• There beside a lowly road I found a tree of mighty oak. Sure he was, tall and grand; the greatest I’d seen in all the land. At his roots I laid my head. Silently I waited. For what? I ask myself. Why here? Why now? Be true, I say to my mortal fears. We shall wait and see. I waited to see. Sundown swiftly took my warmth ‘til all was chilled as winter. Dusk robbed the world of light so only the misty shadows of the Moon remain.

    I close my eyes to the whisper of the night. Where will the midnight huntress lead me? Where will her hounds point to guide my way? Hush, is the breath of my glorious tree beside that lowly, lonely road. Shush, cooed the song birds of late night and the toads in the millpond down yonder. Like a candle being snuffed by a phantom breeze, all fell silent and still. What approaches?

    He approaches.” the moonlight whispered in answer.

    Footsteps approached me slowly. They seemed to be in no hurry. Time is of no matter to this shapeless form of a haunted night. My ears piqued their curiosity as they detected a bizarre sound. The breath of sighing ghosts rose then fell with each passing step. Behind my closed eyes a light started to grow. It was horribly bright, so much so it was near blinding. What force in this dark world could muster a light to rival the sun? Against my better judgment, I opened my eyes to find such a beacon. I blinked once, then twice. With my waking eyes the light was softer than a single candle’s tongue of flame, yet the warmth it bathed me in gave more comfort than a gentle summer day. It came from a golden globe that hovered towards me, suspending itself in midair it seemed. I watched it draw near without fear or surprise, until my eyes beheld his face.

    A man so fair with skin of ghostly white and hair to his shoulders as black as the raven appeared beside me, illuminated in a warm yellow light from his lantern. Soft, silky strands of hair waved in the absent breeze and glowing behind those soft locks were the eyes of a seducer. His eyes were loving, yet lustfully teasing, colored red by the blood of a thousand scorned lovers. They beckoned to me and stirred the embers of passionate desires that I had long ago forsaken. To cover his lithe body he wore of cloak of blackest satin which was tied loosely with delicate cords of purest moonlight. At the sight of such an alluring beauty my very breath was lost. Again and again my heart thundered at my breast, pleading me to answer his silent call. As he stepped towards me with unscarred feet, I noticed something fall from his lantern. It fell to the earth at his feet and quietly splattered. What could it be? I wondered to myself.

    I stood up as he drew closer to me. Strange how I seemed to move on my own. I felt as if I was nothing more than a puppet on invisible strings. There he stood before me, filling me to the brim with a fervent hunger for his pale lips. By the powers, what god of man could curve their lips in such a succulent, taunting and seductive of smiles?

    “Come with me, my darling dear.” his voice was a precious as his face, and each syllable made me shiver in delight. “Come, my lovely woman. Come.” I opened my mouth, as if to protest or question him, but he held up his lantern and put a single finger to his lips silently telling me to hush. I grinned to myself and began to walk with him, immersed in a sphere of our own light. I wanted to turn and say goodbye to my oak tree, but I didn’t. Something unseen wouldn’t let me.

    “Tell me, Dark Angel, are you Brother?” I asked, curious to know the nature of my companion. “Pray tell, good sir, are you Father?” My companion only smiled at me before blessing my lips with a proud kiss.

    “To some, I am Brother. To others, I am Father, but to you, my dove, I am Lover.” he answered me, grinning as he wrapped his arm around me, pulling me closer to him under the dark veil of his cloak.

    “So, gentle man, a Lover?” I asked, matching that man wit for wit. “Good man, a Lover of me? Or, pray tell, a Lover of thee?”

    “Not just Lover, but Lover times three, for never raising thee before me.” He answered easily, that master of polished words. I giggled like the young girl I felt myself becoming again. My head was lowered in defeat and my eyes fell to ground again. I noticed something fall again and splatter at our feet. My eyes wander through the abyss and fell on the lantern in his hand. A wave of ice shot through my body and passed just as quickly, leaving me to feel uneasy and unnerved.

    “Tell me, Lover Death, does my blood fuel your fire, or does yours?” I asked, keeping my gaze fixed on that wine red liquid that held the lantern never-ceasing candle. He laughed at me with the tease of a school boy, and I found myself falling into that sound wishing gladly that such music would never end.

    “Fear not, my love.” He answered. “It’s only the blood of innocents. Blood of the Pure is the fuel of life for every soul I claim.” I turned to look into his eyes. I saw many long years within those eyes. “Three gods of Death walk beside your world. Eldest of three, my sister be the one to collect the fateful dead. They come to Her, lead by the Fates to her burning iron gates. Youngest of us, my brother does the harvesting of infants and murdered souls. Beside every monster that cuts his own down, you see him carry away his frozen souls to a grey open field.”

    “And what of you, my shameless Death?” I asked.

    “I stand second in a line of three. Those who claim themselves I call to me, and also I am a god of scorned lovers, of passion, of fire and true love.” He gave his answer and his red eyes twinkled deviously.

    “Then what made you come to me, my Lover Death?” I asked after I had pondered his words for a time. “What called you to that lowly, lonely road, to look beneath that sacred oak?”

    “What called me, my dear?” my Lover Death was amused. “You did.”

    And I remembered where I was before my Lover took me. I remembered what had led me to that blessed oak, how I was before my gracious Death saved me. There beside that lonely road, I closed my eyes to pray. Downed in solitude and pain I begged Death would come my way. A love had come, a love had gone leaving me behind. And I remembered from my childhood that Death was always kind. I pleaded for my heart to stop beating, willed for my lungs to stop breathing, begged my old wounds were bleeding and waited for my company. Great Ones, give me company, I implored the spirits, One to hold me, one to care, one to always cherish me.

    “So you take me, Lover Death, to be a Lover to thee?” I questioned him. He flashed those clever red orbs at me.

    “No, my precious, may I be Lover to thee?” He took my hand and kissed it, bowing low to me.

    “Be it Lover to me, or I lover to thee, I fear to share my love.” I said, turning away. In my head, I am consumed by the screams of those in my past with pieces of me. On and on their cries filled my sleepless nights. “In all my years I’ve come to believe that the only real truth is that all lovers leave.”

    “I will stay beside you, love.” Lover Death whispers in my ear. I feel my body collapse in pleasure, yet remarkably my limbs kept moving forward. “I have chosen my goddess, my loving, beautiful, virtuous bride. Only she can be you, my desert bloom.” My face turned red with heat and blush colored my cheeks. All my nightmares, my pain and fears melted away. Visions of my lovers past fell away like stones in the millpond. The ripples carried away their never-ending lies.

    “You are wretched.”

    “Shelter me. You are damned if you reject me!”

    “Bite your tongue and fade away.”

    “Forsake yourself to save me!”

    “You are too blind and childish. You could never be a Mommy. Never be a Mommy…”

    “Mommy.” a little voice called out to me, quiet as a church mouse. I tried to turn, but I could not.

    “Mommy…” I said to myself. The word held purpose and I was overjoyed by it. Strange though, that the reason why remained just beyond my grasp.

    “We shall walk beside this road, my cherub.” My proud Lover Death said. “Those I claim shall be your children, my fair, nurturing young mother.” I smiled at the thought of children. Oh, their smiles and laughter were my sun and moon.

    “All young children shall follow us, love?” I ask, feeling more of my youthful vigor sprout through. “Then are we to have no time to ourselves in this world of innocent eyes?”

    “Pray tell, my silly mate, what should we need time alone for?” Lover Death played back.

    “My Love, what sins and games would we play before our children’s eyes?” I asked. “Skin on skin under winding sheets, we play until dawn locked in your bedchambers, my luscious Lover Death.” I watched his eyes tear up with laughter before the pure sound could ever breech his lips. How difficult it was not to feel his joy as my own.

    “Oh, by the gods, what vixen is this I have chosen?” he laughed. “What have I done that my brethren match me with such a clever, sensual young fox?” I joined him in laughter and he squeezed me lovingly.

    “Gone be the days where we wander in darkness!” he proclaimed triumphantly. “The joyful light of warm, laughing souls will soon illuminate this road, my sweet.” From farther down the road came a weak orange light, like that of the dying embers of a massive bonfire. From a distance, I could hear the wails of many a fearful, saddened soul. The souls of the innocent cried out to me:

    “Save me! Love me! Please don’t harm me!"

    “Free me from these chains, lord! I repent! I repent!”

    “I’m sorry, Mommy. Forgive me! Forgive me, Mommy…”

    “Mommy!” I heard that voice again. It was louder than last though it still seemed far away.

    “Those whom I claim, my love, are tainted with sin and pain.” my Lover Death told me. “Father I am to these souls. My fair bride, be a mother to these children. Set the tainted ones aglow with laughter.”

    “Love me! Look at me! Please don’t ignore me, Mommy!”

    “Mama, it hurts. Please make the blood stop flowing.”

    “Hold me, Mommy!”

    “Save me! Don’t leave me, Mommy!”

    “Mommy! Mommy!”

    “Mommy!” For the third time that little voice called out to me. Her voice was as clear as the music of silver bells or the whistling of reeds on a river bank. It was as if she was standing right beside me. I forced myself to turn around. I gasped to myself as I saw my oak tree beside that lonely road bathed in moonlight, and who should be waiting beside our tree, summoning me?

    A little girl with thick chocolate hair and ghostly blue eyes stood beside our tree in a frilly dress of snowy white. Her locks were tied up with a simple pink bow and polished black shoes covered her tiny feet. She smiled at me with a knowing grin, as if to tell me she knew I was going and she wasn’t going to give me up quietly. Behind her dancing eyes lay a wisdom that was far beyond her age. She was such a pretty girl. My gorgeous little girl.

    “I pray, my love, you will grant me leave.” I said, stepping out of Lover Death’s embrace. His garnet eyes narrowed in anger, but I could feel a sad, tender spirit emanating from them.

    “Come away with me, my love.” he pleaded with me. “Many more children will greet you here, and all will be more lasting than she.” I turned back to my love and I kissed him.

    “Long ago I told you, Death, I will live to see my daughter grow.” I touched his pale cheek and turned away. “But remember this, oh faithful Death; a Lover to me you’ll always be.” His laughter rang behind me as I walked alone in darkness back to my waiting child. Everything and everyone had left me, but I still had my baby. No force in Heaven, on Earth or in Hell could take my darling from me. As I continued to walk back I couldn’t help but stall for a moment and turn back to him once again. The embers glow ahead and the anguished cries had vanished. Lover Death only held up his lantern and put a finger to his illusive smile.

    “Come on, Mommy.” my daughter demanded. “You dawdle too much.” I reached my child and my ancient oak. Smiling fondly I touched the truck of our oak and took my daughter’s hand.

    “Here we go. Off to build our life.” I said to her, swinging her arm playfully.

    “From the ashes we raise a Paradise until paradise falls into ashes.” my child responds. “But won’t Mommy be lonesome without your Lover beside you?” My lips curved into a sly grin, I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of dawn.
    “In the end, my dear, he will claim us all.” I told her. “Even I can’t resist his charms for long.” On the cool morning breeze I could hear his sweet laughter and his silky voice filled my ears.

    “Come, my love. Come…”