Lady Death


John Bennett

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 115 in 2008.

Lady Death came in real close a little over a year ago, brushing the hair out of my eyes, stroking my body like a jockey would a fine race horse. She was indifferent to the doctors and nurses and all the tubes they'd stuck in me, but she was fascinated by the long incision in my abdomen; she liked to trace a slender finger along the spine of staples that held it closed. She sat on my lap when they wheeled me out of there, her arms around my neck, her head on my shoulder.

She slept with me every night for months. Sometimes I'd wake up in the dark to find her straddling me, her head back, her long gray hair hanging limp over her ebony shoulders. She'd sit next to me in the car when I could finally drive again, a hand resting on my thigh. After awhile I got used to her. It was almost as if we were married.

Then one day a lady I'd broken up with just before the surgery came by and said she wanted to get back together, but she had to know first: Was there another woman?

I said no, and Lady Death jerked her head to one side as if she'd been slapped.

I'm back in the land of the living now, but sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I hear soft moaning coming from somewhere out in the dark house.