This month’s short story is brought to you by the Grim Reaper. Each story can be read individually with the final story bringing all the characters together.

These stories are written differently than I normally write stories. The Spirit World is a void, and the characters are nameless, as the Grim Reaper needs to keep confidentiality for the spirits they speak to.

Enjoy a sneak peek into The Grim Reaper Files, and enjoy.

Acceptance

“By the time I had gotten out of the army, I thought my life was over, believe me. I had nowhere to go. I had no one to go back home to. Both my parents had died while I was away, and the house was sold. I didn’t know what to do.”

I sipped my tea, listening intently. The elderly gentleman sitting across from me recounted his previous life in great detail to me. Even during the sad parts, he never stopped smiling.

These types of sessions were my favorites. Not that I preferred one spirit over another, but having these kinds of sessions was refreshing. No one was angry at me. No one was yelling at me, telling them to bring them back to life. No one blamed me for the reason they were dead.

The spirits, like the man before me, were already at peace. Logically, they didn’t need to be here at all. However, some of them enjoyed recounting their life. The memories were still very much alive. I wasn’t sure if they thought they’d forget their previous life over time and wanted to ensure they told as many spirits as possible about the things they did, said, and encountered in their physical forms or if they were boasting.

“I almost came here to see you nearly 35 years ago; did you know that?” he asked.

I shook my head. I had no idea when anyone would show up, and I certainly didn’t know anyone before they became spirits, either.

The old man sighed, still smiling. “It’s true. I didn’t see a will to live anymore. My parents were gone, and I wasn’t there to bury them. My best friend from the army had perished in the war. I had no siblings, and no relatives that were close by. At least, not to my knowledge.”

I sipped my tea some more. His story was similar to those I’ve heard before. Not only was he older, but he already had a foot in the grave once before due to his own hand – or mind, in some cases. So, arriving in their spirit form due to other circumstances and at a much later age was a relief to them.

“I was trying to find an apartment, you know,” he continued. “I didn’t have much money, and despite being a veteran, no one wanted to rent to me. I tried one place, and when I told them my income, they tried denying me. But then, a beautiful woman appeared. She barged into the landlord’s office, out of breath, apologizing to me for being late.”

I grinned as he chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. “I had no idea who she was. She pretended to be my girlfriend, though. You see, she wasn’t able to afford any apartments in the area, either. While she waited for her turn to speak to the landlord, she overheard our conversation. We ended up getting the apartment together by combining our incomes.

“She was my age, so we thought it might be a good idea to be roommates. But, of course, we became much more than that.”

I found myself still smiling. His certainly was one of the more interesting stories I had heard. It was true how life throws odd events our way. One moment, you’re down on your luck, and suddenly, all it takes is one person or one instance to give you the boost you need.

“Before I knew it, I had a family again,” the man stated. “We weren’t lovers, though. We remained friends. The best of friends. She had a wonderful family and lovely friends. I became part of their friend group. Her family accepted me with warm hearts. I’ll never forget it. I couldn’t imagine what would have happened if she and I didn’t get along.”

“In most cases,” I piped up, “everything happens for a reason. We may not know that reasoning for a long time since it usually occurs after a long chain of events. Those events, of course, could be good or bad, depending on your outlook. Regardless, I think if things didn’t work out between the two of you if you weren’t able to share that apartment together, something good still would have come of it.”

The elderly man winked at me, wagging his index finger. “Right, you are! I believe in that, as well. Our choices make a difference, big or small. We’ll always ask the what-ifs, but we’ll never know unless we act. We need to take risks.”

“You and that woman took a big risk.”

He laughed. “The landlord eventually found out about our lie. The only reason he didn’t mind is because we still were able to pay our rent on time. We were clean people. We didn’t make noise. We were neighborly to the others. He didn’t mind the bit of fraud at first as long as he was able to keep his money and his tenants.”

I nodded along as he continued to speak.

Still smiling, the elderly man continued his story. “She died three years ago now. We were no longer living together, of course. She had met a wonderful man, married him, and created a beautiful family with him. A new family that she still allowed me to be part of, mind you. I missed her dearly when she left. But I was happy to help her husband with her children, even though they were grown.”

The clock chimed, turning red. I stood from the table. “I’m terribly sorry to cut you off, but it seems as though we’re out of time for this session.”

“That’s alright,” he replied, standing. He grinned at me, and I could see the pure joy in his gaze. “I am thrilled to have been able to recount many of my life’s moments. Thank you for listening to me.”

“You can come back anytime.”

“I’m not sure if I’ll need to. I lived a wonderful life. A blessed life. I can’t wait to find my friend again in the spirit world.”

I chuckled. “Well, might I suggest finding her family in the physical world? I have a sneaking suspicion she won’t be too far away from them.”

His grin grew. “Even better! I’ll get to see my family again.”

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Rachel Poli

Rachel Poli

Author

Rachel Poli is a multi-genre author with a soft spot for mystery.

She often experiments with short stories and flash fiction, however, she's currently working on the first book of her detective fiction series.

When she's not writing, she's usually cleaning, reading, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.

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