, his back straightening as a great solemnity overtook him, and the words he knew by heart surged loftily from his lips:

"'Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity...
' "

Before the reaper could think what was happening, Miss Archer's freckled face hovered over his like a dangerous animal's, and he could feel the cold blade of a knife at his throat.
"What is this 'Charity' you speak of, and what has it to do with Love?!" she demanded grimly.
"Charity is Love," he replied, more exasperated than anything else. It was like the two of them spoke a completely different language.
"Oh. Why didn't you say so?"
The girl straightened and continued walking, arms spread like a birds and a bright smile adorning her face as though nothing had occurred.
Mr. Mortality sighed and continued walking.

After a few moments, the girl spoke again.
"Have you ever loved someone?"
Another easy one.
"By that definition?" he responded coolly, "No."

But how odd.

He knew this fact so well, the response should have slid as easily off his lips as any Bible passage or catechism.
And yet as the last syllable was spoken, he felt such a deep, quiet ache in his chest that he had to look away, lest pain come out before his employee's eyes.

"I guess my definition of love probably seems rather foolish to you then," Miss Archer put forward lightly.

It took him a moment to realize that they had both stopped, each for their own reasons.
When he turned to face Miss Archer again, they had reached the end of the fence, and she had her face turned toward the sun and wind. Her eyes were shut in reverence.
"I think that Love is when someone doesn't mind you," she said with a smile, "Even when you do things that make you a bother, they want to keep you around. They have no real purpose for keeping you, other than to keep you safe from others who may mind. Or Love is when someone gives without getting, or forgives even when they have trouble forgetting. Love is...I think Love is different from anything else in the whole world!"

She opened her eyes, and looked at her employer.
"So cheer up!" she grinned, "'Cause by my definition, you love me and Michael a whole lot! And..." she winked cheekily, "I think even I can love someone as useless as you!"

Mr. Mortality could only stare at his young employee, stunned by her words.

"Now then," she continued, spreading her arms wide, "Do catch me!"
"Wh-what?"
And she jumped.

A moment later, clothes and pride forever muddied, the Grim Reaper was left to stare in wonder after his grinning pony.

Finally, a small smile touched his lips.

"Perhaps our definitions aren't so different after all."

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