The Half Past Noon Appointment

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


“You must be lost,” says the man. He wears his smile as though he’s on his way to pick up his better one from the drycleaners. This one is fraying around the edges.

“On the contrary,” says the woman. She folds her hands over her purse to smile at him, wrinkled eyes twinkling. “I have an appointment in this station at half past noon.”

“I see.” The man switches his briefcase to his left hand, checking his watch. Half past noon. Not long, then. “Might I wait with you until your friend arrives?”

“Certainly,” the old woman says. Mirth crackles in her aged eyes.

“Who are you meeting today?” asks the man. He fidgets with his watch, like he wants to check it again.

“Death, naturally. Who else?”

The man blinks. “Death?”

“Why, yes. I’m rather fond of the old rascal.” She winks. 

The man shrugs. He’s heard wilder things.

“I imagine you’d like Death, too, if you’d met.” She pats his arm fondly. “Shall I introduce you?”

He releases a tired chuckle. “Say, I wouldn’t mind that.” 

“Really?” She leans in close and sniffs, catching the scent of him. “Oh, you’ve been at the bars again.”

“I’ve done no such thing,” he says, alarmed.

“And your wife, you’ve left her for the pleasures of another’s bed.”

“How did you--?” Even in his panic, he knows infidelity is not a smell.

“And your children, you’ve not spoken to them since summer’s end.”

“That’s not--,” he begins, but cannot finish.

“Do you honestly suppose you’re ready to meet Death?” She crosses her arms.

The man stares at her. Her eyes are kind, and so he confesses. “I sold my soul to the Devil. I did. I wanted...wanted to...feel something.”

The woman leans back, peering at him. “You wanted an alternative to dissecting yourself.”

The man looks down to where his suit sleeves hide scars stacked like a ladder up his inner forearm, half convinced the old incisions have opened, dripping red down his fingers.

“Tell me. Did sin save you?” the old woman asks intensely.

He looks up with eyes dry like deserts; they crack under the weight of wishing for tears. 

Watching, the woman’s shadowed eyes glisten. “Well, I’ll have you know I tried my best,” she sighs. “Didn’t I send all the best wines? All the best women?”

“Excuse me?”

“But a deal stands or falls on its conditions. If the Devil cannot uphold her end, well...”

“What?”

“Have your soul back. It’s only fair.”

The man understands, shoulders sagging. “You can’t help me?”

“This is goodbye,” she says sadly. “Still. I’ve grown fond of you.” 

She looks beyond him, waving at someone. “My last favor,” she explains.

He notices the hands of his watch. Still half past noon.

Someone taps the man’s shoulder.

“Don’t worry,” says a gentle voice. “You won’t feel a thing."


Submitted: April 29, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Abigail Bartholomew. All rights reserved.

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