Dearly Departed by Noel Mollon
Image Copyright Noel Mollon. Used with permission.

Copyright Lynn McCorry
ElsieHe stood in the doorway and looked at her. He remembered the first time he had set eyes on her all those years ago. She had been young then, twenty-five, with a beauty and intelligence he had never before encountered and a mischievousness that drew him to her. Until that day no other had ever refused him...but her...not only had she refused him but she had challenged him too.

"If you win," she had said, "you can take me right now, but if I win, you leave."

It was unprecedented and he was taken aback but she had battered her eye lashes and smiled her special smile that made the dimples in her cheeks appear even deeper and cuter than they normally were, and of course he hadElsie 4 relented. She played the game of her life that day, and won. The following year he returned and again she had been the winner. The third time he visited, she hadn't been quick enough and he saw her slip the card from her sleeve. He never mentioned it and since then, once every year for the past fifty years, he had returned to her, played the game and let her win.

Copyright Lynn McCorry

Elsie 2He relished the time he spent with her. Long ago, the need to possess her soul had departed. It was enough to be in her company.


Copyright Lynn McCorry

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Elsie-May felt the cool touch of his fingers on her cheek. Her eyes twinkled and she turned her head to him, smiling. "Than." Quickly the corners of her mouth dropped, her brow furrowed and her eyes closed to a slit. "You're late," she declared. "I bin waiting here in this chair for the last two hours, I coulda bin asleep in bed by now."

"I'm sorry Elsie," Than replied, "it's been a busy night."

The gleam returned, "Forgiven." she said, "Now come round front and let me look at you. Haven't changed a bit have you? Still as bony as hell, whyn't ya put some meat on them bones and while you're at it how about changing that silly ol' outfit. Black capes went out centuries ago."

Than smiled inwardly, Elsie-May had never been one to mince her words. "You know I've always been this way Elsie, and I have no intention of changing now."

Copyright Lynn McCorry
Elsie 5Elsie sighed, "You look just the same as you did fifty years ago, still as pale as death." She gave a quick chuckle and then became serious again. "Age hasn't been kind to me Than, has it? I'm an old wrinkled prune, me bones are a twisting this way and that, heck if my back twists much more I'll be looking at my own butt."

"You're as beautiful as you always were," Than assured her. "Beauty is deeper than the flesh, it comes from the spirit and yours is the brightest I've ever seen."

"Aw quit yer flattering Than, you're embarrassing me. C'mon lets play, the cards are on the table." Than picked up the cards and moved the coffee table closer to her. He sat on the floor on the other side of it, facing her and they began.

The game was quick and for the first time in the last half a century he won. He looked at her and she shrugged. "Congratulations my friend," she said, "you finally get what you bin waiting for all them years."

"Why Elsie, why?"

"Whatya mean why? You won fair'n square."

"I know I did, I mean why did you let me win, why didn't you cheat this time?"

Her eyes turned into saucers, "You knew?" she demanded, "how long have yer known?"

"Since our third meeting." he replied.

"But you never said...why?"

Than stood and looked down at her, "Elsie, my existence is lonely. You're the only real friend I've ever had. I guess I came to realise that if I won the game I'd lose what we have and I didn't want to lose you, Elsie-May Brown."

Elsie-May looked up at him. In all the years she'd never seen his gaunt, bone-white skull-like face show any expression, but now, even though his face remained stony, his words seemed to cast a warmth over his features.

Death"All these years I thought I was cheating Death and all the time Death was allowin' me to live. Yer a sly one Thanatos," she said, using his full name, "thank you for allowin' me to live longer than I was destined to." She smiled absently. "Funny, ain't it, here I am, finally ready to face the great beyond and you don't want me to go."

"You don't have to," he replied. "I can give you a few more years."

"Nah Than, there's nuttin' left for me here anymore. I got aches upon me aches, I don't get out much anymore. I guess I'm just lonely too. Better I go now while me mind's still as sharp as a tack. Another five years and who knows? I could end up a dotty ol' fool like old Betty Johnston up the street." A tear ran down her cheek. "What's it like Than, what's death like?"

Thanatos sighed, "I don't know what death's like Elsie, I know that sounds strange, but I really don't. I am Death, I cause death, or as I prefer to put it...I help people make the transition from this life to the next, but I can't die myself. I'm a pit-stop on a journey that only mortals can take."

Elsie appeared to be deep in thought, she was chewing on her bottom lip, pondering.

"Elsie, are you listening to me? Elsie!" Thanatos nudged her, his icy, skeletal fingers making her jump.

"Sorry Than, I was jus' thinkin'."

"About what?"

"Well, I know your looks never scared me but then I've never really bin the scaring type. But I can jus' imagine some poor thing being confronted by the sight of you jus' before dyin'. Heck, I'll be frank with ya Than, you're a walkin', talkin' skeleton in a black cape and hood. Sheez I bet yer scare the wits out of most people, 'specially the little 'uns."

Thanatos nodded, "Not everyone is able to perceive me, but those who do, well yes I think the sight of me does terrify them." Her eyes were twinkling again and Thanatos knew something was afoot. "Ok Elsie, out with it, what's going on in that cunning little mind of yours?"

"A partnership, me and you!"


"A partnership. I'll be like your sidekick, like Batman and Robin, Superman and Lois...Thanatos and Elsie! I'll help yer. My mug won't scare them half as much as yours does an' we'll be company for each other. I'll have no more aches 'n pains, heck we'll have a blast!"

"Elsie, I don't know. I've never had a partner before, I don't even know if it's allowed."

"Oh stop yer yaking Than. You broke the rules when you met me an let me live and it's not like HE," she raised her eyes towards the heavens, "has come down on ya for that, is it?"

He mulled it over for a few seconds and then nodded. "I suppose you're right," he said, "and if not...well I guess we'll find out won't we?" Bony Hand

Elsie was positively shaking with excitement. "That's the way Than my boy, take a chance."

Thanatos waited while Elsie penned a short goodbye note to her neighbour and washed a couple of cups, then he reached in and removed her soul from her body.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ghost"Oh Than," Elsie whispered, "it's wonderful. There's no pain anymore, look I'm standing real straight and the room...everythin' it's so bright 'n clear."

Thanatos held out his bony hand and Elsie grasped it. "You're on a new level of consciousness now Elsie," Thanatos said as they walked through the walls of her home and out into the street. Elsie stopped dead in her tracks, her jaw dropped.

"She-eet, talk about a horse of a different colour," she breathed, "that's gotta be the biggest darn horse I ever seen. where'd it come from?"

"He's mine," Thanatos replied, "that's how I travel."

"Not anymore!" said Elsie. "There's no way I'm gettin' on that horse, Than. When I was a young 'un one of them things kicked me in the behind, sent me flying it did. I don't like em."

"But Elsie," Thanatos said, exasperated, "Death has always ridden a pale horse!"

Elsie though for a second and then smiled that mischievous smile. "You know, Than, I've always fancied myself riding in one of them little side cars that attach to a motor bike, a Harley or sometin' like that, and heck, if the colour's so important we could always find a nice pale one."


"Well how 'bout at least fixing a carriage to the back of him."


Thanatos"Oh Than, stop being such a stick in the mud, times are a changing," she paused and looked him up and down, "and while we're on the subject of change, maybe we could do somethin' with that outfit of yours."

Thanatos sighed, "Old Woman," he said, "I can see that eternity is going to be quite interesting indeed!"


Lynn McCorry 1998



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The graphics on this page came from various sources...

Fantasyland Graphics Logo

Dearly Departed came from Fantasyland Graphics and is an original rendering of artwork by Noel Mollon

Sewdoll Craft and Fantasy Art

Bony Hand and Thanatos come from Sewdoll Craft and Fantasy Art

Death and Ghost are from Silverhair

The buttons and bars on this page were supplied by Twilight Design

Elsie as a Young Woman (Elsie, Elsie2 and Elsie4) and Elsie as an Old Woman (Elsie 5) were drawn by me so I guess the copyright is mine!

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