Friday flash: Auburn Jones and the Reaper’s Urn

Auburn Jones and the Reaper’s Urn

The urn sat on the mantle, dusty blue with gold and cream accents — and one amorphous purplish blemish that Auburn Jones was rubbing at with a glower on her face. It wasn’t fair — just because she’d borrowed the keys to the Caddy. Death hadn’t been using it anyway!

“I’m going out. Do you think you might have that done before I get back?” Today, Death wore a white polo shirt with khakis. He gestured at the urn with his sunglasses. “You seem to have missed a spot.”

“Very funny.” Auburn threw the polishing cloth on the floor. “I’m through with this.”

Death crooked a smile at her. “The spot’s still there.”

The words were gentle, which infuriated Auburn more. It was bad enough being Death’s apprentice — it wasn’t like Death was going to retire, after all, so _what_ was she being trained for? — but then Death had to go and be so . . . so inevitable about everything. Her mistakes, punishments, Death’s reactions, everything.

Before she could decide what blistering retort to make (or to even come up with one, to be perfectly honest), Death sailed out the door, completely oblivious to her frustration or anything else she might be feeling. That, that — if she hadn’t already thrown the cloth on the floor, she certainly would have now. But she had nothing to throw unless it was the urn . . . and the spot was larger now, damn it all.

This was Death’s magic, of course. The spot wouldn’t be clean until Death decided it should be. So Death went off gallivanting in the hovercar Caddy while she stayed put like a good little apprentice. How was she ever going to learn anything this way?

Oh, right. She was supposed to be learning obedience. Like that was going to happen.

She pushed the urn off the mantle.

Rather than falling to the floor and shattering, the urn hovered — and the spot got bigger. Inevitably, of course.

The only thing inevitable about this job was how annoyed she got doing it. Apprentice herself to Death, learn cool magic, ride in a one-of-a-kind Caddy, be a bad-ass. That’s what she signed on for. Instead, she got a boss who wore polos and khakis, did lunch, and expected her to do housework if she broke the rules. She couldn’t even quit!

Not that she was sure she wanted to. She was more than half in love with Death, and she was pretty sure Death knew it, which made everything worse. Death humored her, treating her like a little girl with a crush on her first teacher. So what if Death was eternal? They still had things in common, like the car and — well, she’d think of something else. The point was, she wasn’t a little girl, and Death needed to realize it.

The blemish on the urn was now roughly the size of Auburn’s head.

Sighing, she set the urn back onto the mantel and leaned over to pick up the cloth. If she could get this done, she might have some time before Death got back from lunch to think about ways to get Death to notice her. She started rubbing.

524 words

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (not that I’m managing weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

The inspiration for this flash came from two sources: a dream about Death’s hovercar Cadillac (a convertible, in case you’re curious) and Chuck Wendig’s Color Title Challenge. He even, inadvertently, gave me the exact title I used here.