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.

Group Session

As soon as everyone was seated at the table and had their drinks, I sat down at the head of the table. Sitting before me were an old army veteran, a middle-aged woman, and an older woman.

The 73-year-old woman sobbed into the table while the gentleman rubbed her back gently.

The 48-year-old woman watched with a brow raised, sipping her tea.

“Alright,” I said, clearing my throat, “who would like to start?”

The gentleman turned his gaze to me, nodding to the sobbing lady. “Maybe this young woman would like to say something? Um, if she can?”

The bawling lady lifted her head to stare at the gentleman. “You think I’m… young?” she sniffled.

He nodded, grinning sweetly at her.

The other woman rolled her eyes. She leaned forward in her seat putting her coffee down on the table. “I still don’t think I should be here, but I am. Now it’s time to move on.”

I shook my head. “It’s not that simple for most.”

She sighed, leaning back in her seat. “I know. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but it’s true. Is there anything we can do to go back to life?”

I shook my head again.

“Exactly.”

The older woman sniffled. “Hey, I was sick. I shouldn’t have died from that. The doctors should have made me better, and I should be with my children and grandchildren. I’m too young to be here.”

The other woman glared at her. “And I’m not too young to be here? I’m younger than you, and I was hit by a bus!”

The elderly woman stiffed, sniffling once more. “Oh, my.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the gentleman replied.

“We never know where life is going to take us.”

“It takes us straight to hell, apparently,” the woman remarked.

Before I could respond, the elderly man spoke up.

“We’re not in hell, we’re in the Afterlife. Our lives are over, this is what comes after. It’s natural.”

I nodded in agreement, putting those words in my back pocket for later.

It was natural. Dying was the next stage of life, much to what most people believed. In the Living World, death is explained as the end, but it’s just another beginning. Those who believe in the Afterlife are afraid of what they’ll lose from their current physical form. It’s still an end to them, even though they’ll still be connected to that part of them.

“But why did I have to come here when my next grandbaby was just born?” the older woman began to sob again.

The middle-aged woman peered sadly into her beverage. “I was supposed to go on a date soon. At least, I think I was going to. I met someone. I don’t know if it was going to go anywhere.”

The gentleman continued to smile at the two. “I’m sorry to hear your life was cut seemingly short right when something good was about to happen. But those can’t be the only good things that happened to you, surely. Life has no end, so if you didn’t arrive at the Afterlife now, you probably would have gotten here before the next big thing happened to you.”

The younger woman nodded. “I guess that’s a good point. In a way, it’s a good thing I’m here now before I found out what could have been with that guy.”

“It could have been heartbreak or happily ever after. Instead of mulling over the unknown, you can be grateful for the things you do know that happened to you in life,” the gentleman explained.

The older woman finally sat up in her chair. “But what good can come from my knowing that my grandbaby won’t know her grandmother?”

“You arrived here after your grandchild was born?” the gentleman asked.

She nodded.

“Then the good thing that came out of it was you got to meet her. She won’t remember, but she’ll see pictures of you holding her. Your children and other grandchildren and tell her, that’s your Grandma.”

She smiled and I noticed her shoulders finally relaxing. “That’s true. I guess you’re right. She’ll get to know me through memories the rest of my family have of me.”

“And,” I added, “you’ll be able to visit them as a spirit whenever you want. You can drop subtle hints to them so they know you’re alright. You’re safe, and you’re watching over them.”

She finally smiled, letting out a sigh of relief.

“That’s right,” the gentleman agreed. “And if there is anyone here who you want to see, you’ll be able to find them here. Or, they might already be back in the Living World with your family.”

“My husband,” she stated. “He passed two years ago. I can find him here?”

“Of course,” I replied.

She relaxed, melting into her chair. She closed her eyes and I could imagine what she was thinking. She looked to be at peace.

I glanced at the clock, which was still green. I knew the gentleman had already accepted being here, so I turned my attention to the middle-aged woman. She downed her coffee like a shot of alcohol before putting it back onto the table with vigor.

“What about you?” the gentleman asked before I had the chance to. At this rate, I was going to be out of a job; he was doing so well.

She looked up noticing all three of us staring at her. She shrugged. “I wasn’t doing much. I wasn’t married, didn’t have kids. Nothing. I thought I had finally met the one in that coffee shop, but now I’ll never know.”

“You must have been busy with other things in life, then,” the gentleman stated. “What sort of things did you accomplish in that time?”

“Accomplish? I didn’t get married or anything.”

“Did you want to?”

“Not really, now that I think about it. But it would have been nice to have someone to grow old with.”

“Yes,” he said, nodding, “but if getting married wasn’t what you truly wanted, you must have been focusing on something else in life. What was it?”

She shrugged. “I worked. All I did was work.”

“What did you do for work?”

“I sold cars.”

“That’s a respectable job.”

She snorted. “It’s not world-changing or anything.”

“Do you think you need to change the world to live?” I questioned.

She cocked her head to the side.

“Do you think your life mattered any less because you didn’t have a world-changing job?” I reworded my question.

“I guess not,” she said, shrugging. “But it’s not like I cured world hunger or anything.”

“Neither did I,” the elderly woman added.

“But you created life. You had a loving family,” the middle-aged woman countered.

“And you gave a handful of people their very first car, I imagine,” the gentleman remarked. “You might not have changed the world, but you changed lives. I’m sure you sold a car to someone who spent ten times getting their driver’s license, so getting a car was a huge deal to them.”

“What about the people who you sold a car to that spent years saving up for?” the elderly woman chimed in. “It might not sound like a lot to you, but I’m sure the people you sold cars to remember you.”

“They drive by the dealership you worked at and proudly say they got their car from you there,” the gentleman stated.

She cracked a small smile. “I did meet some good customers. Being in the car business is tricky because everyone automatically believes you’re trying to scam them. Some of my co-workers had difficult customers, but I rarely did. I guess that means I was good at my job.”

“See? You don’t need to change the entire world to make a difference. You were still important. You had a role in society, and you liked your job, I assume?” I asked.

She nodded.

“We’re all given a certain amount of time in our living forms. What we do with it is up to us. Some of those choices may be considered right or wrong, but it all depends on who you ask.” I looked at the gentleman. “Were you happy with your life?”

“I’m happy with my struggles and how I overcame them. It made me who I was and I’m overall happy with my life,” he replied.

I grinned, turning to the older woman. “Were you happy with your life?”

She smiled proudly. “I had a supportive family growing up and created a beautiful, loving family in my later years. I was content with my life.”

I nodded, still smiling. I looked at the younger woman. “Were you happy with your life?”

She hesitated but then nodded. “You know what? Yeah. I had a good job and was able to live in a good home with a few fun roommates. We all got along and became family. I didn’t have to get married for that. And, no offense to having kids,” she added, glancing at the other woman, “but I was able to save my money on myself and have fun with my friends.”

The clock turned red.

I stood, grinning at each of them. “It sounds like you all lived full, wonderful lives vastly different from each other. That doesn’t make one life worth living more than another, though.”

“And now,” the gentleman added, “we can continue helping others live life and find our purpose in the Afterlife.”

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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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