The waiting room was cheerful and noisy with chatter. An elderly man watched one of the two doors in the room expectantly, while a teenager sat in the corner twirling her hair with her fingers, looking bored. A child played with a small dog, and a young woman with dark curls and large brown eyes surveyed the room curiously.
The walls were white, and curtains fluttered at viewless windows where the light filtered through. She knew she had heard things about what this would be like, but she couldn’t remember. She didn’t even remember her own name, though she knew she had one, but none of that seemed to matter now.
She saw the young man at the desk, who was gesturing to people in the room, and handing them a slip of paper before opening the second door and ushering them through. She walked over to him and struck up a conversation. She asked his name though she had forgotten her own.
The young man smiled and said, “My friends call me Mort.”
She asked him what it was like to sit at the desk each day, and meet different kinds of people. “Oh, I know very little about them. It doesn’t matter who they are, and where they’re from. I just hand over the slip that appears on my table when it’s their turn and see that they go through the door. Some go through immediately, while others have to wait. The old man has asked to wait for his wife. It’s been two days. She should be here any moment now, and they’ll go through together.
“So what’s on the other side?” she asked, though she knew she would find out soon enough.
“I’ve always wondered,” said Mort. “I’ve heard the slips come in different colours, but I only see white. I’m not even allowed to ask. I just see that they go through. You see, there are some rules even I, Death, can’t cheat.”
Against the grey rain
diamond drops dance and gleam
on red hibiscus blooms
I smile as you sleep
The rise and fall of your chest
My peace and comfort
It was obvious that something had changed. The hushed phone calls, the receipt for her favourite lilies that she never got. She even caught him smiling to himself when he thought she wasn’t looking.
Through the week, he seemed to get increasingly distant. His replies were monosyllabic, and he would not look her in the eye.
He was never very good at keeping a secret, she thought to herself. As she turned the key in the lock that night, she had made up her mind to confront him.
She followed the glow of the candle light to where he was waiting by the table. The air was fragrant with lilies. He had even hired a chef to recreate their dinner from the night he proposed 10 years ago.
“Happy Anniversary,” he said, with smile on his face.
It was obvious from hers that she had forgotten.
Two haiku and a short story inspired by the Daily Prompt Obvious