My time for a writing sample has come again. (You lucky readers you.) And I decided to put a different spin on it.
I texted Kate and Rachel and asked them to each give me a word that I could use to put together a scene. Kate chose “bubbly.” Rachel chose “enchanting.”
And I was suddenly in a dungeon stirring a black cauldron of bubbling, enchanting potion. I started developing it and the following is what I came up with.
Grim in Love
“Well, Grim, this certainly brings me back.” A tall man in a navy tuxedo circled a dank cave-like room. “I didn’t even know it still existed.” He swiped a well-manicured finger across a crude wall.
“I have to keep up appearances. You know how people would talk if I showed up in your office, Cupid. All pink and cheery. Just thinking about it makes my bones rattle.” The man was dressed in black from head to foot. He wore a trench coat and a broad-brimmed cowboy hat that covered his face. The Reaper’s voice was simple, deceptively calm, as it always was.
Cupid fingered his lapel. “I love this look, by the way. When did you have this done? I’ve known you forever. I thought you’d never get rid of those black rags. But never mind. What can I do for you, Grim? Are you hoping I came up with a cure for love? A potion to dissolve it? Because I can’t. It doesn’t exist.”
“Not exactly,” the Reaper admitted. He paused.
Cupid checked his watch before leaning against the wall. He had seen this hesitation before, but not in the Grim Reaper himself. A dazzling smirk spread across Cupid’s face. “You’re. In. Love.”
The Reaper recoiled, clenched a gloved fist, and adjusted his hat.
“I knew it. I knew it would happen to you, Grim. Let’s see, we made that bet in 85 AD? Or was it BC? I can’t remember. But what was it, four pieces of gold? Let’s see, the equivalent of 100 bucks for the day? Take that at 4% interested compounded monthly— wait. How did you two meet? You didn’t—reap her husband’s soul or anything? Is that even allowed?”
“Annually, it was compounded annually. And I did not reap any of her near relations recently. I knew this was a mistake.” The hat-wearing reaper turned to leave.
“I’m kidding! Sit back, Grim. Tell me about her.” Cupid gestured to thin air. But with a wave of his hand, a luxurious red loveseat materialized.
The Reaper lifted his hat, his sockets making eye contact with Cupid’s piercing eyes. He would not talk about it.
Cupid shrugged. “I can’t help you then. If you’re in love, pal, it’s a two-way street. Especially nowadays. It used to be that I could aim an arrow at the man and shoot. Sure there was a little blood, but the deed was done. The girl was usually the one in love on her own. Signed, sealed, delivered. They were married for the rest of their lives. But I’ve had to diversify. Branch out into potions and spells in the guise of love poems. I’ve had to teach cooking classes and cleaning classes. Love’s tough now. There is going to be a direct path to the girl’s heart, but we have to know about the girl before we can do it. Have I met her before?”
“Yes,” the Reaper grumbled. “She’s on your blasted app, Valentinder.”
Cupid pulled a hand through his thick, chestnut hair as he thought. “Were you two matched together?” He couldn’t imagine who in the world would be matched with the Grim Reaper.
“A seventy-four percent compatibility,” the Reaper replied. “We both have a fascination with bones, apparently. She is obsessed with a specific kind. Located in the oral cavity.”
“You’re in love with the Tooth Fairy?” Cupid’s strong jaw dropped.
“We both pay personalized house visits,” the Reaper continued. “Usually at night. We both spend a lot of time beside beds.”
Cupid bit his tongue. She brought presents and took teeth. He brought death and took souls, but if there was one thing Cupid was, it was a believer in love. He rubbed his dimpled chin and paced the room. His old laboratory when he had first delved into potions. He even knew where the old cauldron had been kept.
Grim kept his gaze on the cherub.
Cupid pivoted on the heel of his Italian-leather shoe. “A potion. We need a potion.”
“I suppose that could work. If it were made so as not to increase tooth decay. Tooth loves her teeth.”
“I’m afraid the potion isn’t for her, Grim. It’s for you.”
Grim’s maniacal laugh echoed off the walls. Lightning struck and thunder clapped, as they always did. “You joke too much, my friend.”
“I’m not joking. Bubbly and enchanting. That’s what it says on her profile. I know, I put it up for her. That’s what you need to be. Bubbly and enchanting.”
The Grim Reaper lifted his hat again, the black sockets boring into the unphased cherub. “Can you imagine what death would be like if I was bubbly?”
“Yes, well. You should have thought of that before falling in love with such a fairy. Besides, it’ll wear off in the middle of the date.”
“Date!” The dark man was startled.
“Of course, man! Remember? I told you love takes time nowadays.”
The Grim Reaper stood. “I don’t have time. No one does. I should know. I take their lives.”
“Then you should have fallen in love in 85 AD, or was it BC? I don’t remember when we spoke last. Oh, Grim, don’t go throwing a tantrum.”
“I. Am. Not. Throwing. A. Tantrum.” His voice was calm, but all went black and when the light returned to the small cove, the Reaper was gone.
“That’s about right.” Cupid adjusted his watch and reached into the pocket of his tuxedo. He pulled out his smartphone and opened his contacts.
The phone rang and she answered. “Yeah, Tooth! It’s been a while. How are you?”
“I’m doing well, Cupid! Man, it’s been… hundreds of years, hasn’t it? Are you calling about another accident? A tooth one?”
“No, I haven’t been the reason for any tooth dislodgings in the past couple hundred years. Well, how was I supposed to know that kid was going to intercept my arrow with his teeth? Luckily it was a baby tooth, right?”
“Well, no, not exactly.”
“Oh. Well, the kid grew old and died already. But that’s not why I called. I was wondering what you thought about going on a blind date.”
“Oh? What is this guy like? I mean, I trust you. So, I’ll go, but what would we have in common?”
“Well, he’s very knowledgeable about skulls and teeth and all that. He also recently had a very intriguing make-over, and his laugh is to die for.”
“You know I’m a sucker for a good laugh! Does he have nice teeth?”
“You bet! He’s got the toothiest grin around.”
“In that case, I would love to go out!”
“Great! He’ll pick you up at eight.”