Flash Fiction: The Reaper’s Rope

Originally prompted by TerribleMinds, “A Random Scattering of Fresh Titles.”

Dawn’s early light was usually a friendly, soft color, diffusing the mistakes and messes of the night, softening the blow of what the morning would bring. Dawn was the time she slipped out, leaving the night’s work behind. Her work was most often discovered once the coffee of the cubicle rats had been digested, morning traffic cursed and the sun’s height made day a foregone conclusion.

She could take pride in her work, if not joy, although there was always release of a sort. She utilized her many skills, not a one of them traditional or fit for an office, but nonetheless needed for all that.

It was the bruise on the client’s face which had moved her to accept this most recent job, though it didn’t always. Broken arms, swollen black eyes, a tight, stiff gait, long sleeves and thick makeup on faces aged before their time, one or all of them combined would always move her, but nothing put speed behind her like kids. She walked outside the golden light of official justice, but when the cool marble walls of the courthouse failed so many she took up Lady Justice’s blindfold.

For the Lady was truly blind, but she wasn’t human as the courts were led by, staffed by and hampered by. Neither was she herself blind to the consequences of her chosen profession; “murderer”, “home wrecker”, “evil” where the least of what could be thrown at her, should she be caught. She may not be able to count the effects of her work when the sun beat down weeks after those wicked grey nights, steeped in filth or the merely mundane, but she comforted herself with the action itself.

In her work she was neither tidy nor messy, extravagant nor understated, excessive nor miserly. The ugly glare of fluorescence, the cramped confines of a backseat, the always squeaky cheap motel mattress, the cheap thrill of a marriage bed reveled her main strength for this hustle, her flexibility in doing what the job required, no more, no less.

The conclusion was always the same, however sordid the details. A quiet, unremarked grave, destined never to be found if she’d done her work correctly, which she always did. The point was to alleviate pain, turn a black slate to a grey one, for nothing could wipe them completely white again after such suffering.

It wasn’t her name which was passed from spotless kitchen to needle strewn flop to beater car; nor a title that spread between those at that particular intersection of needy and desperate. Her position required a delicate balance of discretion and openness, so she’d settled instead on a simple type of calling card. A small length of rough cut rope, ragged at the ends, of unremarkable make. Various titles had been handed around with it through the years, but the most enduring one had been, simply, “The Reaper’s Rope.”

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After years of borrowing horses, working to ride and catch riding, I finally have my own horse, a spicy chocolate mare...but also a demanding day job (who doesn't?), a nerdy husband, a soccer loving kid who needs to be parented (by me, duh), and the ultimate trail buddy, a chocolate Labradork!

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